Home bars have made their way back into the contemporary abode, but with a few new twists. Once a staple of sunken avocado-colored living rooms, they’ve nestled closer to the kitchen these days, usually incorporated seamlessly into an island, butler pantry or custom countertop.
It’s a location that’s more necessity than design statement.
“It’s part of the whole entertainment system, but it’s also still part of the kitchen where they prepare food,” said interior and architectural designer Geri Cruickshank-Eaker. “It’s a lifestyle thing.”
When clients ask Cruickshank-Eaker to create their ideal home bar, her first step is to invite them to spill the makings of their personality into her design sketches.
After all, the world is a cocktail of martini sippers, whiskey swiggers and craft beer savorers. For a home bar to work, it needs to reflect its host’s character and needs.
“It’s really quite a personal thing,” said Cruickshank-Eaker, owner of Freespace Design in Charlotte. “It depends on their style.”
Flair and function
With careful planning, a home bar can accomplish both flair and functionality, without skimping on either. In an uptown Charlotte loft, Cruickshank-Eaker designed a home bar that allows her client to couple her taste for eclectic design with her need for useful space. The Elkay “Mystic” Undermount Bar Sink she installed, for example, can make a statement while serving as a whimsical cooler to ice down wine and beer. When not entertaining, it’s a handy basin to wash vegetables for the evening’s dinner. $2,391 at ferguson.com.
Choosing a bar that matches your personality shouldn’t be difficult. There is plenty of variety on the market today. For a conversation sparker, Restoration Hardware’s 1920s German Light Bulb Voltage Tester Bar is guaranteed to stand out perfectly. Designed to hold all of the essentials, this ironclad vessel has three stemware racks, five wine bottle slots, and three shelves to store items for mixing up your guests’ favorite libations. An iron tripod base comes with floor screws and a chain to keep it from tipping. $1,995 at rh.com.
A pub experience
It’s possible to experience the atmosphere of your favorite pub without leaving the privacy of your own home. For those who like to belly up to the bar, Pottery Barn’s Rustic Ultimate Bar offers iron foot rails to prop up your feet, just like at the corner tavern. Behind the bar, a marble top for slicing limes and lemons, plenty of drawer and cabinet storage, and a built-in bottle opener round out the experience. $2,400 to $2,800 at potterybarn.com.
Home bars can work in any size home, even apartments. Small spaces can just as easily accommodate everything that’s needed to entertain friends during the cocktail hour. It just takes the right setup. The Mojito Designer Trolley Bar by Cattelan Italia comes in two sizes – 22 by 18 inches and 31 by 18 inches – making it a smart fit for the tightest of spaces. Made of chrome and steel and set on wheels, it can just as easily be wheeled out of the way when not needed. $1,675 to $1,825 at eroomservice.com.
A hidden gem
Not everyone who has a home bar wants to advertise it all of the time. Those with kids may choose to close the doors of the liquor cabinet to keep them safe. The Sonoma Hide-A-Bar Wine & Spirits Cabinet by Howard Miller can be shut and locked when not in use. Inside, ample storage can house 22 wine bottles and plenty of shelves and racks for keeping barware and liquors within easy reach. $2,172 at home-bars-online.com.
Take it outside
Instead of traveling from the house to the patio to refresh your guests’ drinks, maybe it’s time to move the bar outside. Clink glasses under the moonlight with the Built-in CocktailPro Station by Lynx. With a lot of the same essentials as an indoor bar, like a sink with a water filtration system, this bar station also has four bottle boots for chilling wines and mixes, an insulated ice bin to make your favorite drink on the rocks, and blue LED lights to illuminate when the sun goes down. $2,000 at lynxgrills.com.