One of the best things about living in a loft is the open-floor living room. But it’s not a cakewalk trying to organize and design functional spaces within this sort of blank slate that a loft gives you.

For example, part of my living room exists under a staircase. What exactly are you supposed to do with that?

Build a bar.

So I took the opportunity to browse rooms on IKEA Share Space for inspiration.

I had already used IKEA’s BILLY shelving system to create a veritable library of books, movies and knickknacks against one wall, so going back to IKEA for the materials for my home bar was a natural choice. There are plenty of pre-made home bars available at stores and online, but a lot of them feel cheaply made and are extremely small for the $1,000-$4,000 price tags. A pre-made bar also is hard to customize and make “yours.” I also am not interested in a walnut, cherry, or oak finish, which is all colors that the modular bars seem to come in.

To start, a lot of measuring was needed. I only had so much depth to work with under the stairs before the bar would interfere with the walkway between the kitchen and the entryway. I used two AKURUM 39″ x 13″ horizontal kitchen cabinets with frosted glass doors up top, with two AKURUM 12″ x 30″ kitchen cabinets and a PERFEKT end wall unit to give me some additional shelves on the bottom. I covered that with a 97″ NUMERAR black countertop that was cut to fit the 12″ width.

That covers the rear. For the main bar, I took two simple AKURUM 24″ base cabinets and screwed them together with a 50″ NUMERAR countertop. Using CAPITA brackets I was then able to create a seating area, with a third piece of countertop, just above the “main bar.”

And that’s your basic bar. Lighting was a challenge, because I could not add new hard-wired wall light fixtures. I used six GRUNDTAL lights, mounted below each cabinet, to illuminate the space.

I had some more space on the right side of the area, above an air conditioning return. I obviously could not put shelves or a cabinet over the return, so I mounted another piece of NUMERAR to the wall using IKEA’s EKBY wall brackets. That gave me a perfect space for a wine refrigerator and some bottles. I also mounted four IKEA LACK shelves on the left side of the bar, where the staircase starts to slope. This was perfect for storing bottles or red wine.

Assembling the cabinets was surprising easy, especially after I had finished the first one. The key for me was to take my time, resist the urge to use power tools, and then double-check the graphical directions. I did require some home delivery for the entire order, as the countertops would not fit in my car, but the cabinets would have been easy to transport in their signature IKEA flat boxes.

I also purchased extra shelves for the base cabinets and the 30″ wall cabinets, for added storage ability.

I rounded out my living room with two IKEA “tree” houseplants, two LACK side tables and a LACK coffee table.

I had planned on putting the bar project off until next year, depressed at the prices online. Adding all this lively surface area to my loft is a real jump-starter for parties and holidays, and having a home bar, that’s twice the size of the more expensive “ready made” bars is a dream come true. After going to IKEA, seeing the prices (the grand total for my custom bar was $812.88), and learning what I could do, I was really motivated to get the project done.

My advice is to spend some time in the store, if you have one locally. There are a lot of products, and you should not let yourself get overwhelmed. Take your time, measure everything twice, and pick a design that suits you. Just make sure you have someone to give you a hand mounting cabinets to the wall. They get heavy, and that’s not the kind of thing you want to do twice if you mess it up.

Want to see more of the finished design? Take another look at my finished bar on IKEA Share Space at:

Note: The artwork on the wall is a digital image created by concept artist Andrew Kim for the video game Uncharted 2: Among Thieves. It is printed on canvas.

IKEA is sponsoring this article, but the designs and opinions are my own.

About The Author

John Guilfoil is the editor-in-chief of Blast: Boston's Online Magazine and the Blast Magazine Network. He can be reached at [email protected]. Tweet @johnguilfoil.

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