We’ve spent more time in our houses than ever this year, so it’s no wonder that many homeowners are choosing to design a home bar. It’s a space that not only helps to overcome the difficulties of socializing—and enjoying a drink—with others, but can also add a welcome dash of fun to your residence.

“We’ve seen an increase in interest in homes with entertaining spaces,” says Danielle Austin, VP of Business Development at Christie’s International Real Estate. “This has resulted in many buyers looking for larger homes with more spaces for social distancing, including outdoor entertaining, large great rooms, and—of course—home bars.”

Wet bar in a Georgia home
At this riverfront home in Buckhead, Georgia, The Design Atelier turned an unused elevator shaft into a wet bar, with an antique mirror backsplash and a dark green jute wallcovering.

“Home bars will always be popular,” says Melanie Miller of Atlanta-based practice The Design Atelier. “There’s nothing better than enjoying a cocktail at the end of a long day. Natural stone countertops and finely detailed cabinets ensure sustainability and timelessness if designed correctly. And outdoor bars are becoming more popular, too.”

Architect John Keenen of K/R, whose practices are based in New York and Miami, says, “A home is simply incomplete without a well-designed—and well-stocked—bar. It is the ne plus ultra in home design, not a luxury but rather a necessity. Bars present a unique challenge, allowing designers to use materials and space in a way that is not merely functional, but opulent.”

A home bar should be a well-thought-out space, and give a nod to the past but with a contemporary twist—Julian Chichester

International tastemaker Julian Chichester, who works with interior designers worldwide, offers this insight: “A positive to come out of lockdown has been the opportunity to review our living spaces. To understand what rooms work for what, how we socialize, where we relax.”

Pollock drinks cabinet
The Pollock cabinet by Julian Chichester is made of firmdale gray oak and has black vellum paneled doors, a gilded metal base, verre églomisé mirror back, and aged brass bottle racks.

So what makes a bar work? “It should be a well-thought-out space. Our entertaining pieces have a nod to the past but with a contemporary twist,” says Chichester. “We’ve taken the glamour from eras such as the Art Deco period, and we enrich interiors with metallic finishes, verre églomisé, and aged mirror. Pullout shelves for mixing are key, and brass glass-holders and hangers add something special to the detail, all of which are softly lit with LED lights. Doors wrapped in the finest-quality lacquer or perfectly prepared parchment enclose all of these details.”

Bars allow designers to use materials and space in a way that is not merely functional, but opulent—John Keenen

“A workspace, a workout space, and a bar are at the top of most clients’ lists—though not necessarily in that order,” laughs London-based architect Galina Ginzburg-Maly. She has had requests for home bar builds from clients all over the world. How does she approach the design? “As with any other room, it’s a deeply personal story. In my experience there are home bars that are meant to rival the coolest of clubs, and then there are the ones meant to be enjoyed in one’s pajamas—simple, functional, and comfortable.”

Abruzzo drinks cabinet
Simon Orrell Designs creates exquisite furniture and bespoke pieces in shagreen, parchment, and straw marquetry, such as this Abruzzo drinks cabinet for Studio Vero.

Zoé Wright of English restaurant and bar experts the Dawnvale Group says, “The finish of the bar needs to match the aesthetics of the home, and quality has to be second to none. We recently worked with Brawn Design to complete a bar with every comfort for entertaining—baby grand, pool table, beer on tap. It’s been a huge success.”

If you’re not quite ready to build a bar into the fabric of your home, there are some exceptional stand-alone options that render the simple drinks trolley look of yesteryear a little redundant. Simon Orrell Designs of Chelsea, London, is known for its exquisite textures, and bars make up one of its most popular ranges.

Clients want interesting blends of materials and clever use of space, plus some whimsy to make the piece unique to them—Michael Keech

“We specialize in the extraordinary finishes that nature gives us,” Simon Orrell explains. “We’re currently making a bar with a selenite [gypsum] starburst on the doors and a brass carcass. And we’ve just completed a drinks cabinet with mica doors and bronze resin carcass—completed with a bronze-cast turtle shell as a handle. Our forest-green straw marquetry drinks cabinet is a good example of our look. My design ethos is to wow with the doors and dazzle with the interior.”

Tectonic Bar
Linley’s Tectonic Bar, with its ebonized walnut covering and white gold leaf and nickel accents, opens to reveal a metallic interior that recalls the Earth’s tectonic plates.

British heritage brand Linley is another company at the forefront of designing bars that seriously impress. Design director Michael Keech shares the company’s focus: “As a bar is part of the entertainment area, it needs to be a showstopping piece. Clients want interesting blends of materials and clever use of space, plus some whimsy. This could be a hidden compartment or a beautiful piece of marquetry that has meaning known only to them.

“Our Tectonic bar is a good example of how we make things special—a secret button unlocks the cabinet, setting a mechanism in motion to rotate the bar’s columns and open the doors. A cigar humidor rises up from the center and numerous hidden compartments contain all the equipment you might ever need.”

There appears to be no limit to what you can create. The home bar represents an opportunity to indulge your wildest whims. Cheers!

On the Market

Villa Ola, Thailand
The highlight of Villa Ola is a lush garden enhanced by a spectacular marble outdoor bar next to a sparkling pool.

Immensely desirable, this remarkable eight-bedroom villa is less than 90 minutes’ drive from Bangkok and is on the market with Richmont’s Luxury Real Estate. A quiet locale within a lush, tropical garden creates a tranquil haven in which to unwind, while a recent renovation and the addition of handcrafted furniture elevates the home to the grandest in the village. Boutique shops, eateries, markets, and a temple can all be found close by, while the area’s beautiful beaches are all easily accessible.

Palace Granada, Marrakech
A basement relaxation area featuring a bar, disco, spa, and hammam is just one of the features of Palace Granada.

This wonderful residence, nestled on a five-acre plot (2 ha) facing the Atlas Mountains, is largely inspired by the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. On the market with Kensington Luxury Properties, the 19,375 sq ft (1,800 sq m) palace comprises several lounges, a library, two kitchens, and five bedroom suites. Outside, enchanting grounds boast a rose garden and vegetable gardens, along with a pool, pool house, and tennis court.

Banner image: Dawnvale Group and Brawn Design’s stunning home bar. Antony R. Turner Photography

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