DIY Coffee Bar

DIY Coffee Bar: Apartment Edition

If you love your coffee, then you know that there’s no better feeling than waking up in the morning and heading to your dedicated coffee prep spot. But if you live in a rented apartment, or a small unit with not much space, finding the right place for your coffee maker, mugs, and other caffeine-powering materials can be tough.

But in the era of easy DIY, you’re never far from a solution. More and more apartment-dwellers are creating their very own DIY coffee bars at home with some simple tools and furniture they may already have (or can get at a local thrift shop for relatively cheap.)

Whether you’re an experienced DIY-er with a closet full of power tools, or someone who prefers to avoid turning a single screw, we’ve put together a list of some DIY options for creating your very own at-home coffee bar. Our team here at McKinley Apartments has done our best to provide a list of the materials and tools you’ll need for each option, so you’ll be able to get started as soon as possible without too much stress or trouble.

So pour yourself a cup, and let’s dive into how to make a coffee bar!

Coffee Bar Ideas:

The No-Build 

Don’t want to do any major construction or DIY work? Then try the no-build café bar option. This involves using an already existing piece of furniture, one you either already have at home or one you purchase. Find something with a bit of space on top as well as some shelving below, but not so big that it will take up too much space. You just need enough room for your coffee maker, and maybe espresso machine, as well as any mugs, sugar, flavoring, and other coffee-related accessories.

Once again, Ikea shelving can be a great choice for a project like this. Some embellishments like a stylish runner or towel across the top can go a long way in making this a trendy but simple-to-create option.

If you want to go for something more vintage-inspired, browse your local consignment shops and thrift stores for antique or traditional-style cabinets or dressers that could work. You can even use basic sandpaper to sand down newer furniture to give it that worn, vintage look. It all depends on your own personal taste and style. When it comes to materials, really all you’ll need is the furniture piece itself and any embellishments you want to add, as well as sandpaper for giving that worn look which can be found at any local hardware store.

The Repurposed Dresser

This approach takes existing furniture and adds some major elements that take it from ‘so-so’ to ‘wow!’ It’s the perfect way to create a custom coffee bar without a huge money, work and time investment. It involves using an existing dresser while adding a top surface that will look good and serve as the perfect platform for your coffee machine and other materials.

To get started, you’ll need a dresser or vanity-style piece of furniture. If the one you have is old and worn, you’ll want to consider refinishing it. This is as simple as using sandpaper to sand down the surface, then applying your own favorite paint color or wood finish.

If you like the vintage and worn style, you can leave it as-is.

The next step is to add a plank of butcher block to the top of your furniture. This can be found at a local lumber or hardware chain, and it’s essentially a piece of wood designed to hold up to the demands of serving as a countertop. You’ll want to choose a size slightly larger than the furniture underneath, so that it extends out on the sides for a finished look. Attaching the butcher block is as simple as using long wood screws, and even wood glue on the underside can do the trick in a pinch.

From here, you can add additional hardware like a towel bar, hanging hooks, or anything else you’d like.

The Café Style 

Have you ever been to an actual café and found that perfect, brightly lit nook over in the corner? A narrow bar mounted to the wall positions you in front of a bright, airy window with a view out on the street. Sunlight pours in, you get to distract yourself occasionally with some people-watching, all while enjoying a hot cup of delicious coffee.

What if you could get that experience at home? With a DIY café-style coffee bar, you can! This method involves mounting the equivalent of a shelf across the front of a window, with the mounting points placed on either side. It can then be supported simply by wall supports underneath or even legs that extend to the floor for added strength.

For this project, you’ll need a wood plank (at least 1” thick) at the length and depth you’re looking for, some wood screws, mounting brackets, and table legs which can easily be found at Ikea or other furniture shops for relatively cheap.

The benefits of this style is that it allows you to have the café coffee experience from the comfort of your home, though it does partially obscure a window which may be a nonstarter if you have limited natural light in your home.

picture of a coffee maker showin diy coffee bar ideas

The Mobile Coffee Bar

This approach can work for many of the other options listed in this article, and it basically involves taking your coffee bar to the next level by making it mobile. Many people assume that installing wheels on existing furniture is complicated, but it’s often as simple as buying a few wheel casters (the wheel plus the casing that attaches it to furniture), drilling some holes in the legs of the furniture, and twisting on the casters. Wah-lah! You’ve now got a fully mobile caffeine station that can be moved into place when in use and moved out of the way when you need more room in your kitchen or dining area.

Make sure to choose high-quality wheels for this approach, and ensure that they’re installed properly. You don’t want all of your precious coffee equipment to come crashing to earth because of one poorly constructed or attached wheel. What a bummer.

The Table/Shelf Combo

Have you already got a table, countertop space, or furniture piece that you can use as a coffee bar? But maybe you feel like it’s missing a little something to transform it into its own dedicated nook. If that’s the case, one simple solution is to add to rows of shelving directly above. This has the effect of making a dedicated visual space, and is perfect for storing mugs, sugar, and other coffee-related stuff.

There are lots of shelving options available, but the current most popular is the floating shelf design. This just means that the shelves don’t have any visible supports, they appear to be floating along the wall. In reality, they’re heavily supported from behind—but they give a cleaner, more modern look than some other options.

Whichever shelving you use, be sure to drill your support screws into wooden studs in the walls if possible. You can buy a stud finder for very cheap at your local hardware store. Drilling into the studs will give you more dependable support so you don’t have to worry about your new shelves crashing down.

picture of coffee ingredients showing how to build a coffee bar diy

Everyone loves having their own dedicated space to make coffee in the morning (or late night when that one assignment or work project keeps you up at all hours.) With one of these easy tips for designing your own DIY coffee bar, you’ll have everything you need to fuel your day! If you want to make sure you have the place for your coffee bar, check out our roomy apartments here!