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Home Design with Kevin Sharkey

Bar Al Fresco

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Having just returned from Italy, I appreciate even more the merits of enjoying a great drink in a relaxed outdoor setting. After all, the country is famous for their al fresco cafes and Campari.

So while I may not have the Spanish steps to soak in, I am making a concerted effort to create an outdoor bar area to relax with friends.

I created a list of the essentials I would need to evoke a classic bar feel while adding a few twists to ensure drinking al fresco is relaxed and safe (no fragile glass allowed).

I hope these bar finds will inspire you to host a cocktail party outdoors before the summer ends...

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This bar looks functional and stylistic. It would make an impressive, modern addition to a more traditional outdoor setting.
(worlds-away.com)

1 This bar looks functional and stylistic. It would make an impressive, modern addition to a more traditional outdoor setting. (worlds-away.com)

This table is a more understated bar. Its bamboo legs and wicker surface lend it a tropical feel. 
(conranusa.com)

2 This table is a more understated bar. Its bamboo legs and wicker surface lend it a tropical feel. (conranusa.com)

A tray is a great addition to a bar for holding cocktail napkins, lemons, or any other odds-and-ends entertaining items. It also makes it easy to bring beverages from the bar to your guests. 
(dwr.com)

3 A tray is a great addition to a bar for holding cocktail napkins, lemons, or any other odds-and-ends entertaining items. It also makes it easy to bring beverages from the bar to your guests. (dwr.com)

This attractive muddler is a must for those harder-to-make, but delicious cocktails.
(dwr.com)

4 This attractive muddler is a must for those harder-to-make, but delicious cocktails. (dwr.com)

I love the beverage dispenser's pear shape.
(sundancecatalog.com)

5 I love the beverage dispenser's pear shape. (sundancecatalog.com)

For those of you who entertain outdoors frequently, you need a sturdy bar that has plenty of storage space. I like the wood and woven exterior of this one. 
(dwr.com)

6 For those of you who entertain outdoors frequently, you need a sturdy bar that has plenty of storage space. I like the wood and woven exterior of this one. (dwr.com)

The thumbprint indents in these wine glasses lend them a casual and playful design. Also, the fact that they don't have a stem means they're much more practical for outside!
(remodelista.com)

7 The thumbprint indents in these wine glasses lend them a casual and playful design. Also, the fact that they don't have a stem means they're much more practical for outside! (remodelista.com)

Such a creative spin on the common votive!
 (uncommongoods.com)

8 Such a creative spin on the common votive! (uncommongoods.com)

A holder for napkins comes in handy most when the weather is less than ideal. This one is so simple and pretty. 
(williams-sonoma.com)

9 A holder for napkins comes in handy most when the weather is less than ideal. This one is so simple and pretty. (williams-sonoma.com)

Juices, mixers, or iced tea can be pre-made and served in this great Martha pitcher. 
(Martha Stewart for macys.com)

10 Juices, mixers, or iced tea can be pre-made and served in this great Martha pitcher. (Martha Stewart for macys.com)

I like how this ice bucket is both large enough to sit on the floor, and small enough to rest on the bar. Its such a fun color too.
(cb2.com)

11 I like how this ice bucket is both large enough to sit on the floor, and small enough to rest on the bar. Its such a fun color too. (cb2.com)

Sleek and refined, this ice bucket is perfect for bartending both outdoors and indoors. 
(Martha Stewart for macys.com)

12 Sleek and refined, this ice bucket is perfect for bartending both outdoors and indoors. (Martha Stewart for macys.com)

Love the look of the high-top bar.
(Martha Stewart for macys.com)

13 Love the look of the high-top bar. (Martha Stewart for macys.com)

These mini drink dispensers come in such great colors. They are fun and decorative containers for everything from water, to punch, to sangria.
(horchow.com)

14 These mini drink dispensers come in such great colors. They are fun and decorative containers for everything from water, to punch, to sangria. (horchow.com)

Buying your bar tools in a set makes concocting your own drink recipes very easy.
(Martha Stewart for macys.com)

15 Buying your bar tools in a set makes concocting your own drink recipes very easy. (Martha Stewart for macys.com)

This rollable bar is perfect for quick, no-fuss entertaining on the patio.
(ikea.com)

16 This rollable bar is perfect for quick, no-fuss entertaining on the patio. (ikea.com)

The right lighting adds a special and festive touch to an outdoor space. Strung from trees around the backyard or over the bar, these hanging lights remind me of old-time italian cafes. 
(potterybarn.com)

17 The right lighting adds a special and festive touch to an outdoor space. Strung from trees around the backyard or over the bar, these hanging lights remind me of old-time italian cafes. (potterybarn.com)

This is another variety of the hanging lights -- also decorative and special. 
(potterybarn.com)

18 This is another variety of the hanging lights -- also decorative and special. (potterybarn.com)

Add sliced lemons or a variety of fruits to your drink jug for a special and refreshing alternative to water. 
(Martha Stewart for macys.com)

19 Add sliced lemons or a variety of fruits to your drink jug for a special and refreshing alternative to water. (Martha Stewart for macys.com)

If you do not have enough space on your deck for a standing bar, a dropdown surface is a great choice as well. This shot was taken at Rebecca Robertson's (our decorating editor) summer home. 
 (marthastewart.com)

20 If you do not have enough space on your deck for a standing bar, a dropdown surface is a great choice as well. This shot was taken at Rebecca Robertson's (our decorating editor) summer home. (marthastewart.com)

These glasses are sturdy and practical for enjoying outside.
(cb2.com)

21 These glasses are sturdy and practical for enjoying outside. (cb2.com)

Really a fun piece for outdoors. The wheels and pre-made compartments make it easy for transport and storage of your bar essentials. 
(fermob.com)

22 Really a fun piece for outdoors. The wheels and pre-made compartments make it easy for transport and storage of your bar essentials. (fermob.com)

For large bottles or big crowds, you'll need a rustic and spacious ice bucket like this one. Attaching a bottle opener with a ribbon is a great idea as well. 
(marthastewart.com)

23 For large bottles or big crowds, you'll need a rustic and spacious ice bucket like this one. Attaching a bottle opener with a ribbon is a great idea as well. (marthastewart.com)

I love the distressed design of this cabinet. Notice how many of the items it houses match the beautiful blue interior of the piece.
(marthastewart.com)

24 I love the distressed design of this cabinet. Notice how many of the items it houses match the beautiful blue interior of the piece. (marthastewart.com)

With a candle placed inside these glass jars, the lighting looks eclectic and interesting. They'd look fabulous on your outdoor bar or tablescape.
(marthastewart.com)

25 With a candle placed inside these glass jars, the lighting looks eclectic and interesting. They'd look fabulous on your outdoor bar or tablescape. (marthastewart.com)

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Comments (4)

  • Great ideas Kevin! hope you enjoyed Italy!

  • love the mini drink dispensers...I think they are a potential DIY project that could be alot of fun.

  • Love the color of the bar cart - perfect for sunny days outside, but equally great for an indoor party in the winter to brighten up the room.

  • I loved the drop down bar on the deck. What a fantastic idea for those with only a little space. I also enjoyed the photo's, the vibrant colours really bring a life of their own to the pieces.

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