Most of us are spending more time at home than ever before, especially since restaurant and bar options have become increasingly limited due to the pandemic. These factors have motivated many to upgrade their entertainment spaces—and even go as far as to make new ones to accommodate their at-home lifestyle. One such area that more and more of us are looking to create? An at-home bar. It's especially ideal for small spaces, since a cocktail station can actually free up counter space in the kitchen, notes Kristine Van Galder, an interior designer and co-owner of Van Galder Design in Los Angeles. "Whether you dedicate a tray or shelf, use an empty corner, or procure an actual bar cart, the practice of pouring an elixir for yourself and those around you signals love and self care," she says. "Not to mention, a bar is a simple form of decoration to brighten your space (for example, with gold mixology utensils, different color liquors, or simply a unique cart)."
So, where do you begin when it comes to carving out a space for this station? Follow these expert-approved tips for creating an at-home bar anywhere, even in a small area.
Dedicate a space.
This is usually the hardest part of the at-home bar creation process, especially if your living area is small. Van Galder recommends seeking out unused corners or front hall entryways. "They are the perfect space for a small bar area with a shelf or custom counter," she says. "Just be sure to make certain that the offering is focused and narrow so it doesn't become the focal point of the overall room."
Assess furniture options.
Melissa Morgan, an interior designer and the owner of M Interiors in San Antonio, suggests using for a dresser, buffet, or cabinet if you have the space. "In addition to having room on top, drawers can house items such as corkscrews, openers, knives, and cocktail napkins, while shelves can hold glassware and bar stock, mixers, liquor, and wine bottles," she says. "Almost any piece will work—even vintage furniture can be refinished or repainted."
If you're tight on space, placing a bar cart next to an accent chair or sofa to double as a side table is a great option, notes Sunny Berle, interior designer and realtor based in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and co-owner of MASO Design Build. And if your space doesn't allow room for cabinets or a bar cart, don't fret—there's still hope! Betsy Glass, a Charleston-based interior designer and the owner of The Flippin Designer, recommends adding unique shelving to your wall that can accommodate glasses, bottles and some displayed pictures or art. "If you have tall ceilings, make sure you add enough shelving so that you make the room feel complete," she says.
Van Galder recommends presenting the following items on a tray or platter: an ice bucket, tumblers, a decanter filled with liquor, a flavor mix, garnishes, and fizzy seltzer. "You can swap out your tumblers to reflect a theme, layer the tray with linens that complement the scheme, and use cocktail napkins that speak to the time of year or celebration," she says. "A great looking ice bucket alongside shapely decanters will immediately add to your décor and elevate your home."
Make it personal.
To add a unique touch that reflects your personality, Van Galder suggests displaying different bottles of liquors and alcohol that are special to you and can serve as talking points (they might reflect your travels or specific tastes). "Add customized drinkware with your last name, hometown, or a special symbol that is meaningful to you (for example, cocktail glasses with your favorite flower)," she says. "Add picture frames of special memories to the remaining space and surrounding shelving."