April 8, 2021
Designer Cathy Briskorn’s client presented her with a unique idea for their basement home bar design. Previously a drab space, they wanted to make it over with a blend of mid-century modern design with futuristic steampunk elements. According to Briskorn, it was the steampunk look that prevailed in the design plans, with the bar featuring Victorian-inspired cabinetry and nods to copper, steam-powered machinery.
Creating Intimacy in an Open Space
“This is a speakeasy not in the sense of a hidden, clandestine bar but more along the idea of an intimate gathering spot for cocktail parties,” said Briskorn, who is with Albee Interior Design in Seattle.
The thought was to use a dark palette – including black cabinetry and countertops and dark-painted walls – to contrast with the lighter colors of the adjacent family room. This juxtaposition would make the bar feel like a cozy, separated area, despite being open to the rest of the entertaining space.
To create a darker, Victorian-inspired look for the home bar design, the team chose black-painted cabinetry with traditional raised panel doors and brass cabinet pulls. The perimeter countertops are also black, and the island repeats the dark cabinetry but has an additional burst of character with a custom, flame-hammered copper top. A copper sink and a vintage-look bridge faucet in oil-rubbed bronze introduce more of the warm, Industrial-age appeal of the island countertop.
“We’ve been noticing a trend lately of homeowners being bolder in their design choices,” said Briskorn, who used AutoCAD to complete this project. “They’re worrying much less about what their friends will think, or what the latest trends are, or how their decisions might affect their home’s future resale value.”
Introducing Metallic Features into the Home Bar Design
Instead of a contrasting, lighter backsplash, the design team took advantage of the homeowners’ love for mixed metals and textures and chose a selection of hexagonal metal tiles with a variety of patterns and sheens. The backsplash is further characterized by a vertical strip in the center of the wall with thin, linear tiles.
“One driving factor was the extra-tall citrus press the homeowners wanted to keep out on the counter, which required a gap between the wall cabinets and the floating shelves,” said Briskorn. “We decided to turn that vertical strip into a focal point.”
The biggest standout element in the home bar design is the ceiling, which the team and the clients went back and forth on for some time. The clients knew they wanted something that would set the bar apart from the adjacent family room space, and they explored a variety of materials, including tin and wood panels in a chevron design.
Ultimately, the clients decided on a riveted metal design to mimic the look of an early airplane wing. To do this, the designer worked with a local construction company to texture galvanized sheet metal to create a reflective glow reminiscent of an old airplane. The “rivets” are nickel furniture nails, burnished with steel wool.
“I just love the homeowners’ willingness to go all out with an over-the-top party bar, creating a space that’s fun and unique and a true reflection of their creative personal style,” said Briskorn.
Designers: Wendy Albee & Cathy Briskorn, Albee Interior Design
Design + Build Firm: Irons Brothers Construction Inc.
Photographer: Soundview360° Studios
Backsplash: Bedrosians & Daltile
Cabinet Hardware: Signature Hardware
Cabinets: KC Fine Cabinetry
Ceiling Fixture: 251 First
Custom Accent Sconce: 8SIX9Design
Faucet: Vintage Tub & Bath
Perimeter Countertops: Cambria
Sconces: Hubbardton Forge