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Basement Reveal: The New "Dive" Bar

We took a break from blogging last week for Super Bowl Sunday so I feel the need to do this reveal with a sporty intro... ARE... YOU... READY!??!? HERE COMES ... THE DIVE BAR!!!!

One of the happiest outcomes from the very unhappy flood! The new wet bar is so pretty and super functional now, and was only possible because we got to take down some walls. Ready to see it? Let's go! All the way back to the beginning...

Evolution of the Basement Bar

We don't have many great "before" photos, but it started as a little bar tucked into this space between the wall that made the hallway and the bathroom. This was taken when we discovered the flood. Pretty soggy.

bar area flood

The bottom cabinets and flooring were torn out during the flood water mitigation. We found mold on the back of the cabinets from what we believe was previous water damage, so those were tossed.

bar area after water mitigation tear out

Once we determined we could remove the side wall to open up the dead space created by the hallway, it opened up the possibilities for what more we could do in this space.

zach working on taking down wall

Without the wall, we decided we would have the space to add a small island for more storage and a countertop for perching and snacks. Since we weren't just going to "put things back" we removed the existing uppers to get matching, more modern cabinets for the entire space.

bar area cleaned out

Inspiration and Design

I shared our wet bar goals as part of our big basement inspiration post, but to continue with the white/black/neutral vibe we have upstairs, we carried the palette downstairs for everything permanent. (Zach gets to decorate this space with all of his treasures.)

Living Room Inspo and Materials

The bar we liked on Pinterest above is obviously a much larger space, but we loved the black cabinets, white countertop and open shelves in the middle. We explored full-length cabinets resting on the counter but since our space is smaller, we lost quite a bit of counter space doing that. We worked with CKF in Urbandale to design and order the cabinets, counters and pulls.

bar design rendering

We kept the same general layout of the original wet bar base cabinets, except we chose to add doors to cover the microwave and we moved the plumbing so that we could have the sink centered. Because symmetry makes me happy. ;) We did a combination of drawers and doors on the island to help corral little misc. bar parts since we lost a drawer by moving the sink. We went with a more modern shaker style door front.

bar design rendering

The Wet Bar Buildout

Cabinets and Island

We had a 9 week wait time on the cabinets once ordered, then another 30 days for the countertop once the cabinets were installed and measurements could be confirmed. Luckily, Uncle G is also a cabinet installation expert so we got to take advantage of more free volunteer labor! :)

G and Zach installing cabinets

He and Zach worked nights and weekends over the course of about a week to get everything installed. They pre-hung plywood behind the uppers to be able to hang stone on the back wall once installed.

G installing bottom cabinets

I'm not even going to pretend I know all that went into installing these, and especially creating the island base, but I do know how exciting it was to see it start to come to life.

cabinet installation progress

As soon as the island was ready, we had the counter installer come measure and got that on the books. This was also the last step needed to be able to get the flooring installed!

basement bar with black cabinets,


We chose a wood look luxury vinyl plank from Royal Flooring that complemented the floating shelves as close as we could. We only took the hard flooring around the side of the island because of how traffic flows just past that area between the stairs, living room and bathroom.

flooring installer putting down lip

The flooring and counter guys all agreed and helped us make this decision. While we would have liked to put hard surface on the other side where people sit, it would have looked really weird to cut the carpet off in that way.

bar area with flooring installed


The countertop was installed the same day as the carpet on the stairs, so that was interesting watching them navigate over that with the HEAVY stone.

counter installers preparing to take counter downstairs

We chose a white satin finished quartz. It's smooth but not shiny with only a tiny bit of light grey veining detail. Barely noticeable unless you're looking close.

basement bar with black cabinets, white countertops

Stone Backsplash and Wall

With the countertop in, our plumber came back to install the faucet shortly after. And then Zach could get the backsplash installed. We used a stone veneer which Zach had experience with when we finished the basement in our last house. He'll plan a blog with more details on how to DIY a stone wall, but I had to give a quick nod to this step here for posterity. Hank helped him categorize the different stone shapes and sizes.

hank posing with stone veneer

Then Zach spent a weekend installing the stone and the floating shelves. I'll let him tell you all about how he decided it would be a good idea to cut stone INDOORS in his post later.

zach installing stone veneer backsplash

The stone had more grey in it than I thought it would based on the sample we saw at the store. I was hoping it'd be more creamy and uniform in color, but the grey isn't terrible. Ties the black in.

Cabinet Hardware

Once the stone was done, all that was left was the hardware! I installed the brass knobs and pulls which gave it a really nice finishing touch.

brass cabinet hardware on black door

The Finished Basement Bar - aka "The Dive Bar"

Ok, you've been very patient ... let's get to the real reason you're here - to see it DONE! Here it is in all its undecorated glory. Didn't last long until Zach started moving in ...

basement bar with black cabinets, white countertops

While the broader living room gets all the Patriots decor (you'll see more soon!), the bar features a variety of Zach's commemorative bottles and sports antiques.

basement bar with black cabinets, white countertops

Opening up the wall was absolutely a game changer down here to be able to add the island for extra seating and space to move about.

basement bar with black cabinets, white countertops

Not to mention get some extra storage in the island.

basement bar with black cabinets, white countertops

Zach's signature cocktail to serve is rum and coke. It's embarrassing how many flavors of rum these cabinets are hiding. But it's an underrated crowd favorite and reminds us of our family trips to Cayman. You can guarantee someone will be drinking a rum and coke after diving or to wind down the night during sunset.

basement bar with black cabinets, white countertops

Which explains how this bar became the "dive bar" officially with Zach's new neon sign.

dive bar neon sign

Quick sidebar: since we're talking about things that plug in, check out these new outlets that have USB and charging ports baked right in. We thought these would be useful for guests and the sleepovers we know are likely to take place down here. The future is now! Until of course new tech comes on the scene.

bar outlet with usb charging ports

Back to the dive bar. Gotta admit, it's pretty cute all lit up.

basement bar with black cabinets, white countertops

Some day we may add an outdoor bar next to the pool that can really become the dive bar, but for now we're mixing the tropics with the east coast (get it? Boston? Patriots... I digress.)

basement bar with black cabinets, white countertops

But come on over and pull up a seat! We've got a spot at the bar for you, and a rum and coke with your name on it.

basement bar with black cabinets, white countertops


Need a basement bar fix? Here's what we used:

DISCLAIMER: This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase through one of the product links, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support!


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we're kiersten and zach

Follow along with us each week as we work to make the very 2000s home we bought during the middle of a pandemic more “us.” We’ll share everything from quick fixes to more permanent changes, along with projects you can do in your own home. Zach will also share all his lawn and garden advice as he starts over on the yard.


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