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Stylish Spirits: Tips for Making a Home Bar Work in Your Space

Bars aren’t typically something most of us would associate with our houses. Bars are for dates or relaxing after work, possibly meeting up with old friends. Also, bars are about brushing shoulders with strangers and buying overpriced drinks. Anyone with a bar in their house must be wealthy, or willing to indulge in irresponsible extravagances, right? Initially, the idea of a “home bar” is an oxymoron.

But really, the meaning of bar is simply ‘counter’–and hence comes the title of someone who works behind a counter: a barista. A home bar is really just a counter or some other space where you can store liquor and make a drink. It’s really all about creativity and presentation–you don’t need a lot of space or expensive equipment to have a space for entertaining and relaxation, without the fuss of going out.

With a little creativity, bars can fit right into your set-up. (by Elysee)
With a little creativity, bars can fit right into your set-up. (by Elysee)

One option for a home bar is making use of a counter that already exists in your kitchen. This would be the ideal setting if you are looking to design a wet bar (a bar with running water) and would therefore need a sink or piping. If you find yourself entertaining often or just, say, mixing drinks more often than you cook (no judgment) this might be worth dedicating a section of your kitchen to.

Shop Bar Stands and Bar Carts:

Don't let lack of space stop you! Bars come in many different forms. (By Electric Hall)
Don’t let lack of space stop you! Bars come in many different forms. (By Electric Hall)

If you’re like me, chances are good you don’t have a spare counter or sink lying around,  but there’s no need to let that stop you. In the end what you’re looking for is somewhere to store bottles, glasses, bar tools, etc. You want to add to your home’s aesthetic rather than clutter it up. In the above photo, the decorator has made use of a recessed area that might have originally been a closet or a pantry.

Shop Bar Chairs:

A home bar doesn't have to be complicated or space-hogging. (By Jonathan Baker)
A home bar doesn’t have to be complicated or space-hogging. (By Jonathan Baker)

And on the subject of finding places you wouldn’t expect to build your home bar, think of it like a place to put books. Some homes have bookshelves built into the walls of the living room, but most of us need to buy or build shelves for our storage. In fact, in the past I’ve done the opposite–repurposed a liquor cabinet as a shelf for records. Don’t limit yourself to furniture expressly designed for a purpose; home design is all about using materials in creative ways.

Shop Wine Racks:

A basement or some other underutilized space in your home could be a great place for a bar! (By Lucy Call)
A basement or some other underutilized space in your home could be a great place for a bar! (By Lucy Call)

If you have more space and more time to dedicate to a do-it-yourself project, you could get creative like the decorator in the above photo, who used up-cycled materials to build their own home bar. A basement or unused spare room could be easily transformed into your own mini cafe–there are even bar stools and tables you can buy to use at home. It makes for a unique place to entertain guests and store liquor.

Nothing's better than an outdoor bar in good weather! (By MacNeely Architects, inc)
Nothing’s better than an outdoor bar in good weather! (By MacNeely Architects, inc)

Outdoor home bars are something to consider–especially since it seems like summer is going to persist well into September this year. I know most of us don’t have a lush vista of sea and sand that so many ‘home bar’ photos include, but that doesn’t mean you can’t take things outside. There are many free-standing outdoor bars available, many of which can be easily moved around and stand up against the elements. The above photo has used the creative idea of transforming a deck and bay window.

Whether you want a separate space for entertaining or just a handy place to store and mix liquor, a home bar is a fun and trendy addition. Transform a counter and a cabinet, or go all the way with a full cafe setting of stools and tables.