The Entertaining issue

31 Home Bar Ideas to Elevate Any Night In

A home bar with a built-in countertop, woven barstools, and a gold barware set—including a gold ice bucket

Pure Salt Interiors

A great home bar is worth a lot. It gives you a fun spot to host house guests, provides an obvious place to store cocktail books, bartending tools, and bottles of wine, and makes every drink you have at home feel more ceremonial. 

The best part? Your home bar doesn’t even have to be fancy. You can snag a budget-friendly bar cart, splurge on a luxurious built-in, or split the difference with an elegant bar cabinet.

"I think it’s best to not overcomplicate it," Emily Henderson, founder of Emily Henderson Design, says. "Some beautiful bar tools and a fun glass to sip (or sometimes gulp) out of will make any night feel a little more special."

Since there are so many ways to craft a home bar, throwing together a great one is pretty easy. But if you’re in need of bar inspiration to bookmark, we’ve got you covered. 

We’ve rounded up 31 designer-approved home bar ideas that are sleek, playful, and easy to pull off. Just don’t blame us if you start trading your nights out for nights in.

Meet the Expert

Emily Henderson is the founder and CEO of Emily Henderson Design

01 of 31

Paint Your Bar a Playful Color

A home bar with light blue cabinets, marble countertops, and a tile-lined backsplash

Mindy Gayer Design

Your home bar should be a fun and lively place, so set the scene with a playful color. Snag an unusually vibrant bar cart, line your bar with colorful wallpaper, or paint your cabinets a fun shade you can’t find anywhere else in your home.

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Turn Your Drinkware Into Décor

A home bar with black cabinets, gold drawer pulls, and glassware-lined shelves

Devon Grace Interiors

Drinks aren’t the only thing you should stock in your home bar. Drinkware is just as important—and if you snag a pretty set, it can double as décor. So stock up on glasses, cups, and mugs that you love looking at, and proudly display them on your bar shelves.

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Keep It Classic With a Rolling Bar Cart

bar cart designs

Ginny Macdonald

It’s hard to go wrong with a classic bar cart. When thoughtfully chosen, the piece should fit right into any decor scheme. And if you score a bar cart on wheels, you can entertain with ease—rolling the bar cart wherever you’d like to get the party started.

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Have Fun With Your Backsplash

A home bar with a tile mosaic backsplash that says "cocktails"

Pure Salt Interiors

If you’re building in a home bar, have fun with your backsplash. It’s the perfect place to sprinkle in some personality. So take a risk on a bold color, an unusual pattern, or a playful mosaic.

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Stock Up on Great Cocktail Books

A home bar lined with glassware, plants, and cocktail books

Devon Grace Interiors

Every artist needs inspiration, so stock your bar with more cocktail books than you think you’ll ever need. The books can double as décor, dressing up your home bar shelves. Plus, they’ll give your guests something to flip through as you whip up your next masterpiece.

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Snag a Basic Bar Tool Set

A wooden bar cabinet topped with liquor and basic bar tools

Cathie Hong Interiors

If you plan to take cocktail-making seriously, cover your bar tool bases and buy a bar tool set. Snag something stylish enough to display on your home bar. You’ll thank yourself for the investment the next time you need a bottle opener, a shot glass, or a cocktail shaker.

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Give Yourself Room to Lounge

A navy bar nook decorated with two armchairs, layered rugs, and a side table topped with whiskey

Ashley Montgomery Design

Every drink tastes better when you’re sitting somewhere comfortable—so turn your home bar into a cocktail lounge. Snag a couple of cozy armchairs, an ultra-soft rug, and a few plush throw pillows—and you’ll be well on your way to crafting your own cozy speakeasy.

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Splurge on a Wine Fridge

A home bar with wooden shelves, cabinets, and a matching built-in wine fridge

Pure Salt Interiors

If you’re an avid wine drinker, you may not need fancy barware or special cocktail-making supplies. So turn your attention to an investment you’ll enjoy: a wine fridge. The luxe appliance will keep your wines at the proper temperature, helping you build your wine collection without splurging on a cellar. Plus, wine fridges look downright impressive—especially when they’re built into your cabinetry.

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Turn Your Tray Table Into a Bar

bar cart design

Candice Luter

With a little imagination, an ordinary tray table can become a striking bar cart. Whip out your favorite tray table, line it with drinks and drinkware, and turn it into a flexible home bar. The beauty of this approach is that your home bar will double as a serving tray, allowing you to carry drinks to other rooms whenever you need to.

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Give Your Guests a Place to Sit

A home bar with gold pendant lights, a black tile-lined backsplash, and a built-in countertop lined with wooden barstools

Proem Studio

If you have the space for it, build an eat-in bar. (Or should we say, a drink-in bar?) A counter and some barstools can transform your home bar, making it feel more like a getaway than a cozy spot in your home.

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Keep a Stash of To-Go Cups

A bar cabinet topped with liquor, plastic cups, and fresh lemons

Studio Peake

Cocktail glasses usually get the job done, but if you’re hosting a big party and don’t have the glassware to spare, having a stash of plastic cups goes a long way.

Plastic cups are also great when people are coming and going. As guests move from room to room—or from inside to outside—they’ll be thankful not to have fancy glassware to keep track of.

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Opt for an Old-School Bar Cabinet

bar cart design

Design: Emily Henderson Design ; Photo: Zeke Ruelas

Can’t decide whether you want a luxurious built-in bar or a flexible bar cart? Bar cabinets offer the best of both. The old-school favorite offers the ample storage space and elegant feel of a built-in bar. But since it’s a standalone piece, it’s flexible and accessible—just like a bar cart.

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Mount a TV on Your Bar

A home bar lined with printed backsplash tiles, wooden shelves, and a large mounted TV

Pure Salt Interiors

Turn your home bar into an entertainment center by hanging a TV between your bar shelves. The addition will make your bar a go-to hosting spot during sports games, awards shows, and other major events.

You can use the TV to set the tone in your space—queuing up music videos during parties and flipping on fireplace videos during quiet, cozy nights.

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Keep Fresh Citrus On-Hand

bar cart design

Design: Velinda Hellen for Emily Henderson Design; Photo: Sara Ligorria-Tramp

Your kitchen isn’t the only place that could benefit from fresh fruit. Lemons, limes, and oranges are key ingredients in a bunch of classic cocktails. So do yourself a favor, and keep a bowl of fresh citrus on your bar at all times.

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Install Your Own Beer Tap

A home bar equipped with liquor-lined shelves and a built-in beer tap

Reena Sotropa

If your drink of choice is a pilsner, a lager, or an IPA, take your home bar to the next level by installing your own beer tap. Connect the tap to a keg filled with your favorite brew. And treat your guests to a freshly poured pint every time they come over.

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Mix and Match Your Glassware

Home bar shelves lined with liquor bottles and mismatched glassware

Ashley Montgomery Design

Streamlining your glassware is a classic choice for a reason: It makes shopping simple and keeps your space looking sleek. But mixing and matching can be a whole lot of fun. So if you find yourself drawn to a few different glasses, buy them all and display them side-by-side. Despite their varied silhouettes, the glasses should look great together—they are made from the same material, after all.

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Repurpose Your Favorite Credenza

bar designs

 Design: Emily Henderson; Photo: Sara Ligorria-Tramp

Your home bar doesn’t have to live on a cart or a cabinet. If you’ve found a credenza you love, turn that into your home bar, instead. The transformation should be easy—just top the credenza with a well-stocked serving tray or mount some liquor-lined shelves above it.

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Cover Your Bar With Plants

bar cart design

Sara Toufali

Looking for a place to proudly show off your plant collection? Your bar just might be the spot. By pairing your favorite barware with trailing vines and prickly cacti, you can add color and texture to your home bar—and breathe life into your space.

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Store Your Go-To Liquors on a Serving Tray

A home bar decorated with marble countertops, glassware-lined shelves, and a serving tray topped with liquor and glassware

Jessica Nelson Design

Make your life easier by keeping your favorites on a serving tray. If there are glasses, tools, or ingredients you’re always reaching for, cluster them together in an easy-to-grab spot. Storing them on a serving tray will make things even more convenient. Need to bring your go-to’s to another room? You can easily do so.

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Keep Cocktail Picks at the Ready

A bar cart topped with liquor, cocktail books, and a glass full of cocktail picks

Proem Studio

No cocktail is complete without an appropriate garnish, and cocktail picks make those garnishes easier to manage. A good cocktail pick will hold your garnish in place, making your cocktail look perfect when you first present it. Plus, it’ll help you fish out any garnishes that have fallen to the bottom of your drink and gotten lost in your glass.

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Sneak a Bar Next to Your Staircase

A home bar built next to a staircase

Laura Brophy Interiors

If you’re low on space, finding a home for your bar can be a challenge. One underrated option? Putting a bar beside your staircase. The oft-overlooked area can be tough to decorate. But it’s the perfect size and shape for a barware-lined countertop and some glassware-packed shelves.

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Take Your Bar Cart to the Backyard

bar cart design

 Design: Emily Henderson; Photo: Sara Ligorria-Tramp 

One of the best things about bar carts? They’re portable. Take advantage of this flexibility, and move your bar cart around. If you're throwing a backyard barbecue or enjoying drinks on the patio, bring your bar cart outside. And if you’re a serious outdoor entertainer, you can even snag a second bar cart—dedicated solely to your backyard.

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Let Your Storage Shelves Double as Wall Décor

A home bar decorated with a series of industrial liquor-lined shelves

Katie Hodges Design

Storage space is a must in any home bar, and cabinets aren’t your only option. By mounting a couple sleek shelves, you can dress up the space above your bar—and turn your bartending must-haves into décor.

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Use a Cutting Board as a Serving Tray

A home bar topped with a wooden cutting board lined with wine and glassware

Pure Salt Interiors

Keeping a serving tray on your bar is a great idea. You can use it to dress up your bar and carry drinks around your space. And if you don’t feel like buying a brand new serving tray, you can repurpose your prettiest cutting board and use it as a serving tray, instead.

25 of 31

Snag a Cute Neon Sign

A home bar with light pink cabinets, mismatched glassware, and a small flamingo-shaped neon sign

White Sands

Want to make your home bar feel even more fun? Snag a cute neon sign. The playful addition will set the scene in your home bar, making it feel as kitschy, cozy, or classic as you want it to.

26 of 31

Dress Up an Unused Corner

A corner dressed up with a small bar shelf, a sprawling plant, and a liquor-lined serving tray

Katie Leclercq

There are loads of places to put your home bar. But if you’re drawing a blank, look for bare walls and unused corners. These spaces may be too small for other furniture and decor, but they’re probably big enough to house a bar cart, a small bar cabinet, or a tiny console table topped with a serving tray.

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Invest in a Pretty Decanter

A serving tray topped with wine, barware, and a pretty decanter

Jessica Nelson Design

If you’re a big fan of wine, treat yourself to a pretty decanter. The sculptural piece will look great on your home bar—and it will help you serve wine even more properly.

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Store Your Cocktail Glasses Upside Down

A blue bar cabinet topped with liquor and upside-down cocktail glasses

Studio Peake

One of the most functional ways to store your stemware? Upside down. This will keep top-heavy glasses from tumbling over the moment you touch your bar cart. And it prevents dust from collecting inside your glasses—so you won’t have to rinse them every time you whip them out. 

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Score a Striking Ice Bucket

A home bar with a built-in countertop, woven barstools, and a gold barware set—including a gold ice bucket

Pure Salt Interiors

Popping champagne feels more ceremonial when you have an ice bucket to store your bottle in until you’ve finished it. So snag a pretty ice bucket that’ll look great on your home bar, and leave it on display even when you’re not drinking bubbly.

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Conceal Your Bar Inside a Cabinet

A home bar concealed behind foldaway cabinet doors

Katie Leclercq

If you don’t want your bar to feature prominently in your home, tuck it away behind cabinet doors. The doors will conceal your bar, turning it into a party trick—when guests arrive, you can peel back the cabinet doors to unveil your bacchanalian masterpiece.

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Finish Off Your Bar With Art

A white home bar decorated with plants, fresh citrus, and a large wall-mounted painting

Mindy Gayer Design

Art is a great way to finish off any space—your home bar, included. So once you’ve stocked up on entertaining essentials, make space for a few pretty pieces. Sneak small prints and illustrations onto your shelves. Or mount a massive painting on the wall above your bar.