Ideas + Advice

Decor Tips

10 Backyard Bar Ideas to Try Right Now

10 backyard bar ideas that make the perfect place to entertain or relax by yourself.

Backyard Patio Bar Ideas

The backyard bar of your dreams involves a lot of parts and pieces (think accent statements like vase, decorative planter, placemats, glasses, pitchers, seating, seat cushions – the list goes on), but none of that stuff really matters if the bar itself isn’t one you love. Start with the bar and choose a design you love; choose materials, shape, size and color first, and accessorize later.

While backyard bars might be more commonly used for serving cocktails at outdoor gatherings, they can also be used for towel storage (if you have a pool), serving appetizers, as a popcorn or ice cream sundae station (great for movie nights!) and as a kids’ summer lemonade stand. Fill the bottom storage part of a bar cart with board games and playing card decks, so that you always have an ice breaker activity on the ready for backyard parties. (If you regularly watch movies in the backyard, this space can also be used for storing blankets.) The point we’re trying to make is that backyard bars and carts are so much more than just a cocktail and spirits station for adults; with so much practical storage space, weather-resistant material, portability (if it’s on wheels) and durability, they’re a backyard staple for all ages.

1. Outdoor Bar, Dining & Lounge, All in One

Create a set: Creating a space where you and guests can dine, lounge, drink and socialize all in one makes the entertaining easier. The best way to create the set is to invest in one piece for every purpose: above, there’s a bar for drinks, a sofa for lounge and a table for dining. Everything matches, too (here, by grey wicker material), to create a space that feels in synch and relaxing. Even when not entertaining, a set can be used to lounge in the backyard for some quiet time: use the space to kick back while you read or work.

2. Bar Umbrella

Add shade: Even if you already have an awning, patio roof or some other form of overhead protection, an umbrella can still be helpful for the areas where the shade ends; for example, if you want to add extra seating but don’t have the space immediately under an awning. And if you don’t have an awning or any other of the above, then an umbrella isn’t just helpful – it’s necessary. Since umbrellas can be retracted and are easy to move around and keep in storage, an umbrella doesn’t have to be a redundancy on overcast days. While umbrellas for backyards are usually placed in the center section of a dining table or coffee table, with the right base (heavy cement, for instance), they can really be styled anywhere: for a backyard bar, try immediately next to the bar for all-day coolness.

3. Playful Colors

Throw pillows: An outdoor bar area isn’t just about the bar itself. If it’s a bar cart, for instance, guests won’t be sitting at the bar cart – they’ll be sitting and spending most of their time on the sofa or nearby chairs, interspersing their lounging with only brief visits to the actual bar. So, while creating a bar area that pops is fun (and will make the drink selections look and feel 1000x cooler), what’s perhaps more important is creating a fun, comfy seating area where your guests can enjoy the drinks they bring over from the bar. To start, start with color: incorporate splashes of it through throw pillows on seat cushions. Here’s your chance, as well, to harness nature by incorporating plants (planters optional) in and around your bar area.

4. Bar/Table Pair

Set a bar at a table: An outdoor coffee table is really the needle-turner in going from outdoor space to outdoor living space. If you have a small backyard, don’t rule out the thought of adding yet another furniture piece to save on floor space; there are designs for small space-living, even for backyard spaces. The table above, for example, keeps its seating under it when not in use (which seating is in itself versatile in size and can really be used as ottoman, stool or end table). Another design offers adjustable height, so if you’re entertaining more people and need more seating (but only have the space for a few bar stools versus regular chairs), you’ll be able to create a higher surface area for stools in a pinch.

5. Basket & Tray Storage

Add storage: You’ve found and placed the perfect backyard bar – now all that’s left is to fill it with the fun stuff, like cups, pitchers, bowls, towels and plates. Make the “fun stuff” look good by opting for a bar with the storage you need. Backyard bars and bar carts are a dime a dozen, but most don’t offer the kind of storage that will a) provide enough space to hold all the cups and plates and things, and b) look stylish while doing it. Above, the storage compartments are actually so stylish, they don’t even look like storage compartments but rather a continuation of the fun wicker façade of the bar cart. Above, storage comes in the form of a large basket and smaller basket trays for effortless organization. Other types of backyard bar storage include lower compartments and tiered shelf space.

6. Outdoor Lanterns

Accent with lanterns: In the day, outdoor lanterns look rustic, providing a touch of décor to a bar setup. At night, outdoor lanterns look rustic, providing a touch of décor to a bar setup – while providing warm lighting. Since the top of a bar is the most visible section of the bar, placing a decorative lantern on it to fill up empty space adds a little bit of beauty to the backyard scene. If a pitcher/glasses set isn’t enough for décor on its own, try incorporating a lantern, planter, vase, jar, pot, basket, tray or wine cooler to balance out the aesthetic.

7. Tiki-Inspired Bar Stools

Inspire with tiki materials: Tiki-inspired wicker bar stools are, virtually, any wicker bar stools. Wicker is actually a material sourced from the coast – so if you’re after a beachy or coastal look for your backyard space, go with wicker. The material itself is light and airy, in feel, texture and color, so it’s literally impossible to overdo it: go with a wicker bar cart, wicker sofa, wicker coffee table, wicker end table, wicker ottomans and wicker bar stools for a chic entertaining space. (And if you want to delve into the tiki theme, add in torch lights or lamps, tribal-pattern rugs, totem décor and tropical motifs such as pineapple, shells, coconuts, palms and sand – it’s a vibe guests will talk about long after the party’s done.)

8. Traditional Accessories

Just because it’s in the backyard doesn’t mean it has to look like it’s made of weatherproof materials. Even outdoor spaces can look delicate and refined, fitted with the same kind of luxuries as a traditional indoor living room! You just need the right décor: to start, play with textures – and specifically, the kind of textures you don’t normally associate with backyards. Above, distressed white metal adds an indoors-like touch, especially due to its intricate cutout patterns. It also makes the wicker bar cart (and wood panel wall) a little bit more elegant. Other interesting textures for a backyard bar include ceramic vases, woven placemats and cloth napkins.

9. Metal Bar Cart

In the same space, swapping wicker for metal transforms the feel to sleeker and more modern. Metal, however, can feel cold, especially when the environment is open-air. To warm it up, add textural pieces made of softer materials. Above, open lanterns display two (soft) wax candles, adorned at the top by (soft) wood beads for handles. Also note the (soft) cloth towels on the top shelf, the (soft) green leaves hanging from the planter above, and the (soft) throw blanket and fringes and seat cushion right next door, accentuated by the (soft) wicker furniture edge.

10. Bistro Table to Match

If you really want to make your backyard bar feel like the patio seating of a stylish restaurant, pair it with a bistro or pub set! This couples-friendly setup is just the right amount of romantic when sharing it with a partner – and just the right amount of laidback-yet-chic when sharing it with a friend. If you opt for it, opt for a full-on set, where the pub table and chairs and bar cart or bar all match (in the same material, color, design, style, etc.) for a true aesthetic. You can even set up little menus on the table. (Fun DIY project: print out little pieces of paper with three or four cocktails you have ingredients for; place one paper in front of each seat, and set with a chic paperweight such as an iron napkin ring or round pebble.)

DIY Backyard Bar

If you have a high ledge or sill that protrudes enough from a wall, you’re already one step closer to achieving the backyard bar look – because you already have the bar part! Simply add in two or three stools and measure the space first; you’ll want to know the width (which will determine how many chairs you can place) and the height (which will determine how tall the chairs should be for comfortable seating). Once you have the stools-in-bar setup, what you do (or don’t do) with accessories can make or break the look, so bring in a few pieces of décor. A piece of hanging wall décor on the wall above a bar, a placemat in front of each seat, a simple vase or planter can bring a backyard bar space to life.

Backyard Bars

— More Great Articles —

Backyard Bar Picks

Read the Latest

Editorial Disclaimer: Articles featuring tips and advice are intended for educational purposes and only as general recommendations. Always practice personal discretion when using and caring for furniture, decor and related items.