The trend towards open, dine-in kitchens has, in many ways, made traditional formal dining rooms obsolete – especially if you aren’t knocking down the walls of one to create a barrier-free floorplan. But while the bulk of entertaining is getting moved to kitchen islands and greatrooms, that doesn’t mean your old dining room has to sit empty or be converted for a different use. Installing a fully-equipped bar buffet and a less-imposing dining set is a great way to host small groups in a relatively quiet, private setting. If you need a spot to host your weekly game night, book club, or any small gathering that high foot traffic and a TV might interrupt, this might be the solution you’re looking for.
Why It Works: Traditional formal dining rooms often come equipped with sideboards or buffet cabinets, meant to house overflow linens, fine dinnerware, and big serving plates and utensils you’d typically only use for holidays. But to make a more casual, usable dining room, you need a setup that matches a different set of needs. Rather than your fine china and grandma’s soup tureen, you want to keep the stuff you’ll actually need for a quiet gathering close on hand: drinks, snacks, boardgames, books, and so on. A built in wet bar or bar buffet is perfect for this, because it provides everything you or your guests could want, without needing to make trips out to the kitchen. The little bit of extra privacy afforded by a separate room and a closed door means you can entertain out of the path of the rest of your household, no matter how loud or busy your family is elsewhere in the house.
Get The Look: Upgrading to a wet bar is easiest if you install it on a wall that shares plumbing with an adjacent room. Being able to install a sink and faucet not only makes it easy to get up and get drinks, but also simpler to tidy up when you’re done. Even if you don’t have easy access to running water, though, you can still build an incredibly useful bar by incorporating an electric wine cooler and mini-fridge into a set of built-in cabinets. The former will let you store wine at a perfectly drinkable temperature, while the latter is great for stowing snacks or smaller bottled or canned beverages. If you’re feeling particularly bold, you could even incorporate more sophisticated refrigeration units (like a built-in kegerator or ice machine). Decorating the rest of the room is a matter of taste, but if you like this look, we’ve got copycats for the table, chairs, rug, and lighting fixture!
If your dining room isn’t getting much traffic, it might be time to make better use of that space, and installing a small bar buffet is a great way to facilitate entertaining smaller groups.