Home » WTF?!? » Inside a $350,000 HOME BAR [PHOTOS]

Inside a $350,000 HOME BAR [PHOTOS]

Dean Soll thinks of houses as temporary shelters, not lifelong homesteads. So when he and his wife, Carla, bought their 6,900-square-foot, six-bedroom home in Coto de Caza, Calif., three years ago, he was already thinking about where they would move next after their last child went off to college and they didn’t need all that space.

Nancy Keates joins Lunch Break with a look at a $350,000 commercial-grade barroom with a 22-foot marble bar and an outdoor patio in a California colonial that’s the scene of weekly parties thrown by the homeowners. Photo: Mae Ryan for The Wall Street Journal.

Mrs. Soll was having none of that. Having endured four moves in the 23 years they’d been married, she didn’t want to budge. To get her husband to stay put, she agreed to let him convert one of the rooms in their traditional gray-stucco house into a fantasy home bar—giving him full control over the scope, design and cost of the project.

“I said if it’s going to give me another five or eight years then let’s do it,” said Mrs. Soll, 48. “My dream is just to stay here.”

The result is a $350,000, full-size, commercial-grade barroom—the kind that is usually found off the lobby of a high-end boutique hotel. Finished a few months ago, the approximately 450-square-foot room has a 22-foot-long statuary-marble bar down its middle.

The ceiling is clad in wood and aluminum and the liquor and barware are displayed in front of a rosewood-and-bronze-framed mirror. There are two draft-beer taps and seating for 12 on leather tufted barstools. At the far end of the room, the entire wall opens up to the outside with folding glass doors, expanding the space to include a 220-square-foot outdoor patio lounge with a trellis.

It’s like a “getaway at home,” says Mr. Soll, 47. Mr. Soll started his cold-storage construction company, SubZero Constructors, in 1997, expanding it into an Inc. 500 company that builds refrigerated warehouses and food-processing facilities across the country for companies like SyscoSYY +0.21% KrogerKR +0.40% StarbucksSBUX -0.07% and Kraft.

The Soll bar—just off the dining room on the main floor of the house—is now the scene of weekly parties attended by dozens of family members and friends. These always include lots of dancing—sometimes even on the bar itself—to music from four outdoor speakers and four indoor speakers. On weekend mornings, friends who have stayed because they drank too much the night before emerge from the guest rooms to sit on the bar’s patio with espresso, much as they would at a hotel.

“It’s like having a piece of Vegas in your house,” says Alex Gonzalez, 40, who is Mrs. Soll’s brother and is there every weekend. The Solls’ college-age children hang out there with their friends, which can lead to battles between the adults (who favor ’80s music) and the kids (who prefer hip-hop). Their son Yannik, 21, calls it his nightclub.

To find an architect with hotel-bar experience, Mr. Soll searched online for winners of the Los Angeles AIA awards for restaurant design and then emailed the top three firms. Inglewood, Calif.-based Form Environment Research Studio, which has designed the bar areas of restaurants and hotels including the Thompson Beverly Hills, was the only firm that responded. “It was a very surprising request,” says partner Chris Mercier.

A large house with a big entertaining area isn’t unusual in Coto de Caza—the luxury gated community was the inspiration and setting for the original “housewives” reality show, “The Real Housewives of Orange County.” (A five-bedroom, 5,000-square-foot house nearby is currently for sale for $2.2 million.) What’s different is the professional feel of the room—what Mr. Mercier describes as “hotel chic but at the same time a lowdown kind of cool.”

The couple, who married in 1990, moved from a condo to a 4,000-square-foot house 13 years ago. When that house got too small for the family, which includes their three kids and Mrs. Soll’s parents, they looked elsewhere, initially thinking they would buy a lot and build a new house. But when negotiations on a 2-acre plot that was in foreclosure dragged on more than a year, they lost patience and bought their current house for $3.2 million in 2010.

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