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What'll you have?

Cheers to these under $100 at-home bar redos by Amy Bertrand, St. Louis Post-Dispatch (TNS) | March 27, 2021 at 1:46 a.m.
Valerie Schremp Hahn and her husband Andy found the wood cabinet pieces of this bar for $50 at a thrift store and pieced it together to make a home bar. (TNS/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Valerie Schremp Hahn)

ST. LOUIS — Here at our work-from-home bureaus, we love a bargain, and we love a project. From the looks of our home bar redos, we also love the occasional drink. Well, after work hours, of course.

Since we're wary of meeting at a journalists' watering hole, we used our creative powers for good and fashioned bars at home for less than $100 each. See if you get inspired by these two redos by Valerie Schremp Hahn and myself.

MIDCENTURY ROSEWOOD BAR

Wandering the furniture section at St. Vincent de Paul thrift store in south St. Louis, my husband, Andy, noticed the bottom cabinet sitting alone on the sales floor. I wandered up and spotted the top cabinet next to it. Did they belong together? Did they stack on top of each other? Weren't parts missing? Could we open the one locked cabinet with another key?

The swirls of the grain intrigued us, and we thought we could make it work as a kitchen storage cabinet. For $20 for the upper cabinet and $30 for the lower, we snatched both up.

A label inside showed it was made in 1963, from Mobila Contemporanea, a company in Brazil. The lines of the grain? Rosewood. We couldn't find a similar cabinet online, but Andy could tell from the shadows and holes on the sides that a bracket once held the cabinets together.

So he cleaned and waxed the wood and went to Home Depot and found aluminum bars to cut for brackets. We thought the aluminum color didn't look quite right, so Andy spray-painted the brackets black.

Valerie and Andy Hahn found the two pieces of this midcentury rosewood bar at a thrift store for $50 and fixed it up for a total cost of $96.  (TNS/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Valerie Schremp Hahn)
Valerie and Andy Hahn found the two pieces of this midcentury rosewood bar at a thrift store for $50 and fixed it up for a total cost of $96. (TNS/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Valerie Schremp Hahn)

As for a key, we found old skeleton keys that worked for both cabinets, which revealed shelving inside.

At first, we planned to use the cabinet to store school supplies and linens, but this thing screamed "Mad Men." We're not big drinkers, but we enjoy an occasional cocktail, and our liquor and barware took up valuable space in kitchen cabinets. So we stocked our new cabinet and soon shook up our first Old Fashioneds.

Searches online for "midcentury rosewood bar" show pieces that cost up to $1,000, even more. Later, as we watched the sixth episode of "The Queen's Gambit," we spotted a similar bar in the redone modern living room of Beth's house. Check and mate, baby.

We can't wait to have parties again so we can serve friends and family from this piece, but for now, we'll sit, sip and enjoy the added buzz of our bargain.

Total cost: $96

Valerie Schremp Hahn

The before picture of Amy Bertrands bar. Amy Bertrand turned a planning desk into a bar area by removing the doors on the cabinet, painting the interiors blue, adding a backsplash, and installing lights that change colors. (TNS/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Amy Bertrand)
The before picture of Amy Bertrands bar. Amy Bertrand turned a planning desk into a bar area by removing the doors on the cabinet, painting the interiors blue, adding a backsplash, and installing lights that change colors. (TNS/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Amy Bertrand)

CONVERTED PLANNING DESK

It seems that every suburban house built in the 1990s and 2000s has one of these planning desks. You know the ones that usually end up as a dumping ground for mail, kids' art projects and, well, junk. A few bottles of liquor found their way to mine, too. That got me thinking, why not turn the whole area into a bar?

I started by taking the doors off the upper cabinets and then painting the insides of them a deep teal. First I sanded them down a bit, then used a leftover gripper paint I had in the basement. Then I spent $19.98 on a quart of Tsunami Behr cabinet and trim enamel paint from Home Depot. It took three coats. I filled the cabinets with not only everyday rocks, wine and pilsner glasses but also a few fun glasses, from my grandmother's house, and a decanter, a never-used wedding gift, I found in our basement.

I'm not handy enough to do real backsplash, though I considered attempting it. But my husband suggested the all-the-rage stick-on kind by Crystiles on Amazon ($26.99 for six sheets; I needed nine and used the other three on another project, so total cost: $40.48). Wow. It was really simple. I cut it with a pair of kitchen shears and had it on my wall in 30 minutes.

The after picture from Amy Bertrands bar. (TNS/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Amy Bertrand)
The after picture from Amy Bertrands bar. (TNS/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Amy Bertrand)

Then my husband got the idea to install Govee Wi-Fi LED light strips ($33.99). They just stick to the tops of the cabinets, but they do need electrical, so it was a bit tricky with some holes needing to be drilled in the cabinets and walls. But my husband is very handy that way. Through some magic they can change colors via voice command with our Google app and can even flash in beat to music we play through it. Some day, we will have a proper party at our bar and show that off.

Total cost: $94.45

Amy Bertrand

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