36 Mini Bar Ideas to Create a Useful Small Home Bar

open shelving bar setup

@kimwallacedesign / Instagram

Who doesn't enjoy a laid-back happy hour at home every now and then? While going out to a favorite bar or restaurant is always a treat, there's nothing better than curating a supply of cocktail-making essentials to keep at home, too. That way, all of the ingredients you need to make your favorite drink are at the ready if you just don't feel like getting dolled up, it's cold and rainy outside, or you're looking to save some money.

Perhaps you have yet to set up a bar station at home because you fear it will require an extensive amount of supplies and storage space. While we've seen some pretty extraordinary at-home bar setups that span an entire countertop, the good news is that you don't need much extra space on hand in order to create a bar station of your own. The following examples will prove to you that it's entirely possible to design a functional and attractive drink station in even the smallest of nooks. Have a free shelf in the dining room? How about a buffet table that could use a bit of pizzazz? After checking out the spaces below, you'll see that there's no limit as to where you can easily place a bar tray or a few bottles.

What's also fantastic about small bar setups is that they're easy to move throughout the house, which is great now that we're seeing more multifunctional spaces in our homes. So what are you waiting for? Grab a tray and begin styling your own.

  • 01 of 36

    A Vintage Display

    vintage bar setup

    @cjswank_newyork / Instagram

    Whether you set up a bar display in the kitchen, living room, or dining room is up to you. The key is selecting a tray or cart that complements the rest of your space's aesthetic. This vintage looking serve fits in perfectly with this room's antique decor. And finding your own secondhand bar cart is easy—as long as you know what to look for.

  • 02 of 36

    Cocktails by the Couch

    bar tray next to sofa

    @lucsteptoehome / Instagram

    If you have a small nook next to the sofa, why not set up a little drink station there? This setup proves just how handy it can be to have cocktail essentials within reach—there's no need to pause the movie in order to make a drink. And if you're worried about spills, don't be—cleaning even the most precious of sofas can be a cinch as long as you know the right tips and tricks.

  • 03 of 36

    Drink Corner

    bar cart in corner

    @thethriftymushroom / Instagram

    An open corner is also a great space to set up a bar nook. Feel free to hang artwork that corresponds with the theme—just because you're making cocktails at home doesn't mean you can't replicate elements of your favorite watering hole.

  • 04 of 36

    Simple Shelves

    open kitchen shelving with bar supplies

    @adriankaaddy / Instagram

    Installing open shelving in the kitchen can be an excellent way to make use out of empty wall space while displaying all of your cooking essentials—and your favorite bottles of wine and liquor. This no-frills setup keeps everything within eyesight, making it easy to grab ingredients on a whim.

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  • 05 of 36

    Tray Chic

    bar table with tray

    @fox_and_park / Instagram

    Any side table can be turned into a bar setup with the simple addition of a tray. This makes it easy to corral bottles and drinkware in a stylish manner—how chic? To replicate this setup, consider DIY-ing a piece of abstract art to hang above the table—it's super easy to make your own gallery-worthy creations.

  • 06 of 36

    Wonderful Wicker

    grandmillennial bar cart

    @beautiful_house_au / Instagram

    A beautiful wicker bar cart doubles as a side table in this grandmillennial living space. It can easily be wheeled around as needed, but also functions as a place for guests to set their mugs or plates while socializing.

  • 07 of 36

    Sideboard Setup

    bar tray on sideboard

    @fradindesign / Instagram

    A small tray holding liquor bottles on the dining room sideboard can easily be stashed away once the party is over. Again, a tray helps even the smallest of displays look well curated and stylish.

  • 08 of 36

    Open for Business

    small bar area in kitchen

    @kimwallacedesign / Instagram

    The kitchen countertop is also an easy place to set up a drink station, if you have a bit of extra space. Make use of open shelving above to hold mixology essentials—keeping eye-catching accessories on display adds personality to any space.

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  • 09 of 36

    Dining Room Mixology

    wall shelves in corner

    @110renovation / Instagram

    A series of small wall shelves comes together to serve as a fabulous bar setup in an otherwise empty corner. Lower level shelves are kept empty, making it easy to mix a drink right on the spot.

  • 10 of 36

    Sophisticated Vignette

    bar tray on dresser

    @myhousewokeuplikethis / Instagram

    What better way to complete a beautiful vignette than to add a well-curated bar tray? This one adds texture and dimension to the dressertop and is a fabulous way to display favorite pieces of glassware.

  • 11 of 36

    Chic Shelves

    bookshelf with bottles

    @enchantedberkeley / Instagram

    This is most certainly a clever bar setup if we've ever seen one. Narrow bookshelves make for an excellent spot to stash bottles and other drink-making materials, including cocktail books and glassware.

  • 12 of 36

    Tall Tray

    tall tray on sideboard

    @augustoliverinteriors / Instagram

    If you're looking for something outside of the box, try placing bottles in a taller tray or box like this one. This type of setup also prevents glass vessels from easily being knocked over by those walking by.

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  • 13 of 36

    Get Glamorous

    antique bar tray

    @cozysalazar / Instagram

    For an antique look, try a silver tray and fill it with crystal decanters that take us back to simpler, more glamorous times.

  • 14 of 36

    Cute Cubbies

    hanging shelf with cubbies

    @ivystoneinteriors / Instagram

    A hanging wall shelf with different compartments makes it easy to set up a bar area anywhere—and stay ultra organized while doing so. This glam gold style is contemporary and functional.

  • 15 of 36

    Books and Bottles

    side table with books

    @mgmbees / Instagram

    Make it maximalist. A side table filled with books still has a bit of room to spare, and thus makes for a fantastic spot to set up a drink station, too. The end result? A luxe looking display that makes us want to curl up with an engaging read and a fancy cocktail.

  • 16 of 36

    Makeshift Display

    bar tray on counter top

    @cristinageorgia85 / Instagram

    If you don't have room to display bar supplies on the kitchen counter full-time, you can always keep bottles out and then set up other essentials on a sophisticated looking tray when guests come over. It's the perfect makeshift solution.

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  • 17 of 36

    Artistic Elements

    bar cart with accents

    @wilandfayeinteriors / Instagram

    If your bar setup is in the living room, don't forget to style your cart or tabletop with other accessories that complement the style of the space. Here, this cart has a bit of artistic flair in the form of a framed print and sculptural objects. If you're struggling to find a cart or side table that you love, you can always try your hand at making your own bar cart. We have tips on how to create a wooden piece in just an afternoon.

  • 18 of 36

    Sleek and Stunning

    white tray on sideboard

    @cait.borkowski / Instagram

    A bar tray sits front and center atop this vintage sideboard and proves that even a straightforward setup can look stunning! If you love this look but aren't sure how to successfully mix modern and antique furniture in your own space, we've got you covered. We've polled designers on their top tips to mix and match such pieces the right way.

  • 19 of 36

    Brilliant Built-ins

    built in shelves with brass

    @simplyslade / Instagram

    Built-in shelves with brass rims also make for a stunning setup. The intricate hardware means there's little need for elaborate styling.

  • 20 of 36

    Tray With a Twist

    bar cart tv tray

    @beaconvalleyhome / Instagram

    Remember TV trays? Give an old piece new life by using it to hold all of your liquor bottles in a stylish fashion. If you don't wish to set up a permanent bar cart, these pieces can also be stored away and taken out during gatherings. You could even grab a few to set up different drink stations throughout your home or apartment in order to prevent overcrowding.

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  • 21 of 36

    Get Floral

    tray with bottles and flowers

    @thewhiteh0use / Instagram

    Your tray doesn't need to solely contain bottles—you can certainly work a few decorative accents into even the smallest of setups. One idea we love is placing a vase on the tray and changing out florals seasonally (and yes, even faux flowers are fine). Choose colors that complement your bottles if you wish.

  • 22 of 36

    Light It Up

    bar tray with candle

    @theboltshouse / Instagram

    A bar-themed candle is also a festive addition to your drink tray. Many companies sell fragrances designed to reflect wine or cocktail flavors, and you can always repurpose the empty vessel to hold bar tools once it's burned through.

  • 23 of 36

    Whimsical Touches

    jonathan adler decanters

    @lbrand_stylegirl / Instagram

    Feeling whimsical? Grab decanters that reflect a favorite theme or style and go to town. These Jonathan Adler jars are the perfect spunky touch to a modernist home.

  • 24 of 36

    Shelfie Moment

    wine holder on shelf

    @ejfass / Instagram

    More of a wine drinker? You can easily fit a wine rack onto your open shelving or bookshelf if you wish. This gold design blends with the piece of furniture perfectly. This setup is also a great way to make a living room feel more laid back—gone are the days of formal, stuffy spaces that no one actually wants to kick back in, after all.

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  • 25 of 36

    Terrific Texture

    wooden bar tray

    @marinelp_home / Instagram

    Experiment with texture and design by pairing wood with white lacquer. A wooden bar tray will add warmth to any home. If you have an older wood tray that could use a bit of a refresh, consider refurbishing it on your own for a whole new look; it's a DIY that's quite simple.

  • 26 of 36

    Corralled on the Countertop

    wine fridge and tray

    @ahousebythelakeinteriors / Instagram

    Don't keep everything behind closed doors. The countertop above your wine fridge should be inviting and makes for an ideal spot to keep favorite mixers and liquor bottles on a tray.

  • 27 of 36

    Decorative Touches

    bar area with lamp

    @annalise.at.number.9 / Instagram

    Get colorful. Selecting liquor bottles that complement your furnishings and accents takes things to the next level. Get even more sophisticated by adding a small table lamp to your bar area for extra warmth.

  • 28 of 36

    Rockin' Rattan

    rattan bar tray

    @coastalhomelove / Instagram

    Does your style lean more traditional or grandmillennial? If so, then a rattan or wicker tray is the answer! This one is a classic and pops atop this distressed sideboard.

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  • 29 of 36

    From Work to Play

    bar tray on secretary desk

    @patinaville / Instagram

    A secretary desk can be a fab solution if you're in need of a bar cart but are looking for something off the beaten path–or if you have an existing piece of furniture on hand that you'd like to repurpose. Just think: all of the compartments are excellent for storing everything from bottle openers to coasters.

  • 30 of 36

    Fruity Fun

    fresh fruit on bar cart

    @miracleonthirtyfourth / Instagram

    Add instant color to your bar tray by incorporating a bowl of fruit. Limes, lemons, and oranges are all nice and vibrant but also come in handy when mixing up cocktails. If you don't use your bar supplies often but are looking for a colorful accent, you can always go the fake fruit route, too.

  • 31 of 36

    Transitional Tables

    bar side table

    @igorjosif / Instagram

    Not into a cart and don't wish to install shelving? Have no fear. Two end tables placed next to each other can also serve as a darling bar area. Just add the bare essentials, and you're golden.

  • 32 of 36

    Basket Case

    basket on open shelving

    @our1842home / Instagram

    When in doubt, why not try a basket? This one looks right at home on the open shelving in the living room above, and it may or may not be full of all sorts of cocktail making must-haves.

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  • 33 of 36

    To-Go Drinks

    wooden shelves in corner

    @thenoviceblog / Instagram

    Wooden shelves hung by the door make us not want to leave the room without grabbing a cocktail-to-go. These are small yet mighty, proving that even a foot of horizontal space can be enough room to create a cute display.

  • 34 of 36

    A Twist on a Classic

    ikea cart in kitchen

    @mysomahome / Instagram

    A simple IKEA shelf unit can be a game changer in any room of the home. Whether you use it to hold cookbooks or bar supplies, it looks extra fab in the kitchen or dining room as we see above.

  • 35 of 36

    Grouped Glassware

    glassware on sideboard

    @laurelbpotter / Instagram

    If you'd rather opt to not use a tray in your design, arrange bottles and glassware in an artful manner so that the setup looks intentional, not haphazard. Incorporating dishes and other trinkets will make for a lovely vignette.

  • 36 of 36

    Turn Back Time

    bar tray with photos

    @moody_maximalist / Instagram

    Make your bar area feel like it's out of a storied early 20th century home by surrounding your bottles with black and white photos, small portraits, a clock, and other vintage accents. Then whip up on of your favorite drinks from the 1920s to get in the spirit.