our polished rustic bar

We moved into our house four years ago this month. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long! While our house was brand new when we moved in and we loved (and still do!) the bones of the house, it was a builder’s spec home. Over time, we’ve been able to tweak a few things here and there – adding a window, texturizing part of the exterior foundation, painting (oh my goodness, the painting. I hate builders-grade flat paint.), landscaping, tiling, etc. There’s been one project looming this entire time that we weren’t sure we had the time, energy, or dollars to tackle: the unfinished bar in the basement.

Our builders were… fine. But they “ran out of money” and didn’t give us the bar that was drawn into the floor plans. We found out about this a week before closing. It was a disaster. We decided to close and swallow the bitter pill that came with having an unfinished project in our basement.


See that bump-out on the left side of this pic? That’s where the bar was supposed to go. There’s pipes sticking out from the lower part of that wall – live water pipes and a drain pipe. Somehow my kids never managed to break the pipes and spray water all over the basement.


So we waited, and we dreamed, and we pinned pinterest pics. By the time we were finally ready to tackle the bar, I had every detail pretty well nailed down in my head. Joey? Just wanted a spot to put the keg fridge that we’d acquired along the way, and a TV on the wall. Noted. I think we accomplished both of our goals:


It’s hard to believe this is the same room from that first photo. It’s so very us now. My decorating style has always been a little weird. I love old/rustic/reclaimed… everything. It’s a nod to my tiny-town roots, I suppose. However, I also love things that are polished and have clean lines and sometimes even a little bit of sparkle. That’s where every element in the bar came from, it either had to be rustic or it had to be polished – thus, our polished rustic bar was born. (I feel a little like Catherine Lowe planning her “grown sexy”-themed wedding and wondering if anyone is buying what I’m trying to tell them. 🙂

Earlier this year, we decided to start biting off some smaller projects that we could tackle on our own. I can’t… put cabinets in or run new electrical lines. But I can paint. So we painted the entire basement Sherwin-Williams Backdrop. It’s this amazing, warm, deep greige that just really makes my heart happy. Our basement is a daylight, but we miss the added light that a walkout would provide. I wanted something that would still reflect light during the day but cozy up once the sun goes down.

Our other project at the beginning of the year was rip the carpet out of this bar “nook” area and put down plank vinyl floor tiles. On a whim, we picked these white-ish gray wood-look planks. They are perfect. I love the contrast and brightness they provide. The flooring store we bought them from promised they were virtually indestructible – waterproof, stain resistant, super tough and durable. So far, so good!


Once we were ready to start on the bar, Joey pretty much handed me the keys and said don’t mess this up. We hired my best friend’s dad (whom we all just call Paco at this point) to build the bar and do all the things that neither Joey and I are qualified to do. This was awesome in that it was sort of like hiring my dad to do the work: I could tell him my completely crazy ideas and he’d roll with them.


So, armed with my pinterest board and generally pointing at dimensions within our existing floor plan, we were off. Paco wanted us to curve the bar, so we did – and I’m SO glad we did, it adds so much character. I picked these gray-ish brown stained maple cabinets that Joey thought were way too light but he came around and we both love them now.


This hundred-year-old barn wood was kind of the pièce de résistance of the entire bar – it’s what I designed everything around. I’m lucky enough to have an amazing stepdad who, a few years ago, let us salvage this wood from a shed he was about to demolish. It’s so gorgeous. It flows around the curved bar perfectly and I’m thrilled that the home I envisioned for this old wood became a reality.


This bar top, you guys. We were really set on having a copper bar top, and we’ve achieved that and it’s gorgeous and I love it so much. But I feel like I need to have a moment of silence for the stress we put Paco through in the process. This was… tricky. The copper comes in thin sheets from a company that specializes in treating copper. You can’t touch it without wearing gloves or the oil on your fingers will stain it. It had to be glued down, then lacquered, then epoxied with self-leveling epoxy. Oh! And the house had to be 80 degrees while he did it. It was sticky. Hot and sticky. It’s really amazing though, I love it!


You can sort of see that the curve in the bar extends to this counter top and cabinets too. It’s a gentle curve but seriously adds so much! The granite has tiny flecks of red and purplish in it, I wanted something white to boost the lightness that the floor was also helping with. Fun things: Joey had our electrician put a USB outlet in the bar back splash so our guests can charge their phones a little more easily. We made the keg fridge mobile-ish by putting the CO2 tank in the cabinet next to the keg fridge. It’s as simple as unscrewing a tube if we want to move elsewhere for an event. Lastly, we put an outlet behind this cabinet bank so we can put a microwave in the right cabinet so we don’t lose counter space (or have to stare at an ugly microwave).
These are the cabinets (and fridge!) that fit in the bump-out in the first photo. It feels so crazy to look at it now!
These shelves were the second bit of reclaimed wood I wanted to incorporate. Joey likes to collect pieces of scrap wood. It’s so weird and it used to annoy me so much because we have these 15 pieces of wood always leaning against the wall in the garage. However, his random wood pile has saved me countless times and in this case, it made a gorgeous addition to the bar. These two shelves came from a single board that we cut and then I sanded and stained. Prior to staining, I had Brecken and Jude beat them up a bit with some tools. They thought this was super fun and I love that they helped add some character.
These mirrored silvery subway tiles behind the shelves were the perfect bit of sparkle I wanted for the bar. These shelves became the focal point of the room and I wanted something to make them pop. I love the rough stone we chose for the lower back splash but I wanted a big contrast to brighten up the space between the shelves. This tile was a lucky find.
The other side of the bar was finished with a rustic table and stools and a shelf for Joe Montana. Joe Montana’s spirit lives inside that autographed helmet on the shelf and Joey is the only person in the house who can touch Joe. I’m just glad Joe and his friends finally have a home that isn’t staring at the bottom of a tote in our storage room.
I have plans for some canvases or photos or something on the walls by the table, but that’ll come eventually. This summer, my mom gave me this giant orb made of the bands from wine barrels. It’s going to be a light above this table, but that’s a few pinterest projects away right now.
I love it, I think Joey loves it, the boys are sad we took away their floor for driving hot wheels but I think they’ll survive. I can’t wait to have friends and family over and break it in!

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