How to Create a Home Bar That Will Dazzle Your Guests

A tiny space, such as a niche, closet or cabinet, can make a bar look amazing. Here’s how. The pleasures of visiting a bar include more than just the libations. It’s all about the company, the atmosphere and all the accouterments. A home bar can create a similar atmosphere and be a place to gather with friends and family after work. Andrew Suvalsky, an interior designer from New York, said that a home bar is “remarkable, communal, and inviting.” “When you open a bar, it shows you care about entertaining people and making them feel special.” You might as well make them big because they’re often behind closed doors. Martin and other interior designers shared advice on how to create an impressive home bar.ImageYou don’t need a lot of space to create a striking home bar: In one Manhattan apartment, Andrew Suvalsky installed a bar cabinet in a shallow niche.Credit…Costas PicadasFind the Right SpaceA built-in home bar doesn’t need to be huge. You might be able build a bar that looks like a full-sized English pub if you have a basement. Sometimes, smaller is better. Sometimes, smaller is better. M & M once found space for a bar in a short hallway between a dining room and powder room.ImageIn an apartment on Park Avenue, Studio DB tucked a dazzling bar into a small living room closet.Credit…Matthew WilliamsThe New York-based architecture and interior design firm Studio DB frequently goes even smaller. The designers created a bar in a small closet that was so shallow that other people might have just drywalled it. Britt Zunino, a Partner at Studio DB, said that they were able to create a bar in a closet so small and shallow that others might have simply drywalled over it. Carrier and Company, an interior design firm based in New York, added bar functions to a sunroom in Bronxville. This included a sink, faucet, and refrigerator drawers to a pair custom-made freestanding cabinets. Carrier and Company applied vibrant blue lacquer to cabinets and covered the ceiling with Calico’s dazzling gold-and white marbleized wallpaper. “It was intended to be very opulent, bright and cheerful.”M & M installed eggplant-hued cabinets in a bar lined with tortoiseshell-patterned wallpaper; in another home bar, the firm used aqua-green cabinets under a ceiling covered with striped wallpaper. In both cases, “we just wanted the bar to be this ‘wow’ moment,” Ms. Martin said.ImageA small home bar offers the opportunity to make a big design statement: For a bar in a Chicago home, M & M Interior Design used eggplant hues and tortoiseshell-patterned wallpaper.Credit…Aimee MazzengaAnother way to include a decorative flourish is to install an eye-catching backsplash, said Joe Lucas, the founder of Lucas Studio, an interior design firm in Los Angeles. Mr. Lucas used terra-cotta tiles from Waterworks to decorate a home bar in Agoura hills, Calif. With so many wallcovering and decorative tile products available, he added, “the world is your oyster.”ImageA bar designed by Lucas Studio has a backsplash of terra-cotta tile adorned with graphic hand-painted stripes and triangles.Credit…Karyn MilletEmbrace Some SparkleAdd shiny, reflective surfaces for a touch of glamour that can stand up to wear and tear. He likes backsplashes made of antiqued mirror and sometimes adds glass shelves. It also adds a little sparkle. Antiqued mirror is really pretty for an evening cocktail hour, especially if you light a candle.”Many designers like glossy lacquered cabinets and high-gloss wall paint for similar reasons: Not only do they add shininess and reflectivity, but they’re easy to wipe down when they get splattered by an errant lime squeeze.ImageA bar in Brooklyn designed by Carrier and Company has blue-lacquer cabinetry, glass-front cabinets and a ceiling covered in marbleized wallpaper.Credit…Sam FrostPlan for DisplayCocktail glasses, champagne flutes, ice buckets, bottles and bar implements are often things of beauty. Open shelves, metal-mesh or glass-fronted upper cabinets, and handsome trays can all be used to display them. He said that many of the booze bottles look stunning with all the mezcals and tequilas. He said that vintage ice buckets and cocktail shakers can double as decorative accessories when not in use. And framed art, hanging in the space or just sitting on the counter, helps round out a collected look.ImageHigh-gloss green paint, a mirrored backsplash and distinctive lighting make a home bar designed by M & M Interior Design feel like a special destination.Credit…Aimee MazzengaDim the LightsThere’s a good reason that most cocktail bars keep the lights low: It creates a soothing atmosphere that makes people and objects look their best.Instead of flooding the bar with ceiling lights, consider using decorative pendants and sconces, or upper cabinets or shelves with built-in accent lighting. Ms. Martin prefers wall-mounted picture lamps that illuminate artwork and create an atmosphere. “With a bar, you don’t want to flip on some garish light that will destroy the moment.”If your space doesn’t have electrical boxes in the right place for hard-wired fixtures, a plug-in sconce or table lamp can work just as well.LED bulbs should offer a warm-white color temperature of about 2,700 Kelvin rather than daylight-mimicking 5,000 Kelvin, and it’s preferable to have your fixtures on dimmers, so you can adjust the light throughout the day.ImageLucas Studio finished a handsome bar with grasscloth wallcovering and navy blue cabinetry.Credit…Karyn MilletConsider Plumbing and AppliancesA home bar doesn’t have to be equipped with a faucet and sink or have appliances like a wine cooler and ice maker. They can be useful, depending on your budget and habits. “It’s a bit more unusual.” It’s a bit different. ImageA creatively tiled backsplash is a surprising touch in a Bar designed by Studio DB. Credit…Matthew WilliamsAppliances should be tailored to your drinking habits, Mr. Lucas stated. A wine cooler is great for wine lovers. However, if you are more interested in chilling soda, beer, and mixers, an under-counter refrigerator or drawer might be better. Mr. Lucas said that an ice maker is one of the most important home-bar luxuries. He said that some clients might be reluctant to buy one. “But I can assure you that you won’t regret having one.” Sign up here for weekly email updates about residential real estate news. Follow us on Twitter at @nytrealestate