Wet bars slip in & out of popularity

January 11, 2009|By CHRISTINE BRUN / Creators Services

Popular amenities in new and remodeled homes often follow the shifting fads of popular culture. Some of the more exotic new spaces in contemporary homes include pet rooms, packing rooms and wrapping rooms, all of which relate to how people live today.

Every generation or so, young adults rediscover the "joys" of hard liquor. So it is natural that home bars enjoy resurgence in popularity from time to time.

Many of us grew up when a chilled martini greeted the tired father who returned by train from the city or after fighting freeway traffic for hours. Consequently, wet bars were wildly popular in the 1960s and '70s.

Today, however, they seem to have been replaced in many homes by an auxiliary prep sink that can double as a bar. These days, people are looking for more function than what was typically associated with the baby boom wet bar.


In the '60s and '70s, the wet bar sink was itty-bitty, and it was surrounded by cupboards and some sort of hanging device for glassware. Today, if one has room for a "bar" sink or additional food-prep area, a deeper and wider sink is more sought after.

A garbage disposal is often standard equipment for a spot that might have to double as a food prep area. The next most popular piece of kitchen equipment for a wet bar is a dishwasher.

Some people use a standard 24-inch-wide dishwasher unit. Others only have room for an 18-inch-wide model or single-drawer dishwasher.

Another way to somewhat modernize the concept of a bar is to hide the glassware. After all, who has time to dust rows of narrow stemware shelves and to keep glasses shiny and clean?

Our example in the photo shows a clean arrangement with little left on the countertops to gather dust. In the corner is a tray with an ice bucket and a few decanters. Otherwise, this could be a well-tended kitchen instead of a bar.

Another up-to-date feature is a full-height window where in the past glass storage might have been placed. Windows serve to open up smaller kitchen or bar areas.

The window in the photo begins at the granite countertop and reaches up to the ceiling. Another fun placement is between the countertop and the bottom of upper cabinets. I've seen designers use glass blocks or textured glass in similar situations so light is admitted while privacy remains uncompromised by the prying eyes of neighbors and passers-by.

The window treatment from Hunter Douglas in our example provides the option of privacy or an open view of the city beyond. It is another way to tone down the bar-like aspect to the space. Large hurricane candleholders also add dreaminess to the room.

Another way to cozy up a home bar might be to hang a charming light fixture or hanging candleholder over or to the side of the sink. There are dozens of contemporary candleholders to choose from.

Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego-based interior designer and the author of "Big Ideas for Small Spaces." Send questions and comments to her by e-mail at

Copyright 2008 Creators Syndicate Inc.

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