Home Bar 101
August 11, 2016
The walk to bed from the bar is a lot easier when the watering hole is in your own home.
"A bar can be a great feature wherever you entertain guests, or gather with family and friends," said Tim Sabo, designer and project manager at Allen Guerra Architecture in Breckenridge. "Often, bars are located in the rec room of a house, nearby a big-screen television or a billiards table."
Some people like to have a bar as part of their main level, great room area, although Sabo said he has designed homes with bars on every level, and even in bedrooms.
"Obviously, pre-planning a bar is best because this allows placement of plumbing and electrical for sinks and equipment like an ice maker, refrigerator, dishwasher or wine cooler," he said.
Style and Aesthetic
Sabo said bar designs typically reflect the style of a home, with materials that are carried throughout the house.
"We have designed bars that are very classy with copper bar tops, brass rails and leather paneling," he said. "A brick back wall or sunken floor can give the feeling of hanging at a local tavern."
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Any materials that would be used in a kitchen could be used in a home bar space, according to Shelley Sims, owner and interior designer for Thrive Design out of Broomfield.
"For countertops, I would consider granite, or quartz or maybe even concrete … whatever material is selected needs to be non-porous. I don't want red wine rings or a spill staying forever," she said. "I would not use something such as limestone or marble or travertine because if there is a spill it could leave a stain."
For cabinets surrounding the bar, Sims recommended any base or wall cabinet that match or blend with the kitchen space.
"In the mountains, a rustic, reclaimed wood look is very popular currently," she said.
To remodel a current space, consider changing door hardware, painting or replacing doors, adding a new countertop or a new floor. For more light, add a lamp to the countertop or a new ceiling fixture.
"A very easy change or addition is to change paint," said Sims.
Wendy Yates, principal of Abigail-Elise Interiors in Frisco, said it's currently popular to combine materials like metal and glass for the bar structure and amenities, and like Sims, Yates said painted cabinetry can be a way to "make your in-home bar hip."
Bar stools can be reupholstered, and a rug can be added to the floor in or around the bar to add texture, warmth and color.
"If you are feeling motivated and you have a saddle-up bar with barstools, adding a new material like barn wood paneling, or corrugated metal to the face of the knee-wall, and an iron foot rail will spice up the look," Sabo said.
Homeowners can add bars into a space after their home has been built. Sims said that there is always a way to retrofit any room for any defined purpose — the challenge is how much money is allowed in the budget for the new project.
"When retrofitting for a bar," she said, "we need to consider the desires of the client and access to water lines and drain systems if we are adding a sink and faucet. If we do no have funds to cut into existing walls, or concrete flooring, maybe we need to only have countertop space with no sink."
Details and Display
Liquor can be displayed on open shelves made of wood or glass, or enclosed by glass.
"There is also an option of putting the bottles in a wall cabinet with glass doors," Sims said. "If I am displaying the bottles, lighting becomes important so that they can be highlighted or accented.
Yates likes "floating shelves" with a striking wall treatment behind them.
"Wall coverings, including fun and funky wallpaper, are an awesome way to create a stage for your liquor," she said.
Consider installing lockable cabinets in the bar so that kids or renters can't access an owner's personal collection.
If space is limited, add a piece of cabinet furniture to the bar area, or near it, for storage.
Sabo said a nice, new set of coasters or a unique beer opener can help to spice up the space, and he recommended fun additions, like a neon beer sign.
Add accessories that will make the bar useful and stylish, like new hand towels and color napkins. Update glassware, and consider snagging some extra flair from items like reusable, colorful ice cubes.
Yates said to add in a raised cutting board for chopping drink garnishes, and to include amenities like drawer coolers, an espresso maker and options on-tap.
Built-in beer and wine taps can be installed into a bar as well. Sabo said Allen Guerra Architecture has designed home bars with tap systems. He said the space, plumbing and equipment required, as well as the tuning of CO2 and nitro pressure for beer, can be overwhelming, but "pouring a pint in a frosty mug raises the fun level when you're entertaining guests."
Having an on-tap system cuts down on trips to the recycling center, too.
Sims said wine taps aren't always as enticing as they seem.
"I have heard that these are not as great as they seem for the true wine connoisseur, because if the wine dispenser is not being used consistently the wine can go bad," explained Sims. "These types of dispensers are better in hospitality settings where the product is being used regularly."
And some might want to go the extra mile for entertaining conveniences.
"Some clients of ours installed a dumbwaiter between the downstairs bar and the kitchen above that allowed them to easily send things like crockpots of chili, dishes, drinks and wine up and down between the floors," Sabo said. "Parties at their house are a delight."