How to Convert a Pantry Into a Dry Bar


Whether you specialize in collecting liquors or wines, or you just love to entertain, a dry bar makes storing and using your collection simple. An unused pantry is the perfect space in many homes to create a built-in dry bar, and you can make the project a quick and inexpensive one, or go all out with brand new cabinets and high-end appliances. For the best results, always hire an electrician to run wiring to the space.

Door Ideas

  • Remove the pantry door so that the space is open to the rest of your home. Remove the wood trim around the door and refinish the drywall beneath it so it coordinates with the adjacent kitchen or dining area, or install new wood molding to set the bar off, taking a cue from the molding used around open entryways in other parts of your home. To keep the bar hidden, leave the door in place. For the best of both worlds, replace the door with a pocket door. This allows you to keep the bar hidden when not in use, but leaves it entirely open when you need it.

Rework the Interior Layout

  • For a quick, inexpensive dry bar, you can reuse much of the shelving inside of the pantry. Locate a shelf that is about 36 inches above the ground, which is standard countertop height. Use this as your main workspace, removing some of the shelves above it to keep it open so that you have plenty of room to work. Utilize the top shelves for storing glasses and the shelves below the counter to store liquors and mixers.

Redo the Interior Layout

  • Create a true dry bar by removing all of the shelving in the pantry. Install cabinets that match the adjacent kitchen inside of the pantry so that the counter comes up flush with the surrounding trim, or so that it comes up just behind the opening if you’re using a pocket door or leaving the existing door in place. Install upper cabinets so that they come up at the same point. This ensures that doors and drawers will open fully and gives the dry bar a built-in look, rather than appearing to be a pantry conversion.

Finish Ideas

  • Paint the walls of the pantry and refinish shelving or choose cabinetry so that the dry bar resembles the room around it, giving the entire space a cohesive look. Choose paint finishes, cabinetry and a countertop that are easy to clean, as spills are likely to occur at some point. Apply a protective topcoat to the cabinets or shelving so that they’re easy to wipe down, and opt for a nonporous countertop, such as quartz or man-made acrylic.

Upgrade Ideas

  • Include high-end upgrades to turn your basic dry bar into something extraordinary. Install a wine cooler underneath the counter or a small refrigerator to house mixers or beers. Secure hanging wine glass racks on the underside of the upper counter for a classic look and additional storage. Include recessed lighting underneath the cabinet to make the space well lit and easy to work in, and create a backsplash along the wall behind the work area for a decorative touch.

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