Summer house bar ideas: Perfect for garden entertaining

Create a summer house bar at the end of your garden with plenty of inspo available right here.

Summerhouse bar ideas

by Jill Morgan |
Updated on

However big or small your outside space, an easy way to give your garden a little pizazz is to add your own outdoor bar. Perfect for the summer months or social gatherings, you can create a gin palace, cocktail bar, or personal pub tailored to suit your style using a summer houseas your foundation.

Whether you’ve already got one in the garden that’s seen better days or you are looking to start from scratch, we’ve strummed together some fab summer house bar ideas that will bring the party home.

Modern Gardens magazine writer Jules Barton-Breck says you should consider a summerhouse building for your outdoor bar as it cheapest alternative to building an extension on your house. "A summer house provides a proper outdoor room that you can escape to for reading or enjoying a gin. Plus, it’s a great place to entertain if the weather is a bit rubbish, but you’d still like to be out in your garden," Jules tells us.

"It’s much nicer to set up a craft or hobby space in a summerhouse than in a light-poor, cramped shed. And, if you choose the right structure for your garden, it’ll create a fantastic focal point and possibly add value to your house price."

We have created the ultimate guide to building your dream summer house bar - from the foundations through to the lighting; here is everything you need to know to transform your summer house into a personal pub.

Creating your summer house bar

The foundations

First things first, you need somewhere to house your bar, and a summer house is a perfect spot thanks to its pre-built structure and large windows. If you’ve already got one in your garden, give it a good clear out. If you don’t, take a look at these affordable summer houses that provide plenty of space inside and options for where you can place your bar serving area.

Serving area

You will need to think about the most comfortable height for your serving area, both inside and out. Around 106cm is regarded as the optimum height but it is worth adjusting it to suit your needs.

The bar surface can be made from timber, a slab of slate (make sure the structure is strong enough to support it), a sheet of aluminium or stainless steel. The only essentials are that it needs to be easy to wipe down, flat and provide enough room for extras such as drip trays, ice buckets and bowls of nibbles. Buying an off-the-peg bar structure is another option to consider and there are plenty to choose from.

Made from pressure-treated timber, they are usually designed to stand on a concrete or paved base, so this will need to be in place prior to installation. Most products are flat-packed so will require assembly, but this is usually pretty straightforward, requiring basic tools and a friend to help.

Wooden Home Bar
Price: £359.10+

A rustic wooden bar available in a choice of widths to fit your summer house space, and the option for added extras including a sunken ice bucket, LED lights, optics, and more.

Review: "Absolutely in love with our bar... decided to paint it to make it more our own... over the moon with it."

This L-shaped bar can also be customised in size to fit your summer house, and you can choose the behind-bar shelving layout to best suit your home bar needs.
Review: "Superbly built bar. Plenty of storage space. Sturdy. Good gap for a fridge. Excellent height."

If you're looking to go all out, this gorgeous black and brass bar has it all; beautiful carving work on the front panels, three fixed shelves, a footrest, a bottle rack, a glass rack, a drawer and a cupboard. If it's not quite your style, we'd recommend checking out Maisons Du Monde for more fantastic pre-built bar options.
Review: "It's stunning, a real centrepiece for my games room."

If you're a DIY whizz, you could always try creating your own. We've shared a step-by-step guide to building your own bar that can fold down from your summer house wall.

Summer house bar ideas

Now we’ve got the bare minimum covered, it’s time to let your imagination run riot – budget-dependent. We’ve shared some fab ideas on how to turn your summer house into a free house in no time at all.

Service hatch

One of the ways you can serve to guests, is to swap a large, fixed window for a top opening design that can also create a canopy for you to serve drinks from. Or you could even replace the window with a pull-down metal shutter for a fun, authentic effect. Try who specialise in all different shutter types including manual and electric-opening systems.

Bar workspace

If you want to become a master mixologist, or just want to make sure the serving area doesn’t get too crowded, you’ll want to equip your summer house with a worktop or shelving across the back or side wall for chopping up garnishes, and storing bottles and glassware.

Most tables with a wipeable surface would work well as a back bar counter, but you'll need to make sure shelving is strong and fit for purpose:

This full home bar set from OurHomeToYours2017 on Etsy includes two gin racks (large enough to hold five glasses each), two bottle shelves, a spirit shelf, and an optics plaque. It comes with specific measurements but these can be changed on request.

We love this set of two trendy, rustic wooden shelves complete with steel brackets. They're handmade using solid timber, finished with a blend of natural waxes to make them water-resistant, and come with two sets of glass holders to hang beneath.
Review: "Lovely shelves with sturdy brackets and excellent customer service."

Use dispensing optics

If you want your bar to look professional, add dispensing optics to your wall space that deliver a shot in the perfect amount. Zero guesswork here! If your bar space is wide enough, you could even fit the odd beer tap too. Try for a selection of taps.

Oypla 6 Bottle Wall Mounted Spirit Drink Dispenser
Price: £29.99

This set of six-bottle optics is ideal for home use, dispensing 25ml reliably and without wasted drips. The holders can be adjusted take bottles up to 35cm high and are fitted with secure hygienic seals.

If you're limited on wall space, try out this revolving stand for size. Designed to hold four bottles of various sizes up to one litre, you can easily rotate the stand to dispense your tipple of choice.
Review: "Perfect for our outdoor bar. Visitors love it, AND the drink lasts longer!"

The Luna wall bar
Price: £101.25

The Luna Wall Bar combines optics with shelving to create a ready-to-go wall shelving solution. The rustic rack has
two optics, shelves for bottles/mixers or cans, and slots to hold stemmed glasses. It arrives unpainted but you customise it by painting it yourself to match your bar's vibe.
Review: "Really pleased with our wall bar, exactly what we were looking for. Very well made, we painted ours green. Looks fab for BBQs, it's definitely a hit with our adult children!"

Get electrics fitted

Depending on whether you can run electric to the bar location, adding a permanent fridge is definitely worth the effort. They will make preparing drinks and clearing up the area a breeze and will provide somewhere to chill bottles and keep ice. A professional electrician will be able to run an armoured cable from your property down to the bar, with enough power for lights, a small fridge and a heater for when things get a little chilly.

With a 93-litre capacity, large enough to hold four bottles of wine and approximately 90 330ml cans, this is a great buy to keep your drinks chilled and your bar fully stocked at all times. Temperatures are adjustable between 2-15°C and it comes complete with a handy LED light and adjustable feet to get just the right fit.
Review: "Lovely looking fridge and looks really stylish. Holds plenty of bottles and has a nice rack for wines. Bigger than my last fridge and I’m really happy with the new size. Temp is really cold so turned it down from the recommended setting. Def worth the money."

Russell Hobbs RH48UCFF2B Fridge Freezer
Price: £309

If you think you could really benefit from having an ice box in your under-counter fridge, this Russell Hobb has a 61-litre fridge capacity and 24-litre freezer capacity. It's not specifically made for drinks so has door storage and a salad drawer, but this provides the perfect space for storing garnishes that are ready to go.

For a busy, high-tech home bar, you could benefit from the Polar G-Series Bar Cooler. This beer fridge has a whopping 208-litre capacity, large enough to house 180 330ml cans, and features include double-glazed hinged doors, LED lighting, and a powerful fan-assist. This is the type of fridge you could expect to find in a real bar.

Get bar seating sorted

Once the bar structure is in place, you need to provide guests somewhere comfy to sit and chill. Bar stools are always a popular place to perch and ideal if you want to show off your cocktail-making skills! A pair of outdoor sofas will add a cosy area for relaxing. Add an outdoor rug, plenty of cushions and throws to ward off chills and some practical side tables and you will soon have an area that guests naturally gravitate to.

Available in Dusty Green, Grey, or White, the John Lewis bar stool is a super stylish option well suited to modern summer house bars. Made of sturdy polypropylene and a welded metal frame, it's well-padded in the seat and has a deep backrest so you can drink in comfort.
Review: "Wanted stools that were comfortable and stylish. After using it for a few days, very comfortable for sitting on for over an hour and well worth the wait for them."

Better suited to a whisky bar or summer house pub, the Etta chairs are upholstered in durable brown PU leather and are a sophisticated choice. The faux leather contrasts with the elegant rubberwood legs and metal cross bar, providing the perfect place to rest your feet as you sip a cold one.
Review: "Ordered 3 of these for our kitchen island, really good quality and good back support. Gorgeous colour tan leather PU."

Another sophisticated bar stool that brings new levels of luxe to your summer house bar, is the Julietta. The velvet fabrication gives this bar stool a rich look and feel with contrast piping. Paired with slender, black, metal legs, this bar stool will help to make your bar the classy jaunt of the neighbourhood.
Review: "These chairs are beautiful. Very sturdy and easy to put together."

Create your look

Paint or stain the wood using a weather-resistant timber product such as Cuprinol Garden Shades or Ronseal Weatherproof Wood Paint. For a classic look, stick to two colours, one for the walls and a contrasting shade to pick out the bar, door and serving area. Alternatively, get creative and consider painting a pictorial design around the bar, on the door or the front side of the structure. Vary the look to suit your style. An urban graffiti tag would work for a gin or shots bar, while a retro metro design would bring in some elegance suited to a wine bar.

Perfect for use both inside and outside of your summer house thanks to its weather-resistant properties, this paint guarantees 10 years of wear and tear. That means no cracking, peeling, or blistering, and all without the need for primer. Available in 15 colours.
Review: "Had this paint a couple of times before, it goes on lovely, dries quick, & brushes clean with soap & water, would recommend."

Designed to colour and protect, this paint has a rich colour pigment that also always the natural texture of the wood grain to shine through (though it can be applied on other surfaces too). It's available in 36 colours, each of which has been inspired by nature to complement your summer house's garden surroundings.
Review: "The colour is absolutely gorgeous, bright and uplifting. This Beach Blue has gained many compliments, the before and after is astonishing! It needed two coats on the wood to give it an even cover, but it was very easy to apply and dried very quickly. I'd definitely buy this brand again, it's so easy to use and paint."

Tackle all your summer house bar surfaces in one with this multi-surface paint. Suitable for wood, metal, plastic, ceramics, and more, it provides durable coverage that's chip and fade-resistant. It has a silky satin finish and can be used indoors and out.
Review: "This is absolutely fantastic paint. Painted UPVC doors and only needed 1 coat, they look brand new."

Don’t forget the essential barware!

Good luck serving some summery cocktails without the essential barware to hand. Some must-haves include drip trays or bar mats to collect any spilt alcohol, ice cube trays, an ice bucket (if you don't have a freezer behind the bar), a chopping board and knife for fruit garnish, and a cocktail shaker and tools. If beer or wine is your tipple of choice, make sure you have the right bottle openers.

To become the master mixologist of your summer house bar, you need the right tools. This set in glamorous gold includes a chic gold metal shaker, a strainer, mudder, stirrer, and double jigger. Cocktails coming right up!
Review: "A great accessory for our home bar, gorgeous colours for brassy gold and great quality. We’d highly recommend."

Beer Mat
Price: £12.99+

Bar mats and runners are a great way of keeping spillages and mess to a minimum. We love these personalised picks, available in a range of sizes to suit your bar, where you can add your family's name or the name of your end-of-garden bar. Available in packs of four, six, eight, or 12.
Review: "Really love our bar runner! Looks great and have had lots of comments about it already!"

If you don't have a bag of ice to hand in your freezer, we'd recommend this ice cube tray from OXO. Containing two separate trays making a total of 48 cubes, these fit together in a plastic frame to support it during filling, freezing and transporting.
Review: "Cannot recommend this product enough. Perfect size ice cubes and clever design!"

Personalise your space

Time to accessorise! Add metal signs or letters to spell out your own message. There’s a huge selection for decorating the outside of a bar and for adding ambience in the seating area at

Lights are all important for adding atmosphere. Go for classic festoon lights, clear or coloured, strung in front of the bar or across the party zone or try neon statements such as ‘Cocktails’, ‘Kiss Me’ or a kitsch pink flamingo – is a good hunting ground for things like this. Back this up with practical task lighting, particularly inside the bar – think wall-mounted bulkheads for workable chic.

Read next: Summer house lighting: Our top picks

Bringing that ultra-cool bar vibe to your summer house, this light box truly sets the scene during the day and after dark. This one is perfect for cocktail lovers, but you can find plenty more designs in the store.

Vintage Industrial BAR Sign
Price: $84.36

A fun addition to your bar, this rustic design and light bulbs give an authentic bar feel. With a hanging hole included on the back, you can position these letters on a wall, on shelves, on top of your bar or even on the front. The design choices are endless!
Review: "I'm really impressed with the rustic look of these lights. Although they are plastic, you couldn't tell without picking them up. The lights are really bright; they look fantastic. The only downside is they're not remote controlled so you have to manually switch each letter on or off."


Why choose a summer house bar?

It’s the cheapest alternative to building an extension on your house, providing a proper outdoor room that you can escape to for enjoying a gin or a glass of wine. It’s a great place to entertain if the weather is a bit rubbish but you’d still like to be out in your garden. Plus it’s much nicer to set up your bar in a summerhouse than in a light-poor, cramped shed. And, if you choose the right structure for your garden, it’ll create a fantastic focal point and possibly add value to your house price.

Where should I put a summer house?

Jules Barton-Breck says if you’re a sun-lover, then the best position is facing south where it, and you, can lap up the sun all day. "This is particularly welcome in winter, when it’s lovely to hole up in the shelter of your summerhouse and enjoy the warmth of the low sun. However, if you’re primarily going to use your summerhouse for hobbies or it’s going to double as a home office, then a shadier spot is better."

"Consider which way to face your new summerhouse, too – and don’t just presume it needs to face into the centre of your plot. Position it so it faces away, and adding some screening, and you could create a secret hideaway at the bottom of your garden. A good place to start this thought process is to consider which are the favourite parts of your garden, and work out how a summerhouse could be positioned to look out onto each of those. As you’ll likely be spending plenty of time sitting and relaxing in the new structure, the view from it needs to fill you with joy!"

Bear in mind, too, that it’s best to leave at least 50cm of space all around the summerhouse to allow access to maintain it as and when, and this will also prevent the area from becoming too damp.

Do you need permission?

Any garden building must use up less than half the available outside space. You don’t need planning permission unless it’s going to be bigger than 30m2, and that would be a pretty big summer house! If you choose to position your summer house less than 2m from a boundary wall or your property, then it must not be higher than 2.5m – but if you site it more than 2m away, it can be up to 4m in height. However, it’s always best to check with your local authority.

Find out more by using the Renovation Nation tool at

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