A bar designed
by Waukesha-based Collaborative Design Inc.
The bar has been
set higher than ever. Homeowners seeking a convivial space to enjoy a
beverage and much more are turning to design pros. Bill Koehnlein,
president of Collaborative Design Inc. in Waukesha, and Tara Wilke,
owner of McNabb & Risley Fine Furniture and Interior Design in
Thiensville, served up their home bar expertise. They says itís all
about personalizing by combining practicality and inspiration.
"A lot of my
clients are putting them in," Koehnlein says. "Inspiration can
come from all parts of the world by travel or access through the
Internet. People are always looking for unique ideas that will make you
feel like you are somewhere else."
homeowners are looking to use more and more available space for
entertainment. "A lot of homes now have completely built-out lower
levels with huge open spaces with taller ceilings. Itís perfect for a
She notes bars
complement the rise of informal lifestyles that include adjoining media
rooms and even play areas for youngsters.
comfortable groupings for cheese and crackers and informal small-plate
dinners," Wilke says. "Todayís lifestyle means not much time
for larger, complicated dinners on a regular basis. Bars fit that
To fit that style,
Wilke adds that bars are adorned with comfortable furniture for bellying
up to the bar or lounging nearby. Selecting long-lasting, easy-to-clean
fabrics is a must. "If a client wants carpeting, I advise using a
low pile, commercial grade with a light pattern (to mask inevitable
stains over time)."
may lean informal, there is no shortage of glitzy touches. "I like
to do things that are off the beaten path," Koehnlein says. That
includes installing an onyx bar top illuminated from below with durable
LED lighting, bringing out the materialís translucent quality.
lower level of this River Hills home includes accent pieces from
McNabb & Risley
have utilized granite, quartz, concrete and wood as bar tops. The other
wow factor can be the cabinetry and lighting.
cabinets are common," Wilke says. "There are so many options
for lighting the cabinets as well as the bar, including pendants hung
above the main counter. Lighting can be important, especially because
lower levels often donít have the same amount of natural light as
Depending on what
the homeowner wants to display, Koehnlein says liquor bottles
strategically arranged in those cabinets can become "displayed
extend to water source and appliances. A sink may be installed at the
barís service side, but hidden by a higher counter level or in a
counter behind the actual serving area. There is a growing use of
microwaves, dishwashers, beer tappers and wine coolers of all sizes up
to the walk-in variety that include coolers for food.
It all fits a
pattern of moving the typical informal gathering place from the kitchen
to the bar/entertainment area.
Bars are not
restricted to lower levels. Self-serve bars are common as extensions of
main-floor kitchens with adjoining casual great rooms, Koehnlein says.
He and Wilke also say they are aware of the emergence of the
freestanding bar, either as an enhancement to Wisconsinites taking
advantage of limited outdoor living or a need to preserve space for
have downsized to condos or to other limited space have turned to bar
carts," Wilke says. "Itís a good alternative." She adds
that itís also a nod to midcentury style.
Both designers say
homeowners who opt to add or refresh a bar enjoy more than the obvious
entertainment amenity. "The payback is that it increases the value
of your home," Wilke says.