Barstool brews

There’s no neon sign, no wafting cloud of cigarette smoke, and no drunk puking in the corner — at least not yet. But the bar is open.

We’ve been talking about it for years and working on it for months. Now it’s time to kick back in this room that used to be an unused spare bedroom, pour a stiff one and enjoy the malts of our labor.

The whole room is 15-by-15, so it’s not meant to host a Bon Iver house concert or anything. But we wanted a space that was:

  • Comfortable for a post-dinner drink with friends and great conversation, with lights both darker and warmer than the rest of the house.
  • Good for practicing the guitar or binging on a TV show. So, far enough away from the other living space so as not to disturb the other house-dweller. Let me be more specific: If I’m watching “Daredevil” or “Game of Thrones,” Jenn does not want to hear the crunchings and munchings of bones. Because that’s how this goes down.
  • Suitable to use as a workspace for beermaking and winemaking — where I can tuck 5-gallon buckets and glass carboys out of sight and out of sun while the yeast is doing its thang.

Let’s take a quick tour!

The actual bar

A rustic dry sink we found at an antique store serves as the actual bar. An equally rustic — but just built — shelf of pallet wood serves as extra shelving for the groovier bottles.

Originally, we’d envisioned building the furniture component of bar out of reclaimed pallet wood and such. I’d even gathered a handful of free plans online and started modifying them. Then, last year, at an off-the-cuff stop in an antique mall, we found a dry sink that was already pretty much perfect. It was priced so affordably that it wasn’t even a question that we were buying instead of building.

I built that extra wall-mounted liquor shelf (a finer phrase may never have been cast to WordPress) using the bottom quarter of a pallet. I pried off a couple of planks from the unused top of the pallet to make the two shelf bottoms. (You’ll see several pieces of pallet-made furnishings in the tour, not including the bookshelf we wrote about before. Originally I planed to tea-stain them, but we’ve since grown fond of the unfinished look. So they’ll stay au naturale, at least until we grow tired of the look.)

The telly

The screen size? 110 inches. The movie? “Bone Tomahawk.”

Iron pipe various fittings and flanges, and pallet wood made a wall-mounted entertainment center that landed between “weathered” and “steampunk.” Win!

Jenn wanted to ditch television entirely. Not as in, giving up watching her shows, but as in not owning a TV. And she forwarded this position more and more forcefully as my Black Friday LCD soundsystem viewsystem from a decade ago began wheezing and sputtering. And it’s not like I watch a ton of television, but watching none was a non-starter for me (See “Daredevil” and “GoT” comment above.)

The compromise?: Making it look like there’s no TV in the place, and replacing the dead unit with a projector, which at least reduces the impact of silicon, glass and other electronics that go into a big wall-mounted unit. One con is that we don’t have a tuner now, to watch over-the-air stuff. But 90 percent of what I watch is streamed, so whatevs. The other big pro is that, projected on the big wall over the fireplace, the screen is literally 10 feet across, or the equivalent of a 110-inch screen.

I built a pipe-and-pallet-wood shelf to hold the projector, the Sonos speaker and the PlayStation that serves as streaming media center (and guitar tutor, thanks to “Rocksmith”). This took some wiring, to get plugs all up in there, but this section of wall already had some major drywall damage, so it needed repair anyway.

The seating

Close seating makes for great conversations — or staged “Oxford American” readings to Seamus the Dog. (The art on the wall is a piece by folk artist Butch Anthony.)

The house’s most comfortable couch found a new home in here, as did one of our favorite side chairs and a groovy checkerboard carpet that we’d forgotten about until I found it in the attic while putting away Christmas decorations.

A beat-up trunk filled with my old newspapers clips became the coffee table — no coaster needed!

We pulled all the furniture a little closer together than we were initially inclined to, to promote conversation first and foremost. Everything slides easily enough if we want to move stuff around for a movie night.

And pulling the couch forward off the back wall leaves great space for stowing those fermenting gallons of wine and beer that we’ll be working on through the summer and fall. (Already we’re got some hard cider a-brewin’. We’ll report back on this experiment.)

That’s it, save for some concert posters we still need to hang on the walls here and there.

Cheers, y’all.

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