Home Bar Design: Adding An At-Home Beverage Center

Photo Description: This pass-through working bar is an artistic and dramatic focal point


By Stephanie Vaughan, Eklektik Interiors Designer

When remodeling, more homeowners are wanting to incorporate a bar area into their home. With the trend of entertaining at home becoming more commonplace, along with the recent “stay at home” mandates around the globe, specialty spaces in the home set aside for entertaining have been utilized more than ever. Whether that is a wine storage space, a bar or beverage serving area, or a full-on lounge, the typical homeowner is looking to have that special place in their home to “belly up to the bar!”

Interior designers love this trend in home design because it offers an opportunity to utilize significant spaces for practical needs, while also offering the chance to create an unexpected and exciting focal point. A beverage serving area can add beauty and function to your home and can be utilized not only for intimate personal or family time but for entertaining clients or friends.

What this space looks like is different for every homeowner, but incorporating a designer’s eye and input on different areas in your home that could be transformed into a bar space or wine storage can save you a lot of time and money and give you a working plan to move forward. Most homes have hidden nooks, which often go unnoticed by the homeowner, that would make perfect points of interest. An empty wall in a dining room, a cabinet section in your kitchen, or the space under your stairs can become something new and exciting like a wine display or full-service bar.

Asking the right questions before you begin a renovation project will ensure that your space is designed according to your needs and lifestyle. Here are a few questions to ask to begin the design process. How do I want to use this space and how can this add to my home’s function? Think about how you are going to use it and how to get the best bang for the buck. If you don’t really drink wine, why spend money and space on wine storage. Make it a liquor bar instead. If you don’t drink liquor, then concentrate on wine and all the bells and whistles you can fit into the space. Also consider, if I make this a focal point, who will see it the most? Will it be visible enough to really create a visually interesting space? For instance, if it’s going inside the pantry it should be designed for utility, but if it’s going in the living area or along an entry wall, it definitely should make a statement.

Important elements to consider in your design that add to the function but also the fabulous:

• COUNTERTOPS: Selecting durable countertops for preparing glasses of your favorite elixir, such as quartz or porcelain, add beauty and won’t stain from citrus acids or wine spills.

• LIGHTING: Lighting is very important and can create drama and effect in your new focal point.

• LAYOUT and STORAGE: A flashy or exotic backsplash is usually a good place to start in adding some interest. Storage can be hidden or used as display to add to the feel of the space. Shelves that hold liquor or beautiful wine racks add to the decor, while below the counter cabinets can hide various bar tools and appliances to keep the area uncluttered. Storing glasses is best when in a closed cabinet and even better if that door has glass and lighting on the inside for drama.

• APPLIANCES: A wine chiller with dual temp settings that will keep your reds at the perfect 65 degrees and your whites at 45-50. Depending on the space available, this could be under the counter or a tall unit for maximum storage. An ice maker and a sink are great additions if space and budget allow. You may also consider a drawer dishwasher that is great for washing glasses. One of the newest appliances that is a wine enthusiast ‘must-have’ is a wine saver/dispenser. It holds 4-6 bottles of open wine, keeping it fresh for days after opening and dispenses it into your glass when you push the button.

Originally published in the Houston Chronicle on July 4, 2020  https://www.chron.com/news/article/GHBA-Remodelers-Council-Home-bar-design-15382216.php 

Lasting Kitchen Trends:  Kitchen design that will endure longer than the decade

Whether you are a gourmet cook or all about the microwave, everyone seems to gather in the kitchen. It’s the center for snacking, eating, gathering and socializing.  As we start a new year and a new decade, there are some trends in kitchen renovations that will add value, function, and timeless beauty to the heart and soul of your home.

The most frequent requests we get from clients renovating their kitchen is that they would like to maximize storage and design their space for entertaining, while incorporating convenience and style. Trends we’ve seen that cater to these requirements and that will carry through the decade include more amenities such as larger or double islands, workstation sinks, fancy lighting, larger refrigerators and other beautiful integrated appliances. With the heightened warmth and comfort associated with these conveniences, your kitchen will become a pseudo second family room.

When designing your kitchen, start with the end in mind.  Thinking about what is most important to you and your expectations of the space will help you know where to focus your budget.  As a designer, we ask about a client’s expectations of the space and look at the overall layout in terms of location of appliances and storage requirements.  We look at function and take into account useable heights for countertops and sinks. We also pay special attention to finding the best finish materials and anything else that we can add that showcase your personality and enrich your living experiences.

Because a kitchen is such a high traffic, highly used room in your home, putting your money into quality appliances and plumbing really pays off.  Performance countertops are also a wise investment as they add lasting beauty and function. With your remaining budget, it is fun to add more luxury to your kitchen with beautiful contemporary products like custom designed vent hoods, galley workstation sinks, induction cooktops and integrated appliances in which the appliances appear to be part of the cabinetry.  Some other favorite new kitchen conveniences are pop up outlets installed in your countertops or drawers for electronics, lighting installed in the cabinetry, instant hot and cold taps and refrigerated drawers.

Whatever your lifestyle, there are so many new products and materials available that add function and beauty to a well-designed kitchen area that will last the test of time.

Originally published in the Houston Chronicle on Feb. 16

Purposeful Design: How to make any room functional and fabulous

Designing with purpose is not just about practicality, it is about creating a space that truly enhances the living experience.


Most homeowners are seeking beauty, drama, and the wow factor when they are designing their home. As designers, we want to help each client not only fulfill those dreams, but we also look at function—creating spaces that cater to daily needs, making life better and richer. This combination of luxury and livability will be unique for every client. “Everyone lives differently,” says Kathy Anderson, owner and principal designer of Eklektik Interiors. “There is not one answer. I always design to address every wish and then some.”


Senior designer Stephanie Vaughan defines purposeful design in two ways- designing with purpose and on purpose.  Designing with purpose is a more practical, functional view. Most rooms in a home have many uses and moving parts. These spaces benefit the user most, when they are designed specifically for their needs, maximizing the functionality. The other perspective on purposeful design is what Vaughan described as designing ‘on purpose.’

“When I design a space, I want the homeowner to walk into that room every day and see complete cohesion,” says Vaughan. “This means everything fits together, scales correctly, colors and textures match and flow, and we made all of that happen on purpose.”  This way of designing on purpose, Vaughan suggests, is what separates a DIY room and a room created with a designer.


Designing a home is a very personal process. Each homeowner has a unique lifestyle and therefore needs a custom design to enhance their living experience. When consulting with a client about remodeling, Anderson always keeps needs and budget in mind, while working to design the space to it’s maximum potential. “I initially look at the space with no walls at all and go from there,” says Anderson. She also asks a lot of questions.

  • How can I make this room more functional with what exists?
  • What doesn’t have to stay?
  • Does the cost of making the changes make sense to what I am asking the space to do?
  • Does the functionality of the space outweigh the cost of making the changes?

“It’s all about getting the most ‘bang for your buck’,” says Anderson, “I have never had a client unhappy about making changes that they really wanted, but I have had clients regret not doing what they really wanted because of a little more money.” Open communication through the selection process is key, as the designer can help each client know where each dollar is best spent for their particular needs.

Vaughan also likes to look at the room as a blank canvas, with the challenge in mind to see how far she can go to get the look and space the client wants.  “Sometime the walls that can’t move create challenges that many times turn into the coolest part of the project,” says Vaughan. “I think the quote goes, ‘Necessity (and load bearing walls) is the mother of innovation.’”


Maybe remodeling isn’t in your near future, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add to the livability of your home with a few changes. Many rooms can change direction in simple ways without huge costs. “Sometimes just rearranging the furniture and laying the space out differently helps,” says Anderson. Or it may be as simple as decluttering. “If it isn’t contributing to the function of the space, then get rid of it.”

Replacing furniture gradually with more comfortable and functional furniture is another option, says Vaughan. She also suggests upgrading lighting or adding area rugs. “Lighting is another big game changer,” says Vaughan. “Most builders do not spend enough time or budget on lighting.  Adding new lighting fixtures or even floor or table lamps will give a room more ambient light, instantly create a cozy feeling where you would want to spend time.”  Area rugs can also define a space that seems to not have any boundaries, adding color and sound absorption to a sparse space.


While kitchens are the most popular spaces to remodel because they can impact a client’s life so drastically, both Anderson and Vaughan love to design master bedrooms. Clients don’t always put the time and money into their bedroom, which Anderson feels is the second most important space in the home. She believes that those private spaces that truly effect life in a more personal way can be a retreat that enriches life and a relationship. “Never underestimate the power in building a stronger relationship as a couple thru a fabulous personal space!” says Anderson.

Vaughan loves the challenge found in designing a functional bedroom to be “warm and cozy, safe and inviting, and a place where you want to spend a rainy day or romantic weekends.” While a bedroom will typically not require moving walls, the challenge is in the aesthetic construction, such as a big empty wall that hosts 3 pieces of furniture. “I love to use wallpaper and textured wall coverings, casement divisions to create niches, lighted ceiling treatments, soft fabrics, and many different natural tones,” says Vaughan, “which create a calming and relaxing environment.” And she adds, “don’t forget something soft and fuzzy to step on when you get out of bed to start your day.”