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How to Create a Personalized Bar or Beverage Station at Home

Drinks at home? Get excited to stay in by designing a special spot for pouring your beverage of choice.

Presented by Neil Kelly September 13, 2022

This mini bar is putting out the vibe with a studded copper backsplash, espresso stained cabinetry, and a complementary granite countertop. | Design by Fabian Genovesi

If your home has become the default gathering place for friends and family, you might be thinking about adding a beverage station, a swanky mini bar, or even a full bar to your entertainment space. Here are some ways to create a beverage area in your home that’s perfectly designed for you.  

When approaching a project like a bar or beverage station, Neil Kelly Seattle Designers Anne Bauer and Amanda Sava start by asking these crucial questions:

What kind of beverages are we talking about?

Anne asks, “What specifically will you be storing & serving? Liquor, wine, soda, specialty coffees, teas?” The idea of a whiskey bar is quite different from a coffee station, so you’ll need to establish that first. It could be a combination of your morning and evening drinks of choice, stocked with the glassware and other necessities for each.

In a Seattle-area kitchen, open shelving provides storage for glassware and a wine fridge keeps bottles chilled for a combined coffee and wine station. | Design by Amanda Sava

“Each type of beverage station has different requirements as far as appliances and storage so it’s important to talk through all of the options. Once we’ve decided on the use we can drill down into the specifics,” says Amanda.

The type of beverage you’re serving is also likely to help determine the ideal location of the bar in your home, and other functionalities.

In a condominium near downtown Seattle, the end of the kitchen peninsula is capped with storage for liquor, mixers, and glassware. | Design by Neil Kelly Company

Where will it go?

A bar or beverage station should add functionality to your life and to the gatherings you host. It should also fit seamlessly into your home and complement the surrounding spaces.

If you have an open floor plan, an integrated beverage station might be the way to go. Integrated beverage stations are built into a larger space like a kitchen. “The first question is space,” says Amanda. “Is there even room for a beverage station in the kitchen? Yes? Great, then let’s figure out how much space we can dedicate.”

A hidden coffee station resides next to the refrigerator in a custom cabinet with an outlet for small appliances and convenient LED lighting. | Design by Therese DuBravac

“When you’re thinking of a coffee area,” explains Amanda, “there are a few more things to take into account. Definitely think about where the water is and where you will store your beans and other items. Perhaps it wants to be near the toaster or the pantry so that all of the breakfast items are close. Maybe it’s close to the refrigerator so that you can grab the milk as needed.”

If you have a formal dining room or living room space, there may be an opportunity to create a separate beverage station. These beverage stations occupy their own area of the home but are typically located near the kitchen for convenience. “Since everyone tends to gather in the kitchen, why not at least try to encourage a bit more elbow room for family & guests?” Anne says.

A glamorous wet bar conveniently resides on the outskirts of the kitchen, with its own sink and an integrated mini-fridge for chilled beverages. | Design by Fabian Genovesi

A dedicated space, such as a full bar or wine storage area, has its own plumbing, electrical, storage, seating, appliances, etc. Full bars are usually found in areas of the home - like a family room or basement - that have good access to necessary utilities. A basement is an ideal place for wine storage.

In a separate area of the home, an entire room is dedicated to room-temperature and chilled wine storage with a tasting table for two. | Design by Kathleen Donohue

A speakeasy-inspired full bar complete with a built-in TV and velvet seating is ready for game day in this remodeled basement by Neil Kelly. | Design by Fabian Genovesi

Who will be gathering there?

Think about who you will be entertaining and how they will move through your home.

Will you be serving adults and children? Is there a place for each group to sit or stand comfortably? How will they access refreshments? Will people move about freely or stay in one general area? 

“If it’s a kids beverage station, think about keeping snacks close by as well. If you have little ones, let’s make sure that everything is the right height and is placed in cabinets within their reach. We can always move things up higher as they grow,” Amanda says.

It may be necessary to set aside a small space - a beverage center or locked cabinet - to keep kids away from liquor storage. 

What special features will you need? 

Think about the special amenities you’ll need to store your beverages and entertain guests in the ways that you want.

Do you need refrigeration in addition to storage? Would you like a sink for rinsing and cleanup? Do you dream of having water plumbed into your coffee machine? If you’re a beer drinker, you might appreciate having hidden keg storage and built in taps.

In an historic home, a small space that used to be the kitchen is now a wet bar with ample storage and a classic subway tile backsplash. | Design by Barbara Miller

What about style?

Think about how your unique interests and personality could translate into a space that you love and a memorable experience for your guests.

Bars and beverage stations—particularly those in separate or dedicated areas—are an opportunity to express your individual style, and perhaps make a statement you couldn’t get away with in other parts of the home.

“There are as many ways to style a beverage station as there are things to put in them!” says Amanda. “I love to see an antique mirror backsplash with beautiful liquor bottles.” 

Before and after a new wet bar is created in the dining room of this contemporary Seattle-area waterfront home. | Design by Anne Bauer

The mini bar above, designed by Anne, is a great example of style and function. “This client needed a large area for storing beverages of all kinds. [Originally, bottles] were literally taking over an entire countertop with much more tucked away in hard to reach cabinets. We needed to plan for the storage of room temp & chilled wine, liquor & mixers, as well as glassware suitable for all.” The resulting bar is located outside of the kitchen providing that separate unique area. Glass doors allow display of collector items while closed cabinetry provides ample additional storage. The sink and integrated dishwasher add to the high function design.

Ready to create the perfect bar or beverage station in your home? Learn more about Neil Kelly Company  and talk to a designer about the remodeling project of your dreams. 


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