Belly Up: 8 Tips for Creating a Home Bar

Why sprint to the local watering hole every Friday? Here's how to make a home bar, how to stock the necessary supplies, and how to decorate it.

Do you have a passion for craft beer? Maybe you’re a lifelong fan of Bud or Miller, or maybe your tastes are more toward liquor. Why keep your beer in the fridge or your liquor in a cabinet when you can create a home bar? The right bar can actually be worked into almost any room in the home – no need for a man cave – and it can become the focus of your leisure time. It’s far easier to set up a bar in your home than you might realize. Here are eight tips to help you out.




Start with the Room

Think of where you would like your bar to be. Do you have an unused corner of the family room, or maybe spare space in the dining room? You do have the option of fixing your basement to accommodate a bar and a pool table, but that tends to exclude you from the family circle. Find a place in your home to put your bar, and then figure out how much room you have.




The Bar

Now it’s time to start looking for a bar fixture to install in that space. You have two choices here. You can either 1) buy a bar outright, or 2) build a bar yourself. Of the two, buying one already constructed is faster and often a little cheaper. You might be surprised at what you can find on eBay and Craigslist, but there are plenty of other options, from Sears to Ikea, and everything in between. Make sure that the bar you purchase is sized for your space. This can require a little extra research and time, but it will be well worth it. You should also make sure that the bar will fit the number of people you live with or plan to invite into your home. If you only have one or two friends over at a time, you’ll only need space for a couple of barstools, but if you host larger gatherings, you’ll need a larger bar.

When shopping for a home bar, pay attention to the critical features. You’ll want one that’s about 42 inches tall, as this will make it easier to buy stools. You also want to make sure that the bar overhang is no more than 20 inches and that it includes an outward facing molding to prevent spilled drinks from running over. The drink rail, which is where drinks are poured in a professional bar, is optional, although it can add to the authenticity of your home setup.


Finally, you want more than just a bar top – you need a bar with a lower shelf on the back side. This lets you store bottles, glasses, and will give you a place for fruit slices and other ingredients. It also helps add stability to the bar as well.




Pay Attention to Stools

While the bar will be the major focal point, you need to pay attention to your stools too. They should tie into the design of your bar and need to be sized correctly. Opt for a standard bar stool that stands about 30 inches high, and try to leave about 30 inches between them so there’s plenty of room for people to sit. This means that stools with arms will need to be farther apart at the seat than the arm (and stools with backs and arms might not be the right design aesthetic for your home bar, anyway.)




The seats should be comfortable enough for a session that lasts a couple of hours. You and your friends will likely be sitting here longer than you would if you were in a real bar, which is part of the fun of having your own. Padding is a great option, but contoured wooden seats can also be good choices. Metal is also acceptable, though it can get a little cold during the winter.



Whether you’re serving liquor, mixed drinks or cold beer, you need the right glassware. You’ll also need a place to store all those glasses. Wine glasses should be hung by their bases, while beer glasses can usually be stacked or stood on their rims out of the way. Shot glasses should also be stored upside down. Make sure that you leave enough room behind the bar or somewhere to the side that you can install storage for your glasses.



A home bar can be a great addition to almost any room in the house. Whether you prefer beer, liquor, wine or mixed drinks, a bar can become the focal point of your entertaining, and offer decades of enjoyment. 

Images used with permission, courtesy of and

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