Three Kansas City Designers Show Us How to Step Up Our Home Bar Game

Left: A Kohler trough sink is set into the honed Negresco granite countertop. Right: A trio of brushed brass pendants from Wilson Lighting highlight the workspace, while the tufted leather and brass barstools pull up to the custom charcoal-stained maple wood bar. Photos by Aaron Leimkuehler

The Espresso Martini

It’s a long Uber drive to and from Loch Lloyd, with all the lingering pandemic jitters, so Angie and Eric Baker thought “why not create our own bar at home?”

To design the ultimate elegant sports bar—without the neon beer signs or loud games on five different televisions—the couple called on Kristen Ridler of Kristen Ridler Design. “Today’s home bars don’t really look like bars,” she says. “They might have flat-screen TVs and many of the appliances you find in a kitchen, such as a coffee maker, dishwasher, and counter-height refrigerator. But they have style.”

The Bakers chose to go moody, with charcoal cabinetry, a semi-circular bar, and smoky mirrored paneling. A soapstone sink with mosaic tile backsplash makes for stylish cleanup. Bar chairs in brushed metal and black leather, brushed-metal pendant lighting, and illuminated shelves ratchet up the glamour factor and show off the liquors.

Close by is the gaming zone complete with foosball, Golden Tee video golf, and two bar tables.

“Your home bar can center around sports and still be a showpiece,” says Ridler.

Left: A pair of brass sconces from Visual Comfort flank the sink and liquor display. Middle: Custom brass insets frame the cabinetry, so Noble specified simple brass knobs and pulls that didn’t distract from the detail. Right: Two Sub-Zero refrigerator drawers keep bar necessities close at hand

The Classic Manhattan

Just like the 19th-century cocktail created in old New York, this home bar has that upper-crust brownstone vibe in the updated Fairway residence of Amy and David Rose.

The couple wanted their bar to have “plenty of wow,” says designer Sara Noble of Sara Noble Designs. She envisioned a bar space taking up one wall in the dining room—perfect for entertaining. “Creating cocktails is a craft in its own right,” says Noble, so the place where it happens should be special, too.

And it is. The lacquered black finish and brass details on the cabinetry could easily hark back to the original Manhattan Club. With four children in the household, the couple also wanted to be able to hide the libations from curious tasters. When the cabinets are closed, the bar area blends in with the other dining room furniture.

Stylish and elegant with a soapstone counter, classic sconces, and a beveled smoky mirror taking center stage, the bar sparkles at night.

Home bars are trending, says Noble. “They’re the wave of the future.” 

Left: The bar backsplash is clad in iridescent mosaic herringbone tile. Visual Comfort pendants light the seating area. Middle: Custom cabinetry curves to follow the granite countertop. Right: The wine room.

A Spicy, Full-Bodied Shiraz

When Courtney and Matt Schulte moved into their Stilwell home, they hired Carmen Thomas of Tran + Thomas Design Studio to make it their own.

“We wanted to bring the bling, make it glamorous in a bold, black-and-white palette,” says Thomas. Especially the bar. “Courtney is a wine enthusiast, so she wanted the bar area to include a wine room. As the mother of four children, Courtney calls it ‘momma’s escape place’ after a long day.”

And what an escape place. Thomas pulled out the design stops, while keeping to the original footprint. “The bar was a large monolithic element, and we wanted it to shine,” she says. The original curved soffit got a refresh with black moiré fabric. Black fretwork on either side repeats in the bar chairs. Pendant lights feature silver feather details that pick up the shine from the silvery foil wallpaper on flanking walls.

In an arched nook, the bold wine room showcases the wines on mirrored glass shelves, lit from above by dangling silvery lights that look like wind chimes. On the back shelf of the bar, a wine dispenser and preservation system keeps four wines fresh for pouring a guest’s choice.

“If you build it, they will come,” says Thomas with a laugh.