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Everything You Need to Know About Wet Bars

Graduate from Mixology 101.

Headshot of Medgina Saint-ElienBy Medgina Saint-Elien
wet bar set up
Robert Peterson

The luxuries you love the most deserve a dedicated spot to shine. If making delicious cocktails is your thing, then you need a bar with all the fixings. Enter: the wet bar. It's the ultimate must-have for any host who doesn't hold back in showering your home and the people you have over with the best of the best. Commonly found in hotel suites, pool cabanas, and well-equipped home bars, a wet bar brings a whole new level of sophistication and functionality to your entertaining.

New York City–based interior designer Emily Del Bello of Emily Del Bello Interiors explains, "A wet bar is a space that can provide extra storage to space for entertainment, but includes a sink. The area is typically for mixing and serving drinks but offers the ability to have running water, where it gets the name 'wet' from."

The sink is the crown jewel of a wet bar setup. Its benefits start with making it easier to clean up all of life's messes and wipe down your station when the party is over. You can also fill a wet bar sink with ice to chill several bottles at once. (And when the party's over, you can just drain it instead of having to empty buckets or coolers.)

While wet bars are usually on the smaller side, you can customize your kitchen, dining room, living room, study, or basement to add a larger-than-life wet bar. To take things up a notch, you can even install a wine fridge, ice maker, or small dishwasher to take care of things when you're too exhausted to lift a finger. It's a treat to you and your home.

House Beautiful director of special projects Carisha Swanson says, "This is a place to show off, so why not have your premium bottles on display, but maybe on the top shelf?! You want to create a MIY bar but not with your prized bottle of Pappy."

Dry Bar Vs. Wet Bar

The difference between a dry bar and a wet bar is in the name. A dry bar has no plumbing so it's essentially a dedicated stretch of countertop or cabinets, while a wet bar has plumbing and a sink with a drain. Both types of home bars make entertaining guests more efficient while looking incredibly chic. Dry bars allow you to prepare drinks and store glassware. Wet bars do all that and more. With a wet bar, you can rinse and wash your precious wine glasses away from your main kitchen dishwasher.

The major pro to having a wet bar is that it gets even better with customization. You already have plumbing, so why not say yes to a wine cooler or beverage fridge? A small dishwasher is convenient too, especially if your wet bar isn't especially close to your kitchen.

"Basically, pack 'em in," says Swanson. "If you have the space below, fill it with appliances and use upper open shelving for bottles, glassware, and barware.

If you're low on square footage, keep your wet bar accoutrements small. You don't need full-size wine column refrigerators (although those are very nice). You can install an under-counter ice maker, beverage cooler, or wine fridge to save space.

"Don’t forget, this is an area where you can have fun with a dynamic backsplash but also materials in general," says Swanson. "Where you might go a little quieter in the primary kitchen with neutrals, here's an opportunity to be bold! Go with a great (but stain-resistant) countertop color and a tile you loved but were hesitant to use in your primary kitchen space."

Whether your home bar is small or big enough to host a huge party, there are tons of wet bar design ideas to inspire you to make the most of it. Tired of bending down? Add a floating shelf to keep your most frequently used mixers within easy reach. Not sure how to add color? Paint your wet bar cabinets a fun color or test out removable wallpaper on the walls of the wet bar alcove. Below, we've listed everything you need to know about wet bars and tips to elevate your layout. If you're not a fan of alcohol, you can easily use the same space to create an epic home coffee bar. You won't even need to step into the kitchen to fill the coffee carafe.


Integrate Lighting

wet bar designed by emily del bello
Marco Ricca

Shelf lighting lets you turn off the overhead fixtures for the afterparty and set a moody scene. It also makes your glassware gleam and glow. "We like to use gorgeous stemware or glassware that the homeowner can actually use when utilizing the space," says Del Bello.


Pick a Bold Color

wet bar set up
Christina Hussey

Ashley DeLapp Interiors designed a seafoam green wet bar that's bold enough to keep you on your toes. The shelves float on a wall in the colors of the ocean floor.


Go Below Deck

blue wet bar
Emily Followill

Navy blue paint adds depth and intrigue to any space. Together with brass finishings, it also has a nautical feel. The porthole door and globe lights in this Texas home's swanky bar alcove, designed by Meredith McBrearty, hew to the theme.

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Reflect Your Lifestyle

wet bar set up
Laure Joliet

Espresso martini coming right up! Coffee lovers, you don't have to sacrifice any of your gadgets. Stock your little bar nook for morning, noon, and night. With shelves on top and storage tucked below the sink (hidden by a curtain), you'll never want to leave your home.


Customize the Storage

dark blue wet bar
Erin Sander Design

Show off an impressive wine collection with racks and cubbies that display all your beautiful bottles and glassware. This room also has tons of storage space and room on the counters for making sangria and appetizers.


Include Something for Everyone

green and gold wet bar
Robert Peterson

Your media room deserves an upgrade. Here, designer Keia McSwain proves it's not impossible to have it all. Outfitted with adult and kids' beverage drawers and a hidden drawer for movie snacks, this well-equipped wet bar ensures your family will enjoy quality time in total comfort and style. "It should be a space where they can congregate, escape, chill, hang out, have fun, play games, and interact with each other…and have a drink or six," says McSwain.

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Mix Materials

green wet bar
diana paulson

Marble, tile, wood, copper: It's a material cocktail that works! This wet bar has a utilitarian-chic feel thanks to the exposed copper pipes and cross-handle sink fixtures.


Choose Tile

blue wet bar
House Beautiful

Your wet bar will ooze with elegance when you choose a glossy tile pattern for the backdrop. Ombré blue colors give this alcove an airy feel, while deep blue cabinets ground the space.


Go Monochrome

green wet bar
Mary Craven Dawkins

This wet bar designed by Christina Lake will have your guests green with envy. Anytime you need to refresh drinks at the dinner table, simply prop the door open to keep the conversation going.

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Create a Pool Bar

outdoor indoor wet bar
Alec Hemer

Keep the party going inside and outside your home all summer. Throw open the window in front of your wet bar, set up a table and a few stools, and your setup will rival your favorite spot in town.


Build Your Own Speakeasy

dual wet bar
Laure Jolie

When you're carving up a room into separate zones, consider creating an actual dividing line with a counter. Here, Reath Designs also separated two "rooms" with color blocking. The adjoining family room is a soft, bright green color, while the wet bar is a moodier green and eggplant.


Add Sliding Doors

wood wet bar
Stephen Kent Johnson

Designed by Studio Shamshiri, this home bar is like a little speakeasy—you'd never know it's there unless someone showed you. Sliding doors open to a spacious wet bar. You can keep it closed and save space when you're not entertaining—no one will notice a thing!

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Show Off Your Glassware

green and blue wet bar
Thomas Loof

This chic home wet bar designed by Ashley Whitaker is the perfect blueprint for glassware collectors. Displayed proudly, these cobalt and lime glasses speak to the deep marine cabinets.


Build a Unit

black wet bar
Douglas Friedman

You'll be proud to entertain your friends at a home bar that reflects all your interests. This wet bar setup with a DIY feel accomplishes everything a standalone home bar could, but it doesn't take up nearly as much space—even though it has a sink. From mesh enclosures to other compartmentalized nooks for books and upside-down stemware storage, this wet bar has it all.


Choose Dutch Doors

wet bar farmhouse
Francesco Lagnese

Get crafty with a charming Dutch door as shown in this living room designed by Jessie Carrier and Mara Miller. Concealing a small but fully functioning wet bar, the farmhouse veneer allows it to blend right in, and, style aside, the bisected door enables easy reach-in access.

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Make Clean Up Easy

home wet bar
Lesley Unruh

Around the corner from the kitchen designed by Sarah Blank is a fully stocked home bar. Perfectly hidden, this wet bar is a lifesaver on busy holidays when the house is full. You can grab glasses from its custom shelves, then put them right in the paneled dishwasher.


Keep the Drama

wet bar
Jared Kuzia

This stunning wet bar is worth a double take. Designer Vani Sayeed created a space that allows for seamless serving and quick cleanup. Pullout trays give you extra counter space in an instant. There's also a prep sink and under-counter refrigerator drawer.

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