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Home Bar Designs and Instalation Advice

In the 1960s and 1970s it was not unusual for your average semi-detached or even high-rise flat to boast a bar in the corner. This would either be a built in model, often made from bare brick, or an upholstered cocktail bar of the type that Only Fools and Horses’ Derek Trotter would describe as “a bit of posh”.

But, perhaps because of Trotter’s adoption of them, home bar designs started to fall out of favour in the 1980s, with only retro-loving cocktail kitsch fans finding a place for them in their homes and their hearts. That is all changing, though, as more of us look to entertain at home, discover cocktail recipes and try out mixology to spice up our nights in with friends.

home bar designs

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It certainly beats even a night at the local on cost and you don’t have to worry about waiting for a taxi outside a city centre bar at the end of the night. Even the Ideal Home Show featured a replica of Del Boy’s bar last year, neatly illustrating this change in attitude.

Home bar designs and installation advice

So, what do you need to consider when thinking about installing your own home bar? Well, the first thing is to think about whether you want something freestanding that sits in the corner of your living room, dining room or kitchen, or whether you would like something a little more permanent.

home bar

Image Source: Pinterest

Freestanding home bar designs can be picked up from retro or vintage stores, sourced on eBay or even made for you by a good joiner. There are also plenty of modern options that you can buy or adapt, from serving trolleys to self-assembly units. Add some sparkle, some spirit bottles, a cocktail shaker and an ice bucket and then you have yourself a bar.

Vintage bars can start from as little as £100, but you can expect to pay from £450 to as much as £1,000 for something simple-yet-bespoke from a joiner or cabinet-maker. Once you start to add more features, shelves or inbuilt refrigeration then the sky is your limit.

installing a home bar

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If you wish to go for a more full-on kitsch cocktail bar, stylish dark wood hotel bar or something that resembles the saloon bar at the local Dog and Duck then your best bet is to get something that is solid and built-in. This will mean semi-permanently giving over a corner of your room to something that you may not use every day. But if you entertain a lot then it is a great way to turn around the use of a room, as well as providing something of a conversation piece.

Talk to a builder or joiner about the options for a built-in bar and have some ideas and pictures that you can refer to. You will also need to think about the setting for the bar, including wall decoration and flooring. You can mark out this area effectively by changing the surfaces around it and it will make it all the more stunning as a feature. Of course, if you are conservative in your design and have good storage then your drinks bar can double up as a breakfast bar.

home bar ideas

Image Source: Design indulgences

You should also consider how far you want to go. Do you want refrigeration, bar optics, running water, a way of serving draught beer or even a mirror ball and a built-in sound system? Prices should start from around £700 for the basics but you can spend as much as your budget will allow for. Ice machines, lighting and precious metal fittings will all add to the bill but you can be sure that you will have the best bar in town and you’ll never have to nip to the cash point when it is your round.

All you need to do then is to visit your local off licence or wholesaler to get the drinks in and buy some bar stools. Most department stores will have these but online retailers will offer a selection of cool bar additions, such as Robin Day’s Polo bar stools.


Talk to a builder or joiner about the options for a built-in home bar.  Post your job in our Painter / Decorator category. Up to three tradesmen can contact you to quote and you’ll be able to view their profile pages, complete with customer ratings, to help you decide who to hire.

Iain Aitch

Iain is a London-based writer who works as a journalist for a number of newspapers and magazines. He has also written two books, one of which is a hilarious lexicon about Britishness – Iain is a Brit through and through!

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