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Shopping for a Bar Cart? Here Are the Best Options, According to Designers

Would you rather mix drinks at home than going out? Then you might want to add a bar cart to your home, giving you a space to store your bottles and play bartender. (And give you a beautiful place to display some decor!)

Bar carts are a fun and festive addition to any room. For the past couple of years, they’ve been one of the “it” pieces of furniture to have—whether you’re looking to create a perfectly styled Instagram post or beautiful-but-functional drink station for when you’re hosting a party! They’re one of those versatile pieces of furniture that have become a designer must-have, both for the storage space and decorative opportunity.

If you want to jump on the bandwagon and add a bar cart to your home, you might wonder where to start. Bar carts come in so many styles, materials, and shapes, giving you a lot to choose from! To help you out, we’ve created an interior design buying guide for bar carts! We’re breaking down what to look for in a bar cart and sharing our favorite bar cart picks for different categories!

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What should you look for in a bar cart?

When shopping for a bar cart, there are a few key things you should consider. Here are our top five designer-recommended considerations.

1. Bar Cart Storage

When it comes to choosing the right bar cart for your home, you should think through how much storage you need. Do you have a vast bottle collection that you’d like to fully display on your bar cart? Do you want to actually use the top shelf of your bar cart as a surface for mixing drinks? Or will it be more decorative than practical, styled with a mix of liquor bottles, books, glassware, and decor? The way you’ll use your bar cart can help determine how much storage you need.

Some bar carts are simply two shelves and that’s it. Others have more robust built-in storage, with amenities like drawers, wine glass and bottle racks, and even storage for barware, like ice buckets and tongs. This may sound great—the more storage, the better, right? The only catch is that these bar carts tend to be more expensive due to the extra parts, plus the additional time and effort required to assemble them.

So, consider what additional or specific storage needs are important to you. If you like having a specific place or surface to stash stuff, opt for more bells and whistles. But if you’re happy with a simple two-tier design and feel confident you can keep it organized on your own, go with a more basic, straightforward option. (Worried a bar cart won’t give you all the storage space you need? You might want to consider a bar cabinet instead!)

Acrylic bar cart in room with green wallpaper

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2. Bar Cart Material

Bar carts are made from a variety of materials—with frames made from wood and metal to acrylic, lucite, and even natural materials like cane or rattan. Most bar carts are made with durability in mind and are meant to hold up to regular use and have the strength to store heavy bottles. But think about how you plan on using your bar cart, as different materials will have an effect on the durability (and style!) of your bar cart.

Furthermore, while some bar carts are made of a single material, others use contrasting shelf materials to give an extra dose of style to your cart. Some of the most common accent shelf materials are glass, marble, and mirrored shelves.

Think through your lifestyle and preferences when considering which material to choose for your bar cart. A few notables? Glass shelves will require more cleaning than, say, wood. Marble can be finicky, especially if you’re a red wine drinker. Have a cat? It may be tempted to scratch the legs of a rattan bar cart.

So, where your cart will go within your home, how you’ll use it, personal lifestyle factors, and your home’s design style can all help you land on the bar cart material that’s best for you.

Wide rattan bar cart in cream colored room

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3. Bar Cart Size

Bar carts come in quite a range of sizes, from petite round numbers that take up very little space (perfect for small home bars!) to more substantial long and rectangular bar carts that can easily fill up an empty wall. The amount of storage space you need can help dictate the size you choose, as we mentioned above—but you should also consider where your bar cart will go within your home, so you know how much space you have to work with. It would be tragic to purchase a larger bar cart, only to find it doesn’t fit along the wall you had in mind!

Gold bar cart in green room with ample open storage

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4. Bar Carts on Casters

Most bar carts come with casters (or wheels) attached to their legs, making it easier to push them around. (The idea behind this is to be able to move the cart to wherever it’s most needed when hosting and to be able to serve guests around a party.) Some people love the option of being able to move their bar cart while others prefer a stationary piece and don’t need the casters. So, think through if this is a feature you want!

When considering casters, you’ll also want to think through the primary surface where your bar cart will be placed. If it’s sitting on a floor with wall-to-wall carpet, wheels won’t work well anyway, so you might not need them. And if you live in an old house where the floors slope a bit, look for casters that lock into place so that your bar cart doesn’t roll around on its own!

It’s worth noting that some bar carts have casters on all four legs while others only have wheels on the front two legs. Still others have faux casters, which give the look of a moveable cart but don’t actually function. So, be sure to read the product details when browsing for a bar cart to make sure you end up with what you want and need!

Oval shaped bar cat in white room with floral painting

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5. Bar Cart Shape

Just like dining tables, you can find bar carts that are rectangular as well as round and oval! So, how do you know which bar cart shape is best for you? Well, rectangular bar carts are best if you want to place it flush against a wall, want a more modern or traditional look, or want something more versatile that will work in a variety of different spaces and styles. Round and oval bar carts, on the other hand, add a chic flair to a space and are great if your bar cart will fill an empty corner or is often on the go!

The Best Bar Carts, According to Modsy Designers

Have you figured out what you want in a bar cart? Well, it’s time to get shopping! Below, you’ll find some of the best bar carts in the Modsy catalog, with our designers’ favorite bar carts broken down by category. (For what it’s worth, many of these bar carts fall into more than one category! So you don’t have to pick just one category!)

Unique Bar Carts

Not your average bar carts, these unique options bring pop of personality and unexpected style to any space!  With unexpected shapes and finishes, they’re especially great for those with boho and eclectic design styles.

Mid-Century Bar Carts

Want to harness that Don Draper energy? Opt for a Mid-Century-style bar cart. This is classic style for bar carts that offer a timeless look to your bar area. Mid-Century bar carts are usually made of natural wood, sometimes with metal accents, and have simple, sleek forms that favor organic shapes and clean lines.

Chic Bar Carts

Add a little luxury to your life with a chic bar cart! This is the style of cart you’d find in a Hollywood mansion or a glam city apartment. These carts often have Art-Deco-inspired forms and are usually made of more glamorous and high-end materials—featuring gold or brass finishes, marble or mirrored shelves, or lucite frames. But just know that what they give in style they take in budget; these chic options tend to be on the more expensive end!

Bar Carts for Wine Bottles

Calling all wine lovers! Did you know there are bar carts out there with specific storage for wine bottles? If you’re a ride-or-die wine-o, this is a perfect option for storing some of your bottle collection, alongside stemware for easy pouring!

Indoor/Outdoor Bar Carts

Summertime parties simply wouldn’t be complete without a refreshing beverage! If you love to host outdoors, consider an indoor/outdoor bar cart. These carts are made of extra-durable materials and are designed to withstand the elements. But they’re not exclusively for outdoor use; during the colder months, you can roll them indoors and continue to use them. There do tend to be fewer style options for indoor/outdoor carts, however, as these pieces tend to prioritize function over aesthetics.

Stationary Bar Carts

Not looking for a mobile bar station? Skip the casters and opt for a stationary bar cart, which offers extra stability for your bottle collection. Bonus? Stationary carts tend to have a larger footprint and therefore offer more storage.

Compact Bar Carts

Hello small spaces! These petite bar carts are compact and make great additions to apartments or smaller homes. They give you all the look and function you want from a bar cart, without taking up a ton of square footage!

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The Complete Guide to Bar and Counter Height Stools

Whether you’ve moved into a home with an eat-in kitchen or you’ve built a bar into a family room, finding the right bar or counter stools is absolutely essential when creating your dining room checklist. In a small space, a counter may be your only formal eating space. For others, it may simply be a more casual dining location. But either way, it’s important to find the right seating for this area to make it function at its best!

Feel a little lost when it comes to picking out bar or counter-height stools for your space? Keep reading for our complete bar stool guide. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about bar-height and counter stools to make sure you end up with the perfect seating at your counter!

bar stools guide

Bar vs. Counter-Height Stools

When looking at bar and counter seating options, you first want to consider the height of your bar or counter. And it’s important to note that bar-height and counter-height stools are seats of two different sizes—not two names for the same thing.

Counter-height seating is made for a traditional counter-height surface that’s about 35-37 inches high. The seat height of counter-height stools ranges from 23-27 inches high.

Meanwhile, bar stools are a bit taller. Bar-height counters sit at 41-43 inches high, so bar stool heights range from 28-33 inches high, from floor to seat. Bar-height counters in kitchens also tend to have a raised section, so there are two different counter heights. So, make sure to measure from the higher section, where you’ll put seating, and not from the prep and serving area!

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To double-check that the stools are the right height, measure from where the top of the seat will be, up to the bottom of the counter. There should be at least 10 inches of clearance between the two surfaces, but no more than 15 inches, in order to create a comfortable amount of legroom. If you don’t have enough space between the two, your legs may not be able to fit underneath the counter. Too much space, and you’ll feel like a child trying to sit at the grown-up table, with the counter hitting your chest height rather than mid-torso!

Key Features of Bar and Counter Stools

Once all your measurements have been made and you know what height of stool you need, you can start thinking about style. When choosing bar stools and counter stools, there are a few key features to consider. What you choose depends completely on your personal preferences in terms of look, style, and comfort.

bar stools guide

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Backless

Bar and counter stools either have a back (like a regular dining chair) or are backless. Backless stools are great if you have a smaller space since they can tuck fully underneath the counter and won’t take up extra floor space when not in use. However, they are less comfortable to sit on for longer periods of time. So, if a counter is your only dining space, a backless stool might not provide the posture support you need. Stools with backs come in a few shapes and styles. Some have lower backs, only offering lumbar support, while others have full, high backs similar to dining chairs.

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Arm Rests

Like dining chairs, stools come with and without armrests—and whatever option you choose is really just a matter of personal preference. As you might guess, armrests are only available on stools with backs. Armrests tend to give a more formal vibe to your space and will provide additional comfort when you’re sitting for long periods of time. However, they do make sliding on and off your stool a bit more difficult—so stools with armrests are not great for tight spaces!

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Swivel

Swiveling seats are a very common bar stool feature! A swivel simply means that the seat twists all the way around—but the stool legs remain stationary. Swivel bar stools are great if you have an open kitchen/dining/living space, as it allows people to turn and face other parts of the room, interacting with people at the dining table or on the sofa. This lets your space become a bit more dynamic, as you can have more seats while entertaining but people can easily socialize from different seating areas.

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Foot Rests

Don’t like when your feet dangle? Consider a stool with a built-in footrest. Some stools even have multiple bars to accommodate people of different heights, which is a great feature if you have a variety of different people using them. Other stools that don’t have “official” footrests do have a horizontal bar that can certainly be used as a footrest. Having this feature will keep you more comfortable, especially when sitting for a longer period of time.

Stackable

Though not as common, some stools are stackable, so they easily nestle into each other. This is a great option if you don’t use your stools year-round and want to make them easy to store away at the end of the season—a great consideration for outdoor bar areas!

Read Next: Our dining table guide will walk you through all the shapes, sizes, and materials to consider for your dining room table.

Styles + Materials

Once you land on the features that are important to you, consider the style and material of your stools, since this will help drive home the overall design style of your space. While it’s not a one-to-one guide, since bar stools and counter stools have some different styles than regular dining chairs, you can check out our guide to the different types of dining chairs to get a feel for the different styles out there.

But you don’t just want to pick a material that goes with your design style—you also want to consider your lifestyle needs and what materials are most conducive to it. Overall, it’s important to think about comfort, cleanability, durability, and overall style when choosing the right material for your space. For example, upholstered stools will be more comfortable but can be more prone to stains. Metal is less comfortable to sit on for long periods of time but is super durable and easy to clean!

To help you find the right material for your stools, we’ve rounded up some of the most common materials below!

bar stools guide

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Metal

As we just mentioned, metal may not be your most comfortable bar stool option, but this is a very easy-to-clean and durable material—making it a great choice for households with kids! Stylistically, metal stools can suit industrial and Modern Farmhouse spaces.

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Wood

A very durable material, wood one of the most popular choices for bar stools. And, depending on the stain or finish, they can really range in style based. A lighter, more natural finish suits a coastal, rustic, or Scandinavian-style space, while a white wood stool might feel more cottage-inspired, and a dark stain will take on a more traditional vibe. Wooden stools are crafted in so many different shapes and styles, too, which has a huge impact on the style of space in which they can work. Since this is a harder material, some people opt to add a cushion to wooden bar stools for added comfort.

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Rattan

A bar stool made of rattan can give a coastal, bohemian, or Parisian chic vibe to your space. Lightweight but sturdy, this material holds up well over time when properly taken care of. It can also be used outdoors when weather-treated, so this is a good material for outdoor dining sets.

bar stools guide

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Upholstered

An upholstered bar stool will have a more formal vibe and give your counter a pulled-together look. And, with a bit of cushioning, they’re one of the more comfortable materials for a bar stool! Often upholstered stools will have backs as well, further adding to the comfort factor. However, this material is prone to stains and is more difficult to clean, so it’s not ideal for households with children or large pets! Upholstered stools perfectly suit paces with classic and transitional styles.

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Acrylic

If you have a small, tight space, acrylic bar stools are worth considering. This clear material doesn’t add any visual clutter to your counter area, and it’s also very easy to clean! However, it’s not the most comfortable material to sit on for long periods of time. This material is perfect for glam and modern spaces.

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Leather

Leather bar stools can add some great style to your dining space. Whether you opt for lighter or dark leather, this material adds a touch of sophistication while also feeling very down-to-earth. Typically, leather stools will have metal legs, giving them a sleeker, more minimal look. And, while leather isn’t the easiest material to clean, it ages well—transforming scratches, scuffs, and minor spills into a beautiful patina! This material can suit mid-century, industrial, and rustic spaces.

Want a little more info on each of these stool materials? Check out our guide to dining chair materials to learn more about the pros and cons of each of these materials.

Once everything is measured, and you’ve considered what materials and features you’d like your bar stools to have, you’ll also want to consider spacing. Similar to how you’d space chairs around a dining room table, you want to give the stools ample breathing room so that people aren’t knocking elbows while eating or drinking. Leaving 12-18 inches between stools will give everyone enough space to comfortably sit, eat, and drink. Knowing spacing will also help you know how many bar stools to purchase! After that? All that’s left to do is pull up your stool and enjoy some delicious food and drinks!

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15 Creative Ways to Design a Small Home Bar

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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