Before & Afters of Our Dry Bar Makeover.

When we first walked through this house, we weren’t looking for a bar area. But—whether we liked it or not—the house already had one.

I’ll show you a backed-up picture (from when the prior owners lived there) so you can better see where it is in relationship to the rest of the Great Room:

living room with bar area showing in background
A complete before tour of our downstairs!

More pictures can be found on the tour of our house’s downstairs.

bar area off of a living room, wood cabinets
Why you should instantly paint before moving into a new house!

We had zero plans to do anything to the bar area at the time. It was of no concern. Nada. Zero. Like, not even on our radar.

What was on our radar were things like having to redo the HVAC system before moving in. Having to reroof the house. Refinishing the upstairs bedrooms’ hardwood floors which were missing pieces. Repainting the entire house interior.

Given those immediate concerns, this bar area was the least of our worries.

Heck, I was even more distracted by the linen cabinets at the top of the stairs. Now those cabinets were definitely sending out cries for help.



Once we got the necessities taken care of (like a roof that wouldn’t drip into our beds and making sure our newborn wouldn’t be breathing in C02 from the heating system), we knew what we had our eyes on. We wanted to redo the master bathroom.

That was Plan A. Renovate our master bathroom, fix up our bedroom, and create a little haven for ourselves. Somewhere to retreat to amidst all the future renovations we saw in our future.

But, just weeks after moving in, we found out about our emergency kitchen remodel. Surprise! All hands on deck! No time for a bathroom remodel. It became alllllllllll about the kitchen for 5 months straight.

And here’s where the bar comes in.


lower bar cabinets, wood with wine rack
bar area with granite countertops and an upper wood cabinet with glass doors

lower cabinets in bar, with lower refrigerator



While the floors were ripped out for our kitchen remodel, we realized we had an opportunity to take care of several downstairs renovations all at once. Why not rip the bandaid off, right?

So, while painters were set to be working on our kitchen, we decided to find out how much extra they’d charge to tackle our bar cabinets too. It wasn’t that the wood color was awful; remember, it wasn’t really on our A-List of priorities. But as we tore down the wall between the kitchen and great room, we started to really see the potential. (It’s amazing what ripping out a wall will do to your vision!)

Soon, the bar area was sticking out like a sore thumb. The more I envisioned our new kitchen layouts and designs, the more I could see what the final look of our downstairs could be.



Could we have painted these cabinets ourselves and saved some money? Sure. We believe there’s a right time and place for doing-it-yourself.

However, sometimes it’s actually much wiser to just hire the work out! And in this case, below are three simple reasons we decided NOT to paint over these bar cabinets ourselves.

1. Time:

We were going through a major UNPLANNED kitchen renovation. We hadn’t spent months up to that point designing our dream kitchen; we were designing it on the fly, as they were ripping it out!

Every spare moment Matt and I had (between his full-time job and mine) was spent on the kitchen. We had zero time to be painting a whole set of bar cabinets white.

Sometimes, it’s just not the day, month, or season for a DIY. And we are HUGE supporters of hiring work out if it makes sense.

2. Money:

Because the painters were already working at our house, it was a much easier job for them. We’d be using the same paint. They were already spending time there. They could just work in the cabinets while they were waiting on the paint to dry in the kitchen project.

The amount of money we saved by having them do it while they were already there—doing an almost exactly similar project, but much bigger—meant it was even easier for them to just tag it on.

This was one of the smartest money decisions we made in the renovation, actually.

men preparing bar cabinets for painting

I mean, look at that. One of the sweetest sights ever to see, when you have a newborn, you’re sleep-deprived, your entire downstairs is torn up, you’re sleeping in a dust bowl…but land sakes, I did NOT have to be the one up there taping off cabinets for painting! Sweet, sweet joy of hiring it out!

3. Mess:

I’m not going to lie: this was really my #1 reason.

The fact that our entire downstairs was already a disaster area (because not only did the kitchen get ripped out but all the floors had to be ripped out as well) made me want to get AS MUCH DONE DOWNSTAIRS AS POSSIBLE WHILE IT ALREADY LOOKED LIKE ARMAGEDDON.

The carpet in the Great Room and this bar area had already been ripped out. There were just concrete floors there now. What was there to lose? Dust was covering every surface of our downstairs. (And a lot of it was wafting upstairs too.)

Oh yes…5 months of dust. A friend came to stay with us over this time and later told me she was shocked at the severity of the mess and how chill I was living in the disaster. She’s one of the most relaxed people I know, but it was like she was shaking my shoulders, trying to make me understand how bad it was. “You were living in a dust bowl!” she exclaimed. I just shrugged because what else are you gonna do?! There was nothing else to do. You just push through it.

Renovations are NOT glamorous! Let me be the one to prepare you, my friend. It IS truly amazing and worth it when it’s all done, and you’ll be so glad you did it…

…but DURING the process, it’s not all sunshine and roses. It’s dust and mess and the temptation to begin day drinking.



Where was I? Day drinking? No… Ah! It was why we paid the painters to just knock this “little” project out for us and why that was one of the most brilliant decisions we made during the entire kitchen renovation.

It already looks better! It doesn’t matter that we have no baseboards or floors. (They weren’t level anyways, so it was good we did all this. See that darker concrete color above? We had to have a concrete leveler guy come out and do this alllllllllllll over our downstairs. Since we were putting in hardwood floors at some point, we definitely needed these floors level!)

wood bar cabinets painted white
Seriously, it already looks 10x better painted white!

I mean, really. Does that already look better or what?!? Even with all those areas still taped off.


bar area before, with wood cabinets


bar area with cabinets painted white, paper still taped up

And then once all the paper gets taken down, it’s looking even better.

bar area with cabinets painted white
This isn’t even a proper “after” and it already looks so much better than the before!

We still have more plans for this space! Get excited!

See all our house projects right here!


Painting over our linen closet cabinets.

Why you should instantly paint before moving in.

Why we ripped out our new kitchen.

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