Happy hour, anyone? Whether you’re prepping for holiday parties or simply want to enjoy a warm summer evening with a refreshing cocktail and a few friends, having a home bar set-up makes slinging drinks much easier—and way more fun. (After all, there’s nothing quite so nice as a well-styled bar cart or drink station.)

It’s so convenient to have drinkware, bar tools, and your stock of liquor bottles all in one place so you can get mixing whenever the inspiration strikes! And creating an at-home bar is relatively simple and inexpensive—especially when you’re making use of pieces of furniture you already own! But simple doesn’t mean low-impact. When it comes to hosting, even a small home bar will skyrocket your space to the next level! (Your guests will be so impressed!)

But if you don’t have a built-in wet bar in your home, or your living space doesn’t even leave you enough room for a bar cart or bar cabinet, you might be thinking that you have to skip a home bar altogether. Not so! There are plenty of small bar ideas out there, whether you need an impromptu drink station for a party or want something in place more permanently.

In fact, we’ve rounded up some modern small home bar ideas to help you out! (We’ll also share some design tips for small apartments along the way.) So, mix a drink and prepare to get inspired! Here are 15 mini bar ideas that give you all the functionality of an at-home bar without having to purchase a new piece of furniture. We’ll drink to that!

living room design with bold floral wallpaper and an acrylic bar cart

1. Style a Bar Cart

Perhaps one of the most obvious ways to create a small home bar is to style a bar cart (or even a utility cart!) with liquor bottles, glassware, and barware. With two or three shelves, you get plenty of extra storage space without taking up a ton of floor space. Bar carts are great pieces of furniture to tuck into the corner of a dining room, kitchen, living room, or even hallway where it can be always at the ready to serve as a drink-mixing station! Many bar carts are on casters, so you can wheel them to where you need them, or move them around easily if you’re rearranging your small space. If you’re really short on space, look for a round bar cart, which will have a smaller footprint than a rectangular or oval cart.

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View of a living room fireplace with an armchair and small tray table set up as a bar

2. Try Out a Tray Table

Tray tables have gotten a stylish upgrade in recent years. No longer are they just the TV trays of the 50s and 60s that you now see at garage sales and flea markets. Today, tray tables can be quite stylish, with gold finishes or natural material frames. These small (and foldable!) tables are practical and can be utilized for many different uses—including a small home bar set-up. Since they can fit in small spaces, they’re great for putting near sitting areas, with just some glasses and one or two wine bottles. (If you have more than one folding tray table, you could even scatter a few throughout your space!) This is a great option if you want to set up a bar area when entertaining, then put it away once your guests have headed home. Tray tables fold up and take up very little space when not in use!

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creative bar ideas

3. Build a Bar in a Bookcase

Utilizing vertical space is one of our top small space hacks—so why not tap into this tip when it comes to a small home bar? If you don’t have much space to spare, a bookcase is an awesome place to set up a bar area. Just clear the books off a shelf or two and integrate your liquor collection and glassware with your books and decor. It’s an easy way to work a small home bar design into a living space without it taking over the room. This works best for a mini bar, where all you need is easy access to a few essentials, like glassware, mixers, and garnishes.

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4. Top Off Your Credenza

Another super simple way to rig up a handsome bar in your home is to use the top of a credenza or media cabinet as a cocktail crafting station. Credenzas are one of our favorite home storage ideas, since they offer so much surface and cabinet space—along with visual appeal. This piece of furniture has some of the same features as a proper bar cabinet, so it makes sense to stash your liquor bottles in the cabinet below, then add a beautiful tray on top with glasses, decanters, and other barware. (If the credenza’s cabinets are large enough, you could even stash a wine rack inside!)

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kitchen design with small bar design

5. Add a Tray to Your Kitchen Island

If you have a large kitchen island, you can set up a small home bar area here. This is great for entertaining, since guests can walk around the island, make drinks, and head to the other side to grab some food. Corral bottles and glassware in a large tray to make your bar set-up a distinct area on the kitchen island. Bonus: this allows this mini bar to be easily moved and cleaned up! And since many people keep their wine racks in the kitchen, having your mini bar set up in the same area will make sure extra bottles are always close at hand!

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small space bar idea

6. Sneak One in a Built-in Alcove

If you’re looking forward to some small space hosting in your future, a built-in alcove can make an excellent spot for small home bars. You can take a similar approach to a bookcase bar—but with an alcove like this, you can dedicate all the shelves to create a built-in bar. This also works if you have a small built-in cubby in your living or dining area that you don’t know what to do with.

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foyer design with a floating table decorated as a home bar

7. Welcome Guests with a Foyer Bar

If you have a large entryway, utilize it when entertaining with a foyer bar. Simply set up a table in your entryway and set out some wine and batched cocktails for guests to grab upon arrival at your next party. We especially love this approach in foyers that have a grand staircase; placing the table at the base of stairs helps visually fill negative space while adding an element of practicality.

If you don’t normally have a table in your entryway, you can use a bistro table or any other small-to-medium round table when preparing for guests to arrive. (Round is key, since it gives guests the ability to easily move around the table.) Setting up your drinks station on a tray at the center of the table makes it easy to clean up.

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dining room design with floating bar and gallery wall

8. Hang Some Floating Shelves

Don’t have any floor space to spare for a home bar? Make a drinks area in just about any room in the house by hanging some floating shelves (or a floating credenza)! This offers a petite but practical space for mixing drinks. Just make sure what you put on your shelves isn’t too heavy. (This isn’t a great approach if you have a vast liquor collection you want on display; it would be tragic for it to all come crashing down!) A mix of a few decanters and some lightweight decor is the perfect stylish approach.

A floating-shelf bar would be great in a dining room or living room where you occasionally want access to a beverage mixing setup. Hang the main shelf at counter-height for easy mixing, then hang one or two shelves above it for additional storage!

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creative bar ideas

9. Top Off a Side Table

Another great solution for an impromptu mini bar that you only want set up when entertaining? Top off a side table or two, which offer ideal surfaces for small home bars when you’re hosting friends. Just clear off the top of the table and turn it into a self-serve drink station! Looking for a party icebreaker? Try setting out ingredients and a recipe card for a signature cocktail that guests can mix up themselves. Or, keep it simple and pre-make a pitcher of punch or sangria so all guests have to do is pour! If the table has a lower shelf, you can use that as a liquor cabinet for additional bottle and bar storage.

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cloffice design turned into a small home bar

10. Transform Your Cloffice into a Bar

Did you turn a closet into a mini office in 2020? (AKA, a “cloffice.”) Well, if you no longer need that as a workspace, make another transformation and turn it into a bar! Hang shelves inside the closet for bar storage, and use the lowest one as a bar counter, complete with bar stools. This is a great small bar option if you have a closet in your living or dining room and wouldn’t otherwise have space for a proper bar. It’s also a good approach if you want a home bar that you can put behind closed doors to keep bottles safe from kids; just leave the doors on the closet when you create this bar nook, and close them when not in use!

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nook under the stairs designed as a bar

11. Utilize that Nook Under the Stairs

Have an empty nook under the stairs? Make it into a small home bar! This setup is easy and practical for this type of unused space—whether on a main floor or in the basement. To create an under-the-stairs bar area, place a bar cabinet or small credenza in the nook to give yourself plenty of closed storage for wine bottles and your liquor collection. Then, hang a few floating shelves above, to store and display beverage glasses, decanters, and decor.

We love the idea of a home bar tucked under the stairs when this area is open to or near your living room, or in a basement game and TV room!

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living room design with a white sofa and hanging wine rack

12. Create a Mini Hanging Bar

Another great way to create a small home bar without taking up an inch of floor space? Hanging a bar shelf on a large, empty wall in your living room or dining room! (Or even your bedroom or home office.) A bar shelf is specifically made for bottle and glassware storage, with a built-in rack for hanging stemware. This is perfect if you have one or two special bottles you want on-display and close-at-hand—or for a wine station at your next party! We especially love the idea of hanging a bar shelf in an open living/dining room as a way to bridge the two spaces while keeping drinks near both conversation areas!

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creative bar ideas

13. Double Up On Your Dresser

If you live in a studio apartment and your living and sleeping spaces are shared, consider using the top of a dresser as a bar area. Studios tend to have limited space and storage options when it comes to setting up a home bar, but using your dresser can work just as well as the credenza idea we mentioned earlier. Simply use a tray to section off one area of the surface for bottles, garnishes, and bar tools. Hanging a mirror above the dresser will not only add a practical touch for getting ready—but it also helps set the tone for small home bars like this. (After all, bar backs at restaurants tend to have mirrored walls!) Add some flowers and a few decorative touches to give the set-up a little extra personality when hosting.

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14. Make Use of Your Fireplace Mantel

If you’re looking for small living room design tips, an oft-overlooked place to set up a small home bar is your fireplace mantel! This long, narrow surface is a great place to set out wine bottles or a cocktail center—and during a party it can be a fun way to encourage guests to mingle throughout the space. And it works both if you’re really tight on space or if you just want a creative way to display your bottles and decanters! To keep it from looking just like a lineup of bottles, integrate books and small decorative items and style the whole set-up.

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creative bar ideas

15. Make It Work on a Desk

If you’re hosting a gathering and none of our other ideas work in your space, put your desk to work! If you have a workspace in the living room, consider turning the top of your desk into a makeshift bar. Use a large tray on top to corral the barware into a tidy area—it’s a nice way to visually rope it off from the rest of the desktop. Just be sure to clear off all your important work papers and office supplies. Then you’ll have the remaining desk surface to use for assembling garnishes, mixing drinks, and serving up fancy cocktails galore. Cheers!

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3 replies
  1. JD says:

    I was expecting a shelf with a good amount of spirits on it. That’s the problem we have at my house; we love all types of liquors so we have too many bottles. And you NEVER throw away alcohol…

    Reply
  2. Modsy says:

    Hi JD,
    We can understand needing space for your spirits, and plenty of people enjoy collecting decorative bottles. You might want to consider a bar cabinet for your space. The extra closed storage can be handy for home bar organization.

    Reply

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