Your Guide to Building a Home Bar: Layout and Design

Completing the layout and design of your home bar is the most exciting part, that is, besides toasting its completion. Here, your vision really starts to come together. If you haven’t had a chance yet, read the first post in our series, Planning Your Home Bar: Exploring Your Options. After you’ve explored your home bar wish list, the next step in building your own home bar is deciding on layout and design. Let’s just dive right in.

Planning Your Home Bar: Layout and Design

Going through this important part of the planning process will help you determine what size bar your space can accommodate, what type of bar furniture and beer refrigeration you’ll need and the time and resources that you’ll need to make the dream a reality. Here are three suggestions for getting started on layout and design:

Take Note Out on the Town We suggest that you start your planning process by visiting your favorite taverns and/or restaurants and take a close (sober) note of what you like in a bar. Visit your favorite establishments, notepad in hand, paying close attention to elements you like. For example: Do you like a big glass mirror behind the bar? What types of stools and bar rails fit your style? Take special note of the bar’s structure – how it was made and what’s it made of. Bring along a digital camera if you’ve got one – pictures always help! Things to take note of:

  • Overall look and feel
  • Bar surfaces
  • Bar stools
  • Carpentry
  • Draft beer systems (towers, tap handles, etc)
  • Bar foot rails
  • Bar décor; signs, mirrors and the like
Take Note at Home More important than what you want, is what you can actually have. Identify possible restrictions and obstacles in your home, particularly in the room where you will be building your home bar. Things to keep in mind:

  • Ceiling height
  • Doorway and stairway widths
  • Sump pump location
  • Electrical outlets
  • Cable TV hookups
  • Access to waterlines
Creating Your Blueprint When you are ready to layout a blueprint for your home bar – the first thing to think about is how much space you’re working with. Size The average home bar is 42-inches high and 24-inches deep. Of course, you should customize your bar’s size to fit the area that you have available and your preferences. Just remember that most bar stools are 30-inches tall, so your bar should not be much lower than 42-inches high, to allow for leg room when seated. Shape You’ll also want to think about the shape that you’d like your bar to be. There are several options to consider including L-shaped, horseshoe shaped or rectangular bar designs. Find something that works perfectly in your space. If you’re starting your project in an area with a concrete floor, it’s smart and simple to outline your layout on the floor where the bar will be, in chalk. If you’re working in an area with finished floors, it is still important to make an outline – you might consider using string or painters’ tape to protect your flooring. Remember that your bar will be three-dimensional. The outlines on the floor won’t visually take up as much space as your finished bar will, once height is incorporated. Sinks, Refrigeration and Other Things to Keep in Mind During the planning stages, you should also take anything that will be housed behind the bar into consideration, particularly Back to Top
    Our next post in the Building Your Home Bar Series will delve into building options: Building the Bar Yourself or Hiring Out. Stop back soon! [techtags:HOME BAR, BUILDING YOUR HOME BAR, HOW TO BUILD A HOME BAR, HOME BAR LAYOUT, HOME BAR DESIGN, HOME BAR TIPS]


  • Joe January 1, 2016 @ 9:43pm

    Have so many questions to ask

    • Caitlin Hartney February 4, 2016 @ 2:12pm

      Hi, Joe. Ask away!

  • Dana December 27, 2017 @ 6:24pm

    We are installing a bar in our basement. The bar front height is perfect for standing or for barstools. I’m concerned about the countertop height of the back bar (bartender side) and that it’s waaaay toooo low. I feel like I’ll be bent over at a 90 degree angle when I wash the glasses in the sink. What is the standard height for the countertop on the bartender side of the bar?

  • Craig May 7, 2018 @ 7:01pm

    Unless you have a tiny bar don’t use under the counter fridge, go 18 CF or bigger with an icemaker. Also at the very least make it a wet bar so you can wash glasses & clean-up. Lighting should all be on dimmers. Love home bars great hangout to watch the game.

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