In case you haven’t figured this out for yourself, let me be the one to tell you: Bars are making a comeback.
Maybe that’s the sort of thing you don’t want to brag about knowing – or worse – be the person who says: “Comeback? When did they go away??” I’ve been putting bars into my project for years, but these “new” bars are a little bit different. No longer are they relegated to the basement or the very back of the house – these are front and center and they speak more to lifestyle than a place where a someone sets up shop and starts making Old Fashions. No, these new bars are prominently located, even celebrated, in the main living spaces.
Hello, the 1980’s called and said (in the sexiest voice you can possibly imagine for a bar) “Hi there … welcome to the party.” Indeed, welcome to the party.
One of the houses I am working on in Dallas has a bar located in a sitting area just adjacent to the main living room. It’s hard to know where in the picture above but it’s just to the left of the fireplace. This is still a part of the main living area but I lowered the ceiling height in this area to make sitting in this more intimate of spaces more conducive to talking.
So, I really like the bar that was designed for this area. When the cabinetry was installed, I decided to write a post on this particular bar thinking that other people would like it as well. I went digging through my piles of sketches for this project and I did find one of the early redlines I created. Ryan (in my office – the person responsible for all the Revit drawings you see on this site) blocked out this initial elevation based on the floorplan I sketched up. I added some additional information and delineated the space with shelves and the first pass at finishes. I wanted to have a mirrored backsplash behind the sink because it had the right vintage feel to the space that we were trying to create.
Fast forward about 8 months later and you get this particular elevation drawing. This living room is bookended with Walnut cabinetry, with everything else being clean and bright white walls – the contrast is really nice. You can select the drawing above and it will open in a new window at twice this size if you would like a closer look.
The millwork contractor we have on this job is really skilled at his job and I’m always happy to learn whenever he is working on one of my projects. I know I go on and on about how important it is to collaborate with the craftsman who works on your projects, but I really mean it. I put a lot of thought and effort into what these pieces of millwork look like and how they work – but I don’t think about the millwork every minute of every day. That’s when a skilled millwork contractor can come in and make something extraordinary happen. We typically receive millwork shop drawings (shop drawings are construction drawings that a sub-contractor creates that really break down and illustrate how their scope of work will come together.) Shop drawings are really important because it gives me as the designer a chance to really review how this millwork contractor plans on building the vision I had. It also gives me a chance to make sure that we are on the same page. The drawing above is the actual shop drawing that was sent in for this bar along with my redline comments for what I wanted to see changed and/or corrected. You can see in the upper right-hand corner the detail I wanted to see how the panels would meet and transition when the wood changed planes.
Based on the picture above, hopefully, it will be a bit more obvious where the bar will be going. Right behind the fireplace is the entry hall, so the gap you see between the plywood wrapped fireplace wall and the bar, is the spot where visitors will enter the main living space.
We are a few months down the road from the previous picture and the drywall has been put in place. It is a very bright space and the walnut paneling that surrounds the fireplace wall and the bar will really anchor this ends of this room.
Annnnnddd, I go out of town for a few weeks and the millwork shows up on site and I missed the installation. Bummer. Not only is the millwork installed and I missed it, the contractor has put protection up around and over everything and I have to look at the millwork like it’s visiting day at the penitentiary. I should point out to you eagle eyes, that the space behind the sink is missing the wood panel that comes all the way down to the countertop. This was during the dark days when the owner was thinking that they might rather have the backsplash material go all over this back wall. Luckily, Mrs. Client decided that she wanted the mirror to come back and the side panel was added back to the bar (yess!!)
So here we are … the walnut wall and bar (complete with side panel). For your information, that’s Ryan standing by the fireplace … he makes an excellent scale figure.
In the picture above, you can see (hopefully) the more intimately scaled sitting area located adjacent to the main living area. Now it should make sense why the ceiling is lowered and why we placed the bar in this area. It’s convenient … but not in your face. This bar has class.
Since we’re here, I thought I would throw in a couple of extra pictures of the walnut fireplace wall, and in particular, give you a nice closeup look at the detail I sketched up for the corner transition at the paneling. I know, I don’t love the wall switches here either, but since this and the bar are all solid walnut paneling, it simply couldn’t have been avoided.
This next bit should probably get its own dedicated post, but, we’ll just have to wait and see if that happens. In the picture above, this is the entry hallway. To the far left (the plywood and red primed steel) is the front door, and it’s an extremely cool front door (read: The Front Door of your House is Important). I should actually show you the floor plan for this area – maybe you can figure out what’s about to blow your mind …
Take a minute before just jumping down to the next image … look closely at the plan. Do you see it? I’ll give you a clue: Look for the tag that reads “17”. Did you find it?
It’s a hidden closet door!! Okay, maybe the build up was a bit much but I’m telling you – one friend to another – you can’t tell this panel is a door when you are standing in the space. It is PERFECTLY executed and is really, really awesome. When we decided that we had to have a coat closet located in the entry hall, I was extremely pained to put a typical door – along with typical door hardware – in this amazing walnut paneled hallway. I know why we needed it, I just didn’t want this space to be defined by some stupid (but necessary) coat closet. Enter the secret touch-latch hidden coat closet!
Back to the bar (this was a post on bars after all). The wood panel that cordoned off the sink doesn’t go entirely from front to back – I held it off the front edge so that things could be swept along and deposited into the sink from any point on the bar.
And the finished product! Well, not really. The cabinets haven’t received their final adjustment, the painters haven’t applied the clear finish on the wood, the backsplash and mirror haven’t been set yet … there’s a bit more work to complete before we truly have a finished product.
It still looks pretty good, though, right? Cheers! (literally)