Bottoms Up: 10 Amazing Home Bars
Gathering over a few drinks at a bar or pub to share ideas and catch up on friends’ lives has long been an important part of community life. In Britain pubs have historically been integral as working-class social hangouts. But Paul Jennings, author of The Local – A History of the English Pub, says that these spaces have actually been declining for more than a century. “Reasons include the ever widening array of alternative leisure pursuits, and the increased importance of the home as a place to spend time in,” he told BBC History Magazine.
While I couldn’t agree more with Jennings about the importance of spending time with family, I’d venture to say that perhaps Jennings has forgotten how clever we ever-evolving humans can be. Pubs aren’t decreasing. We’re just bringing the concept home.
The home bar has become one of the quintessential bonus rooms in homes today. And while men and women alike are planning and adapting these spaces, it’s common to see a masculine influence in their designs. Rich wood, TVs, leather-backed chairs, pool tables and cigar porches are popular features of the modern-day home bar.
“It’s the ultimate man fantasy — have all your bros, and some pretty ladies too, sidle up and loosen up,” says Tina Skinner, an author and publisher who’s written more than 100 lifestyle books, including Entertainment Rooms: Home Theaters, Bars, and Game Rooms. “With the boom in square footage that drove the market in the last 15 years, there are a lot of homes with rooms to fill. Why not fulfill fantasies?”
His wife had more control over the decor in the main house, so he made this his personal project. He reached out to architect Jimmy Crisp to help him realize his vision for creating a London-style pub in his basement.
There was a strong push to get an old feeling just right in the space. The contractor even dragged chains across the stained pine floor to add dents and marks. “He can have a party for 60 people and at the end of the night close the door, and the house is still pristine,” Crisp says. “Everything is perfect except the pub.”
“This is the man cave,” Crisp says. “The homeowner wouldn’t call it that, but that’s what it ends up being.”
This is a true man space. The owner, a lifelong bachelor in Las Vegas, had full say in everything that went into the space.Signed guitars, jerseys and other collectibles adorn the walls. There are multiple TVs for sports and even doors that lead out to a courtyard for cigar sessions.
Designer Michael Macaluso picked the deep wine-reddish wall color to complement the wood bar, which is alder with a medium stain, and the walnut floor. He added an animal print and embossed leather too. “As a male designer, it wasn’t hard to come up with everything in here,” Macaluso says.
The designer says when building a home bar, it’s important to determine how much space you’ll actually need and use. “A pool table takes up a lot of room,” he says. “So unless you’re going to use it a lot, don’t get one. People want slot machines, hockey games, then they realize they have nowhere to sit.”
A retired professional baseball player transformed the two-bedroom casita on the property of his Arizona vacation home into this bar space for storing his sports collectibles.
The rest of the house is done in a Venetian style, so he wanted something that was more his speed. The African-chic aesthetic features bamboo walls and animal prints for a summery feel.
The rest of this house is bright and white with pops of color, so the owners of this space wanted something darker and moodier. The husband showed designer Kristen Peck a photo of a pub and said, “I want the same feel.”
While the husband and wife agreed on the aesthetics, the husband’s preferences drove many of the selections, such as tin ceilings and knotty alder cabinetry. There’s also a copper sink, a dishwasher, a microwave, LED rope lighting, a TV and a natural quartzite floor.
Contractor Bob Michels turned a storage space above his home garage into an enviable pub with great views.
His wife had picked out the carpets and wall colors in the main house, but this space was all his. The room has a pool table, in-floor heating and beautiful custom cabinets from Dura Supreme.
The designer of this New Jersey basement bar maximized a tight space, making room for essentials like a sink, a refrigerator and plenty of bottle storage. The ceiling is actually Fry Reglet acoustical wall panels (pattern B) that were fastened with exposed stainless steel screws and trim washers.
Peter Santrach and his wife collaborated on gutting their Minnesota basement and turning it into an entertainment area. They both wanted the darker look of Lyptus cabinets from Dura Supreme, and Santrach wanted to incorporate a Coke machine he’d had since college.
Santrach added a table for poker games plus a pool table, popcorn machine and pizza oven. “It’s definitely a man space, but it’s also a combination family space, too,” he says. “If it was totally my man space, it’d be filled with a lot more beer mugs and maybe a trophy deer head or ducks. Right now all I’ve got is a wooden duck.”
Santrach estimates that the bar area cost about $25,000 for parts, labor, counter, mirror, lighting, metal ceiling, installation, electrician, plumbing and appliances.
This is a basement space at a lake cabin for a young family with four kids. The wife drove its aesthetic. She wanted a more rustic vibe, with knotty barn wood supplied and installed by local craftspeople. There’s an electronic poker game on the bar top plus a fridge, popcorn maker, wine cellar and microwave.