HELP!!! Design Challenged! What should I do with my bar area?

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This *WAS* the bar area right off my living room. Personally, I think it was absolutely beautiful. The wood was super high quality and the detail is amazing. It was completely gorgeous.


Some young, know it all, 20 year old designer came in and said, “yuck, too old fashioned! Paint it!”

Then a day later we walked back in, and they had painted it. I cried. We still bought the house, but demanded that they STOP painting all the woodwork in the house immediately and leave.


That is what it looks like now ^^^. It is really flat looking, and no character. We have had multiple bids on having the wood stripped and it is outrageous. PLUS every painter said you will never get all the paint off and it would not look good. So I am stuck. Over the Christmas break I am going to do SOMETHING to it…. I am thinking repaint with some glaze or maybe a two tone paint job??

This is where I need help! Does anyone have any suggestions??

cabinets two toned

What do you think of the two tone cabinets? Would it look good in a bar area? What colors would you use? I am not afraid of color, in fact I love a little color pop! Maybe a teal on the bottom and cream on the top? Or Red? Or do it all in a darker brown?? Should I distress it and make it look old? HELP!


This is standing back to give you an idea of what the entire area looks like. * please ignore all the school stuff, the kids just got home and dropped everything!!

Please help me out and tell me what you think!


  1. Heather says

    The wood was beautiful I can’t believe they painted it.I don’t have any input as to what you should do though. Sorry.

    • susie says

      I would strip it…use a heat faster…and helps with the small areas. I loved the wood too. Wait until you can do it when the weather is good enough to open windows. other than that…black bottom cabinets would look good. good luck

  2. Gina Moffett says

    I like the two tone it does make it pop out, not crazy about the teal unless you can tie in with something else teal around the room. but I do like the red or a amber stain on the bottom I hope this help. and thank you for all you do. and have a Merry Christmas

  3. Caren says

    I would do the bar in one color probably aqua or grey then distress it where the white comes back through in some areas .

  4. jamie says

    Ooo – it is such a beautiful area! If it were my living room – I would take off the doors and turn that into like a mini library – fill them with books and make it all cozy like a little reading nook area. Then put some bar stools up there and make it a homework center.

  5. Steph says

    Sad they painted but…I think the glaze in a capuccino would be gorgeous…your walls are light so actually I like it…so it doesnt stick out but an accent glaze would be pretty and tie in with your browns…If you want to do the bottoms a color, make it one you decorate with pretty regularly like with pics & pillows. Gorgeous house by the way…decorate for Christmas & post!

  6. Dianna says

    II like it both ways, however the bar top is throwing me off a bit since it was painted. Maybe all you need is a new bar top for a contrast of color and visual interest.

  7. Jessica says

    I think you should add some color. While it is pretty as it is, it will look really awesome with another color. I really like Williamsburg blue. It is a grey blue. you can look at it if you use google images and search for Williamsburg blue. The color actually comes from Williamsburg Virginia at the time of the revolution.

  8. jennifer says

    Years ago a relative bought a house built round 1920’s, lots of painted wood. She was going through a divorce, her therapy was stripping all the wood. It took a lot of time, but DIY. It can be done. It was rooms that she did.

  9. Amanda says

    I like the white-it does feel more up to date–
    you could add some color and pattern with wallpaper accents–you could use a take on the diamond pattern the wine racks creates-
    behind the glass shelves and on the bottom squares of the cabinets and perhaps a few decorative pieces

    here are a few pins for inspiration I found

  10. Nancy says

    I would paint them a tan color – and then glaze with a Cabot Walnut or whatever color you like. The amount of glaze you leave on will determine the final look. Maybe experiment a little – but the softer color will make it look a lot less harsh, and the glaze will give it a little more of an “Old World” look and make the details stand out a little more. Or maybe a darker lower half and leave the top white –

    For color – I might do something fun with the interior of the cabinets – I love how that looks when it’s painted a teal color.

    or a lighter teal

  11. angelia butler says

    maybe even just paint the trim parts around the glass and on the cabinets and the wine rack a dark color for contrast–i do like the teal but maybe even a burgundy color would be pretty. good luck


    Here’s what I would do if it was mine.

    I would remove the doors. It would open that whole area up. If you are wanting more of a wood look in there then add wood to the back of those cabinets. I would also add wood in the front bar area. Those big squares. Or on the ceiling do wood planks. The white would go beautifully with a lighter colored wood. I had fabric (red and teal) on the backs of my bookcases. I just removed it and added wood instead. I used fence posts. A mixture of the pine and the cedar. I just nailed them on with the same nails that had held up the cardboard backerboard. I have also seen people use shims, and 1×2. Pinterest has pics or I could email you some. Either mine or the decorating blogs I get on. I would also add some lighting. And then add the pops of color with the items you will decorate your bookcase/bar with.

    You can also add wood to the top of the bar. If that’s not there already.

    And one last thing. If your looking to go the manly/natural/woodsey look then don’t forget the deer antler chandelier. Or any outdoorsey/animal light fixture. Or put deer antlers, large ones in the middle of the bookcase area.

    Ok I think I’m done. Till I stare at it more and see something else I would change. I’m jealous. How exciting. I love doing projects like this. Have fun!

    • Tiffany says

      I love the remove the doors idea. Have you seen the white deer head that is all over Pottery Barn? It is awesome!I can’t afford it but maybe I can find something like it!

  13. Erin says

    Loved that wood! :( so sad they painted it! I vote for the teal color as a two tone color. You could possible even paint it then sand it down some to make it look distressed. Just my 2 cents! Merry Christmas! Thanks for all you do! :)

  14. Kristina says

    I like it painted white! Sorry, but it felt like we were back in the 70’s and 80’s, when the inside of a house was wood…yuck!

  15. Jess says

    Color is fun! How do you feel about tin? Home Depot has some beautiful tin inserts that are so easy to install. I think if you put tin on the ceiling square cutouts and painted the square cutouts in the cabinets that whole area would really pop. Throw some silver accents on your bar and walah! I would research tin ceilings on Pinterest to get an idea of what I’m talking about. You could even do the tin on your cabinets…

  16. June says

    Personally I think the best feature of the cabinets is the beautiful glass on the fronts. I would get small led lights on the inside of the cabinets so the glass fonts are light up. That would give it a ton more character.

    I would also strip the door fonts. You can try getting a quote from a powder coating company. They do just stripping.

    If that will not work for you try re panting the front of the doors.

    Another Idea would be to paint the squares on the bar and possibly, the molding on the cabinets.

  17. Crystal Stearns says

    I love both the natural wood and the white. All my house and kithen is white. BUT if you want to change something do it to the bar. Leave the back cabinet the white and change the bar to a wood tone. Shades of color change so often I feel you would get tired of it quickly. The bar top need major up dates. Just changing the top could be all you need. Good luck.

  18. Shawna G, says

    I think you should change your floors to a dark hardwood. It would make the white pop more. You can still see the character with all the molding and trim. I actually like the white better than the natural wood..more modern. The natural wood was pretty, but you are a young family and the wood tone is more of an empty nester look! =) Try updating your furniture and décor to add color. I like keeping the foundation of a room neutral, so that you can always update color and style with movable pieces. Hope that helps!

  19. margaret says

    Depends on what look you are going for. The white is actually nice and seems to go with the barstools/clock style etc…like Restoration Hardware or Pottery Barn. However, I think the open shelves (like someone else said would work wonders and a new bar. What is the top surface? Could you take off the bulky white moulding around the bar?
    As far as input goes, I also think that painting the bottom cabinets a darker color (I was thinking black or dark brown–I have a great woodtoned brown shade that we painted our study–over paint chipping and wallpaper peeling over real wood, rather than stripping. IT looks great. I actually made one wall an accent wall with cream paint and a very faint tan all-over stencil with geometric designs as if wallpaper) I think painting the bottom would ground the space better if you dont make other changes to it and left as is.
    But you are brave asking for opinions because everyone’s taste is so different.
    Do we get to see the results?

  20. Anne says

    I would paint them a linen white and add a glaze over them. The white is too harsh. The glaze would give the cabinets more depth. I tried to include a picture of what I mean but couldn’t. Ifyou google images of antique glazed cabinets you can see how nice they would look. Good luck!

  21. Ellen says

    I would paint the insets the color you like. Also, change the bar top. I like it, but it needs to be two-toned I think.
    Merry Christmas !!

  22. Pam says

    I love the cabinets and your house is beautiful. I recommend going to a cabinet store or even Hope Depot or Lowes and looking at the special order cabinet door displays. They have lovely glazed cabinets where the cabinet door itself is white or a nice cream and then they hand apply a stain that gets “hung up” in the grooves. It really gives your cabinets a warm and “old world” look. You just need to find someone who knows what they are doing and they would be gorgeous. Make sure they apply a nice glaze on top so you will be able to wipe them down without worrying about the paint coming off. I personally think any bright color like teal or red would just cheapen the look of your beautiful cabinets. After they are distressed then bring in a bright punch of color in your accessories.

  23. Christi says

    I know it is hard and a little work but why not strip the paint sand re-stain and gloss! Bring it back to its original glory!

  24. Laura B says

    The bar top edge looks strange. I would update the bar top with a light brown granite and then do a glaze on all the cabinets in light brown, and in front where the bar stools would go you have two large areas of wood that look blank, how about filling them with some brass kick plate, or silver if you prefer. If you want the two tone look how about stripping the top half of all the cabinets?

  25. sharis says

    The new way is not horrible. Although, I personally like the wood better, the paint is not unbearable, but you have to love it and live there, so personally I’d strip it.

  26. debbie says

    I love the white better but I think the counter top needs redoing and maybe put lights in the cabinets and add color with the décor in the cabinets

  27. jerusha says

    If u keep the doors on u could use chalkboard paint so u can leave notes on them, or magentic paint to pin decorations up.

  28. Paula says

    I also like the white cabinets a lot more. The wood is too dated.
    Look at a Potterybarn Catalog. They do a lot of white rooms. Add som epillows on the couch, a coloured rug.
    I would not touch the wood. Even when you strip it with a heat gun (have doneit myself) You don’t get it done the way the professionals do.
    IN order to get all the paid off it has to be acid washed ( Expensive)
    Get a new countertop ( Granit) and work with decor. It is the cheapest and mist effective way to change a room.
    P.S. The Libary idea is brilliant.

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