"Wouldn't it be cool if we had a little bar here?", was how this project started. From when we first initially came up with the idea of a functional bar table under the window to when we actual decided on a game plan, took months! We couldn't find anything that fit our space or budget. We finally decided to just try a floating shelf concept, went to the Lowe's to get the materials, and unexpectedly found the perfect bar surface in the most unusual isle.... the stair isle. Yes this floating window bar is made from what steps are built from, and we will show you exactly how we did it.
This is a really simple DIY project that anyone can do.
Less than an hour to install & under a $100
Step 1: Measure Window/Determine Length of Bar Step 2: Locate Studs Step 3: Screw in L-Brackets Step 4: Cut Stair Length/ Attach Reinforcement Joint (optional) Step 5: Attach Stair (Bar Top) to L-Brackets Step 6: Sand/Stain/Seal/ENJOY
Hammer or Nail Gun
Step by Step
Of course your space determines your design, but these steps can be scaled up or down to fit your needs.
We made the top of the bar surface height from the ground 41-3/4" because a standard bar stool is 24" high. The 24" Bar Stools we got fit perfectly! We purchased 2 stools, but you could easily fit 4 comfortably.
Measure your window's width including any molding that may be around it. Ideally you would want an overhang of 5-6" on each side of the window. If your overall surface length ends up being too long and you need to cut the stair treads down, make sure all of them are cut to the same length. This will ensure the center joint of the treads will be in the middle of the window. You can cut from either end of the stair tread since you will be capping off the ends.
This diagram shows the most ideal case where you wouldn't need to make any cuts to achieve a 6" overhang on each side of the window.
Example of surface being too long:
60" window length with molding + 6" overhang left + 6" overhang right = 72" desired surface length
42" stair length + 42" stair length = 84" total surface length
84" total - 72" desired = 12" difference
12"/2 number of treads = 6" to be removed from each stair tread
Installing the Brackets:
The L Brackets we used are standard shelving brackets. You will get the best stability if you can locate a stud to screw the brackets to. Otherwise, you will need to get drywall anchors. Studs are traditionally 16" apart, so you should be able to locate at least one stud per stair tread length. It is more important to have a bracket located on a stud than to have them equally distanced from each other.
Place a mark on the wall where you expect the bar top to end on both sides of the window and a mark on the wall where the center of the window is.
Grab your stud finder and mark all the studs starting from outside an end mark sweeping all the way to the other end mark. Now you should have a good idea how to space your brackets to look more symmetrical. You want a bracket somewhat close to each end of each stair tread for best support. (2 brackets per tread)
Once you have identified the studs you want the brackets on you're ready to screw them in.
Have a helping hand hold the stair tread at the desired height. Positioning or level isn't important just the height at this point.
Slide a bracket up from the stud mark until the top is flush with the bottom of the stair tread. Easiest working from one end to the other.
Make a mark from the bottom screw hole that doesn't have a slotted hole.
Remove the stair tread and screw in the bracket just on the single marked hole. This should leave the bracket able to be pivoted.
Grab your level and slide it up against the bracket and pivot the bracket until it is vertically level. Make a mark on the second screw hole at the top, marking the bottom of the slotted hole.
Screw in the second screw, and snug up the first screw.
Rest the stair tread on the screwed in bracket and place the level on top of the stair tread.
Raise or lower the stair tread until it is level.
Slide the second bracket up from the stud mark until the top is flush with the stair tread.
Mark and screw in the bracket the same way as before.
Follow these steps for the remaining brackets if using more than 2
The following steps aren't totally necessary, but just adds additional support to the joint of the stair treads.
Cut the 1x3" Oak Board to ~10 5/8th".
Pre-drill and countersink 6 holes (3 holes one each side of the trim section).
Place stair treads face down on a flat surface, and push them together so that they are flush.
Using Small Screws
Place the midpoint of the trim piece over the joint, and screw it in both treads making sure sides are flush after each screw.
Now you are ready to slip your stair treads on the brackets. The stair treads have the detailed bevel overhang that helps hide the brackets and gives the bar a thicker look.
Make sure your joint matches your window midpoint mark, and screw the bracket top to the stair tread from underneath.
Cutting and installing the Stair Nosing/Molding:
Cut each molding piece by holding it flush to an edge and marking the overlap (~11 5/8th"). MAKE SURE you cut the right end off because if you cut both on the same end, one will have the wrong orientation.
Lather some wood glue on the molding flat side.
Push the molding piece onto the stair tread end, and make sure it is flush.
Nail in several nails along the length of the molding piece.
At this point you should hand sand the surface using 220 Grit Sand Paper, and seal it using the Water Based Poly. Water based is odorless, and dries crystal clear. Oil based eventually will get a yellow tint from the sun's UV. The Foam Brush helps to not leave streaks, and are cheap. Consider adding 2-3 coats sanding lightly in between. We waited to do this until after it was installed to try and sand out any imperfections at the joint of the two treads and molding.
Oh, and the Bar Stools we ended up picking fit perfectly under the bar, look great, and are really affordable!
We also found this power strip hub useful for the bar since it had a small profile and contained USB ports for phone charging.
As we write this on our floating bar we are reminded of the functionality we added to this room, and realized this room would probably be empty otherwise.
Thanks for taking a look, and let us know if you have any questions. We really hope this helped you make your space a little more cozy and functional! Also we would love to see your results, tag us on pictures of your floating bars on Facebook or Instagram. *Pro Tip: Just by adding small potted plants to your bar can help give you that garden cafe vibe that we all love. =)