Love the idea of installing a bar in your home? Lisa Dawson's gone the whole hog with hers and here she tells us how to create yours as the perfect party centrepiece.
If you're part of our growing #sorealhomes Instagram community (if not, check it out @real_homes, it's fab), you'll know interior decor Instagrammer Lisa Dawson well. If not, let us introduce you to this doyenne of interior makeovers in her new, monthly column. Lisa's speciality? Mixing modern and vintage finds to create a home that's affordable and packed with character. Here's how she does it – in her own words.
Pssst! Take a tour of Lisa's stunning Georgian home
'Obviously room sizes, school catchment area and parking for two cars were up there on the list, but there was one extra benefit that boldly swayed our purchasing decision. Outdoor space? Utility room? Nope. The bonus was a fully functioning, 1970s-style home bar. We’d hit the jackpot. Play it cool, Trig, play it cool.'
'Okay, so when I say the words "home bar", it sounds rather more glamorous than the reality. The developer had taken a corner of the room, added a counter top, a mounted bottle opener and a couple of optics. For most, it would be wasted sofa space. For us, it had PARTY written all over it in flashing neon lights. Sold to the couple with the gin obsession and a love of classic 1980s sitcoms.'
'Back in the 1950s, socialising at home was the norm. No living room was complete without a fully lit drinks cabinet or sideboard groaning with decanters. Sherry was served at six, cocktails at seven – peanuts and stuffed olives, ice and a slice came as standard. Then came the affluent 1990s and no one wanted to stay in and have fun; wine bars, mirror-balled dance floors and Harvey Wallbangers were essential for a good night out.'
'But over the last few years, the home bar has been making a comeback. Economic factors mean we are more likely to be cooking a meal for friends than putting on the ritz at an expensive restaurant or members' club. Dinner parties are back in vogue, entertaining at home is the new black, and the drinks' trolley is featuring prominently. Oh yes! Partying at home has several key benefits. One, it is impossible to be late when you only have to walk down the stairs. Two, you don’t have to queue for a taxi with drunk people who think they are hilarious. Three, you’re never too inadequately dressed to wait for said taxi in Arctic temperatures. And four, if you are quite rude (like my husband) you can evict your friends at midnight and go straight to bed.'
'No matter what size your space, there’s always room for a home bar. Trawl the charity shops or Ebay for old tea or bar trolleys. I’ve been known to buy spirit bottles based purely on their aesthetic value. Vintage glassware looks fabulous teamed with gold accessories, and a retro ice bucket is essential for your drinks' tool kit. And you don’t have to stop at the trolley when it comes to making a statement.'
'Look for "bar" signs to help point people in the right direction, and use subtle lighting and greenery to make the area look welcoming. It’s a known fact that people always gather in the kitchen at parties. The best thing about having a home bar is that it provides somewhere for people to gravitate to rather than hanging round the fridge – always an unwelcome distraction when you’re trying to get your nibbles out of the oven.
'I love a house party. On my 40th, I had a 1970s theme and didn’t stop at the outfit. Cheese and pineapple sticks, chicken vol au vents, Babycham and Snowballs were served, and the cake was a stand with mini lemon meringues, Bakewell tart and Black Forest gateau. If you’re theming, go the whole hog. So dig out the tea trolley, drag out the neon sign and get styling. Invest in gorgeous gins and accessories to make your living room the best bar in town. And add a hint of 1970s' kitsch. It’s official – staying in is the new going out.’