HOW TO

Create An At-Home Bar

Bring friends and family together with good cheer and even better libations. Betsy Ryan Interiors gives her top tips for creating an at-home bar.
Betsy Ryan

Betsy Ryan

Betsy Says…

One of my favorite parts of being a home stager was making a bar in the house. It was always one of the last things I did before I finished getting a house ready to list. The beauty of the in-home bar is that it really doesn’t need a perfect spot, any surface will do.

The trend in the last few years has been the bar cart, a handy mobile cart that can go in and out of any room where people are gathering. Last year I personally designed and executed six in-home bars complete with granite, smoked glass, wallpaper… You name it, we did it. I like to use unique features that can start up a conversation. Many gatherings are made up of acquaintances, friends, family, and strangers. What better place to loosen up but beside where everyone lets their guard down.

Home bar designed by Betsy Ryan Interiors
Design by Betsy Ryan Interiors

Where to start

If you aren’t lucky enough to have a designated area for a bar, then fear not. Take a walk around your space. Do you have a place where people usually gather? Is there a sideboard or countertop that is bare…grab it! Head to the nearest home decor store or try online and find a tray, a generous tray. Look high and low for some great glassware, some wine, tall boys, scotch glasses, whatever you find that is interesting and different from everyday use. I find most of my glassware at antique stores or at my relatives!

Here are musts for aesthetics as well as function:

  • Tray (wood or metal)
  • Decanter
  • Unique glasses
  • Bar tools
  • Ice bucket
  • Interesting bottles of liquor and drink mixes
  • Bar books
  • Coaster collection
  • Framed celebration photos
  • Greenery

Once you have everything you need, the rest is easy!

Cabinet colors

Picking a cabinet color can be hard as there are so many colors that are either classic or trendy. Most of today’s kitchens are white or a shade of wood so I always suggest a bold color that you don’t see too often to make your space stand out. When budget and space allows, wallpaper in either a bold pattern or a simple grasscloth can really pull it all together.

Pro tip

The expense for a new build is usually higher when there is plumbing involved. I believe there is no need for a wet bar unless proximity to the kitchen is a factor.

Bar setup

Entertaining is like a sport, there are the Big Leaguers and then there is the ball boy… You become the best of both worlds once you get this bar down pat.

Accessorizing is very important and can also create conversation within the group. Ask family for old photos of gatherings from the past. Framed black and white photos often tell family stories. Always include a few current pictures with family and friends too!

Fresh flowers on the night of the soiree really brighten up the surface. Champagne on ice with a bowl of strawberries and a bowl of nuts for munching are a must!

Most importantly, laughter and good cheer are the right foundation for all of the above. Cheers!

Home bar designed by Betsy Ryan Interiors
Design by Betsy Ryan Interiors

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