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How to make a home bar: Tips from interiors experts

Perhaps it’s the idea of enjoying the pub experience or a perfect cocktail without having to leave the house. Or maybe you just need somewhere to showcase a burgeoning gin collection.

Whatever the reason, there’s no mistaking the rise in popularity of the home bar. So much so that research by trade website Rated People has found home bars are now a bigger priority than a new kitchen, after one in 13 UK-based homeowners in the survey revealed they planned to create a home bar in 2022.

Certainly they have their advantages — with an in-house boozer, you’re unlikely to have to queue at the bar. And since you’re in charge of the punters, you won’t have to suffer the pub bore.

Raise a glass: The Andrea bar with Carrera marble top, £1,695, from Soho Home

‘Home bars are not a new request for us,’ says Rachel Hall, head of interiors at luxury house builders Octagon Developments. 

‘But as we see continued demand for entertaining spaces within homes, more and more clients are putting a home bar at the top of their wishlists.’

It could also be an investment, increasing the value of your home by up to £5,000.

The concept of a home bar took root in post-war America, where neighbours popping in for a casual martini became a cultural norm. 

The trend carried on through the 1950s and 1960s, though by the mid-1970s the home bar was deemed old fashioned and the stuff of leg-pulling sitcoms.

The advent of the pandemic, however, reframed the Del Boy profile with 2.7 million home bars created during lockdowns.

But if you do decide to recreate one in your home, what’s the best way to go about it? 

A great deal, of course, depends on space available and whether you want a permanent structure or something that requires less commitment — perhaps just a tiered trolley or even hidden cupboard.

One option is to use a bespoke company that will design a home bar to your specification — such as Luxury Home Bars. 

Alternatively, buy a simple pre-built freestanding unit (you can find a range, for example at Liberty Games).

Mix it right: Shaker, £15, from dunelm.com

Mix it right: Shaker, £15, from dunelm.com

‘For those with less room, the most space-effective way of making a mini bar at home is to build one into cabinetry that’s part of the kitchen or pantry,’ adds Rachel Hall. 

‘It doesn’t have to be a freestanding feature. You can make the most of the space you already have by adding floating shelves above an existing kitchen cabinet.

‘When not being used as a bar, the space can act as an additional statement design feature, creating a stylish section of the room with backlit bottles, barware and accessories.’ 

If you don’t want to commit the space or don’t have somewhere inside to house your bar, then a garden or outdoor bar might be the answer — perhaps by converting a shed or installing a specially designed bar.

Having decided the type of bar you want is, however, only one part of the project. As head of brands at Portmeirion Group Ltd, Andrea Waters, says, kitting out your home watering hole is as important as the bar itself.

‘Do this with attractive glassware as the decorative flourish will impress your guests and show you care about entertaining. If you’re looking for a curated style, bring in a touch of 1950s glamour through classic styling with antique-designed crystal glassware.

‘And to enhance the sparkle and glitz of your chosen glassware, consider incorporating shiny, reflective surfaces to your bar — clear, glass shelves not only look beautiful but also offer great functionality, being easy to clean and polish.’

She also suggests opting for open shelves to showcase your favourite cocktail and wine glasses. 

These can be lined up alongside any fancy bottles of booze you might have in stock. That way your home bar is a design feature even when you don’t fancy anything stronger than a cup of tea.

Of course, one vital component in recreating the bar experience is to generate atmosphere. And you can achieve this with your home bar opting for the right sort of lighting.

Julian Page, head of design at BHS, says: ‘A good lighting scheme for a home bar is a must. Downlighters are good for over the bar as they provide bright illumination, perfect for preparing cocktails.

‘A spotlight bar is ideal for this type of space, as the individual lights can be directed to where the tasks are performed.

‘Or opt for a colourful pendant to bring in a pop of colour.

‘Try an LED contouring light strip which will highlight the underneath of the bar and add an additional minimalist statement.’

As for the final touch, well that’s down to stocking, and then restocking, the bar with your tipples of choice. After that, opening time is down to you. Cheers!

Savings of the week! Dutch ovens

Reduced: ProCook’s 28cm model is available in blue, red, dark grey, pale grey) and is now £89

Reduced: ProCook’s 28cm model is available in blue, red, dark grey, pale grey) and is now £89

The Dutch oven, a substantial cast iron casserole with a lid, has a history as rich as the stews you can prepare therein.

The Chinese began to make these pots about 2,500 years ago and these techniques were refined in the Netherlands in the late 1600s. In 1707, the British industrialist Abraham Darby evolved his Dutch oven.

Today, the Dutch oven (often called a casserole) is experiencing a surge in popularity because it can be used to prepare cost-conscious meals and serve them: there are colours to suit every decor. 

The French firm Le Creuset makes the best-known Dutch oven; various sizes and colours are available at Philip Morris Direct, with the 31cm model reduced from £330 to £199.

ProCook’s 28cm model (in blue, red, dark grey, pale grey) was £199 and is now £89. Denby Pottery’s 28cm Pavilion in pale blue is 40 per cent off at £108. 

At Ocado, there’s the lighter aluminium 23cm M&S design in charcoal grey, for £31.60 down from £40.

Here’s to warming suppers.

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