As someone who lives in the Midwest, I cannot wait till it gets warmer. I dream of spending starry nights with friends and family outdoors while having fun on a patio or in backyard.
As it’s suddenly snowing again in the middle of April, the thought of building a DIY outdoor bar really warms up my heart. But I prefer to do it on a budget. So I’ve collected these 15 awesome ideas for simple and inexpensive bar designs, and I wanted to share them with you.
I hope you’ll appreciate this selection and will find one design that is perfect for you. Some of them come with step-by-step building plans or guides and some are just for inspiration.
Do you have old kitchen cabinets or bookcases or other pieces of furniture laying around? Have some recycled wood boards piled up in your backyard? This maybe all you need to build a bar, and these 15 ideas could help you to create an outdoor design that can withstand the elements.
An Outdoor Bar Under Pergola – a Beautiful Backyard DIY
This beautiful bar idea is by Ashley Rane Sparks at Hometalk. It’s basically a two-post pergola with an added bar shelf. This is a great DIY idea that you can build on a budget. Add a few patio bar stools and you have yourself a peaceful space to have coffee, a family dinner or to entertain guests on a hot summer night.
Lots of people asking for a plan for this bar. Unfortunately, Ashley didn’t provide any … so we’ve designed one. Please see it below.
This is one of our favorite outdoor bar designs. Try it out, and if you’ve managed to grow those white flower vines then … oh boy, you did a wonderful job.
To figure out the recommended pergola post installation method or how deep should the posts be in the ground, the best is to call your local office of zoning and engineering. Depending on your local climate and location, you may decide to mount the posts to the metal anchors or sink them into concrete or directly into soil.
This bar is designed to stand 8 feet tall above the ground. So depending on your installation method, you will need 8-, 10- or even 12-ft long posts.
The plan is comprised of three parts: pergola posts, a tabletop and a roof. Below, you’ll find assembly diagrams, cut-to dimensions and material lists for all three.
The plan is created with a small budget in mind, so all dimensions and materials are carefully selected to have almost no leftovers and make the least number of cuts, while keeping the costs down. We used Home Depot common timber boards to pick the materials. For a compete material spec, please see the reference list below:
Posts: 6 in. x 6 in. x 10 ft. #2 Ground Contact Pressure-Treated Timber, SKU #129163
Bar Frame boards: 2 in. x 4 in. x 8 ft. #2 Prime Ground Contact Pressure-Treated Lumber, SKU #1001753743
Bar Top boards: 2 in. x 8 in. x 8 ft. #2 Prime Ground Contact Pressure-Treated Lumber, SKU #1001753990
Bar Top boards & Roof Side boards: 2 in. x 6 in. x 8 ft. #2 Prime Ground Contact Pressure-Treated Lumber, SKU #1001753877
Roof Top board: 1 in. x 8 in. x 8 ft. Ground Contact Pressure-Treated Board, SKU #1001753972
Roof Fence Pickets: 5/8 in. x 5-1/2 in. x 4 ft. Incense Cedar Dog-Ear Fence Picket, SKU #482501
Total cost of lumber: under $155
The two vertical posts serve as the sole support for the entire pergola bar, so they need to be a more robust 6×6 lumber, as shown above.
You cut the tops off at 15 degree angle, to tilt the roof, just like they did it in the original design.
The above is the bar tabletop assembly diagram. Please note – all dimensions are in actual sizes (not nominal). If you want to build with precision, you need to pay attention on actual lumber dimensions. You could assemble the table entirely and then attach it to the posts, or you could come up with your own method. We made sure that the result is a sturdy design.
The counter is 6′ wide (vs. possibly 8′), as we think in this length we can make it a sturdy construction and save on costs, and it’s just long enough.
The above image shows tabletop board sizes and cut-to dimensions (where necessary). The assembly uses only five 2×4’s for the frame and 4 wide boards to establish the bar surface.
As for the pergola roof design, we tried to keep it as simple as possible, while being budget sensitive. So we picked the Cedar fence pickets for the roof top. The specific materials and the cut-to dimensions are below.
The roof top is composed from 16 boards which you create by cutting 8 fence pickets in half (see above and below). We think this is a great idea for an on a budget DIY project.
Shown above are pergola bar roof boards and cut-to dimensions.
Here’s this idea and design at the glance:
Drop Down Bar Shelf – a Super Simple Idea with a Tutorial
Looking for some simple DIY outdoor bar ideas? Here’s one practical design for you – a drop down shelf by Kristin at MyBellaBug blog. If you have some old fence pickets or pallets to recycle then this design can be done on a cheap.
Kristin did a great job detailing the entire building process. This quick and easy design attaches to your house or shed outside wall. You secure it with hinges and a metal chain.
When you’re not using the bar, simply close it up with the eye hook latch on each side. What a great idea!
Wood Pallet Patio Bar – Full DIY Tutorial
Frustrated with the lack of good DIY tutorials for making an outdoor pallet bar, Nicki at Sweet Parrish Place blog decided to create her own, based on the project she completed for her patio – see above.
If you’re building an inexpensive patio bar out of pallet wood then her pretty straightforward plan could come handy. Check it out!
Re-purpose Old Kitchen Cabinets into an Outdoor Bar
No doubts, using your old kitchen cabinets is the most effective way to build a bar. And if you live in a warm climate, this is one of those cool ideas on a budget that could work for the outdoors.
Here’s one helpful example of how some folks in Florida did it, and they shared many images and step by step instructions. What a great DIY job they’ve accomplished!
Start small and use only one cabinet to build a smaller bar or use all available cabinets and build a large bar area for the patio. If you live on the coast and like the nautical theme, you can decorate it with sand dollars, starfish, boat rope and seashells – just look at these pictures.
How to DIY a Patio Party Bar – Download Free Building Plans
This awesome idea for a patio bar design takes time and effort to build. But the end product will be your great reward. And you can make it on a budget if you follow the tried building plan, available here for free.
The bar top is made out of concrete and has a cooler sink built-in. The bar lights up at night.
Turn Pallets into a Sports Bar – A Great Idea on a Budget
Dreaming of having a sports bar right in your backyard? Want to do it on a budget? Then use this Judy’s idea as your DIY inspiration.
Judy connected tree wood pallets to build her outdoor bar. A 1″ x 12″ white pine board was used for the top of the bar. The design is pretty easy to put together, and there are many helpful images on Judy’s web page.
What makes this a genius idea are the added bar stools. She bought them cheap at Walmart. Add lights, a TV and some beer and you have your dream come true!
Build an Outdoor Beverage Station and a Bar for Free
This rustic looking but practical beverage station was made for a lake house. And it did not cost a dime to make – everything was on hand. Isn’t it amazing what you can do with a bunch of old wood laying around your backyard?!
They used an old storm door, recycled deck railing spindles and some old groove & tongue wood boards to build it. The twinkle lights were added for nightly entertainment.
We love the idea of decorating the bar top with flowers and how the bottom shelf is used for plants in pots. We also like the beer and wine openers attached on the sides. This simple but fun design makes drinks and utensils to be the star.
An Old Sewing Cabinet Becomes a Cooler Bar
Have an old sewing cabinet? Making a DIY outdoor cooler table from it can be a piece of cake. Take a look at this cool example.
It’s a design with a distressed look. It was sanded with an electric sander, painted in aqua color and then made to look distressed. Finally, it was sealed with a polyacrylic, so it could be outside.
They cut out an opening in the tabletop and attached a sink from underneath. The folding top serves as a bar table.
Old Barrel Becomes a Patio Bar
Inexpensive DIY ideas aren’t limited to just your backyard. This outdoor bar made out of barrels was used for a wedding in Tennessee to show love for the couple and love for a certain drink. You could probably tell from the sign that’s proudly on display.
Here, an old barrel was cut in half before being attached to a previously built wooden stand. A top shelf was added to keep it all together, and inside shelves for the bartenders’ sakes were also included. Finally, the tabletop was made with reclaimed wood before varnish was added to make it all look nice and shiny.
Some guests loved the bar so much that, after the wedding, it was sold to them for a profit.
Convert a Bookcase into a Patio Bar – an Ikea Budget Hack
Debbie at RefreshRestyle.com was challenged to create a hack for the IKEA Billy Bookcase. Her response? Using leftover lumber and Finish Max sprayer to turn this bookcase into a patio bar.
This DIY project, completed on a small budget, is a showcase for an incredible transformation. A fresh coat of paint breathed life into one of the coolest outdoor designs. Talk about being unique! If you’re an Ikea lover then this one is a must see.
Outdoor Bar Cart – a Complete Step-by-Step Building Guide
Bar carts are super mobile, making them perfect if you entertain guests a lot. If you’re itching to take your outdoor entertaining skills to the next level, building a cart is definitely the way to go.
But you need a creative design idea and an execution plan. Medina at Grillo Designs offers her step-by-step DIY building guide for an outdoor rolling bar cart, and you can use it to make one for your patio.
She did an amazing job assembling it from copper pipes, and the final design looks terrific. Check it out!
Mobile Outdoor Bar on a Budget – a DIY Building Guide
A patio bar on wheels is a handy idea. But if this bar has a folding counter it makes it even better! The creative folks at the Vintage Chic site have a detailed DIY tutorial on how to make one, with lots of images and specifics.
Imaging yourself playing a bartender and coming up with new drinks for your guests to try. And if you could do it outside, wouldn’t it be especially cool.
If you love entertaining but have a small patio or backyard then this design is just for you. Roll the bar cart out before the guests arrive. Once the party is over and the guests are gone, fold the top down and roll it away for easier storage.
Transform a Junked Credenza Into a Beautiful Outdoor Bar – Weather-resistant
Credenzas already look like bars, so making an outdoor bar from an old scratched credenza is only logical. And it’s a great DIY project as you get to refurbish and put to use an otherwise throw-away piece of furniture. The only problem is if it’s placed on the patio, how do you make it withstand the elements?
Jenny at Days of Chalk and Chocolate blog had solved this problem and created a beautiful outdoor piece. And you can follow her tutorial to build one yourself.
A credenza is a great choice for a DIY bar – the multiple storage compartments makes it very practical for storing alcohol, cups, utensils, and anything else you need to keep hidden. Refurbishing it in the right way will make it a perfect patio bar idea on a budget.
Pottery Barn Inspired Abbott Island & Hutch Set on a Budget
Simple designs can often come from being inspired by something more expensive. And this inexpensive DIY backyard bar by Tamela at Tamela Bowie Interiors is clear proof of that!
This idea was inspired heavily by the Pottery Barn set mentioned above, which retails for a staggering US $2,248! Tamela recreated it on a tiny budget of only US $20!
She re-purposed her gift wrapping table for the bar base. The rest was made from a recycled wood pallet. Not only this bar design looks awesome, it also has all the features of its expensive counterpart.
Pergola Bar Seating – an Awesome Design with a Step-by-step Tutorial
When a tree fell in a storm, this DIY-er ended up with some stool-sized stumps. That sparked an idea of adding a DIY outdoor bar to an existing pergola.
Just look at these images! Now you can have both cookouts and campfires, all in one place. If you already have a pergola, maybe this project on a budget will inspire you.
It didn’t take much to construct. They installed an additional support post in the middle, added a couple of shelf brackets and laid a few wood boards. The overall cost ended up being US $75.
And Finally an Idea for the Balcony – a Balcony Bar Top
The above design ideas requires some welding to make the metal brackets. This makes the bar shelf sturdy and comfortable, meaning that it can easily handle several people.
If your goal is to DIY build on a budget, you can definitely take a crack at making this welded and durable balcony bar. Alternately, you can get similar items on Etsy. DIY outdoor bar designs can’t just be pretty – they have to be able to handle every day wear and tear, too.