I believe what makes a home special is the welcoming atmosphere experienced as one steps through the front door. This is why Danny and I have a home bar in our entry hall. We find the simple gesture of offering a drink as our guests arrive sets a relaxed and festive tone, making everyone feel instantly at home in our space. With the approaching season of cooler evenings and special gatherings, I’d like to inspire you to turn a cozy corner of your home into a warm and welcoming home bar.
When I design home bars for clients, I consider how the hosts and guests will move between entryways and entertaining spaces. I believe it is important to position the bar for ease of accessibility while allowing for the natural flow of movement. A home bar does not require a tremendous commitment of space. A handsome bar cart in a quiet corner or bar stools pulled up to a console table make for instant hospitality. I look for a nook, a span of unused wall, or a neglected corner that with a few creative touches can become a nice entertaining venue.
Whether you’re a traditionalist or a modernist, here are a few of my favorite bar carts with classic lines that can slip into any environment with grace
No need to call plumbers or electricians. With a couple of beautiful water pitchers and an attractive ice bucket, your dry bar is magically a “wet” one. I believe lighting is always important. A little attention to the use of light can change the emotional atmosphere. For a touch of drama, I might hang an attractive pendant over the bar area. And, I find installing LED task lighting under cabinets and shelves is not only practical for serving but warms a space and gives it purpose.
Think of your favorite cocktail lounge and why you enjoy being there. Identify one or two ways to bring that feeling into your own space. In our case, Danny loves a good scotch, so a few crystal decanters on an antique French secretary became a whiskey bar for entertaining his gentleman friends.
You might consider an interesting wall treatment, a special piece of art, or beautiful glassware in open shelving to create your own dream spot. It’s okay to be a little playful here since a home bar can stand alone as a piece of art in itself.
In case your home bar calls for seating, I’ve pulled together this selection of stools that add personality to any space.
A bar cabinet is a clever way to tuck your bar inside a nice piece of furniture. Beautiful pieces designed for this purpose make storing and serving as easy as opening a cabinet door. You might have a special antique piece that could serve as a lovely home bar and wonderful conversation starter.
I converted our chinoiserie armoire into a bar cabinet by installing interior lighting and adding mirror to the back.
Here are some of my cabinet picks for an instant home bar that can disappear when you’re ready to quiet the atmosphere.
Every great cocktail bar serves good food to draw a crowd and make the drinks taste even better. Consider a few small bites you can offer your guests as you’re preparing drinks. I personally like to put out an assortment of nice olives, gourmet potato chips, nuts, and dried apricots in special little bowls. If I have time to prepare, I’ll serve deviled eggs on a beautiful dish. It’s helpful to have pretty serving pieces and linen cocktail napkins on hand to pull out for easy setup.
One thing we’ve learned in all the recent craziness is that we are definitely made to be with each other, and we are brilliantly resilient. A little space, some creative adaptation, and a friendly invitation are all it takes to have a lovely home bar up and serving friends this Fall.