My husband and I bought our house back in 2012. It was a foreclosure with amazing potential. We scooped it up at a fraction of the price and used the money saved to repaint the entire upstairs, reline the pool, fix the retaining wall, and finish the walk-out basement.
We finished the fourth bedroom downstairs ourselves, but with a new baby and both of us working full time, the project took forever. In 2014, we finally called in the professionals to help finish the rest of the basement.
We envisioned a warm, inviting space, complete with a fireplace and a full sized bar for entertaining friends and family (and us). When the contractor put a $44k price tag on our dreams, we decided to cut the costs. We contracted out the drywall, mudding/taping, lighting, ceiling, and flooring, but concentrated on the fireplace and bar area ourselves.
My husband and I have accomplished some pretty amazing projects together. We have gutted and refurbished an RV. We have finished a workout room, complete with aerobic floors and a sauna. With my creativity and thrifty resourcefulness and his handiness and eye for detail, we can accomplish anything we set our minds to. The fireplace and bar were no different.
While Marty measured and built forms for the concrete counter tops, I busted up wine and beer bottles to embellish the surface. He built the frame and ran the plumbing, I installed “brick” and searched Craigslist for a kegerator and wine cooler. He built the back rail, I designed and purchased the shelving and mirror. While I selected and cut wine bottles, he installed the drop lights and ran bulbs through the bottles. The bar turned out beautiful.
This picture is bittersweet. I have so many great memories of these kinds of nights, but looking back, how very sad was this? This represented our typical Friday night: don comfy clothes (yes, I have a hole in my armpit – I said they were comfy clothes, didn’t I?), pop some popcorn, pour the wine (or other stiff drink), light the fireplace, and saddle up to the bar. With my kids. <Sigh>
What you don’t see in the picture is the fact that the smiles fade. My daughter gets tired and goes to bed. My husband and I continue to drink. My son, who is always up for a challenge, tries to keep up with us and pounds seltzer water and pushes for “one more episode” of whatever we are watching. He eventually tires and goes to bed. Martin and I continue to drink. At this point, we are probably a couple of bottles of wine in, and I decide to switch to whiskey. Marty used to be a bartender. Pour us a shot! All in good fun, right? The hours fly by and before we know it, I am half in the bag and struggle to make it upstairs to bed before the little one wakes up a few hours later. Maybe I will remember the night. Maybe parts of it will be blurry or non-existent.
Over the past year, I have found our family shying away from the downstairs. We will gather around the kitchen counter, watch movies upstairs, convene around the kitchen table for a game or craft. But downstairs and the bar area have been taboo.
I want to be able to use this space again. We’ve already put in an arcade style basketball game and a popcorn station, but we need to do something with the giant elephant in the room, the bar. I am open to suggestions. That is, as soon as I am able to dump all the alcohol Down the Drain.
So here we go… the first poll on viCARIously Speaking. Here are a few of the ideas that my family have come up with. How would you vote to re-purpose our bar?
Thanks for playing!