Despite the washout weather, garden bars have been this summer’s hot home trend and it’s not too late to join the party.
Online searches for outdoor bars rose by a whopping 358 per cent in June, compared to January, according to Toolstation, while budget homeware shop The Range saw a massive 60 per cent rise in online shoppers checking out its al fresco drinking options this summer.
What’s more, being late to the garden bar party isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Retailers are discounting their summer stock. So before you buy directly from the manufacturer, shop around multiple stockists to find the best discount available.
So, if you fancy pulling a pint from your own backyard pub or shaking a cocktail in the shade of a tiki hut, there’s a garden bar to suit every space and budget.
Join the party: A tiki hut-style garden bar is perfect for friends-round-Friday or a family do
Jenny Davis from Forest Garden, suppliers of garden timber goods, says before heading to the garden centre, consider the space you have available first.
‘Smaller areas might seem overwhelmed with the addition of a standalone bar, which is where a fold-down wall-bar comes in handy,’ she said.
‘A wall-mounted fold-down bar means the smallest of gardens, even balconies, can become a party haven.’ Forest Garden’s fold-down bar costs £189.99 and comes with a fold-away serving table and shelves to store bottles and glasses.
Online retailer A Place For Everything stocks a more compact wall‑mounted bar at £67.50.
For free-standing bars to fit a modest back garden for less than £400, specialists Dunster offers the Utopia Gable Gazebo Bar at £384.99, which is 2.22m wide and 1.20m deep.
The Range sells a tiki-style bar in its Marbella collection for £239.99, complete with straw roof and two bar stools, which is half the size.
To build your bar atmosphere, it could be placed in front of a high wall or sturdy fence, giving you the option to put shelves up for your spirits and accessories.
When the winter months draw in, replace the fridge with a lined box for blankets and cushions to keep you cosy, and install a fire pit or outdoor heater to stay warm while you entertain outdoors
Interior designer Siobhan Murphy recommends creating an eye-catching rainbow effect and to group together the colours of your spirits, mixers and glassware.
She says: ‘Invite nature to your garden bar by installing hanging planters, or create a vertical garden backdrop using wooden pallets for an organic feel.
Oversized potted plants can add a touch of luxury, and unique planters like repurposed teapots will amp up the quirkiness.’
If you’re looking for an enclosed bartending space, you’ll have to spend a bit more. But it does mean you can use your bar for storage in the winter by shutting up the serving hatches.
Forest Garden’s Shiplap Pent Garden Bar at £729.99, or £1,039.99 with installation, is weatherproof and lockable so you can keep a fridge to store spirits in overnight.
When the winter months draw in, replace the fridge with a lined box for blankets and cushions to keep you cosy, and install a fire pit or outdoor heater, at a safe distance, to stay warm while you entertain outdoors.
Garden bars are designed with DIY-ers in mind. But if you’re not handy with a hammer, many companies offer an installation service costing £200 to £300 extra.
Cheers! Garden bars don’t necessarily have to be put away for the winter, as some are covered and can be warmed up with a heater (at a safe distance) or blankets
When your bar arrives, it will be unpainted and without any of the accessories, lights or additional wall fittings shown in the adverts. You will, however, have a blank canvas on which to create your own unique bar vibe.
Siobhan suggests creating a backdrop feature with nature-inspired outdoor wallpaper, and creating an eclectic counter-top using patterned tile mosaics or faux marble vinyl.
If you’re looking for a pub experience in your back garden and you have a budget of close to £4,000, Dunster’s Severn Pub Shed Log Cabin could be right up your street, if you have the space that is. At 5m wide and 3m deep, it’s no small addition to your outside space.
Only the structure and bar are included in the £3,959.98 price — you’d have to buy your own pub sign, seating and beer pump. But there’s space to hang a TV, room for a heater and doors to shut out the chill.
Those who want to entertain their friends in the garden all-year-round could push the boat out with Cuckoo-land’s Ornate Garden Off Set Oval House Garden Pod for £18,995.
It seats ten, has a built-in heater, Bluetooth soundbar and a sideboard, which can be used as a bar. Installation is included, but you’ll need a level, hard-standing base measuring at least 3.25m by 1.7m for it to be built on.
Although most garden bars are designed so that you don’t need planning permission, it’s always wise to check the height of the bar at its highest point against current regulations. Buildings over 2.5m high, at the tip of the eaves, may require planning permission.
Check with your local council if you are unsure.
Savings of the week… quirky lamps
Light side: Graham and Green’s Hetty Hare table lamp – reduced from £165 to £89.10 (grahamandgreen.co.uk)
The nights are drawing in. If this makes you feel a little melancholic, a quirky lamp that brings joy when you switch it on could be the answer.
Homeware companies seem to have recognised the allure of this type of lighting, and you can you find designs in every shape and hue at reduced prices.
If zingy colour raises your mood, Not On The High Street has an Anglepoise-style desk lamp in acid yellow, reduced from £75 to £52.50.
The retailer offers lamps in the shape of birds and bears. But the range also includes a white triceratops lamp which was £19.95 and is now £13.97 — for those who find dinosaurs cute rather than fearsome.
Graham and Green has a fun silver Hetty Hare table lamp with large floppy ears that has been reduced from £165 to £89.10.
Or enjoy a warm glow from the edgy Wayfair lustrous copper base and black shade Trystan lamp with 30 per cent off at £62.99.