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For any proper grown-up gathering, it’s all about the wet bar. From serving up delicious drinks and snacks to easy cleanup once guests are gone, this one-stop shop is widely considered any home entertainer’s dream. With a few square feet and this helpful guide, you can convert your kitchen, basement, or dining area into the focal point of every party.
What Is a Wet Bar?
You may have wondered, what’s the difference between a wet bar and a dry bar? The answer is simple: a wet bar has a sink with direct access to water. While a wet bar will take a bit more planning and a few more components than the alternative, it makes all the difference in functionality.
Choose a Sink
For a true home wet bar, you’ll need a functioning sink. Also referred to as a prep sink, a bar sink is much smaller than a standard kitchen basin. Typically, they feature a single-bowl design just big enough for cleaning glasses or washing your hands. For narrow bars, a trough sink is a great alternative that can help tackle the same tasks.
These wet bar sinks are designed to drop into a pre-cut opening in the countertop. Their exposed rims rest on the surface, often including one or more mounting holes for faucet installation. Drop-in sinks are a great option for those looking for something easy to install and remove (if ever necessary), and can be used with any countertop material.
This type of sink is mounted to the underside of the countertop, fastened using clips or brackets and adhesive. This allows the sink's rim to be concealed, providing a sleek appearance and making cleanup around the sink easy. Due to the amount of support needed, undermount sinks typically require a solid surface countertop such as granite, quartz, or butcher block.
While these are usually thought of as large kitchen sinks, smaller versions are available for wet bars. These sinks feature an exposed front that either sits flush with or hangs over the cabinets that it rests between. This style of sink can be found in a wide range of materials, sizes, colors, and designs to coordinate with surrounding decor.
Most wet bar sinks are made of stainless steel because of the material's durability and low maintenance. However, it’s not the only option available, and there may be a different material that better fits your needs and design plans.
Stainless-steel sinks are constructed of 14 (thicker), 16, or 18 (thinner) gauge, 304-grade stainless steel. They typically feature an undercoating that prevents condensation buildup from dripping into the cabinet below, plus sound-deadening pads to dampen the noise of running water. Carrying a host of benefits, stainless steel naturally resists stains from acidic foods and beverages and is highly resistant to rust, scratches, and chips.
Copper sinks are also made in various thicknesses, from 20 gauge up to 14 gauge (the lower the number, the thicker the metal). An authentic copper sink is made with 99.9% pure copper, which makes them naturally antimicrobial to kill harmful bacteria. Since copper features a living finish, it’ll develop a natural patina over time if you choose not to maintain the sink.
Granite composite is a resilient material that’s made up of a blend of granite stone and acrylic resins. The result is a high-quality, low-maintenance, extremely durable material designed specifically for daily use. Granite composite sinks are available in a wide range of neutral colors to match with surrounding decor, and often feature integrated faucet drillings.
Fireclay bar sinks are made of dense clay, which is fired at very high temperatures, fusing the clay to its porcelain enamel coating. The result is a highly durable material that’s resistant to dents, stains, scratches, and high temperatures. The smooth, glossy finish makes them easy to clean and maintain. Bar sinks made of fireclay are available in many colors, including white, black, and gray.
Natural stone bar sinks are made of various types of marble or granite, which come in a wide variety of unique colors. Since they are carved from a natural piece of stone, each sink is truly one of a kind. While stunning, they do require a bit of maintenance to keep them looking new. The sink will need to be sealed using a stone sealer every few months, depending on how frequently it’s used.
These sinks are made of heavy, solid cast iron at their core, which is nearly indestructible. Known for their durability, cast iron sinks contain a hard, scratch-resistant, porcelain enamel coating which also makes them very low maintenance and a breeze to clean. Typically, cast iron bar sinks are offered in white to coordinate with any design.
Bar sinks are available in many shapes. The size and the style you choose will influence the shape, but in the end, it really comes down to your personal preference and the space you have to work with.
When shopping for a new faucet for your wet bar, there are a few things to keep in mind: the design of your space, how you intend to use it, and how your mounting holes are configured.
First, know what your style preference is and how the faucet will fit in with surrounding decor. A sleek, contemporary bar faucet will blend seamlessly in a modern space, while a traditional room will call for something with elegant, classically inspired details.
Second, predict how and how often the faucet will be used. If you think you’ll be tending the bar frequently and doing a lot of rinsing, select a faucet that includes a side spray or an integrated pull-out spray for added convenience. A gooseneck faucet is another popular option, boasting a high-arched swiveling spout for reaching all corners of the sink or turning to the side when you need it out of your way.
Lastly, know how and where the faucet will be mounted. Some bar sinks come with mounting holes already drilled into the rim, so be familiar with your sink’s specifications first. Then, check if your countertop has pre-drilled mounting holes. If your sink or countertop has a single mounting hole, you’ll need to purchase a single-hole bar faucet. If it has a second hole, you’ll have the ability to add a side spray or a below-counter soap dispenser. Three mounting holes mean you’ll likely need to find a 4" centerset option. If no mounting holes exist, consult with your installer to find out what your options are.
Open shelving is a recognizable detail in just about any bar setting—and it’s one of the easiest wet bar ideas for adding in your own personal flair. You’ll need shelves to put bottles on display, keep cocktail glasses easily accessible, and show off a little bit of decor.
Decorative shelf brackets are easy to install and will instantly add character when hung behind your wet bar. They’re available in a wide range of styles, sizes, finishes, and materials to match the look and needs of your space. Consider what you’ll keep on the shelf when shopping since every bracket will have a weight limit. You’re likely to have some closed shelving or cabinets included in your wet bar’s design, so be sure to opt for brackets that match the cabinet knobs and drawer pulls you’ve picked out for a cohesive look.
Install Bar Lighting
Another symbol of a well-put-together wet bar is accent lighting hanging from above. Also called bar lights, pendant lights are commonly used to cast light along the countertop. Pendant lights are typically single-bulb fixtures that hang from the ceiling by a cord, chain, or solid bar. They’re available in a wide range of design styles, shapes, finishes, and sizes to meet your desired look.
Depending on the size of your bar, you’ll want to hang multiple pendant lights in a single row every few feet for even, effective illumination. For an oversized bar, you may even opt for an eye-catching linear chandelier as a statement-making centerpiece.
If you’re a big wine drinker or simply have an impressive collection of bottles, having a wine rack where you openly store them is a must. Not only does it keep your wine easily accessible, there’s no denying that it also adds that extra bit of high-end aesthetic.
In addition to the open shelving for your cocktail glasses, you’ll want a place to keep your wine glasses where they’re always ready for a pour. Find a place to hang a wine glass holder, perhaps on the underside of a cabinet or shelf behind the bar.
Some drinks are better served chilled. You’ll need a refrigerator or cooler of some sort where beers, white wines, bottled water, and other cold beverages stay cool. Build a mini fridge or two into the cabinetry or leave space to slide one in below the countertop later.
With all the essential elements of a wet bar out of the way, it’s time to add the finishing touches to get it guest-ready. Maybe you want to hang a small TV to give it that authentic sports bar feel. Something as simple as a decorative mirror could be the element that brings the entire design together. If your bar’s layout calls for them, pick out a stylish set of bar stools to perfect the look. And finally, don’t forget to stock it!