How to Set up a Home Bar That Will Impress Your Friends

Creating a bar in your home is a fun and exciting project. Here is what you need to consider before setting one up.

A small basement bar /man cave with liquor on shelves and the bar is surrounded by wood bar stools.
How to set up a home bar | photo by Hendrickson Photography / Shutterstock

Setting up a home bar is probably one of the most exciting interior design projects. A bar is an area intended for relaxation, entertainment and enjoyment. It is also a place to keep your favorite spirits, wines and mixers. In this post, we share helpful tips to help you set up a home bar that will impress your friends.

With a bit of imagination and creativity, you can transform any space into a home bar. It doesn't even have to be a full-fledged restaurant-style bar. We'll show you how to incorporate this small luxury into your space by repurposing old furniture, using unused items in your house, and utilizing areas you have no use for. So pour yourself a drink, get comfy and read on to find the best home bar ideas.

What to consider when setting up your home bar

Consider how much space you can devote to setting up a bar. A home bar setup can be as simple as a shelf with glasses and bottle openers or as elaborate as a full-fledged bar with stools and taps. How often you plan on using your bar also factors in the size and location best suited for entertaining.

Home bar | photo by DC Studio / Shutterstock

You then must stock your bar with the essentials like liquor, mixers, garnishes, barware and glassware. Do you want the glasses and alcohol bottles displayed or hidden from view? Consider how much storage you'll need for all the items when planning the look and feel of your bar.

A home bar is also a great addition to any games room or a basement. If you're a wine drinker, consider incorporating wine racks or old barrels into your design. A beer fridge is a great component of a home bar as it allows you to keep drinks cold and ready to drink. It will come in handy for those nights when you have your friends over to watch a game.      

Don't forget about the lights

Lighting is a critical element of any home bar. If you're going to give your bar a more sleek and contemporary look, include brighter lights, perhaps LEDs mounted on the ceiling above the bar. Consider the atmosphere you want to create – low-hanging lights with a dim output instantly transport you to a cozy pub.

small home bar with beer fridge, two stools by a counter and floor lighting
Home bar lights | photo by Kev Gregory / Shutterstock

There are also creative ways to use lights. Lighting the shelves on your back bar is both functional and beautiful. You can also add a light strip around your bar to add brightness and create a relaxed vibe. Candles, table lamps and tiki torches are a fun way to add some fun to your bar.

Must-have supplies for your home bar

Before you can start stocking your home bar, you need to have the right supplies on hand. This means having a selection of glassware, mixers, garnishes, and bar tools. Once you have all the necessary supplies, you can start thinking about what kind of drinks you want to make. If you're looking for some back bar ideas, here are a few things to consider:

Glassware: What kind of glasses do you want to use? Do you want to serve cocktails in martini glasses, rock glasses or jars? If you plan on serving beer and wine, you'll also need appropriate wine and beer glasses. Don't be afraid to get creative with your presentation. Serve drinks in mason jars or martini glasses for a rustic vibe, or use festive straws and umbrellas for a tropical twist.

Assortment of different glass for strong alcohol drinks on bar counter over night lights background.
Glassware for your home bar | photo by Ekaterina Markelova / Shutterstock

Mixers: What kind of mixers do you want to use? Do you want to make simple cocktails with just a few ingredients, or do you want to get creative with different mixers and garnishes? Think about necessary items as opposed to nice-to-have ones. Include sodas, sparkling water and juices for mixing and for designated drivers or anyone who prefers not to drink alcohol.

Garnishes: What kind of garnishes do you want to use? Do you want to keep it simple with just a lemon or lime wedge, or do you want to get creative with different fruits and herbs? You can install a bar fridge or keep these items in your regular fridge until you need to use them.

Bar tools: What kind of bar tools do you need? Consider getting a set of bar tools like a cocktail shaker, bar spoon and paring knife, strainer, jigger, muddler, cutting board, strainer and zester.

Dry bar vs. wet bar

If you're considering adding a home bar to your home, you may be wondering whether to choose a wet bar or a dry bar. Both have pros and cons, so it's essential to consider your needs before deciding.

Wet bars are ideal if you plan to serve cocktails or other drinks requiring mixers or ice. This type of bar usually has its own sink, making it easy to keep everything clean. Wet bars can also be equipped with a small refrigerator, allowing you to keep mixers, garnishes, and even bottles of wine chilled and within reach.

Dry bars, on the other hand, don't require any plumbing. This makes them easier and less expensive to install. Dry bars are a great option if you just want somewhere to store your liquor collection or if you plan on serving drinks that don't need to be mixed. However, you will need to provide ice if you want to keep drinks cold.

Ultimately, the decision of whether to choose a wet bar or dry bar depends on your needs and preferences. Both can be great additions to any home and can help make entertaining guests a breeze.

Home bar ideas on a budget

A home bar doesn't have to be an expensive undertaking. You don't need much space or money to create a home bar. Here are some ideas if you're strapped for cash or living in a small room. Hint: all you need is a cabinet.

Do you own any old items that could receive a new life? Ask your friends and family for items they might not need and customize them to fit your home. Repurposing an old piece of furniture - a cabinet, bookcase, or chest of drawers is an excellent option for creating a bar.

Build a chic home bar without breaking the bank. If you're handy, consider making your shelving and bar from an old palette for a rustic feel. Look out for recycled materials and check thrift shops for vintage furnishings. Remember, when stocking a home bar on a budget, stick to a few good-quality items – what you like takes priority.

Consider a bar cart if you want to make your minibar a feature in your home. It looks super classy and gives you space for bottles, glasses, ice, and any cocktail-making equipment you require. Added advantage – it's moveable!

Rustic home bar ideas

One of the easiest ways to add a touch of rustic style to your home bar is with the choice of materials. Exposed brick, wood beams, and stone countertops are great choices that will give your home bar a rugged yet sophisticated look.

If you prefer the English pub feel, dark wooden furniture and a wood-slab counter work well. Your bar stools should be wooden with a comfortable top. Install a beer pump for an authentic experience, and don't forget frosty pint glasses. Add a blackboard with daily options written out, or hang a dartboard for an extra activity.

Another way to add rustic flair is with your lighting choices. Pendant lights made from antler horns or mason jars filled with Edison bulbs are both great options that will give your home bar an unmistakably rustic feel. And finally, don't forget about the details. Adding small touches like coasters made from reclaimed wood or vintage metal signs will help bring your home bar to life.

Corner bar ideas

Another way to save space is to put your home bar in the corner of your kitchen, dining room or living room. To maximize on small areas, think vertical. A tall cabinet in a corner can go a long way. Consider a corner shelf or table for the bar surface if there's room in your little nook. This way, you have space to sit, too. If you have more budget to spare, consider investing in a home bar corner set – these are available to buy online.

Hidden bar ideas

Another great way to add fun and personality to your bar is to hide it until it's time for cocktails. One option is to create a false wall or cabinet that conceals your home bar when not in use. This can be as simple as installing a false front on an existing bookshelf or cabinet or building a freestanding false wall.

There are many furniture pieces made to look like hidden bars: consoles with a flip top that reveals a drink-mixing station. You can even do this cheaply – do you have a cabinet with a door that opens downwards to form a bar surface? Use that and show it off at your next get-together.

If you're short on space, you could create a hidden home bar beneath the stairs. Alternatively, you could install a secret door that leads to your home bar. This door can be hidden behind a bookcase or in an unused closet. Whatever solution you choose, ensure it's well-ventilated and has enough lighting to see what you're doing when mixing drinks.

Luxury home bars

A great way to add luxury to your home bar is to have it custom-made, especially if you have the space for it. Don't be afraid to go all out. After all, luxury is all about details and high-end finishes.

Your bar should be well-stocked with high-end liquor and fancy glassware. Consider using crystal decanters and crystal glasses for the ultimate fancy touch. Add some dry ice and a smoker to elevate your bar experience.

Whether your home bar takes up a whole room, is just a tiny cupboard, or somewhere in between, there are plenty of ways to create the perfect place for your drink collection and entertaining. Have you ever built a home bar? Tell us about it below, and share your bar ideas with us on Instagram!

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