Shed bar ideas: 12 ways to enjoy alfresco drinks at home
Our smart and savvy shed bar ideas will enable you to kick back and gather family and friends together for a stylish tipple at home
With our favorite shed bar ideas, you can bring the party vibe back home. Whether you fancy building a quirky outside bar for special occasions, want somewhere for regular weekend drinks or need an overspill den for a game of pool, regular beers or a late-night tipple, we’ve got the lowdown on how to make the most of your alfresco space. From freestanding beach-style booths to fully fitted bars with state-of-the-art extras, there are plenty of different ways to get the most from your garden shed bar.
First, you'll need to decide on the perfect location. Do you need it to be near to the house to save on endless trips back and forth for supplies or is there a spot with a view – or well out of view of the neighbors – that you’ve been eyeing up?
Next, consider how much space you can allocate for your creative shed ideas – is a compact, freestanding bar the answer? These designs make a big impact but have a small footprint and can easily sit next to a larger lounging area. Alternatively, a linear bar with built-under wine fridge and ice maker could sit side-by-side with your grill, for some serious outdoor entertaining. Or it could be your budget stretches to installing something bigger or more permanent that can be fully fitted out with optics, ice bucket, drinks cabinet and comfy seating to create a glitzy gin palace or old-style pub.
Whatever your plan, all a fantastic shed bar takes is clever planning and a dash of creativity to help make your dream drinking den a reality.
Dial up the party vibe with these fun shed bar ideas
If you’re looking for some shed bar ideas, then our tips and tricks will help you create the home drinking spot of your dreams.
1. Organize your bar area
The secret to successful shed bar ideas is ensuring the space is always a joy to use. Not just a matter of fun lighting, colorful decoration and smart décor, but smart planning and some clever shed storage ideas too. A deep bar with room for ice buckets, nibbles and room to perch drinks will ensure everyone can kick back in style.
Behind the bar, box-style shelves, complete with raised fronts to stop bottles falling, are a must. Be sure to fix them at an easy-to-reach height and if you can combine them with some glass storage you can save on valuable space. A row of hooks for hanging tankards, different size notches for suspending upended stemmed glasses or neat pigeon-holes for shot glasses are all simple solutions but super useful. And no serious bar is complete without a row of wall-mounted optics. Not just for spirits, you can use them for favorite cordials, mixers or even coffee syrups depending on your clientele.
A console table or slim storage unit just below the bar provides a handy, additional prep and storage area without taking up valuable floor space. Workspace for chopping boards, a knife block, fruit bowl for garnishes and stashing nibbles will help to keep the party and drinks flowing. As will a small rubbish bin tucked underneath, so everything can be kept neat and tidy.
2. Transform a small shed into a hidden bar
Short on space for your outdoor bar ideas? Don’t despair! A compact, upright shed can easily become a secret bar or super large drinks cabinet. OK it’s not large enough to sit in or even step inside, but with plenty of shelving and good organization it will definitely take outdoor get-togethers up a level. Think about the spacing between shelves – bottles will always need a taller slot than glasses – and you could even fit some shelves with slide-out mechanisms to create a handy prep area.
Including mains power in your garden shed bar ideas may seem indulgent but it could provide enough energy to run a mini fridge or electric cool box. Perfect for keeping cans and wine chilled, they save your legs on endless trips back to the kitchen and encourage everyone to help themselves. An armoured cable will need to be professionally installed to run from the house to shed and safely buried to a depth of around 20in (50cm). Bottled gas-powered camping fridges are another handy option but the canister must be located outside the shed and fitted with a gas-safe hose and regulator. Fuel levels will also need to be monitored.
3. Find the right spot for your shed bar
'Have a look around your garden and find a space that has nothing else in it or something you don’t like,' says the team at Dunster House. 'That’s where you need to put a bar.
'There are various ways to create a solid base for your new shed bar. The easiest is probably to dig down to compacted earth and use a Premium Rapid Grid foundation system, which is a grid that you simply lay out level and fill with shingles. Or you could lay a patio or a concrete base as a foundation.'
Don’t be shy when it comes to designing your shed bar ideas either – make it a garden feature to be proud of. Once your base is built and the new shed constructed, follow our guide on how to paint a shed to give a boring timber exterior a smart makeover. A black and white painted exterior, smart container planting and a hanging pub-style sign will make it an irresistible place everyone will want to explore.
4. Create a sports bar at home
Treat your mates to watching the big match or a game of pool in style with your own man cave sports bar. No more jostling for the best view or waiting for the table to come free, you can simply enjoy the action whenever you like. What’s more, it also frees up valuable space indoors for the rest of the family.
Of course, it all comes down to available space and if you are converting an existing shed, you may be pushed to squeeze in more than a TV, sofa and side bar. For larger summer houses or squeaky new garden studios there may be room for a full or half size pool or snooker table and some comfy seating. A modular sofa is a great space saver. Perfect for larger groups, you can configure – and re-configure – to best suit your layout and the occasion.
When it comes to organising your shed bar area, go for fitted wall-hung units. A great way to make the most of limited floorspace, there are endless designs and finishes to choose from. Glazed kitchen units always look smart and are ideal for displaying your glasses and drinks selection. With positionable shelves you can tailor the storage exactly how you want and install internal LED lighting for a professional look.
5. Go big with a studio bar
The latest garden room ideas have surged in popularity – but not just for working and working out in, they make fantastically cozy bars or drinking dens too.
'Forget the pub garden, it’s all about having a bar in your garden that can stay open whatever the weather,' says Tammy Daubney, sales and design manager at Green Retreats. Ambient warm lighting, some decadent furniture and of course your favourite tipple will make your garden bar the place to be when Friday rolls around.'
Ok, they are a serious investment – expect to spend at least $13,000 (£10,000) for a 6x4m fully insulated and double-glazed structure, and they do take up floorspace in your backyard, but they add valuable living space and can increase the value of your property by around 5%, according to the experts at Green Retreats.
Unless your garden building is extremely large or your property has been considerably extended in the past, it is unlikely that you will need garden office planning permission if you live in the UK. Your retailer will be able to advise you further.
6. Layer lighting for atmosphere
Outdoor lighting ideas play a huge part in setting the mood and atmosphere for any backyard space and a shed bar is no different. The secret is to layer different types of light, from different sources, to give the space depth and inject it with energy and personality.
Good task lighting such as spot and downlights and under counter lighting is important for prep and serving areas, while softer more ambient light fittings such as ceiling pendants, table and floor standing lamps are better suited for bar and seating areas.
Low profile strip lighting is great for highlighting the underside of a bar, shelving or for uplighting bottles. Discreet by day – it can add a dramatic and surprise element at night. Coloured or colour changing lights are great fun, inexpensive and can have a huge impact on the mood and atmosphere. Uplighters set into the floor and dotted around the edge of the room also have a striking effect.
Don’t forget to add in some fun lighting accents too. Neon statement wall signs make a fantastic feature – check out Neon Pop’s extensive and quirky range – including ‘Good vibes only’ and ‘Chill’. Alternatively Lights4Fun has a wide range of battery and coloured rope lights.
7. Mix reclaimed pieces for an individual look
A bar should be a place to relax, unwind and indulge, so make sure your garden shed bar ideas reflect this in the décor. For a unique, highly individual look mix reclaimed, upcycled and salvaged furniture.
It could be that you have a much-loved pendant light, shade or wall lamp that no longer fits your home but that you can’t bear to part with. Or maybe a friend or family member is looking to rehome some gorgeous bar stools or pair of retro chairs, but you just don’t have room indoors? Whatever the source, take a fresh look at these pieces – they could be perfect for setting the mood of your gin palace or cocktail bar.
Retro 1950s larders, school style lockers and redundant shop fittings can all be used as drink cabinets with a difference. With just a little TLC, sanding and painting they can be upcycled into handy storage and serving surfaces with a dash of quirky character.
Alternatively, if you're handy at DIY, incorporating some clever pallet furniture ideas into your scheme can be an inexpensive way to create a unique look.
8. Combine bar and storage in one design
Whether it’s to sip gin and tonics in the evening sun or to sup home-brewed ale, having your own pub shed has become the ultimate must-have in outdoor entertaining.
Transforming your entire shed into a bar, however, can leave you short of essential storage. And let's face it, garden tool storage is just as essential for many of us as having somewhere to kick back and relax with a chilled glass of wine.
Opting for a split shed design can give you the best of both worlds. The larger section can be used as your garden bar, while a smaller area to one side with its own door for easy access is perfect for keeping everything from lawn mowers to pressure washers tucked neatly out of sight.
9. Try some simple Scandi styling
Shed bar ideas featuring a light-filled, wooden interior will always be welcoming and, what’s more, it’s a classy and timeless look that will suit most styles of garden decor. Honest and full of character, timber-cladded walls and ceiling replicate the cozy feel of a Scandi log cabin and create a space where you can seek refuge and truly unwind.
'The real fun begins when it comes to styling the space,' says Jason Preece, general manager for Malvern Garden Buildings. 'Make the bar area the main feature with high stools and open shelves to show off glassware, decorative spirit bottles and your cocktail making skills. Alternatively, a cocktail trolley or drinks cabinet will invite your guests to help themselves. Create ambience with different kinds of lighting - spotlights, pendants, neon, or even fairy lights.'
10. Go for a hideaway wall bar
How about this for a fun way to update your she shed ideas? A small foldaway bar table is ideal if you fancy a flexible arrangement where the seating area rather than the bar is the main feature. Wall hung with a fold down door that doubles as a handy table, these simple timber designs are perfect for small, intimate get togethers.
When open, the door reveals narrow shelving, ideal for holding bottles of your favorite drink, glasses and the essential bottle opener or corkscrew. Ok, you will struggle to fit a comprehensive selection of drinks inside, but why not make the most of the surprise element and change the contents to suit the occasion? It could be the perfect opportunity to gather round and try out three or four local gins or different flavoured vodka. You could even provide all the ingredients for a specific cocktail evening – Mojito anyone??
Don’t forget to change the décor too. Try painting the inside of the wall bar a strong, contrast color, or opt for blackboard paint so you can chalk up a cheeky message instead.
11. Plan a choice of bar seating areas
In the same way you need to carefully plan your outdoor seating ideas for your patio, deciding on the perfect seating and layout for your shed bar is just as key to its success.
If space allows, keep it flexible and build in options. Perching at the bar may be fun for pre-dinner cocktails, but guests may prefer to relax and unwind with low level, cozier seating, post meal. There’s also the potential to make the most of garden and distant views surroundings and any glimpses of late evening sun.
Paul Ransom, Co-Founder of Into The Garden Room has plenty of tips to share on organizing the ideal shed bar seating.
- Close to the bar
Ensure a comfortable and relaxing lounge area close to the bar. Angle it so that it faces the bar, so everyone feels ‘connected’ and you don’t have to break away from the conversation to make, or serve, another drink. Where space allows, opposite seating spaces are particularly sociable.
- Think about the view
Consider how each socialising space can get a good view of the garden and any evening sunsets, while still maintaining a balanced division of space. What can face the doors, and what area takes priority for the best view?
- Choose the focus
Consider the visual impact you’re going for when people walk in. Do you want the focus on the bar itself, or the lounge area?
12. Personalize your bar
Every shed bar should be high in fun factor, so don’t hesitate in making the space uniquely yours. Pub signs, wall art, quirky neon signs and treasured memorabilia all become a talking point with friends and will make the bar just that little bit more special.
Go for a few larger items for impact, rather than cluttering the space with dust gathering knick knacks. Retro and vintage auctions, antique and salvage fairs and charity shops are all brilliant hunting grounds.
Get creative with spelling out the bar name. Illuminated letters, reclaimed shop signs, mismatched plastic, metal and wooden letters can all work well. Think where to place them for maximum impact – along the bar or behind? Or maybe outside, above the door for an unmistakable welcome.
Can I turn a shed into a bar?
Sheds and summer houses can most certainly become cozy home pubs, gin palaces or quirky drinking dens for you and your friends. As long as the structure is sound and watertight you can set about converting it into your dream garden shed bar.
Start with insulating the walls, roof and floor to keep the space draftproof and comfy to enjoy year round in all weathers. Foil backed bubble wrap, mineral wool held in place with wood battens and Celotex (a foil backed polystyrene board) are all relatively cheap and easy to work with. Cover with tongue and groove boards, reeded MDF or plywood for a neat finish, that can be painted or left au natural.
Adding services such mains power or even running water will transform how you use your shed bar. Running an electricity supply from the main property to a garden shed is definitely a job for a qualified electrician. They will possibly need to fit a new fuse box as well as any required sockets and light fittings.
Installing running water is also complex and can prove an unnecessarily big job. Consult a local plumber about your plans – you may decide to settle for a manually pumped camping sink instead.
If you have an alfresco cooking area, adding mains power and water to your outdoor kitchen ideas at the same time as your shed bar can be a sensible option to keep down costs and ensure everything is properly connected.
Heating choices for your shed bar include freestanding electric or oil filled heaters, wall mounted electric radiators or even wood burning stoves. These add to the cozy atmosphere but must be installed by a qualified professional to ensure safety. Underfloor electric heating mat style systems are great for freeing up wall space but can be costly to fit and run.
How to design the perfect bar for your shed
Deciding on the size and shape bar that not only suits your shed but your entertaining needs too, is not always straightforward. After all you need to make sure there’s enough space for guests to sit and move around comfortably as well as prepare drinks. We spoke to shed bar owner and Co-Founder of Into The Garden Room, Paul Ramson for his top tips on bar styles.
- Double bar
Ensure enough space to have your legs under the front bar and that you offset the fridge or have sliding doors on the fridge/wine cooler, so you don't have to open and close doors ‘into’ your space.
- Full back bar
If you have the space, this gives your garden room bar a professional look. It provides plenty of space to prepare drinks, as well as the option to add shelving (floating glass shelves look great) for bottles and glassware, and even cabinets for extra storage.
- Podium-style bar
This is a great option for smaller spaces and when combined with bar stools, you can effortlessly make drinks as you continue to mingle.
- Curved bar
Gives a more flexible flow to the room and is visually style-led and impactful.
- Pull-out bar
Ideal for smaller spaces, or where you don’t want your bar as a permanent feature e.g. if you’re using your garden room as a multi-functional space that also includes a garden office, or workout area.
What should I put in my shed bar?
Put your guests at ease and make outdoor entertaining a cinch with well-stocked and organized shed bar ideas. Here’s a checklist of everything you need:
- Shelves or a wall hung rack with a range of glassware – wine glasses, pint glasses, Champagne flutes, shot glasses and tumblers
- Shelf for bottles – with a retaining bar across the front to prevent breakages
- A row of optics to add that professional touch, plus it's fun to use
- Cool box, camping fridge or mains powered fridge for chilling cans and wine
- Ice bucket
- Wine chiller
- Bowl or wire basket for fresh fruit
- Chopping board and knife
- Corkscrew – keep it in a nearby drawer or a hook next to the bar
- Bottle opener – wall mounted so it’s always handy
- Pots of fresh herbs for fragrant garnishes
- Comfy bar stools
- Fairy lights and lanterns for that sense of occasion
- A large container for empties – to save repeat trips to your recycling and wheelie bin storage spot.
Jill puts her love of plants and all things garden related down to the hours spent pottering around with her Nan and Grandad when she was little. Today she is lucky enough to have a garden of her own in Surrey, England, and spends much of her time writing about them too.
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