Before & After: A Little DIY Magic Turns a Useless Corner into a Stylish Built-in Bar

updated Mar 29, 2021
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Before: Fireplace with empty corner to the right
Credit: April Shen

Moving into a new home can leave you with a lot of spaces that just don’t have much function, like awkward nooks, cramped alcoves, and empty corners. When April Shen and her husband purchased their home, they were stuck with the latter: a pretty generously sized but otherwise wasted alcove to the right of their fireplace. It had a lot of potential, April thought, and she wanted to create something both stylish and functional that would maximize that small square footage.

Credit: April Shen

April and her husband agreed to a built-in bar, which would fit perfectly in the spot. But quotes ranged from $3,000 to $5,000 for custom-built cabinets, and none matched the design she had in mind. 

“We were feeling so defeated, since we had thought it would cost at most between $1,000 to $2,000,” April says. She considered purchasing a bar cart or a large, empty cabinet to fill the space on a small budget, but she knew that wasn’t really what she wanted. So April created a new plan.

Credit: April Shen

After being inspired by DIY blogger Jenna Sue, April researched the tools and materials needed for a DIY built-in bar project and got her husband on board. After they settled on a design, they hit up IKEA for the cabinet frames, doors, and wood countertop.

Credit: April Shen

While the bulk of the built-in bar came from IKEA, April made it look truly custom with a few special touches. First, she combined solid and glass-front cabinet doors (one of which hides a wine fridge); second, she added her own hardware, which she found on Amazon; and third, she combined both white and wood cabinets, which makes this setup look way higher end.

The entire process of designing and building the bar took one month, with total costs coming in at around $1,500 — still less than April had been quoted by a pro, and she got exactly what she wanted.

Credit: April Shen

The built-in bar brings lots of personality to the couple’s home, and DIYing it saved them hundreds of dollars. “We absolutely love how it turned out,” April says. “If we could do something differently, it would be to have more confidence in ourselves and to have started earlier.”

This post originally appeared on Apartment Therapy. See it there: Before and After: An Empty, Useless Corner Becomes a Stylish Built-in Bar for $1,500