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Your bar is a place for people to gather, celebrate, and enjoy spirits as a community. From your business plan to your bar stools, your business should have consistency in its branding and style. One way to show this off is through your bar’s decor.
When it comes time to decorate your space, use just as much brainpower for your decor and design choices as you did for your other business necessities. A bar’s design makes such a dramatic impact on its success.
The best decor for your bar is authentic to your brand and vision – whether it’s a modern lounge or a funky, vintage dive. Discovering how to channel your bar’s identity isn’t always a simple process. Don’t worry! These bar decor ideas will inspire you and remind you of your bar’s full design potential.
12 Decor Ideas for Your Bar
Crafting Your Brand
The first step toward decorating your bar is deciding on your design vision. Dive deep into the aspects that make your bar unique.
Begin asking yourself questions about what purpose your bar serves. Is it geared to serve the neighborhood? Or, will your bar be the cool new spot in town, perhaps on the bottom floor of a swanky hotel?
Once you have a concrete idea of your bar’s identity, devise a brand guide to lead your design process. Then, decide on a memorable design aesthetic that builds an experience. Make sure that all these elements suit your bar’s blueprints to ensure your vision becomes a reality.
The Right Lighting
Lighting sets the mood – use lighting strategically so that your guests can see each other, and their tables and, most importantly, navigate the space.
There are so many options when it comes to lighting. Colored lights can set the tone. Or, you can create a focal point in the bar with a creative light fixture. No matter your lighting, don’t leave your bartenders in the dark. Find a way to light the bar to create an alluring ambiance and a practical place to work.
This example from LPA lighting showcases how lighting can accent the space rather than flooding it from overhead.
Find Unique Wall Decor
Unique wall decor can unforgettably illustrate your bar’s character. Find vintage art and decor at estate sales and thrift stores to build the narrative. Alternatively, a carefully curated selection of modern art pieces - especially from local artists - can help to elevate and define the brand.
Choosing Tables, Chairs, and Stools
Furniture is a powerful driver of the bar guest experience. The priority should be to find sturdy pieces that still match the look of the rest of the space.
When it comes to design, the pattern on tabletops is a chance for you to infuse your brand into the customer experience. So, don’t be afraid to get creative with them! Plus, vibrant colors on chairs and stools make them easy to find in a dimly lit space.
Design a Unique Bar Top
The bar top doesn’t have to be dingy wood or dull concrete – you can use any number of creative materials to develop a bar top that becomes a central design feature of your space. Epoxy resin finishes can be poured on in any color and add a glossy flare to the bar. Or, you might make your bar a large display case of memorabilia to tie into your bar’s theme.
This bar top design at Witicha Brewing combines bottle tops and resin to make an attractive design statement.
Display Your Spirits
One iconic feature of a bar is the bottle display. Build a well-lit case to draw customers to your bar’s impressive lineup of spirits, wines, and beers. A cocktail bar with a wall of rare, imported spirits is sure to turn heads.
This bar at Nest Bishop’s Gate is extravagant and subdued, and the mirrors behind the bottles elegantly extend the space.
Start building towards your bar ownership dreams with this guide to writing a bar business plan, plus a template that's ready to customize.
While it may seem intuitive to keep your bar’s space open for guests to roam around and mingle, some bargoers prefer a more intimate setting. Booths can add a sense of privacy to brewpubs, cocktail lounges, and neighborhood bars. Additionally, booths make your bar more attractive to groups of folks hoping to catch a drink together.
Entertain on a Grand Scale
Some bars use their space imaginatively to accommodate live entertainment. Allocating space for entertainment can become pretty lucrative. More events mean more new bar guests. You can do so much, from host-themed dance nights or even become the best spot for the town’s hottest DJs (all depending on your space of course!)
The Risks and Rewards of Vintage Bar Decor
Buying vintage decor can be a great way to infuse character into your bar. Remember to buy vintage decor strategically – wall art and other aesthetic pieces are safe, but vintage furniture or light fixtures can sometimes cause more problems than they’re worth.
Bathrooms might not seem like a big deal, but they can be the reason customers decide to return to your bar. Include the bathrooms when you’re making your bar decor and design decisions. Bathrooms should be well-lit and accessible from every part of the bar for all guests.
This fun, bold print is reflected in the mirrors at The Friendly Society in Elora, Ontario.
Party on the Patio
Extend the decor vision from the interior of your bar into any patio or outdoor space you may have. Choose lighting, wall-art, and tables that can safely remain outdoors. But, be sure those outdoor elements still fit into your design plan. If the lighting is right, consider incorporating some plants to add life and color to the space.
Billiards and Games
People love games. Adding billiards tables, dart boards, arcade games, or other games adds a fun touch to your bar. Build games into your bar’s decor thoughtfully – create a dedicated space for games with enough lighting and space for players to engage.
Your bar is a home away from home for your community members to gather and just have fun. By using strategic design details, you can channel your unique vision for your bar while also pleasing your guests with an incredible ambiance. This approach will surely make your bar the favorite in town.
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