Might Be In Over My Head…Maybe?

So one of the really cool features that our new home had was a built in bar with lighting, cabinet storage and a sink. Not that we are heavy drinkers by far but we do like to entertain and the bar was an awesome unexpected feature to get. However, like the rest of our family room, it was trapped in a time warp and stuck in the 90s. The tile, which would stay and was in good shape, screamed country and old fashioned when pair with an orangey yellow oak cabinet with traditional stock cabinetry front and no handles or knobs. There was a mad array of wiring underneath and like most of the cabinets in our house was stained and not so clean. (My mother was helping us and the thing was so dirty it took her 4 hours just to clean the bar and I kid you not.)

Unlike any of my previous designs, the inspiration that I had for the bar was one of pragmatism as what I really would have liked to do was out of the budget…some day with my True Dream Kitchen. The bar itself was in pretty good shape and so was the countertop. There was no upper storage as you can see in the before photos. But frankly it was so not near the top of our list of to dos, I would have to make do with what we had already.

So with memories of my table redo fast in my mind right now, which actually came after the bar in my timeline of renos, I share that the process I choose was a relatively fast change but a majorly impactful one.

Here is what I had on hand from other projects:

  • 2 Floating Black Shelves
  • Extra Handles and Knobs from the Kitchen
  • Ebony Stain
  • Polyurethane
  • Sand Paper

I decided to stain it to match that of the kitchen divider counter top and table and hang the two black shelves to resolve the upper storage issue. The only thing I was missing was the TSP to strip the stain and protectant off. This process actually went pretty smoothly – way smoother than my table redo. I would recommend putting plenty of protection down on the ground where you are stripping the paint or stain. You might need more than one application of TSP. But once applied wait about 15 to 30 minutes, then lightly scrap off with a plastic putty knife or stripper knife. Plus, I would highly recommend taking the doors off the hinges and any hardware off before stripping and staining. Once done I lightly sanded all the surfaces where I had applied the stripper with extra fine paper to smooth everything out, dusted them and stained in the same manner I did with my table from my kitchen table and chairs set. I was in a bit of a hurry so I only did the front of the doors with the stain. When I have time, I will take them off again and finish the job BUT since no one other than family should be going in our cabinets for now they work and I think they look great!

Next I painted the inside of the cabinet with extra white paint I had. This not only sealed the cabinet that had stains and a not so reputable background when it came to being clean but it also gave it a more finished look. I used duct tape to tape and hid the rogue wiring. Lastly, for the cabinet, I put on two polished chrome hinges, handles and knobs – extras from my kitchen project. Cabinet done.

Next was the shelving. I would like to say this was the easy portion of the project but as I have come to find out in my house…nothing is as easy as I think it should be. First suggestion, as with all projects, is to gather all your materials. In this case I needed:

  • The shelves
  • Hammer
  • Screws
  • Molly bolts or anchors weight appropriate
  • Hardware included
  • Drill with Drill bits (metal and wood) and Screw heads
  • Stud Finder
  • Level
  • A second pair of hands from a helper

These shelves came with a template and a predrilled back plate that gets secured to the wall, preferably into studs. So the first order at hand was to locate my studs. I took the stud finder and was able to locate all the studs in the wall. I marked them with a pencil. Next, I took the level and found the horizontal level line and lightly marked it with a pencil in one solid line from wall to wall. As long as it is light, it is easily washed away.

Next was to determine where I wanted the shelves. They were small enough I could center them but trying to make it perfectly centered and for the two shelves to line up seemed like a lot more work than I wanted and seemed predictable from a design standpoint. So I chose to offset the shelves, one against each wall for a cool asymmetrical look.  Then, I took the template and lined it up in the level line and marked each hole with an x. I next compared where the holes marked on the template compared to the location of the studs. Sadly, only one hole lined up.

So when they do not line up, you have to make your own holes. So I marked on the metal the locations of the studs and slowly but surely drilled holes into the strip using the metal drill bit. I then drilled holes to the corresponding places on the wall, always making sure I was level. This worked great for one of the shelves but the other had a support bar right through the location of one of the studs. In this case, I kept the original hole. But since I was going through drywall, I needed to first drill holes for an anchor that would support the weight and then insert the anchor. Once all the holes were drilled in all the right places, it was time to put up the shelf.

To do this, first I secured the bar to the wall with the screws. Always tighten screws half way until all the screws are in the wall and then tighten them the rest of the way. This helps to keep the shelf level and make it easier to line screws up with the holes. As a tip, have someone lightly push up on the piece as you are installing the bracket/bar so that the steel bar remains level. Next, in the case of floating shelves, I lined up corresponding holes on the shelves to the support bars on the bracket and pushed them into place. You may have to give them a tap or two with a soft covered mallet to get them fully in and flush to the wall. Next, in order to secure them, they need to be screwed in from the bottom like a friction fit. In order to ensure the tightest, most secure and most level fit, have someone push firmly in on the shelf and up. Lastly, you will want to make sure your work is level not only from left to right but also from the inside of the shelf to the outer front edge of the shelf.

Only thing left to do is decorate and enjoy your work. We had a collection of shot glasses that we got on our honeymoon along with the shot glasses I have collected over the years from the places I have travelled. These shelves were a perfect place to give them order and display them.

Some time in the future I may get around to redoing the bar like I have always envisioned a bar but for now I am please with how some leftovers have definitely raised the standard on our family’s bar.

See you next post and let me know if you decide to take on any similar projects. I would love to hear who they turn out!

Bar Before

Bar Before

Bar After

Bar After

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