How To Living Spaces

The ultimate guide to designing a stylish bar

Written by Lisa Witepski

The home bars featured in many of our childhood homes were often an ode to masculine taste: imagine an overwhelming amount of dark wood, relieved only by sporting memorabilia. In contrast, today’s home bars are usually envisaged as the heart of the entertainment area – which means they’re high on design and style. Here’s how to make sure yours matches the trend.

• 2019 is the year of stone, glass and brass, according to Arnold Jardim of Dezign A Door. He adds that mixing these materials, with solid wood in some areas and marble, stone or matte metal in others, enhances the area’s visual and sensory appeal.

Dezign A Door

• Bar stools aren’t merely functional. This is a real opportunity to add a dash of style to your bar, so opt for plush upholstery with pleated, piped or deep-buttoned detailing, advises Karin Cawthorne of Kare Design. Stool legs in turned timber or brass offer a touch of glamour, she notes.

Kare Design

• Accessories are important. It’s not just about the glassware – although you should, of course, have a range of champagne flutes, red and white wine glasses, beer, whisky and shot glasses in seasonal colours. Decanters, trays, ice buckets, bottle openers and cocktail shakers are beautiful as well as practical, Cawthorne says. Although it’s always fun to play with the latest trends, antique and vintage shop finds can create a truly individual touch.

Kare Design

• Timber worktops are far more comfortable to lean against than stone, points out Bo Bylin of Spotlight Joinery. Timber also has a warmth that’s quite irresistible. If you’re going for wood (or wood finish), Jardim suggests oak, maple, ash or mahogany.

Spotlight Joinery

• No space for a bar? No problem. Sheri Howes of Carrol Boyes Functional Art says that a traditional bar trolley works well in smaller spaces. Plus, it can also serve as a decorative feature when it’s not playing host to your favourite gin bottle: simply add some leafy plants, leaning framed art or even personal artefacts like a collection of poetry books.

Carrol Boyes Functional Art

• Practicalities are important. Tarryn Cohen of Peerutin Architects points to the basics; for example, the bar counter must be deep enough to allow space for the plugs behind the appliances. It’s also important to remember that bars work on two different levels. That’s why it’s a good idea to have a split bar counter top, accommodating the guests and the person making drinks behind the bar.

Peerutin Architects

• Play around with glass to create different effects, suggests Mathilda Venter of Valcucine Cape Town. For instance, using semi-transparent glass units for display, tinted brown or grey, creates a softer mood, while tinted mirrors placed inside bar units and cladding the wall surrounding the bar enhance depth perception.

Valcucine Cape Town


Lisa Witepski

Leave a Comment