It’s interesting to see the positive changes that occur when a guy purchases his own home, as all of a sudden factors such as home decor, furnishings and character suddenly become much more important.
There’s few better feeling that owning your own blank canvas of a property to get to work with and make your living space a unique expression of your own identity – and very few home improvements make this statement as boldly as designing and building a home bar.
Much like going for a night out on the town, the bars that you frequent will generally speaking be those where you feel most comfortable – namely those that share your ‘style’. For some guys this may be sleek and contemporary cocktail lounges, for others a classic spit and sawdust rockers bar; the beauty of a home bar design is that it can be perfectly and completely fit your character.
A bar can be squeezed into the corner of a modest apartment, or occupy an entire room or basement (very popular) in larger properties – and much like bars, pubs and clubs they are an on-going project that can be added to, changed and adapted over the years to come.
Here we’re going to look at a few of the issues to consider when dreaming up your perfect home bar accessories, and a few tips to ponder before you get started!
The Design Of The Bar
As touched upon above the design of the bar needs to be appropriate to the space that is being devoted to it. The good news is that you can fit a lot of liquor into a small space – but think about the aesthetics of the bar itself. Is the bar going to be a static unit built into the existing living space, or foldaway/portable?
What shape will it be – L shaped, U shaped, I shaped? Will cabinets be built into it or will shelves be good enough? Think about storage of glasses too, plus refrigeration, ice machines, sinks and plumbing – will they be necessary or can they be worked around?
Fit The Bar To Your Tastes
If you have a home already decked out in super minimalist style it might be a bit odd to have a replica dive bar packed with clutter and neon in the corner! The style of the bar really ought to blend in with the overall decor of the home and care needs to be taken regarding color schemes, decoration and the location of the bar itself.
For some people the bar is an extension of their kitchen or living room, for others it should be in it’s own space away from family areas – often in a ‘man cave’ setting! Consider how the bar is going to be used – is it an occasional toy for entertaining guests, or a day-to-day component of your domestic life? Understanding what you want and how best to install it will eventually lead to a harmonious home bar installation.
Think About Storage
Storage is important because not only is it a place to keep your liquor and supplies, but more importantly it’s a means of showcasing your selection. This needs to be appropriate to the kind of bar that you are installing – for example, a solid, stately and permanent installation will really deserve more expensive cabinets designed specifically with the bar in mind.
On the other hand a ‘pop-up’ bar perhaps no larger than a redesigned catering trolley on wheels may be perfectly content with some shelves or book cases to go along with the kitsch look. Storage can make or break the look of the bar, and as ever knowing what you want and making it unique to yourself is not just the objective, it’s a massive part of the fun too!
Short Of Ideas? Think Nostalgia…
A really popular kick-start for those struggling to decide the format of their bar is to think back and try to recreate a bar from their past or perhaps from popular culture. Maybe a bar you frequented in college – perfect for hanging up some old photos and memorabilia.
Alternatively a classic bar from TV (Cheers is very popular!) or somewhere back in the day. Maybe opt for a theme such as a ‘classic’ English pub or a German Bier Keller. The options are endless regarding home bar ideas, that’s a great thing but doesn’t always make the decision any easier.
The Positive Practicalities Of The Home Bar
Not only is having a home bar incredibly cool, but it’s also amazingly practical, cheap and safe. Liquor consumed at home can be around 75% cheaper than that bought on a night out, you’re literally ten seconds away from bed time and there’s no risk of falling foul to drink-driving, assault or robbery.
Sure a night out of fun once in a while, but chances that like many people with their own bars you’ll end up actually enjoying them much more going out once in a while rather than every weekend.
Guest Seating & Islands
You need to consider how to accommodate your guests around the bar, as it’s not much point serving drinks in one room just for visitors to need to walk to another to find a chair to sit in. Take a look at your existing furniture and consider how easy it would be to rearrange for a large number of guests – do you need furniture devoted to the bar, or can you just use what you already own?
Bar stools are a great – some would say essential – addition should the space allow, and also consider installing an island too. This allows space for snacks to be served, a surface for drinks to be rested and a focal point for guests to congregate and socialize. The same goes for installing a sink too – this can grow expensive but will make your bar a genuinely self contained unit and save scurrying too and fro from the kitchen to clean glasses.
Appliances & The Tools Of The Trade
Again this comes down very much to the size and scale of the bar, factored in also with how often it will be used and with approximately how many guests. A bar that might be used a couple of times a month for a few friends to watch some sports isn’t going to need two chest fridges, a freezer, hundreds of glasses and so on – it’s a waste of energy and you’ll likely have stock going out of date.
Likewise small pop up bars may only need a small portable fridge and an ice bucket filled from the kitchen freezer – it really does come down to economies of scale and usage.
Is the bar going to be a ‘wet bar‘ with running water and beer kegs, a cocktail bar that will require lots of shakers, stirrers and special glassware, or even an outside BBQ bar that may need sturdy lockable cabinets. The format should lean towards the style that will, in turn, make it pretty clear what degree of appliances and supplies you’re likely to need.
But remember that building a home bar is a progressive en-devour and there’s no need to splash thousands all at once, indeed it’s often better to gradually work up once you have an idea of when/how often/how busy your bar will be.
Hopefully this guide has whetted your appetite for taking on one of the most glorious home improvement projects that any man can tackle! Always remember though it’s your bar and should be an extension of your hangout and hobbies.