If your home has become the default gathering place for friends and family, you might be thinking about adding a beverage station, a swanky minibar, or even a full bar to your entertainment space. Here are some ways to create a functional and stylish beverage area in your home.

When approaching a project like a bar or beverage station, Neil Kelly Seattle designers Anne Bauer and Amanda Sava start by asking a few crucial questions.

What kind of beverages are we talking about?

Bauer asks, “What specifically will you be storing and serving? Liquor, wine, soda, specialty coffees, teas?” The idea of a whiskey bar is quite different from a coffee station, so you’ll need to establish that first. It could be a combination of your morning and evening drinks of choice, stocked with the glassware and other necessities for each.

“Each type of beverage station has different requirements as far as appliances and storage so it’s important to talk through all of the options. Once we’ve decided on the use we can drill down into the specifics,” says Sava.

The type of beverage you’re serving is also likely to help determine the ideal location of the bar in your home and other functionalities.

Where will it go?

A bar or beverage station should add functionality to your life and to the gatherings you host. It should also fit seamlessly into your home and complement the surrounding spaces.


If you have an open floor plan, an integrated beverage station might be the way to go. Integrated beverage stations are built into a larger space like a kitchen. “The first question is space,” says Sava. “Is there even room for a beverage station in the kitchen? Yes? Great, then let’s figure out how much space we can dedicate.”

“When you’re thinking of a coffee area,” explains Sava, “there are a few more things to take into account. Definitely think about where the water is and where you will store your beans and other items. Perhaps it wants to be near the toaster or the pantry so that all of the breakfast items are close. Maybe it’s close to the refrigerator so that you can grab the milk as needed.”

If you have a formal dining room or living room space, there may be an opportunity to create a separate beverage station. These beverage stations occupy their own area of the home but are typically located near the kitchen for convenience. “Since everyone tends to gather in the kitchen, why not at least try to encourage a bit more elbow room for family and guests?” Bauer says.

A dedicated space, such as a full bar or wine storage area, has its own plumbing, electrical, storage, seating, appliances, etc. Full bars are usually found in areas of the home — like a family room or basement — that have good access to necessary utilities. A basement is an ideal place for wine storage.

Who will be gathering there?

Think about who you will be entertaining and how they will move through your home.

Will you be serving adults and children? Is there a place for each group to sit or stand comfortably? How will they access refreshments? Will people move about freely or stay in one general area?

“If it’s a kids beverage station, think about keeping snacks close by as well. If you have little ones, let’s make sure that everything is the right height and is placed in cabinets within their reach. We can always move things up higher as they grow,” Sava says.

It may be necessary to set aside a small space — a beverage center or locked cabinet — to keep kids away from liquor storage.

What special features will you need?

Think about the special amenities you’ll need to store your beverages and entertain guests in the ways that you want.

Do you need refrigeration in addition to storage? Would you like a sink for rinsing and cleanup? Do you dream of having water plumbed into your coffee machine? If you’re a beer drinker, you might appreciate having hidden keg storage and built-in taps.

What about style?

Think about how your unique interests and personality could translate into a space that you love and a memorable experience for your guests.

Bars and beverage stations — particularly those in separate or dedicated areas — are an opportunity to express your individual style, and perhaps make a statement you couldn’t get away with in other parts of the home.

“There are as many ways to style a beverage station as there are things to put in them!” says Amanda. “I love to see an antique mirror backsplash with beautiful liquor bottles.”


Before and after: A new wet bar is created in the dining room of this contemporary Seattle-area waterfront home. (Design by Anne Bauer, photo by Roger Turk / Northlight Photography)

The minibar above, designed by Bauer, is a great example of style and function. “This client needed a large area for storing beverages of all kinds. [Originally, bottles] were literally taking over an entire countertop with much more tucked away in hard-to-reach cabinets. We needed to plan for the storage of room-temp and chilled wine, liquor and mixers, as well as glassware suitable for all.” The resulting bar is located outside of the kitchen, providing that separate, unique area. Glass doors allow display of collector items while closed cabinetry provides ample additional storage. The sink and integrated dishwasher add to the high-function design.

Ready to create the perfect bar or beverage station in your home? Let the award-winning designers at Neil Kelly in Seattle bring your vision to life.