How to Squeeze in a Home Bar Even in the Smallest Homes

Because serving cocktails from a dedicated cocktail-mixing station is fun

Few of us have space for a bar that we can sit at and, in recent decades, the traditional home bar has been put out of business by the breakfast bars and islands many of us now perch at with our evening tipple. But serving cocktails from a dedicated cocktail-mixing station is fun. Check out ideas for compact bars to suit even the tiniest of homes.

Wheel in a cartA bar cart is an elegant piece of furniture that’s enjoying something of a style revival. And no wonder! Those slim lines and delicate casters are appealing and won’t gobble up space. Plus a cart can be moved around and parked in an out-of-the-way corner when not in use.

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A bar cart will fit nicely into a fireplace alcove. If you plan to leave it there, rather than wheeling it around your home, you can afford to load it up with lots of bottles, creating a well-stocked bar that still takes up only minimal space.

If you like plenty of countertop space for chopping limes and shaking cocktails, seek out a cart with folding sides. It’s still nicely compact but will offer a greater prep area than traditional cart designs.

Lane Williams Architects, original photo on Houzz


Conceal in a cabinet. Tuck your micro bar away in a kitchen cabinet. Choose neat pocket doors that will disappear to reveal its shelves, drinks and glasses, making the “bar” easy to use.

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Reserve a portion of one shelf at a suitable height as a drinks prep area, and use the others for storing bottles and glassware. A mini sink for rinsing glasses is another great addition for those intending to take their bar area seriously.

MATT architecture LLP, original photo on Houzz


The previous bar in a cabinet was only a waist-height-and-above design, but this fabulous creation spans a full-height cabinet. You have to love the gold paint, funky light and tiered, curved shelves — very Jazz Age!

Repurpose an old piece. Create a mini bar in an old suitcase with its lid propped open, and your drinks collection will have a nice vintage feel. Fancy an Old-Fashioned, anyone?

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Margot Hartford Photography, original photo on Houzz


Go tall. Take a simple shelving unit and redesign it as a vertical bar. This piece has a strong industrial vibe, with a metal frame and wooden shelves that can happily support the weight of bottles and books for the quaffing connoisseur, or cookbooks if the space needs to be multipurpose.

Try a tray. Confining your bottles, glasses and ice buckets to a simple tray can create the illusion of a tiny but well-ordered bar. Although leaving bottles out on a sideboard can look a bit half-hearted, lining them up carefully on an oblong tray looks purposeful and shouts, “Get your margarita here!”

Make your kitchen work harder. Give a portion of your kitchen a dual identity: by day, breakfast and hot drinks station; by night, bar! Open shelves allow glasses and bottles to easily be seen and grabbed once it’s no longer time for tea.


EMR Home Design, original photo on Houzz

Related: Invest in a Bistro Set for Your Home Bar

Slim down. Take the classic bar design, complete with bar stools, and pare it right back. Suddenly, you have something super elegant that can slide into even a small space.

This bar is completely free-standing, so it looks more like a piece of delicate furniture than a solid feature. It was custom-made and mounted on slim legs, which help it look light and unobtrusive. A shelf mirror behind gently references the mirrors often found in bars and pubs, but in a cool, minimal way.

Take to the shelves. Keep drinks, glassware and your favorite decanters displayed on simple shelves in a dedicated spot above a counter. In-shelf lighting glinting on the glass will give a bar effect after dark. When cocktail hour arrives, just take down the bottles and glasses,and mix your drinks.


Clare Gaskin original photo on Houzz


Build into a partition. Make use of a partition or strip of blank wall to carve out a recessed bar. This design benefits from a mirrored back, which gives depth to its shallow shelves and bounces light around too.


Kingston Lafferty Design, original photo on Houzz


Adopt an alcove. Give a classic alcove a new identity by filling the shelves traditionally reserved for books and DVDs with an enticing mix of drinks and glassware. This smart enclosed design is backed with mirrored metro tiles for a glamorous touch that works beautifully with the brass lighting and rich, dark paint. 

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