How to set up the ultimate home bar
Whether you are in the mood for a quiet drink or are having guests over for a party, a home bar can be a useful area, style centre and talking point all in one! Home bars provide you with a space to both store and display bottles of wine, beer and spirits, plus you can have everything you need to make a drink on hand instead of spread across your kitchen. Whether you have a full bar with seating or just a nook to mix your drinks, Spotlight has the drinkware and décor you need to make your home bar extraordinary!
- Why should I have a bar in my home?
- Where should I have a bar in my house?
- What home bar basics do I need?
- How do I light my bar?
- Home bar design ideas for storing and displaying drinks
- Extra home bar ideas
- Tips on bar maintenance
Why should I have a home bar?
Home bars are becoming more and more commonplace in Australia, as we deal with the balance between being used to staying home but enjoying the pleasures of going out. Having a home bar means you can have easy access to your favourite drinks, a great place to socialise with your friends and no worries over driving after having a few tasty cocktails. No dress code, no crazy prices and no curfew (except the one you set yourself) - it can be just as fun as a night out on the town!
Where should I have a bar in my house?
So you've decided you want a home bar - yay! But where to build it? It can all depend on the size of your home, what kind of floor plan you have and how much you are willing to spend on one. Here are some examples of different areas of the home you can set up your home bar:
An outside home bar
If you will be entertaining outside, setting up your bar can be a great way to embellish the area further - plus any spills will occur out there, instead of indoors on your good carpet!
If you are lucky enough to have a transitory space between your kitchen and backyard (like an open window), this can be a very handy space to set up your bar, as ingredients, cleaning supplies and fragile glassware can be passed to and from the kitchen.
Bars are also good for setting up under a verandah or awning, as they can provide protection from the elements - while rain is never good, direct sunlight is also a no-go for your drink collection.
Finally, a word of caution - if you have a pool, keep guests enjoying their drinks away from a potential accident!
An inside home bar
Any area where you entertain guests is a good place to start. You can eliminate rooms like bathrooms, bedrooms and offices and focus on the kitchen, living and dining areas.
If you only have a small area to work with, consider a bare corner in your home where you can build shelving or insert a portable bar or drink trolley. A recessed niche or even an unused cupboard are all good areas to set up a home bar if you want a more low-key look, while alongside a wall or acting as a divider between the dining and living areas are good if you want your bar to make a statement in an open floor plan.
In larger homes, you can dedicate the back of your living room to the bar or even an entire wall! A converted cellar can also be a cool place to create a home bar - after all, you're storing your wine there anyway.
What home bar basics do I need?
There are a few types of liquor and tools that any successful home bar needs. These include:
- Spirits - basics like gin, whisky, tequila and rum will keep your guests happy. You can also have vodka on hand, but it shouldn't be drunk on its own, only added to other cocktails.
- Mixers - unless you want to be serving hard liquor all night, you'll need to have some mixers on hand. Soft drinks like cola, squash and raspberry lemonade are all popular choices, as well as orange and pineapple juice. Plain additives like soda and tonic water should also feature, as well as a small bottle of aromatic bitters.
- Drinkware - you can choose to theme your chosen glassware to your bar, otherwise clear, crisp glass cups, wine glasses, shot glasses and cocktail glasses will always look classy.
- Cocktail tools - the hallmark of a good bar, cocktails need to be both delicious and gorgeous to look at. Luckily, a lot of the classics aren't too hard to make - you'll only need a few cocktail accessories! You'll want a cocktail shaker, as well as a strainer and muddler on hand for drinks like mojitos and cosmopolitans.
- Cleaning tools - keeping your home bar clean will help it stay a step above your local sticky pub bar, something you and your guests will definitely appreciate! Have a tea towel on hand for wiping down your surfaces, as well as cleaning chemicals, a bucket and a kitchen bin for any dirty rags or fruit peel/pieces.
- Fridge/freezer - a mini fridge is a great choice for keeping your mixers and bubbly cool, and a small freezer for your ice will also stop you from running to and from the kitchen when you need them.
How do I light my bar?
Now that your bar is stocked, we can start on the best part - decorating! While you might not notice it when you're at your local, the lighting of a bar can really set the mood and highlight the most beautiful sections of your set-up. It's also an opportunity to get really creative! Here are some of our favourite home bar ideas for lighting:
- Downlights - simple but effective, downlights are the flat, circular lights you see embedded in the ceilings of most homes. They are excellent for lining up above the bar top or illuminating racks where you keep your spirits, plus they are cost-effective to run.
- Fairy lights - golden fairy lights give off a relaxed, warm glow that creates the perfect atmosphere for entertaining. String them across the roof or along the edge of your bar, or even line the surface of your home bar furniture to really highlight your décor!
- Hanging lights - sometimes called 'pendant lights', hanging lights can add an air of old-school style to your home bar design. Hanging them along your bar in a line will create an 80's diner vibe, while one large light in the centre will look more formal.
- Bottle lights - ever lamented throwing away the gorgeous bottle your champagne or fancy liquor came in? Despair no more, and turn them into bar lights instead! The most popular way to create them is to take a length of fairy lights, bundle them up inside a bottle and discreetly power them from an outlet or battery. Either line your bar with them or hang them from the ceiling.
Home bar design ideas for storing and displaying drinks
Your drinks are the hero of your home bar, and there are heaps of fantastic ideas out there on how you can display them. Whether it be a bottle of red, a stubby of beer or an elegant spirit bottle, here are some gorgeous bar ideas for home you can use to show them off:
- Wine rack - the classic wine rack displays your wine and sparkling bottles clearly while allowing easy access to whichever one you choose. Racks can go from simple wooden structures to complicated glass arrangements, but it's important to have your rack at a height you can easily reach and safely pull out bottles from.
- Drink tray - an elegant drink tray is a formal method of carrying drinks, but is also a lovely way to display them. Obviously drink trays aren't huge, so you can only place a few bottles on them at a time. Choose to show off your favourite drinks, or rotate them throughout the evening.
- Drink rack - similar in shape and look to a spice rack, a drink rack is a stylish way to display your favourite drinks without taking up too much space. Hang it from a wall for easy access to your spirits.
No matter your bar designs for home, the most important thing to note is to make sure your drinks are safe from the danger of spilling, breaking or being reached by small children.
Extra home bar ideas
Spotlight has plenty of décor options to help you bring your bar designs for home to life.
- Faux plants - a little greenery can go a long way into livening up any space… even if it's fake! Our faux plants come in all sorts of varieties and colours - our hanging plants and garlands in particular will look stunning when placed to cascade down the sides or top of your bar setup.
- Mirrors - mirrors can be used to make your bar appear bigger than it actually is. Mirrored backs to shelving will create an illusion of depth, while using flat mirrors as the side ends of your home bar cabinet will add the illusion of length, especially if said cabinet ends at a wall.
- Signage - classic slogans like 'open bar', 'cheers' and 'happy hour' will add a cheeky element to your home bar, and you can make your own if you're feeling crafty. Check out our sign project here!
- Extra décor - you can add pretty much any decorations to your bar, as long as it fits your theme. Small statuettes, stools, lanterns and other baubles can all be fun additions that will add some personality to your home bar.
Tips on bar maintenance
Once you've created your home bar, it's very important to keep it clean and in good condition so your hard work isn't wasted. Here are our top three tips on cleaning your bar:
- Keep away barflies - also known as fruit flies or vinegar flies, these miniscule pests are the bane of many a professional bartender. Only around 3mm long, these tiny flies are attracted to fermenting substances like rotting fruit, fruit juice, beer and wine - all of which we like to have in our bars. They can breed very quickly, so it's important not to give them time to settle in. Take out your bar rubbish every night, clean any bar mats and surfaces where drinks may have been spilled and keep your spirit bottles covered when not in use. If you have a sink or ice well, make sure it is dry by the end of the night as barflies breed in damp conditions.
- Use bottle pourers - finding your spill your spirits when you pour? Invest in a good set of bottle pourers and you can easily control the flow of your drinks. Just make sure to cover them up with foil or a plastic stopper to stop any barflies from making their way inside.
- Keep your glasses clean - after using them for a while, you may notice your glasses are becoming cloudy. Try a little white vinegar on a spot on the glass - if it comes off, use more vinegar to clean the glass, then wash the vinegar off and dry with a microfibre cloth. If it doesn't, unfortunately it means your glass has been permanently etched by your dishwasher, and it can't be restored.
Find everything you need to decorate your home bar at Spotlight
Whether you need ice trays, mirrors, glassware or racks, Spotlight has the specialised décor you need to outfit your dream home bar. Check out our range of barware online, or head into your local Spotlight store and choose your decorations with the help of our friendly team.
For more assistance in buying drinkware and kitchenware for your home, check out our helpful buying guides for everything from table linen to glassware storage. And if you want to decorate your bar with handcrafted goods, why not try our timber or home décor projects? They come with pictures and clear instructions, so go on - give your bar that handmade touch!