As a New Yorker with seriously limited square footage, the idea of having a bar in my apartment is like having a washer and dryer: a life-improving luxury, but not a necessity. (There are other ways to get clean clothes and great cocktails.)
However, creating an at-home bar is definitely on my life bucket list, and I intend to tackle the project in steps—a cocktail shaker here, a bar tray there. To find out how to do it right, I checked in with Jeffrey Beers of the interior design and architecture firm Jeffrey Beers International, who’s designed bars for celebs like Jean-Georges, Daniel Boulud, Jay Z, and more.
Whether you’re a homeowner who wants to build a custom bar from scratch (lucky!), or an urban renter looking to pick out a cool bar cart, Beers’s tips will help guide you on a practical and aesthetic level. Plus, we found bar furniture and accessories that align with Beers’s suggestions—but are also relatively affordable.
Worst case scenario, you click through these smart ideas and save them to your “dream house” Pinterest board for the day when you’re ready to upgrade from a liquor cabinet to a dedicated space to serve drinks. Cheers!
Originally published September 2016. Updated September 2017.
"To make a bar last, I'm a believer in concrete and steel," says Beers. "If you’re using wood, I personally like teak and a Brazilian wood called ipe. In the stone family, granite is the most common and safest because it is dense and resistant to stains like spilled red wine. Yet, personally I find it boring and prefer to work with quartzite that looks more like marble. Marble as well as zinc are beautiful, but keep in mind they give a very traditional, European aesthetic, and requires a fair amount of upkeep.
Marlow Felix Bar Cart with forged iron, stone, marble and mirror, $394; at Houzz
"I'm a fan of stainless steel for its resilience, crisp, nautical feel, and its low maintenance quality: it never rusts," says Beers. "If you pair stainless steel hardware with wood, you have a very yacht club feel; otherwise it looks cool and modern against concrete and polished steel."
"Brass is the iconic metal for bars and I love it, but it does demand a lot of upkeep and polishing as it easily discolors," says Beers. "It can be worth it if you like the look."
Photo: Bliss at Home
"I'm firm believer that the alcohol needs to be displayed at the back of the bar," says Beers. "You can install wood shelves or organize a grid of cubbies that are internally lit to give a fresh take on bottle storage."
Photo: House of Rumours
Mid Century Shelving System, $79.99; at West Elm
"Mirrors are fantastic, and a key component to the design of any bar," says Beers. "They're normally placed with the back bar display; the mirror goes on the back wall first and the shelves are installed onto it. I'll often take a strip of mirror and angle it 15 to 20 degrees in order to reflect the whole bar scene."
Photo: Lauren Haskett
How to design a chic bar at home | @stylecaster