Form and Function: Beautiful Built-in Kitchen Wet Bars

Home decor trends, like fashion trends, appear to be cyclical in nature. One of the hottest trends in home decor at the moment is the addition of a full-size, built-in wet bar, either near the kitchen or entertaining areas. From the late 1960s to the early 1980s, having a wet bar was considered a “must” for those who loved to entertain in style. As time wore on however, having a wet bar became more of a nuisance than a benefit.

kitchen wet bars

Decline of the Wet Bar
A big reason for the decline of the wet bar during the past 20 years was the location and appearance of the wet bar. There is an old complaint that most homeowners are aware of: “no matter where I have my party set up, everyone eventually lands in the kitchen”. The kitchen can be a great gathering place, but it shouldn’t be THE gathering place for any event.

Wet bars in older homes were predominantly located in the basement or in a separate room away from the kitchen, dining, and living rooms, where most partygoers hover. On top of the location factor was the appearance factor. Many older wet bars were in dimly lit basements and poorly decorated recreation rooms that often featured tacky carpet and less-than-attractive wood panel walls.

The Return of the Wet Bar
As with many other trends, wet bars are returning as a popular piece of home decor. This time around however, homeowners and designers have taken a more savvy approach and made wet bars a critical piece of the form and function in any home. The approach varies from home to home, but there are critical pieces that have aided in the re-emergence of the wet bar in homes around the globe.

First and foremost has been the change of location. Rather than sticking the wet bar away from common entertaining areas, designers have embraced the wet bar as part of the overall function of hosting duties. Modern wet bars are located in or adjacent to kitchens, connected to living rooms, or in some cases, located in nearby small rooms with water line access.

The key here is that wet bars are now built-in features that work as a part of the hosting area for a party. It makes it easier for guests to congregate nearby, without feeling as though they’ve left the party to be in another part of the home. Just as important as the function of modern wet bars, has been the change in form.

Wet bars are no longer tacky-looking set ups in wood-panelled and shag-carpeted basements. Modern designers are crafting and installing wet bars that feature glass door refrigerators for beer and wine, marble countertops, custom-built wooden cabinets, and elegant features (such as sinks, faucets, and lighting) that complement nearby rooms and add value to a home’s appearance and function.

To add the greatest value to a home as an addition a modern wet bar works best when put in place to work in conjunction with other rooms. Rather than tucking it away in another corner of the home or outside on a sprawling patio, wet bars serve homeowners best (as hosts and future sellers of the home) when they function in concert with other hosting areas inside.