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With a little cash and a little more elbow grease, it is possible to create a beautiful, functional coffee bar that gets used every morning! This project took a bit of planning but ultimately, it was one of the quicker DiY projects we have taken on.
Our New Home Had Two Wet Bars
When we moved into our home two years ago, it was in its original early 1980’s condition. Having lived through that era once already, we really didn’t want to repeat it in our new home. There were mirrors everywhere, and not one but two horrid and outdated wet bars. One was in the dining room, as you might expect. The second was in the master bedroom, of all places!
Because we knew we had a major renovation coming in the form of the kitchen and three bathrooms, we could not make the wet bars a priority right away. However, they were incredibly ugly! I set about to find a way to alter them enough to make them livable without breaking the bank.
Here is the wet bar in our bedroom before we took any action:
Yes, there are three mirrors in the surround, and several glass shelves with rusty gold support brackets. Can you say hideous?
Mirror Removal and Fresh Paint
Because there were just so many mirrors in crazy places, one of my first tasks on moving in was to find a handyman that would remove them. Fortunately, I found a wonderful handyman on my first try, and not only did he remove thirteen huge mirrors, but he stuck around to replace several light fixtures and smoke detectors. I was amazed that he did not break a single mirror – some of them were close to six feet wide!
My handyman extraordinaire also retextured the walls where the mirrors had been, so that they would match the rest of the walls once I painted them.
My next project was to paint the cabinets. The exterior was – of course – orange-y oak, as was so popular back in the 80s. The insides were dark brown! So dark that you could not easily see what was stored in them! Oh, and they smelled like mothballs!
I chose to paint two coats of primer on the interiors, and then a coat of bright white. Suddenly, I was able to see inside the cabinets. On the exterior, I used a deep (but not quite navy) shade of blue – Sherwin Williams Indigo Batik #7602.
After painting, we replaced the hardware – both knobs and hinges – to a modern brushed nickel design.
A Temporary Fix that Looks Amazing
After the work of painting came the fun part of the renovation!
As I mentioned, this was designed to be a temporary fix until we were ready to commit to a final design for the wet bar. But the counter was an ugly mottled orange shade and it just looked sad to me. My solution was to order a heavy-duty adhesive paper – similar to contact paper but more durable. I chose a bright white faux-marble finish. I also purchased peel and stick tile sheets for the back and side walls around the bar.
Applying the paper finish on the counter was a bit tricky, and fortunately, I had my daughter Meaghan visiting, so there were two sets of hands on the project. That paper is STICKY! Eventually, we had the entire counter covered and the effort was well worth it. The peel and stick tile sheets were so easy to put up, especially after working on the counter!
My final step in this project was to make these faux finishes look real. I did this by adding spackling to all the seams where different pieces of the papers lined up. First, I placed painter’s tape on either side of the seam. Then, I just applied the spackle with my finger right down the line. I removed the painter’s tape while the spackle was still wet, and got beautiful, clean lines of spackle everywhere I wanted it. This was an important final step in the project!
Here is an “after” picture:
And now, side by side, so you can see what a difference this DIY project made:
The Coffee Bar Setup
Once the project was complete, I set up our coffee maker and supplies. Our coffee machine has an auto setting, and we are able to gradually wake up each morning to the scent of freshly brewed coffee!
My husband is the first out of bed, and when he goes downstairs to let the dog out, he fills a small pitcher with milk and brings it back up. With that bit of effort, we have everything we need at our fingertips while we get ready for our days.
And that is how we turned an 80’s wet bar into a cozy coffee bar!
Keeping the Projects Coming
After our new coffee bar was complete, I was sufficiently motivated to renovate our dining room wet bar in the same manner, and using the same faux-marble paper and tiles. Friends are amazed when I point out that it’s all fake – I guess I shouldn’t tell them, but I can’t seem to help myself!
A few months after these projects were completed, I decided that I really could no longer live with the yellowed tile on our living room fireplace. Because our rooms are open, you can see both the dining room wet bar and the fireplace, and that marble countertop made the fireplace tiles look just that much worse.
Solution? You guessed it – I cut pieces of the “marble” paper to cover the fireplace tiles, as well! It creates such a cohesive look to the rooms.
Although I do someday hope to renovate these areas more completely in the future, for now, I am truly satisfied with my very easy, very inexpensive – but very realistic-looking – DIY wet bars and fireplace.
I think these materials are perfect for the purpose I have used them, and they would be a great, non-permanent fix for renters looking to upgrade the appearance of their property, as well.
What do you think – do you have an 80’s wet bar you’d like to turn into a cozy and functional coffee bar?
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