Bringing a Night Out In

design studio 360 bar design

Elevate your home entertainment game with tips and trends from an interior designer.

Photos provided by Design Studio 360

The spectrum of home bars is much broader than just a designated area to serve alcoholic beverages. Whether it be a coffee bar near your front door to grab a hot brew on your way out or a beverage center the whole family can enjoy, a home bar can be anything you make it.

“When somebody says bar design to me, I think all of those things,” Rebecca Knutson, principal interior designer at Design Studio 360, said. “It’s a very much an interview on their lifestyle and how they’re going to use that space.”

Designed by Joan Sevald

Space and Budget
Space and budget are the two primary considerations to make when beginning the process of designing a home bar.

“You can spend as much or as little on a bar,” Knutson said. “A bar could be a couple of base cabinets and a shelf. It can be super simple. We’ve also done bars where the client had picked out a specific black marble countertop or stone countertop where we wanted the bar top to flow with the veins down the water, it can get very specific.”

While the budget can dictate the extent of the bar, space is another key factor. Knutson emphasized that clients have a dedicated space for a home bar. If you plan on having a wet bar, make sure you have accessible plumbing hookups. If not, budget for plumbing services. If you’re going to have appliances, TVs and lighting, make sure you have the electrical infrastructure to support that.

By adequately preparing and understanding your family’s own particular needs, you can have a home bar that will serve you now and into the future. Knutson noted that the usage of the space for families with young children and families with older children is very different.

Following an interview with a client, Knutson and her team will produce a computer rendering to conceptualize the bar design.

Knutson just had this conversation with a family that had younger children. “In their kitchen, we’re going to do two dishwashers knowing that maybe down the road when the kids are in sports and the family isn’t eating every single meal together every single night, that one of those dishwashers will get pulled out and become a secondary beverage fridge.”

It’s important to ask how you see yourself using that bar now. Even interviewing your friends who may or may not have kids at home is a good way to determine how you can best design a space that can be useful through all stages of life.

“I would try not to think about the world that they’re in right now,” Knutson said. “We always try to get them out of their zone that they’re in right now and think about the next stage of life.”

Designed by Joan Sevald

Knutson noted that the glassware display trend is going away in favor of new storage solutions.

“We used to do a lot of glass doors and glass shelves and lighting up the glass cabinet. That still happens but it’s definitely not as prevalent,” Knutson said. “A lot of floating shelves, they’re pretty much everywhere.”

With floating shelves, there is also the opportunity to run LED lighting tracks inside of the shelves to light down on the bar and bottles. Lighting has become a more integral component of bar design and there are plenty of other ways lighting can be used creatively to display bottles.

When displaying bottles and designing cabinets, there are several factors you need to consider. Do not store wine bottles over a refrigerator. The heat the fridge gives off can affect the taste and aging process of the wine. “Typically, we want to make sure that the bottles are always laying on their side. That helps seal the cork,” Knutson said. “Keep them away from bright light in a dark, cool, dry place.”

Liquor bottles are a bit easier to display. Since most liquors are in a darker bottle, bright lights have less of an effect on the liquor’s chemistry. However, the cork should not be in contact with the liquor because the higher alcohol content would eat away at the cork. This is avoided by simply keeping the bottles upright.

Knutson asks all these questions about her clients’ lifestyles and tastes to ensure that the bar is as functional as it is beautiful.

Designed by Krystal Anderson

Appliances and Finishes
Combo fridges have gained popularity in home bars. These refrigerators can have dual temperatures, with wine racks at one temperature on the bottom shelf and soft drinks and juice on the top shelf at another temperature.

Ice makers are also becoming more common in beverage stations. Knutson has even had requests from clients for ice makers that produce a specific kind of ice.

When picking out appliances, there are many more finish options out on the market to further customize your space.

“The finishes of appliances have changed so much,” Knutson said. “It’s not just stainless steel anymore. Now it’s these high-gloss glass-fronts. We do a lot of white. There’s also a lot of dark steely grey finishes.”

When heavily colored painted finishes came on to the scene, people were hesitant to do the whole space in one color. The island would be one color, the perimeter of the space another. The bar is meant to be a fun space in the house, so Knutson suggests pushing yourself out of the box.

“In a bar, I don’t think people should hold back,” Knutson said. “It’s a fun space, it’s for entertainment. It’s an uplifting space. My advice is it’s a smaller investment than doing your whole kitchen. So maybe you do all of the cabinets in that green paint that you love. Do a fun backsplash that’s a little bit different. Have it be a little pop of art.”

Designed by Rebecca Knutson

Design Studio 360
360 36th St S
Fargo, ND 58103


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