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How to Design a Truly Functional Home Bar

There are home bars and then there are functional home bars. Building one takes a lot more than having a will, the material and tools. Even the most experienced DIY builders end up with a perfectly constructed, beautiful and highly durable bar that just severely lacks functionality. Designing a truly functional home bar takes careful planning first and execution second, very close to planning on an importance scale, but still second. This is what needs to be done to do it properly.

Eclectic Patio by Boardman Photographers Adrienne DeRosa

Finding the right spot

This is the first step of your planning. Although there are standard bar dimensions, adjustments are allowed since the most important feature is to have enough room both behind and in front of the counter for all required activities. Therefore, make sure you measure everything properly before making a final material shopping list. Next, the bar needs to be easy to reach and as close to the entrance door as possible. It would surely be interesting to have a bar in the attic, but you will surely regret it the first time you have to carry the drinks upstairs or get down after a party night.

Contemporary Home Bar by Saint Petersburg Kitchen & Bath Designers Bee Studios Design Build Group- Brooke Eversoll

Building material

Wood would be a recommended choice of material for a home bar. There are two major reasons for this. The first one is that it is most convenient to work with in terms of availability and tools required. Secondly, the aesthetic appeal of a wooden bar is compatible to almost every interior design style and it will surely complement the vast majority of home environments.


Bearing in mind that wood is a porous material, especially if it frequently comes in contact with liquids, it comes natural that your bar needs to be well protected in order to serve its purpose and keep the good looks for years to come. There are various means and methods that provide adequate wood protection. Whichever you choose make sure you pay special attention to selecting the proper sealant. Regardless of how careful you are, spills are bound to occur, particularly where alcoholic beverages consumed.

Beverage and glass storage

Transitional Home Bar by Austin Lighting Legend Lighting

No matter how perfect your bar dimensions and location are, if you are having trouble reaching the drinks in a convenient way at all times, you do not in fact own a practical home bar. An overhead rack would be perfect for glasses while under the counter cabinets are great for beer and spirits. When it comes to your carefully selected liquor specials, some of them need to be kept in coolers to maintain the quality. Luckily, these come in all possible sizes and price ranges so you will be able to obtain an adequate one both for your budget and bar.

Adequate lighting

Only a well-lit bar is a practical bar and only a properly chosen lighting will provide that all angles are sufficiently illuminated. Above the counter lighting surely is the most important component and requires special attention. It needs to provide sufficient amount of light but at the same should not be too strong. Dimmer controlled solutions will let you adjust luminosity to the occasion. On the other hand, do not neglect the under the counter one, it makes a world of difference for operating drinks and glasses stored there.

As you can see, careful planning is the most important stage of building a home bar. After making sure everything is taken into account, follow all of the steps listed and you will have a perfectly functional bar.


Article written by Lillian Connors. If one thing is true about Lillian Connors, her mind is utterly curious. That’s why she can’t resist the urge to embark on a myriad of home improvement projects and spread the word about them. As the Co-Editor at SmoothDecorator, she cherishes the notion that sustainable housing and gardening will not only make us far less dependent on others regarding the dwellings we inhabit and what we eat, but also contribute to our planet being a better place to live on. You can check her out on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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