While kitchens and bathrooms typically garner the greatest returns in a remodel or new construction project, there’s profit potential in smaller spaces, too. Wet bars provide a perfect example of this.
“Wet bars are a great extension of what we do,” says Jackie Smith, senior designer, Dream Kitchens in Nashua, NH. “They really fit into the world of kitchen design. And, they are great spaces for clients’ personalities to show through because clients tend to be a little more playful and relaxed in these spaces.”
By adding wet bars to their repertoire, designers can incorporate products that can boost their bottom line, such as high-end lighting, cabinetry and faucets; ornate corbels, carvings and mouldings; unique backsplashes, and specialty glass and countertops. Typically these spaces don’t require as much of these products and materials as do kitchens, so clients may be more willing to make the extra investment in the project.
Personality and function
Wet bars can range from extravagant rooms all their own to small nooks integrated into the kitchen or other room in the home. One of Smith’s recent clients added a 36'x36' addition just so they could have a bar for entertaining. The space has its own sound/lighting system and comes complete with a refrigerator, cooktop and seating for 14 people. Other amenities include a pool table, a fireplace and a deck that leads to the lake.
For George Ritter, Sr., CKD, of Knight Kitchens in North Clarendon, VT, sophisticated wet bars are a must for upscale homes. Among those he has designed are one in St. Croix where the bar opens off of the kitchen into a veranda, and another for a 30,000-sq.-ft. home in New York for homeowners who enjoy entertaining on a large scale.
While most wet bars are less grandiose, design goals are similar…create appealing, functional spaces for clients to entertain guests.
For Shannon Baldwin, at The Little Red Barn in Calabasas, CA, storage, display and an adequate amount of work space are overriding customer concerns.
For Greg Young of Sterling Kitchens, with five locations in the greater Philadelphia, PA area, a more casual atmosphere accented by dark-stained cabinets is a popular request.
Location, location, location
Dan Thompson, president, DDK Kitchen Design Group in Wilmette, IL, indicates that wet bars are typically located adjacent to the kitchen and oftentimes they become part of a kitchen remodel.
Smith sees similarities, yet notes that wet bars are going just about anywhere in a home. “I’m also finding that some people want to move some of the entertaining out of the kitchen and into areas around it,” she says.
Whatever the location, designers indicate there are several ways to enhance a project, starting with cabinetry. Some clients choose finishes and styles that match those in the kitchen, while others use the opportunity to introduce a dramatically different appearance, albeit adhering to a complementary look.
Regardless of the chosen style, cabinet accessories are a great way to add some extra details – and income. Everything from specialized storage, glass and soft-close drawers to elegant decorative hardware and wood trim can add to the bottom line.
“Because it’s a bar, you can incorporate just about anything as far as hardware,” says Smith. “Some of my clients have used martini glass hardware and crystal knobs. They don’t have to match the kitchen, just complement it. We’ve also used more unusual door hardware such as tip-up doors that open upward to allow quicker access to lots of glasses.”
High-end mouldings, corbels and carvings can add a distinctive look that sets off the cabinets. These additional wood details are popular in Ritter’s designs. “You can certainly get more ornate with mouldings and appliqués,” he says. “But it really depends on the size and budget of the project. It’s important not to over-design and price yourself out of a job.”
Young adds that door panels and wainscoting on the outside area of the bar can also add to the design.