Vintage Bar Decor At Home – 11 Essential Pieces🍸🍹
If you’ve ever walked into a historic bar or saloon, you know the feeling of being transported to another era. The 19th-century saloons of the American frontier were a place of gathering for cowboys, prospectors, and locals to come together to socialize and unwind after a hard day’s work. The decor of these establishments played a crucial role in creating the ambiance and mood of the space. Now, this is what vintage bar decor means to me – Victorian bar cabinets, bar stools, glassware, and so on. However, to many people vintage bar decor is also neon lights, jukeboxes, or mid-century vintage bar signs.
In this post, I won’t be focusing on any time period in particular. Instead, I will share 11 most popular and sought-after pieces of vintage bar decor for those looking to create their own vintage bar at home.
1. Vintage Bar Signs
Regardless of the type of vintage bar design we’re trying to recreate, vintage bar signs should be at the top of the list. They are one of those retro bar accessories that bind the whole space together giving it that old-bar vibe. Consider incorporating different types of classic pub signs, such as beer and liquor advertising signs, and using them as focal points in your bar design. As usual, there are plenty of online options to choose from. This retro Mojito cocktail sign is just one example.
2. Bar Cart🍾
Bar carts are both functional and stylish, and the right vintage bar cart can make a wonderful furniture statement piece, offering a unique way to display your favorite spirits and cocktails. I personally wouldn’t be able to resist this globe drink trolley, for its ultra-vintage feel. Just this piece alone screams antique bar decor and is sure to be the talk of your next party.
Globe bar carts also work really well in vintage office decor – you can read about it here.
3. Antique Barware🥃
It’s impossible to create a vintage bar atmosphere without vintage barware. My personal favorite, of course, is Victorian era barware, but there are many other vintage-style items that are just as bedazzling. For example, this 1930s-inspired Chateau crystal vintage decanter will add sophistication and elevate your old-fashioned home bar. Another must-have is old-fashioned glassware to add even more fancy to your vintage home bar.
4. Vintage Beer Stein🍺
Beer steins are believed to have originated as far back as the Black Plague of the mid-1300s, with their lids intended to repel flies. From traditional ceramic steins adorned with ornate pewter lids to the various Tankard types, beer steins come in a variety of styles. This particular 1956 German beer stein caught my attention thanks to its intricate and detailed design. It’s a rare vintage find and it’s sure to spark up conversations at your next shindig.
5. Neon Signs/Marquee Signs
Now, here’s a fun fact: the invention of neon signs dates back to 1902 and a French engineer named George Claude. So, having been around for well over 100 years, neon signs are not only vintage but also a staple of vintage bar decor. And marquee signs had come to the fore even earlier, with the first one’s debut in New York City in 1891.
I personally have a weakness for neon and marquee signs – there’s just something so nostalgic yet super fun about them. And when it comes to vintage bar decorating ideas, vintage marquee and neon signs should be at the top of the list. I think this Happy Hour vintage LED marquee sign is super adorable, but there are a ton of options out there, so happy hunting!
6. Vintage Bar Stools🪑
The type of vintage bar furniture you choose to go for will depend on the aesthetic of your home bar, but vintage bar stools are, of course, a must. Bar stools were first introduced in the early 1900s, during the Prohibition era, when people began to consume alcohol in secret speakeasies. There was a growing need to accommodate more guests at a lower cost. Back then, bar stools were often made of metal and featured simple designs that were easy to clean and maintain. However, as the popularity of bars increased, bar stool designs became more ornate and were made with materials such as wood and leather.
This set of 2 metal and wood swivel bar stools would be perfect for industrial bar design. And if your goal is, for example, mid-century modern bar furniture, then velvet is your friend. These two velvet mid-century bar stools in mustard alone are enough to add a pop of color to your vintage home bar.
First introduced in the 1930s, jukeboxes have been fundamental items used in bars and diners all across the U.S., quickly becoming one of the symbols of Americana🇺🇸. They provided lots of entertainment to patrons, letting them choose their favorite songs on demand and enhancing the overall experience of a night out.
Jukeboxes surely haven’t lost their charm and are still popular, not only among establishments but also in home bars. Add a red and blue touch to your vintage bar decor with this Victrola countertop jukebox featuring AM/FM radio and wireless streaming, with the option to connect to iPhone and Android smartphones.
8. Wooden Barrel
Wooden barrels are the ultimate universal vintage bar piece. They can be used for a variety of purposes such as aging and storing liquor, serving as a table or seating, or simply as a decorative element. A vintage wooden barrel will unify your bar space, making it feel cozy and like an actual bar!
9. Vintage Bar Mirror
Vintage bar mirrors were first used in the late 19th century as a way for breweries to advertise their brands. Like this Seagram’s 7 whiskey mirror bar sign, these mirrors featured the logo or image of a particular beer or spirit and were placed in bars and pubs to attract customers. A branded bar mirror will surely make your vintage home bar feel like the real deal.
10. Vintage Bar Accessories
Vintage bar accessories like classic cocktail shakers, jiggers, strainers, muddlers, or even vintage wine racks are essential for your retro-style bar to feel authentic. They can be collected over time and displayed prominently on a vintage bar cart or shelving unit. If you don’t have time to fish around flea markets, Amazon is a good place to start hunting for such accessories. This Godinger Dublin martini shaker has an adequately vintage feel to it and, thanks to its crystal glass, lets you watch the cocktail mixing as it happens.
11. Bar Cabinet🍷
Wooden antique liquor cabinets are definitely something I have a weakness for. If you can get one for your home bar, you’re pretty much halfway to achieving a vintage bar setting.
Historically, bar cabinets were popular during the Art Deco period of the 1920s and 1930s, where they were designed to reflect the sleek and glamorous aesthetic of the era. But even if you’re not into Art Deco bar decor, you can go for something older (read: late Victorian😀) or more modern. This Howard Miller Red Mountain wine and bar cabinet will work well in both.
Vintage Bar Decor: FAQ
Let’s dive even deeper into vintage bar design by answering the most commonly asked questions on this topic.
Where to find vintage bar decor items for sale?
Nowadays, vintage bar decor items such as vintage bar furniture for sale can easily be found on online marketplaces like Etsy, Amazon, eBay, Houzz, Facebook Marketplace, and others. It’s also possible to go the traditional way and look for vintage bar decor products for your collection at flea markets, brick-and-mortar antique stores, estate sales, and garage sales.
What kind of barware is essential for a vintage-themed bar at home?
Some barware that’s essential for a vintage-themed bar at home are vintage cocktail shakers, jiggers, strainers, cocktail glasses, muddlers, bar spoons, and bottle openers.
Can I mix and match different vintage styles for my bar decor, or should I stick to a specific era or theme?
Mixing and matching different vintage styles can be a great way to create a unique and eclectic look for your bar decor. Just make sure to keep a consistent color palette, consider the scale of each piece, have a unifying element such as a specific material or texture to tie together different vintage styles (for example brass), and be intentional with your choices.
How can I incorporate vintage bar decor into a modern or contemporary home design?
You can incorporate vintage bar decor into a modern or contemporary home design by using vintage pieces as accent pieces. For example, you could use a vintage bar cart or a set of vintage glasses as a focal point in a modern room.
Are there any safety concerns or precautions I should take when using vintage barware, such as lead crystal glasses or copper mugs?
Yes. Lead crystal glasses can leach lead into drinks, which can be harmful if ingested in large amounts over time. Therefore, it’s best to avoid using lead crystal glasses for serving drinks. Copper mugs can also be problematic if they are not lined with another metal, as the copper can leach into acidic drinks like citrus cocktails. If you use copper mugs, make sure they are lined with nickel or stainless steel. It’s also vital to inspect vintage barware for cracks, chips, and other damage that could make them unsafe to use.
How to incorporate 1930s bar decor?
To incorporate 1930s bar decor, you can use dark wood paneling, marble or granite countertops, and geometric patterns in your bar area. You may also want to incorporate Art Deco elements, such as a mirrored bar or light fixtures with bold geometric shapes. Vintage barware, such as chrome cocktail shakers, etched glassware, and Bakelite-handled bar tools, can help complete the look. Finally, consider using classic 1930s cocktail recipes, such as the Sidecar or the Manhattan, to add authenticity to your vintage bar experience.
By incorporating vintage bar decor into your home bar, you can add a touch of nostalgia and history to your space. From vintage signs to jukeboxes and barware, there are many ways to create a vintage vibe in your home bar. I hope these 11 essential vintage bar decor items have inspired you to create a unique and memorable home bar design!