1. ADD DRAMA WITH AN BUILT-IN BAR
'You can’t call it entertaining unless you’re prepared to create an atmosphere,' says the renowned British product designer Lee Broom. To do that, there 'needs to be a sprinkle of drama'. For Lee, that meant sourcing an original 1970s room divider from the late, great American interiors designer Steve Chase’s own home in Laguna Beach, California, which he converted into a cocktail bar. Due to its size, it had to have it craned up to the rooftop of Lee's New York City apartment block. 'It was quite a moment to see this bar swinging in the sky,' he says. Drama indeed.
2. TAKE INSPIRATION FROM THE ART DECO PERIOD
'The Savoy Cocktail Book, The Great Gatsby, The Belle Epoque… Art Deco shouts ‘cocktail hour’,' says the South African interior designer Hubert Zandberg. Not only does the era conjure the perfect bar atmosphere - think elegance, sophistication and prosperity, and the good times of the Roaring Twenties - it also lends itself to being contemporised, says Hubert. 'The strictness of it, the monochrome tones, and the clear, confident architectural lines all create a very nice, solid framework on which you can hang decoration and mix other eras - for example, modernism, cubism, even brutalism.'
3. ADD SPARKLE WITH MIRRORS
Mirrors and bars go together like the best alcoholic double acts. 'Mirrors are traditionally used in bars to increase the sense of space and make the area appear more generous (more bottles!),' says the British architect Mark Pinney of Mark Pinney Associates, who designed this wet bar in a loft-style apartment in Soho, London. 'And as a backdrop it allows the crystal and glass bottles to sparkle as the light bounces around. It is simultaneously welcoming and sophisticated.'
4. BRING THE OUTSIDE IN
If enjoying a cocktail in the garden is not a possibility, why not just borrow from nature’s relaxing qualities? The award-winning interior designer Vani Sayeed, principal of the Massachusetts-based Vani Sayeed Studios, wanted to create a space that had 'a certain wow factor', she explains, and the inspiration for that was the view through the window - the client’s beautiful grounds of their 1926 Tudor-style home. 'We wanted to bring the outside indoors - the winters in the greater Boston area are harsh and long, so we wanted to create that sense of a lush garden [that could] be enjoyed all year long.'
5. HIDE YOUR BAR BEHIND DOORS
Sometimes, having one’s extensive liquor collection out on display is not always welcome or appropriate - maybe you’re hosting a kids’ party, a meeting, or maybe you’re just hungover and can’t face tidying up from the night before. Being able to close the doors on your home bar will give much more flexibility in how you use your space - and even where you put it. You could even put a bar in a living room, for example.
6. GO RUSTIC TO ESCAPE THE HUSTLE BUSTLE
Although this cabin happens to be in the middle of nowhere, such isolation is not a requisite for a modern rustic theme - wherever it is, the natural vibe will still lend a sense of respite from the daily grind. Using reclaimed walnut from a local farm, mid-century furniture, a hammered copper sink and a Philip Jeffries grasscloth wallcovering, the Missouri-based interior design firm ADJ Interiors has created a 'cozy and relaxing getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city,' says its designer Meagan Cooperman. 'We selected raw elements local to the area, as well as an earth-toned palette that resembled the land it is built on.'
7. BLEND YOUR BAR SEAMLESSLY
When space is tight, what you don’t want to do is draw the eye to difference, which will make it seem only smaller. In this corner of a modern kitchen in Los Angeles, the interior designer Caren Rideau, author and founder of Kitchen Design Group, integrated the “sommelier” bar into the kitchen design, using a bespoke paint and matching cabinetry to unite the space.
8. INSTALL SALOON-STYLE BAR SEATING
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being perched at a bar, marvelling at all the alcoholic options ahead of you. It’s communal, it’s casual and it’s unavoidably relaxing. In this home bar in a contemporary-luxe farmhouse in Waterberg, South Africa, that feeling is made all the more tranquil with the use of beautiful kiaat wood (a local hardwood), which has been carved into angular stools to echo the shape of the bar. The neat line of bespoke, hand-turned pendants also compliment those sharp lines.
9. TUCK IT INTO A NICHE
If you’re after something a little more discreet, consider locating your bar in an existing cubbyhole or walk-in within your living space. This tiny bar sits just off the dining room: 'a perfect place for a bar,' says the interior designer Rittika Chokhany, founder of the Mumbai-based design consultancy Ariyona Interior. The open doorway gives easy access to the bar, while the newly installed wooden partition to its left enabled the L-shaped bar counter to be brought right up to the partition: 'It’s great for hiding the mess behind,' she explains.