- Work the Angles
- Two-Tier Bar for Eating and Drinking
- Match Bar Stools to Bar Top
- Combine Classic Pendant Lighting and Recessed Lights
- Choose a Durable, Beautiful Bar Surface
- Keep the Bar Well-Stocked
- Ice is Nice
- Keep Your Cool
- Use Your Walls
- Mimic Your Favorite Pub or Trendy Tavern
- Add a Mirror for Depth and Style
- Install a Chalkboard and Encourage Creativity
- At-Home Bars for Homebodies
- Wine Corks
- Your Bar Doesn’t Have to Be Stationary
Work the Angles
Consider a bar layout that’s more interesting than just straight or L-shaped. One of our favorites is this style that has 45-degree angles at two corners for a little extra space for sitting or standing. If you have enough room for an L-shaped bar, you have enough room for this style, too. Plus: How to Build a Home Bar
Two-Tier Bar for Eating and Drinking
A double-level or two tier bar has two different surfaces – one at normal table height, and one at standing bar height. This design allows the area to be used for eating, drinking, or casual conversation – all at the same time. It’s a versatile use of space that works well if you like to include a snack buffet along with your drinks, or if you’re afraid there just won’t be enough horizontal surface space with a traditional bar.
Match Bar Stools to Bar Top
The typical bar top stands 41 to 43 inches from the floor. Bar stools then need to stand 29 to 32 inches from floor to seat, which should accommodate most people. If the bar approaches 46 inches tall, the bar stools will need to be 30 to 36 inches in height. We prefer bar stools that have at least a small back for support, but with so many styles available, you should be able to find seating that works well with your bar. If you are short on space, skip the stools and make the bar top easy to lean against with rounded edges.
Combine Classic Pendant Lighting and Recessed Lights
Pendant lighting hanging from the ceiling is a traditional method of lighting bars. A home bar looks particularly good with a cluster of three or four pendant lights centered above the bar, high enough so no one bumps their head. Choose lower wattage bulbs and soft lights to give your bar area a pub-like atmosphere. Also consider recessed lighting. The drink prep area needs good lighting, just like kitchen prep areas. Under-cabinet lighting also works well in bar areas. With today’s ultra-adaptable LED lights, you can install lighting where you please, and switch the light color to alter the mood.
Choose a Durable, Beautiful Bar Surface
Don’t skimp on the bar surface! It’s the most visible and hard-working part of your bar. The classics are a great bet here: Granite and marble slabs are quite expensive but will give top-tier bar appearance and will last forever (tile isn’t as impressive on a bar, but it is an affordable alternative). Dark, beautifully grained wood is a warmer look and more in line with traditional pubs. Modern, experimental bars are also using stainless steel, glass and butcher block as bar surfaces. Stay away from surfaces that are easily scratched or that may peel or crack over time.
Keep the Bar Well-Stocked
Make sure your home bar has all the equipment and standard ingredients you’ll need. A classic bar book with all the recipes for any cocktail your guests may desire is essential. And, that means keeping the necessary ingredients around, too. Your bar should have storage space for ingredients like bitters, simple syrup, triple sec, soda water, vermouth, and so on, plus a variety of glassware and gadgets and a few knives. Then, of course, you’ll need space for beer, wine, sodas and a collection of spirits.
Ice is Nice
Whether you include a sink or not, consider a countertop icemaker as part of your bar. These icemakers are affordable, easy to use and keep you from running back and forth from the kitchen with an ice bucket. Make serving drinks on the rocks as painless as possible, and your guests will love it!
Keep Your Cool
A versatile small refrigerator is a big plus in any bar setup. Not only can it chill wine or beer, you can also keep lemons, lime and other fruits cold, preserve an appetizer, frost glasses and more. Try to stay away from wine coolers that only have wine racks, and look for a small fridge model that has adaptable storage spaces. Small home bar ideas should all have a mini-fridge!
Use Your Walls
Take a look at your bar space and see how nearby walls can become part of the bar. We’re not just talking about design and color – use walls as part of your overall theme. Install a few shelves that you can use to hold bottles, or set up a stemware rack for your best glasses. Another option is to build a wall niche to display and store bottles.
Mimic Your Favorite Pub or Trendy Tavern
There are far too many bar styles and materials for us to call one the absolute best. Instead, take a look at different bar styles from around the world and throughout the ages, and then choose the design that makes you feel most at home. Do this before you make any major purchases so you select materials, lights, stools and glassware that reflect this style. You can also renovate floors, walls and ceilings to more closely match your dream bar. And be sure to include at least a few features that make your bar unique. For additional tips, check out this diy bar project.
Add a Mirror for Depth and Style
Many public bars have mirrors on the walls. As with other rooms in your home, adding a mirror is a good way to visually expand the space and reflect light, which a home bar certainly benefits from. The right mirror can also become an important design element.
Install a Chalkboard and Encourage Creativity
Hang a chalkboard or paint a wall with chalkboard paint. Keep chalk handy and encourage guests to leave their mark. If you’re serving a signature drink or celebrating something special, use the chalkboard to let everyone know!
At-Home Bars for Homebodies
If your weather is decent most of the year, consider an outdoor bar. Typically, outdoor home bars are built close to the house (for easier access to indoor amenities). Incorporate the bar into your deck or patio and make sure it gets plenty of shade. If you’re rather not build a permanent structure, consider a bar on wheels!
If you want to have a unique home bar, consider repurposing. Inventive homeowners have converted everything from pianos and TVs to barrels and cable reels into bar components. Smaller items, like wine bottle corks, bottle caps or a collection of old beer cans can be turned into a one-of-a-kind conversation piece.
Your Bar Doesn’t Have to Be Stationary
You can create a mobile bar on a wheeled cart! Glass, wood and metal bar carts come in a variety of styles and allow you to easily move the bar around, depending on your party setup. You won’t be able to include many appliances or extras, but you will save on space. A mobile bar can also be a handy “satellite” if you have a large party and you want to spread out the crowd. Photo: Sally Wheat Interiors