12 Outdoor Bar Ideas

Outdoor Kitchen
Want a way to encourage conversation and lingering in your outdoor spaces? Consider installing a portable or permanent outdoor bar.

Use Details for Design

Like any outdoor space, an outdoor bar blends more effectively with your landscape and your home if you repeat or complement the existing style and materials. Here, angles and clean lines supply the design focus for the generously overhanging bar. A clever fabric sunshade keeps both seated guests and the homeowners behind the bar out of the sun's rays.

Make It Low-Key and Casual

Sure, outdoor bars can be as ornate as you’d like -- but they also work equally well in a DIY, easygoing setup. This one has all the necessary elements -- seating, storage, serving -- as well as colorful extras with container plants, wall hangings, and an umbrella. But the materials -- a wood counter and concrete blocks -- and setup come together in just an afternoon.

Establish Multiple Bar Zones

An outdoor bar can include many more spaces than just the countertop and fridge. Expansive outdoor spaces may encourage people to spill over to different spots for more relaxed, intimate conversation. To do that, supply interconnected spaces that shift in layout or material to indicate a different function. Here, the countertop seating flows to both the dining table and the sectional.

Add In Extras

There are so many options for improving outdoor bar spaces to make them enjoyable for longer time periods and more hours. Ceiling fans, lights, and outdoor heaters are three; all are available in weather-safe-rated options and in a multitude of styles. In addition, exterior drapes made from weather-resistant fabric can help to shield family and friends from intense summer rays.

Investigate Built-Ins

Even in small, budget-smart outdoor bars, a built-in may make more sense, especially if your entertaining area serves multiple purposes. A fridge works well for this cooking-bar combo setup, with space for both drinks and often-used condiments. If you have two separate areas, locate the bar's main appliance -- the fridge -- in a central spot for easy access.

Start Small

An expansive outdoor bar may be in your home’s master plan, but if you don’t have the budget or space for it, consider portable, less permanent options. Small kitchen carts, repurposed with a few decorative touches as well as practical updates (here, a plastic wine rack, buckets for bar tools, and a cutting board) can be just as worthwhile to include; the point is to enjoy the space and the outdoors.

Consider Flexible Amenities

While built-ins are super nice in an outdoor bar, they aren’t necessary and may be cost-prohibitive. Fortunately, there are options that offer both portability and function. Here, the homeowners cleverly disguised a chest cooler inside a large movable cart; the cart also offers extra storage with a few open shelves.

Create Bar-Cart Zones

If you don’t have a need for a permanent outdoor bar, rolling racks outfitted with outdoor bar-necessary items can be a great solution. Here, removable trays help items move from cart to table, and baskets carry items from inside to out in just seconds. Another great feature of trays such as this is the ability to have multiple small bars at various spots throughout the yard, particularly helpful during larger gatherings.

Shield the Bar

Some home outdoor bars are covered, which helps to increase their usability even if the weather takes a turn for the worse. One way to capture the sunlight without sacrificing that protection is a skylight. Here, it offers pretty rays and natural light for both the bar and the adjacent conversation area.

Set a Theme

An outdoor bar is a great chance to put your personality or entertaining style on display. This exuberant setup mimics a tropical gathering spot, with a thatch-like roof, signage, bright colors, and casual materials. Outdoor lights and small decorative accents, such as shells, help to reinforce the design aesthetic.

Separate the Cooking from the Outdoor Bar

Traffic flow can be a concern especially in a small outdoor space that combines kitchen and bar. This outdoor bar offers a solution, with a separate counter/storage area that moves people to the outside and away from the grill’s flames. To improve enjoyment, offer shade -- here, a portable umbrella -- for seating areas as well as easy access, such as this tall copper drink stand, to refreshments for family and friends.

Extend Your Outdoor Kitchen

Perhaps the easiest way to include an outdoor bar is to sneak a few extra square feet from an outdoor kitchen. Particularly for expansive built-in versions such as this kitchen, spots for storage, serving, and cooling off drinks is a must. Here, a small stretch of counter hides a compact fridge and ice maker, while the counter's overhang offers seating spots for conversation.

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