Happy Hour at Home

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Morrison Interiors home bars-credit Shade Degges
A dark counter is balanced by lighter wood in this home bar designed by Morrison Interiors. | Photo by Shade Degges

Style and function go hand in hand when creating your own bar.

By Ashley Ryan


Whether you desire a place to sip cocktails before heading out on the town or a space in which to unwind with a nightcap before bed, incorporating a bar into your home’s design can have plenty of pros.

“Home bars are a nice place to casually convene, socialize before the night begins and, most importantly, they offer a sense of circulation to gather in different environments,” notes Denise Morrison, founder and principal designer at Morrison Interiors.

The first step is always deciding on the perfect locale, and Morrison says you can’t go wrong if you choose a spot that is near the other socializing areas of the home.

Once you’ve settled on where the bar will be, it’s time to consider which materials will be used in the build. She recommends incorporating elements that are durable, such as quartzite, metals or human-made options, as she says, “You never want to tell a guest, ‘Careful, don’t put that drink on the bar.’ ” Morrison adds that you should also avoid selecting materials that you have to worry about ruining, as you’ll often be using acidic elements like lemons and limes on a bar.

When you’re determining the color palette for the space, it’s best to embrace the hues used elsewhere in the home. “Whether that be cooler or warmer, you want the space to feel cohesive. For example, choose a slab on the louder end but tone it down with subtle wood,” Morrison says, noting that darker colors have been trending as of late to create a more moody aesthetic.

Morrison says that one reason these spaces have been gaining popularity is because people like the look and feel of restaurant bars, and are trying to re-create that in the comfort of their own homes. As such, the mood of the space is pivotal. Use lighting to introduce added ambiance in your home bar, with a small lamp or hanging pendant lights.

Another element that you simply must include is furniture—namely, bar stools. While Morrison says it’s crucial that they are comfortable so your guests have a pleasant visit, style is key. “The bigger the statement, the better—as long as you can sit comfortably,” she adds.

Some other essentials may be an ice maker, with many types to choose from, allowing you to customize the size and shape of the ice you serve, plus a beverage or wine fridge. “This helps chill all mixers and garnishes before your guests arrive as well as provide the perfect temperature wine,” Morrison notes.

Of course all of the things you need to serve drinks will be top of the list as well, from shakers and stirrers to decanters and glasses in a variety of shapes and sizes.

One special trend that has been popping up as of late is displaying rare collections of spirits, showcasing unique tequila or whiskey bottles or even wine. And even if they aren’t rare, this trend can be twisted to display whatever liquor and mixer options you have available in your home bar.

But don’t forget to add a touch of character to the space and really make it your own. “Accessorizing adds character to a space,” Morrison says. “We always love to add a touch of vintage. Whether that be a rustic bowl for your limes, or an antique cutting board for prep, it brings a casualness to the space.” Vessels and art can also go a long way, she adds.

Those that don’t have room for a full bar should consider investing in a cart on which to organize their beverage basics. Many are able to hold glasses, garnishes and more in addition to liquor bottles, and some have added functions that make them even more ideal for entertaining, such as removable trays up top.

Most of all, Morrison says, remember to place your cart or bar in an area where you’d want to gather. “This is a space to have fun,” she emphasizes. “Give it a restaurant feel, get creative and go for it.”


Bar Basics

From essentials like shakers and glasses to a cart on which to store your bottles, these products will ensure you have everything you need for hosting friends and family.

2 Furn_Parisian_Bar_Cart_Angle_Alt_MV_0212_Crop_SH
Style and functionality come together in the PARISIAN BAR CART; the glass shelves have a vintage aesthetic, with gilded antique silver leaf, while the top shelf turns into a removable tray that is ideal for serving guests throughout the bar area and beyond, $1,298, with advance order at Serena & Lily, Lido Marina Village. (949-287-5764;
5 cuisinart-18-bottle-private-reserve-compressor-wine-cellar
The Cuisinart PRIVATE RESERVE 18-BOTTLE WINE CELLAR WITH COMPRESSOR is a wonderful addition for a home bar, as you can chill wine to the perfect temperature to bring out its flavor using simple touchscreen controls, $649.95, at Crate & Barrel, South Coast Plaza. (714-825-0060; crateandbarrel.com)
With thick walls, hammered glass and a double ring around the base, the NAPA OLD FASHIONED GLASS, adds some character to your collection of barware, $19, at Sparrow & Sage, Corona del Mar. (949-524-8600; sparrowandsage.com)
1 Morrison Balboa Bar Stool
Denise Morrison’s own collection of items includes the BALBOA BAR STOOL, complete with a comfy, cream-colored linen cushion and a slim oak frame that will pair well with nearly any color scheme, $850, at House of Morrison, Costa Mesa. (949-612-8070; houseofmorrison.com)
4 jax shaker
Rather than reaching for a standard metal option, craft cocktails in the unique JAX GLASS SHAKER, which features a durable construction paired with a timeless style thanks to its cut-glass body, $40, with advance order at Sur La Table, Corona del Mar. (949-640-0200; surlatable.com)


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