Pouring Drama into a Luxury Home Bar
Updated: Sep 14
When it comes to entertaining guests, nothing beats a dedicated at-home bar. Whether you have an entire bar room, a freestanding bar or a bar nook that is part of another space, you’ll get the most out of this functional feature when it also entices guests and homeowners alike with an appealing style of its own.
That was certainly the goal for the bar area in a Newport Beach, California, home. We succeeded in making it irresistible by taking it from a drab, utilitarian space to a dramatic feature that is the perfect host.
A Cohesive Whole-House Remodel In Orange County, CA
Situated in a double living room, this home bar was part of a complete home remodel in Orange County. The spacious property boasted 5,500 square feet and plenty of opportunities for improvement. The farmhouse-style, traditional home was bathed in brown, beige, and natural stone. It may have looked very sophisticated in 1990, but by contemporary standards, it needed a total refresh. Without structural changes, we brought the entire home into the 21st century
The clients, who had recently purchased the house, engaged our team to assist the contractor and select materials and finishes. They wanted a modern style to replace the traditional look, but they liked the overall layout. Throughout the home, we chose a bright palette and added contrasting elements and high-end finishes.
Updating a Wet Bar
Like the other areas of the home, the bar was dated. Not only could we make it more modern, but we could also make it more dramatic. Think about it – would you rather have a cocktail or glass of wine at a boring, functional bar or at one where each element appears planned and all work together to impart a cohesive, high-end style? Clearly, we would choose the latter. In fact, the setting can have as much of an effect as the choice of libations themselves.
This was my thinking when I examined the original bar area. As in the rest of the home, the layout was pretty good. The back wall included some cabinets, a wine cooler, and a generous countertop with enough room to move around. Above, glass-door cabinets displayed a collection of wine and cocktail glasses. The counter-height bar wrapped into the adjacent wall and offered length for two stools.
Nearby, the fireplace surround reached to the ceiling, and the bar – part of a double living room – offered a view through ceiling-height windows and glass-paneled doors onto a deck overlooking the water. There was so much to work with!
Updating the Home Bar
I immediately knew the bar could have a stronger presence if the cabinetry reached to the ceiling like the fireplace surround. I wanted the two elements to complement each other; however, we did not have plans to replace the cabinetry. As a solution, I added faux panels above the existing cabinets to make it appear that they are ceiling height. They mimic the inset style of the bar cabinet and the fireplace. Between the doors and panels, three light fixtures illuminate the area and break up what could be a flat space.
To bring everything together, I chose black for the cabinets and the fireplace. As you have seen, black and white with gold and wood accents was our chosen palette for the project, so using the dark color here fit in with the overall design and transformed the drab bar and fireplace into eye-catching features. I also simplified the fireplace by removing the mantel and the cornices then adding stunning Nero Marquina marble just above and around the box. Updating a fireplace significantly changes the tone of a room, and that was definitely the case here.
The clients were open to changing flooring throughout the home, and the beige-gray porcelain tile that looks like marble was perfect for adding luxury, while keeping durability in mind. The new bar and fireplace, as well as the grand piano, stand out against it.
With our dark, dramatic palette, I chose a natural stone countertop that looks like slate and has some texture and movement. It’s flat enough to rest a glass, but it’s not completely smooth. The raw and rugged texture of the counter is masculine, and to balance it, we chose a beautiful backsplash tile with the look of marble and a touch of gold. The backsplash ties in with the gold finish of the faucet and hardware too.
As you can see, the change in the look and feel of the home bar is remarkable. It is even more noteworthy considering nothing had to be moved, and no structural changes were made. We simply dressed it up in the right attire.