In certain cities, the oldest buildings and establishments are the bars and eateries. Some watering holes are even considered landmarks where milestones are feted and business deals are sealed. Some bars are legendary, iconic and ingrained in our cultural psyche, such as Harry's Bar, The Oak Room and every town's Joe's Pub. And throughout history, bars have been incorporated into homes.
During Prohibition, in some older and larger residences, affluent homeowners sometimes had a hidden bar room that was used for taking in the afternoon cocktail or evening drink. Sometime a library served as a discreet dual-purpose room. The purpose of these rooms usually dictated a built-in piece of furniture for a bar and, of course, some comfortable seating. These private speakeasies brought about the birth of a new room: the den.
Toward the end of Prohibition, as drinking entered the mainstream, those with modest homes quickly adopted the idea of a bar cabinet that would fit seamlessly with the decor. This concept was quickly followed by a standalone bar, with or without bar stools, which would become a staple of the mid-century style of the 1950s through the 1970s. They were designed in a variety of finishes ranging from fine woods and printed laminates to metals and Lucite.
Currently, in many homes, a bar can be designed as a part of a living room or great room, located in a separate room or even as a tabletop setting. Over time its significance, location and importance have changed. A bar can even be used to welcome guests into one's home. A properly designed bar can deliver a welcoming message of graciousness and chic sophistication.
Designing a bar is a multi-sensory experience. It should be functional, fun and enticing. The setup should be visually inspiring and also conducive to the pouring of drinks. Preparing a nice bar or tending station makes entertaining easy for you and your guests alike. Nothing says celebration quite as clearly as a well prepared bar or tending station.
A beautiful tabletop bar starts with a tray or fine piece of linen to act as the base for the bar accessories: a collection of beautiful decanters, an ice bucket, some tumblers, wineglasses and even a flower vase. Almost any cabinet or table can be used as a bar. The key to a bar's design is ample shelving or surface space for liquor bottles and some decorative accessories. Mixing the materials of the accessories, such as crystals and shiny silvers, makes for a stylish setting.
In a formal setting, a built-in bar should be designed to complement the architecture of the home. It also needs to be large enough to contain a small refrigerator, an icemaker, a small sink and sufficient counter space for a blender and shaker and an assortment of glasses. Keep in mind that this area is for fun and entertainment. Design your own bar with flair, mix your favorite concoction and shake away the day's stress!
Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Fla. To find out more about Joseph Pubillones, or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.