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Our fun and fabulous Family Dining Room Bar

A full-service dining room bar for large or small gatherings.

When we bought our “forever home” several years ago, it was a brand new build. While there are a lot of perks that come with a brand new home, one of the drawbacks is major lack of personality.

We have put in a lot of effort to turn our empty white open concept house into a cozy and comfortable home.

Our dining room is literally in the center of our home. In my life experience, the dining room/kitchen area always seems to be the place where people spend most of their time; eating, talking, playing board games, doing homework, etc.

Ours is on the main level, smack in the middle of all-day-long foot traffic. We knew our dining room would become the heart of our home. So we have been working on making it into a comfortable place for dinners, parties, holidays, etc.

However, the dining room is also in an awkward spot. The walls are cut up with a lot of windows and doorways. It is not a separate room by itself.

It flows traffic from the living room, kitchen, and TV room. Using traditional pieces of furniture is very challenging, so we have had to think outside the box.

A dining room bar is the solution for our space

We enjoy drinking wine. And as a former bartender, I have learned how to make all the traditional cocktails, as well as how to create my own.

We love to entertain and have gatherings both large and small, which inevitably end up in the dining room.

So I wanted very easy access to a full service bar. I wanted to serve the dining room and living room easily. But it also needed to be able to hold all of our glassware, and our wine collections.

I also wanted it to be able to display a few pieces of inherited collectibles from both my family and my husband’s family. There are some china teacups and saucers that my great-grandparents brought over from Norway and Sweden when they immigrated here.

There are also a few plates and other little tchotchkes from my great-grandparents and grandparents that I wanted to display in the dining room.

And my husband had some whimsical little liquor bottles passed down from his great-grandparents that hid their alcohol during Prohibition.

We wanted to display all of these on our dining room bar.

And then the final reason. Most home bars, china cabinets, and sideboards you can buy that are fully assembled cost WAY more than we could possibly afford.

IKEA items used:
BRUSALI cabinet IKEA

BRUSALI cabinets | Buy on IKEA.com

Other materials:

Dining Room Bar instructions:

1. We assembled the 2 BRUSALI cabinets according to the IKEA instructions and placed them side-by-side.

2. We assembled the high BRUSALI shelf according to the IKEA instructions and centered it in the middle of the cabinets.

3. After marking where the shelf would go, we drilled holes for the dowels that came with the shelf. Then, we screwed it into the top of the cabinets from underneath to secure it to it’s new centered spot.

Reinforcing the shelves

4. Because we planned to put a lot of heavy alcohol bottles and glassware on the shelves inside the cabinets, we reinforced the shelves by screwing scrap pieces of plywood beneath each shelf.

reinforced shelves

5. We measured and cut the baseboard pieces with the circular saw. And pounded them into the bottom of the BRUSALI cabinets with nails.

6. We measured and cut the quarter round with the circular saw and nailed the pieces into the baseboard with nails.

7. We measured and cut the decorative white moulding. Then, nailed it to the front of the cabinets to cover the space between them and make it look like one large bottom cabinet. We chose the piece that we used on the front of the cabinet because the design goes well with the design on the front of the existing BRUSALI high shelf.

Making the wine rack

8. We cut the ½ inch plywood with the circular saw to make the display shelf and the wine rack. The wine rack is 31 inches high, 15 ½ inches wide, and 11 inches deep.

We cut the large pieces first, the two outsides and the two middle pieces. Then we cut the bottom and the top pieces. The 4 long pieces are 31 inches high and 11 inches deep.

The top and bottom are 15 ½ inches wide and 11 inches deep. Then we cut all the pieces for the inside of the wine rack. Each piece is 4 inches wide and 11 inches deep.

We placed them so that each slot is 4 inches by 4 inches by 11 inches deep. There are 21 wine bottle slots. We nailed and screwed each 4×11 inch piece to the 31-inch tall boards.

Making the display shelf

9. For the display shelf, we cut the ½ inch plywood with the circular saw 26 inches tall by 16 inches wide. We nailed and screwed all pieces together.

10. We sanded all the wood down and wiped everything clean with a warm wet sponge. Then we painted the wine rack and the display shelves with three coats of white paint each and let them dry completely.

11. We installed the wine rack to the left side of the high BRUSALI shelf with screws, and did the same with the display shelf on the right side of the high shelf.

moulding

12. We cut the 3/8 x 1/2 x 4′ Unfinished Hardwood Egg and Dart Panel Moulding to decorate the front of the wine rack, the high BRUSALI shelf, and the display shelf. After that, we glued each piece on with carpenter’s glue. We let them dry overnight to make sure they were solid.

Dining room bar wine rack

13. We cut holes in the back left corners of the high BRUSALI shelf and the left side BRUSALI cabinet shelves with the hole saw in order to run all the cords of the puck lights down to the outlet behind the left side BRUSALI cabinet. We cut a rectangle in the back of that BRUSALI cabinet with a utility knife for the outlet rectangle.

wiring
dining room bar puck light

14. We installed the puck lights in the top of the left side of the high shelf. We placed one puck light on the underside of each shelf. Then, we ran the cords down the left side of the shelves and into the s cabinet, down to the outlet and plugged it in.

Spackling and caulk

15. We went over the entire unit and filled in every hole and crack with DAP® DryDex® Color Changing Spackling. When it changed colors, indicating it was dry, we sanded all the spackled spots and then wiped them clean with a wet sponge.

We then went over the entire unit and caulked every line throughout the unit. All the shelves, all the spaces between the wall and the unit to give it the “built in” look, all the baseboard, trim, quarter round, and decorative moulding pieces.

caulk

We let it dry overnight and checked the next day to fill any lingering spots with more spackle and caulk. After it was dry later that day, we painted everything with a final coat of white paint to give a look of uniformity to the entire unit.

dining room bar - glasses

16. On the final day, we filled the bottom cabinets with all of our alcohol, glassware, and party serving plates and dishes. We put all of our red wine, white wine, and champagne glasses in the middle BRUSALI high shelf.

dining room bar - wine and liquor

We put our collectibles onto the right side display shelf, and finished up with filling up the wine rack with all of our wine bottles.

display
display

As a final step, we turned on the puck lights and stepped back to admire our completed fun and fabulous Family Dining Room Bar!

How long did it take?

It took us 3 full weekends to complete this project, from Friday evenings through Sunday afternoons.

Most of the time, after the first weekend of putting all the pieces together, was waiting for paint, glue, and caulk to dry.

dining room bar ikea hack

But waiting will be worth it, as everything will properly solidify and you won’t be dealing with the frustration of things falling or slipping out of  place because it’s not dry yet.

What was the cost?

The BRUSALI cabinet cost $89 plus tax, the high BRUSALI cabinet cost $149 plus tax.  We spent somewhere between $100-150 on the rest of all the materials. Fortunately, we already had all the tools and a lot of the screws and nails. We bought things like the wood, the mouldings, the paint, etc.

What was the hardest part of the hack?

The hardest part of building this was making sure all the pieces were even and level. I recommend just taking your time, measure and level constantly as you go along to avoid any frustrations after the fact.

dining room bar ikea hack

Our dining room bar in the space between windows and doors

What to pay special attention to?

Pay special attention to measurements. Be sure that whatever you want to display or store that you measure the space between shelves and slots accurately.

For example, I held up my tallest wine glass to the high shelves on the BRUSALI shelf to make sure we screwed the shelves in to the height we would need.

I also held up a really tall bottle of Grey Goose vodka to the lower BRUSALI cabinet to be sure we screwed in the cabinet shelves with enough space for our tallest bottles of alcohol. I

If you plan to use these cabinets to store heavy things like we are, such as the bottles of alcohol and heavy crystal glassware, I strongly recommend you reinforce the shelves with scrap wood like we did, or you might find yourself with a pile of smashed alcohol bottles and crushed highball glasses.

Looking back, is there anything you would do differently?

If I were to do anything differently, I think we would add one extra piece of ½ inch plywood to the top of the BRUSALI lower cabinets, before attaching the high shelf and the wine rack and display shelf.

I think it would just add a bit more security and reinforcement to the whole unit. Aside from that, we are incredibly happy with how the unit turned out. We are extremely proud of our accomplishment.

Every single person who has seen our Dining Room Bar has commented on it, how beautiful and unique it is. They all ask where we got it, so we get to tell the story all the time about how we hacked it.

That is how I found out about IKEAhackers and one of my friends told me that we should submit it. And so here we are!

~ by Andie and Pat