Home Bar Design and Decorating Ideas

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Have you ever thrown a cocktail party and wished you had something better than a fold-up table or kitchen counter to serve as a makeshift bar? Sure, any open tabletop or counter could serve all your cocktail and refreshment serving needs, but they don't have the elegance, aesthetic appeal and aren't as fun as an actual home bar.

So, if you have some spare time, free space in your home, a couple of cases of alcohol, a garage filled with building materials and a couple of friends who are willing to trade a couple hours of labor for some beer, why not build a home bar for your home today? Here are some design tips and decorating ideas.

Home Bar Decorating and Essentials

The best way to decorate your bar is to model it after some of your favorite bars. If you fancy Irish pubs, adorn your walls and bar counter with the appropriate décor and use lots of green. Here are some ideas for décor and home bar essentials:

  • Kegerator: have your own beer tap. It's basically a small refrigerator with a tap on top.
  • Small refrigerator: for storing ice, fruits and cold drinks like beer bottles and cans.
  • Cocktail kit: for mixing, pouring and serving.
  • Glassware: get glassware souvenirs whenever you travel to give your home bar some character.
  • Neon bar sign: every bar needs at least one.
  • TV: helps to keep your guests entertained.
  • Dart board: get the plastic kind with rubber tipped darts to avoid unwanted holes on the wall.
  • Liquor: wouldn't be a bar without your favorite whisky, gin, vodka, wine, beer, etc.
  • Bar stools: if you want your guests to have a place to sit.
  • Bar sink: very useful.
  • Pub signs: go all out and make them personalized for a classy touch.
  • Mixers: for the fancy drinks.
  • Blender: for frozen drinks and anything that needs to be, well, blended.
  • Bottle opener: to open the beer bottles.
  • Wine opener: to open the wine bottles.
  • Sports memorabilia: show your team spirit.

The great thing about a home bar is that you can keep adding new items and décor overtime. You can also do a full revamp on your bar's theme if you grow tired of it, or if you need to switch things around for various occasions.

Home Bar Location Ideas

Selecting a prime location to set up your home bar is the first step. If you plan on having a bar counter, and shelves behind the counter replete with all the liquor and mixers you would find in a real bar, you're going to need the right amount of space. You'll also want an open area where guests won't have to crowd around for a drink. One of the convenient things about a home bar is that you don't have to deal with the crowded and cramped space of a real bar.

Here are some possible bar locations:

  • Living Room or Family Room: If your home has both a living room and a family room, chances are you don't actually need to use both for day-to-day living. Honestly, how many rooms with couches does your house need? In fact, the terms "living room" and "family room" are often used interchangeably because many people don't know or can't tell the difference between the two. Why not have a living room and a home bar instead of a living room and family room?
  • Dining Room: Do you really use the dining room for formal dining? If you need a place to entertain, wouldn't a home bar serve the same purpose? If you're not using the dining room for anything special, make it into a home bar, or just convert a portion of the room into a home bar, in case you want to keep that antique dining table.
  • Bonus Room or Loft: If you have a bonus room, then make a home bar the real bonus!
  • Garage: Many people don't even use their garage for what it was meant for, which is for car storage. People often convert their garage to workshops, home offices or an additional room. Here's an idea, make your garage a home bar. Cocktail spills aren't nearly as difficult to clean as oil leaks.
  • Backyard: Backyards are often used to entertain guests for home BBQs, garden parties or pool parties. Why not add an outdoor bar for entertaining on such occasions?
  • Basement: The basement is a great place to create a home bar. You can control the noise level, there is usually a lot of space to work with, and there aren't any antique items and expensive flooring to worry about getting damaged.

You obviously don't need to convert an entire room or area of your home into a home bar if you are planning on building something small. Just make sure there is adequate space for your counter, storage for your liquor and your bar patrons, also known as house guests.

Tips for Hiring Someone to Build the Bar

Once you've selected the perfect spot for your home bar, it's time to break out the measuring tape to get an idea of the amount of space you'll have to work with. These measurements will be important for buying materials to build the bar, or for the contractor you'll be hiring if you don't wish to build the bar yourself.

Some tips for hiring a contractor to build your home bar:

  • Hiring a professional can be expensive. Look through your address book and contact any friends or family who are handy with a saw. Depending how much you are willing to spend, and how fantastic you want the bar to look, you can get away with some amateur woodwork if you don't feel like spending a fortune.
  • Buy the materials yourself before hiring someone to put it all together. You can cut costs by doing some smart shopping, or you can accompany your contractor to the hardware store and buy the materials on the spot to avoid any unwanted "mark-ups."
  • Get the large items like refrigerators and sinks before the contractor starts building. The contractor can build around these items for proper fitment.

Home Bar Design Ideas

If you aced your woodshop class back in high school, and feel relatively competent in building your own bar, here are some bar design ideas to think about:

  • L-shaped bar: just like it sounds, it's a bar with a counter in the shape of the letter "L." Allows for more people to sit at the counter and more cabinet space behind the counter without having to stretch across an entire room.
  • Back bar: looks similar to a china cabinet or bookshelf. Glass cabinets for liquor to be displayed adorn the sides of the bar, with the lower cabinets for storing items. There is an opening in the center of the bar for mixing drinks.
  • Corner bar: fairly simply design structure that is typically placed in the corner of a room, requiring only a solid counter to be fabricated for serving bar patrons.
  • Straight bar: similar to a corner bar, except the counter is typically longer and positioned in the middle of a room instead of in the corner.
  • Portable bar: relatively small and sometimes comes with rollers, which is great for mobility and transport.
Last Updated: January 18, 2012
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About Matthew Cenzon Matthew Cenzon has been writing for numerous publications since 2003, covering topics ranging from health and nutrition to the real estate industry. He is one of the contributing writers for IdealHomeGarden.com, and is a college graduate of the University of California, Riverside, with degrees in English and Asian literature. Matthew’s interest in interior design and home improvement stem from his background working in the residential real estate appraisal business for over five years, where he witnessed many of the Do's and Don'ts of home decor.

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