Transforming kitchen cabinets to a rustic bar

I wanted to create a rustic bar, but have it be functional. I also did not want to have to build the cabinets, doors, drawer fronts, etc. (Beyond my skill set!) I also really liked the look of the gray IKEA kitchen cabinets.

Here are some before shots:


Related: Jonny’s man cave

Materials and tools for IKEA rustic bar hack:

IKEA Parts


    • Base cabinet frame – white – 30 x 14 ¾ x 30 – 3
    • Suspension rail galvanized – 84 – 1
    • Door gray – 15 x 30 – 4
    • Decorative toekick – gray
    • Drawer front gray – 30 x 10 – 2
    • Drawer front gray – 30 x 5 – 2
  • EKBACKEN countertop concrete effect – 98 x1 1/8 – 2
    • Shelf white – 30 x 14 3/4 – 4
    • Hinge & door damper for hinge – 8 hinges & 4 dampers
    • Drawer, low white – 30×14 3/4 – 2
    • Drawer, medium -2
  • SEKTION leg – 4 1/2 “

Back Wall Cabinets

  • BODBYN door gray – 15 x 30 – 4
  • BODBYN decorative toekick – gray
  • EKBACKEN countertop concrete effect – 98 x1 1/8 – 1
  • UTRUSTA shelf white – 30 x 24 – 4
  • UTRUSTA hinge & UTRUSTA door damper for hinge – 8 hinges & 4 dampers
  • SEKTION leg – 4 1/2


  • Drills
  • Miter saw
  • Measuring tape
  • Speed square
  • Brad nailer
  • Stud finder
  • and I am sure lots of other tools along the way

Rustic Bar IKEA hack instructions:

I started by installing the cabinets on the back wall. They were a relatively straightforward install. There is an electrical outlet that would have lined up right in between 2 cabinets so I had to move the cabinets over about 5.5”.

base cabinets depth for backrow

I also made sure to drill holes between the cabinets and in the bottom to feed through cable lines and power cords for the TV. Fortunately, the countertop was still long enough to fit the length (I had to cut about 1” off).

base cabinets front row
kitchen cabinets for bar front
kitchen cabinets for bar front

I then assembled the 3 base cabinets for the bar. They are the 14.5” depth cabinets versus the 24” depth cabinets on the back wall.

I planned the distance between the cabinets on the wall and the bar based on the outlet on the side wall (plus a little buffer). Fortunately, it was a good distance – 32.5”.

Once the cabinets were built, I butt the legs on the front. I was going to attach the cabinets to the bar frame so I didn’t use legs at the back . I propped them up with bar coasters until I could attach them to the frame. In hindsight, using the legs would have been easier!

The frame

making the frame
making the frame
making the frame

Then, I built a frame out of 2 x 10s at height of 41” and a width of 95.5” (which is the width of the 3 cabinets plus 5.5” to be the same width as the cabinets along the wall). I used 2x6s as the supports which I attached to the outside of the frame (front of the bar).

After that, I installed a 2 x 4 across the frame at the height of the top of the cabinets and one at the bottom.

Because I wanted to finish the inside of the bar and add some stability, I added 2 x 4 blocks from the top 2 x 4 to the bar top.

rustic bar hack
rustic bar hack with IKEA kitchen cabinets

Related: Our fun and fabulous Family Dining Room Bar

I chose 41” height to end up at 42” with the countertop (which ended up being 43”!) and my bar stools are 30” high.

rustic bar with bar stools IKEA hack

Then, I added 1 x 3 trim (painted dark gray) to the corners so the ends of the barn board would not be exposed. I cut off ¾ off one of the 1x3s so it is the same width where it meets in the corner. The 1×3 is flush with the cabinet by the doors.

rustic bar hack

I screwed the 2×10 frame to the wall through the 2×10 – it is quite heavy and doesn’t move.

rustic bar hack

I covered the front of the bar with plywood to give more stability and something to glue the barn board to (I also brad nailed it).

In the photo of the front of the bar cabinets, you can see a 2×4 block I added underneath to allow me to attach the bottom piece of barn board and the trim (you can also see the barn board I added to the inside above the countertop and the bar height)

Countertops for the bar

I cut the counter height countertop to fit the lower cabinets. I then estimated the overhang for the bar – 3.5”. After cutting it, it was way too narrow!! Fortunately, I had the cut off piece left so I added it on top of the bar with a good amount of overhang (another 4.5”) – people like it as a design element versus the mistake it was!

rustic bar hack

I then completed it with a bar foot rail and coat hooks to add to the pub feel. And that’s how my rustic bar hack came together.

How long and how much did the DIY rustic bar cost?

The whole cabinet/bar project probably took 2 weekends. The IKEA materials for the entire project – back wall cabinets and bar was approx. CDN$1,500.

The bar alone was just under half the total due to smaller depth cabinets.
The lumber to built out the bar frame was less than $100 (2 x 10s, 2 x 4s, and thin plywood). The barn board, purchased from a big box store was $250.

What do you like most about the hack?

I like that most people don’t know that it is built around IKEA cabinets and they think it is all custom.

What was the hardest part about this rustic bar hack?

Hardest part was the planning – avoiding outlets, deciding on overhang, adding trim on the corners so the ends of the barn boards didn’t show, planning for cable wires, etc.

What to pay special attention to?

I had to pay attention to where the outlets where on the wall – both on the back and side walls. I did not want to have to move the outlets so I had to position the cabinets accordingly and put in a little piece of trim between the cabinets and the wall. Also, I planned ahead to run cable wire under the baseboards and under the cabinets.

Looking back, would you have done it differently?

I would have spent more time figuring out how much the bar should overhang on the seating side. It was far too short, so I put another layer of counter top (that I had cut off the lower level) on top of the bar. Although people think that was a design element!

rustic bar hack

In the end, everybody has really liked our rustic bar. People like the little details like the coat hooks on the front of the bar and the foot rail.

~ by SteveR