The best of bars: From built-in to drinks trollies

Mood lighting for bars is important, but you should also think about task lighting.

Mood lighting for bars is important, but you should also think about task lighting.

Offering a guest a drink is Entertaining 101, and having an area dedicated to the purpose says you're ready to host. What's more, it doesn't always have to cost top shelf.


The drinks trolley has made a serious comeback – perhaps driven by Mad Men (who doesn't dream of mixing a dirty martini or whisky sour after a tough day at the office?) or the revival of everything mid-century.

Crystal glasses and decanters on a 1950s French brass trolley.

Crystal glasses and decanters on a 1950s French brass trolley.

This portable, stylish and functional piece of furniture can literally roll into any soirée and fits into even the smallest of homes.What's more, bargains can still be found. Author and illustrator Clare Grove searched for some time to find the 1950s French brass trolley, pictured above, to accommodate her collection of crystal glasses and liquor bottles. Eventually she found it for a steal on Trade Me at just $200. "I've always loved the glamour of Hollywood Regency," she says. "The beauty of this style is that... the top glass tray can be lifted off so you can serve the drinks." 


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If pushing a trolley around the house isn't your thing, creating a bar space on a console, cabinet or even a spare bookshelf could be an option.

August & Co Design interior designer Hayley Dryland says other pieces of furniture can also be repurposed as a bar.

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"A dresser or console table is a great start. Paint it, take doors off. Add some floating shelves above for glasses," says Hayley. "A bookshelf painted black with a roll of metallic wallpaper on the back looks great."


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For the serious home entertainer, having a stand-alone or built-in bar can be the ultimate entertaining zone. 

Kitchen designer Colleen Holder of Colleen Holder Design says adding a bar can be a chance to make a bold statement and add personality to a home. 

There's lots to consider. The bar could be integrated into the cabinetry or designed as a separate drinks station. "Do they want liquor on display? Is there need for a fridge, sink or dishwasher? What's important is to consider appliances, seating, storage, functionality and the look," she says. 


Materials set the scene for any bar, says August & Co's Hayley Dryland. Crystal, brass and mirror fixtures and fittings will create a glam look. "A simple handle can ooze glam without breaking the bank," she says.

A rustic bar can be created using raw steel, repurposed timber, barrels and metal shelving, while for a vintage look consider cane or a vinyl free-standing bar with matching stools.

For those wanting the ultimate man cave, drag out the sports paraphernalia and branded mirrors and use finishes such as timber and stainless steel. 

Splurge items can include a cool drawer to hold your garnishes and snacks, and also wine fridges and sparking water taps. 

"Just remember these taps take up space with their components under the bench," Hayley says.

 - NZ House & Garden


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