Going out to a bar is fun; getting home quickly, safely, and inexpensively? Not so much. Which is why the home bar is going through a bit of a renaissance. Why worry about where you should go and how you’re going to get back when you can just entertain from the comfort of your own home? While most home bars gather dust in the basement, used only by their owners, here are eight extravagant stand-outs that rival even the most high-class establishments.
BARN IN CONNECTICUT
Putting a bar in an old barn is not easy. If you’re not careful, you’ll just end up with something a little too honky-tonk. And then before you know it, you’re installing a mechanical bull. Interior designers Kelly & Co. avoided this landslide by adding in just the right amount of industrial features—galvanized steel lights, iron bar top, and shop-class-style drafting chairs—to give this Redding, Conn., barn just the right amount of rustic charm. While the bar itself ran the owners around $100,00, it’s actually part of a larger project to turn the 1,200 sq-ft barn into a lounge/performance space replete with a stage, couches, fireplace, and even a lofted balcony where a handful of cots await weary bar(n) animals.
WOODEN COMFORT IN PHILADELPHIA
This bar, located in a Philadelphia-based house, is wood from floor to ceiling: oak floors, walnut paneling, and a cherry bar. The warm wood tones are no accident; the homeowner hired Current Concepts to properly light and even automate this home bar. With a press of a button on the bar’s touchscreen console, the ambient lighting gets warmer, music starts to play, and the light above the pool table turns on.
SOLID CHERRY IN PENNSYLVANIA
Built by West Chester, Pennsylvania-based Media Rooms, this 14-foot solid cherry bar is like that one unassuming, yet intensely welcoming friend who is always game for small talk at a party. Maybe you just got back from the bathroom or had to step out to grab another Jameson, but he’s there to ask you about the Packer’s defense (a topic they know you feel pretty strongly about). Not including the appliances—a fridge, sink, and dishwasher—this $22,800 bar opens up to a 840 sq-ft home theater space where the family band regularly rehearses.
GAME ROOM IN CHICAGO
Design firm dSpace Studio proves that a pool table does not necessitate archaic design. The suburban Chicago house it’s built in may be from the 1800s, but the dark marble bar, walnut wood paneling, and the stained oak floor give this game room a decidedly modern feel. Inside the 384 sq-ft room lies a $12,000 Brunswick Montebello pool table, illuminated by nearly $5,000 of Tom Dixon hanging light features. The bar itself features a fridge, sink, three taps, and even a dishwasher to speed cleanup. What’s more, the wood paneling opens up to reveal a dartboard flanked by two corkboards to protect the walls from errant throws. And connected to the room is a urinal bathroom. All in all, this room was just part of a larger 10,000 sq-ft renovation, costing the owner $300,000.
CABIN IN DENVER
RMT Architects has realized is that a home bar doesn’t need to be a bar transplanted into a home. This 36 sq-ft bar is in a cabin just outside of Denver; it doesn’t need to serve an entire house party. It’s there to give weary hikers a place to belly up to after traipsing around the Rocky Mountains. Featuring a copper top, wood and leather paneling, and a wet bar, this little corner of respite is just the right amount of form and function.
SPORTS BAR IN DENVER
Very little thought goes into most sports bars—even more so into basement sports bars. Patrons don’t ask for much more than cans of Bud Light and a bunch of TVs. Which makes this Denver basement, designed by Residential Systems, all the more special. The meticulously designed space has a copper tile roof above the bar, tree branch chairs, stone walls, custom-designed AV system, and even a tin bucket of peanuts! It’s clear the owner cares. This basement bar says, “I hate going to sports bars, but I love sports bars, so I just built one myself.”
BASEMENT PUB IN NEW YORK
An English pub in someone’s basement in New York. I know, I know uncanny. But what makes this work goes beyond the bar. Crisp Architects and the owner have committed to applying the pub theme to the entire room—the chairs, tables, cabinets, and the stained glass window evoke Postwar Britain’s brand of understatement. The color palette is subdued and the purely functional chairs and benches, dimpled pub mugs, and even rotary phone are authentic. Although this room harkens back to another era, the bar still features modern fridges, a wine chiller, and dishwasher.
STAINLESS STEEL ROOFTOP IN DALLAS
This custom-designed stainless steel, glass and LED-laden bar graces the home of one lucky Dallas resident. Designed by Harold Leidner Landscape Architechts, this bar—which sits on a 300 sq-ft rooftop deck—can comfortably seat seven and features a sink, fridge, and even a grill top.
Steve Rousseau is an associate editor at Digg. He has contributed to Popular Mechanics, Modern Farmer, and Rolling Stone.