What is a Wet Bar? Design Solutions & Ideas for your 5 Most Important Questions!

Sure, we all know the answer to the question “What is a wet bar?”, but you probably have more questions about how to include one in a new home, or how to deal with an existing one. In this post, I’ll be answering the five most popular questions on a home wet bar and offering some design solutions.

What is a Wet Bar?

A wet bar is a home bar that has a sink with running water and ties into the homes plumbing system. A wet bar that is far away from the kitchen, whether in the basement, part of an outdoor kitchen, or just in another room on the same floor, can be invaluable. Think of all the time and energy you’ll save when entertaining!

A wet bar sink is great for washing out glassware, prepping drinks, disposing of ice from a cocktail shaker, and post-party cleanup. For that reason, a wet bar is a much better choice than a dry bar.

Are Wet Bars Out of Style?

Wet bars, in and of themselves, aren’t dated or out of style. The materials and finishes might be in need of a refresh, but a well designed and styled wet bar will always look great.

For example, a Tuscan style bar with dark cabinets and countertops, wrought iron accents, and lots of decorative flourishes will look straight out of 2008. But that doesn’t mean the bar itself is dated. Keep reading for ideas on how to update a wet bar.

How Much Space is Needed for a Wet Bar?

The answer to this question varies widely. A wet bar can be as simple as a small nook, to a complete front bar with counter seating and back bar area, and everything in between!

The smallest size for a walk-up type wet bar would be about 3’x5′ for. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Width: A wet bar sink is 15″ wide, and in a 36″ wide cabinet, that leaves about 18″ for a work surface. It’s pretty cramped, but it can work if you don’t have a lot of space. Walk-up style wet bars look best in the 5′-6′ wide range.
  • Depth: Cabinets are 2′ deep, and you’ll want to leave an additional 3′ clear area in front of the cabinets for standing and maneuvering.
  • Height: Base cabinets are usually 36″ (including the countertop), however, bar countertop heights can vary depending on seating and design.

Think of your bar area as a large piece of furniture. While a longer run of cabinets will give more storage and workspace, that longer run will most likely be out of scale and dominate the room. Size the wet bar area to be a feature, and not a distraction, in the room.

What is a Wet Bar and What Features should I Include in it?

Obviously, you need a sink to be a wet bar. For easy cleanup, an under mount wet bar sink is essential. Depending on the overall size of the wet bar, and its proximity to the kitchen, you might want to splurge on some additional features.

Some of these items will be highly dependent on what you and your guests like to drink. Consider including the following items in your wet bar area.


Adding a dishwasher in a basement wet bar seems like a no-brainer. That way you can keep all your glassware right there, instead of schlepping it upstairs and then back down.

Under Counter Refrigerator

Another no-brainer. Especially if you make a lot of cocktails and have ingredients that need refrigeration. Or, fill it with bottles of your favorite brew.

Wine Cooler

A wine cooler is a necessity for the those that prefer “the grape”. A wine cooler is a much better choice than a regular refrigerator. Newair.com has an interesting article on the benefits of storing wine in a cooler.


Nothing compares to an ice cold draft beer on a hot summer day. With a Kegerator, you can enjoy a frosty one right at your own home bar. Sweet!

Ice Maker

An ice maker would be ideal for the serious mixologist’s home bar.

Storage & Shelving

A wet bar needs all kind of storage to function well. Provide storage for glassware, bar equipment, alcohol bottles, mixers and other ingredients.


A home wet bar can have a surprising number of electrical requirements. In addition to powering the appliances above, you’ll want to consider the following.

  • Extra outlets for countertop appliances like a blender.
  • Decorative and task lighting using both pendants and can lights.
  • A television can be the central focus of a bar. Make sure you have enough wall space, power and cable connections, and adequate support to hang the TV on the wall.

What is a Wet Bar and How Do You Style One?

Styling a wet bar is going to depend on the overall decorating theme of your home. Make sure the bar’s design fits in with the overall scheme of the home. It’s really easy to change up the look of wet bar with material choices and simple styling.

Let’s return to our Tuscan example, from above. Updating a wet bar can be a fairly easy home improvement project. Cabinets can be painted or replaced with a simple Shaker style door. Since a wet bar is usually not very big, countertop costs are not going to be crazy, out of this world high. You might even be able to splurge on a higher end granite countertop that is a remnant.

Another easy update is to tile the back wall of a wet bar all the way to the ceiling. Again, it’s a relatively small area, so you can splurge on a really fancy tile. A more economical choice would be a lovely wallpaper.

Floating shelves are very popular right now, and can definitely breathe new life into a dated wet bar. Shelves offer a great place to add extra style. Tap into your bar theme, or display a beautiful decanter set, or a collection of vintage beer steins (or whatever you collect).

Decorating and organizing a wet bar is very similar to decorating a bar cart. Keep items that you use often on lower shelves, use trays and boxes to corral everything, and add some decorative items. Be sure to checkout our Pinterest boards for inspiration!

Hopefully, I’ve not only answered the question “What is a wet bar?” but also given some ideas on how to plan a new one or deal with an existing one.

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What is a wet bar? Have one in your home and not sure what to do with it? Or, thinking of adding one to your new build? Get answers to some common design questions.