Bookshelf, but also the bar: Guest stylist Devika Narain shows how, in a small space, furniture can multitask

Celebrity wedding designer Devika Narain draws from her expertise in designing dream weddings to show us how to prep our homes for Diwali. In the fourth part of our series, she demonstrates how to fashion an efficient bar area with furniture that you already own

 

Devika bookshelf Bar set

If your home is going to be filled with people, you don’t need to bring in more big pieces of furniture. A tall bookshelf can be easily converted into a bar and can work for any party.

When preparing your home for a party, you have to factor in aesthetics and functionality. There should be a zone for food, comfortable and sufficient seating, and of course, a bar. “For those of us who don’t have the luxury of space, I love using a bookshelf to create a bar. It forms the perfect landscape to play with at different levels,” says Devika who likes to create vignettes that people can easily recreate with a few big items they already own.

Read on for her expert tips:

Use what you already have
I love entertaining and having people over but I don’t have a bar area where I can display glassware and bar accessories. If the home is going to be filled with people, I prefer not to bring in more big pieces of furniture. A tall bookshelf can be easily converted into a bar and can work for any party. This look can also be recreated with any piece where you can layer and place items at varying heights. I have personally used a side table and console for my home parties. The key is to make the atmosphere comfortable and casual. I like when people pour themselves a drink; it’s the first sign of an intimate gathering.

Always begin with what you need
You are going to need different alcohol and certain glassware that goes with it. You will also need coasters, pre-chilled mixers, stirrers and napkins, bar accessories for whipping up cocktails as well as condiments and garnishes. You could add an ashtray with a lighter. First, place these items on different shelves – make sure you place each kind of glassware together, for instance champagne glasses in one shelf, martini glasses in another, etc. Wire baskets are a great way to organise bottles and other items.  

Go bold with colours, prints and brass
The reason I have gone bolder is so this look can work for any occasion. I’ve played with a lot of quintessentially Indian elements like the brass lotus hanging lamps which pair beautifully with the cane and reclaimed teak wood chair. The deep indigo blue wall forms a moody backdrop for the warm vintage kilim rug that is intricate without being overpowering. Dark wood also works really well with this styling.

Bar close up

The setting really comes together when you layer flowers and greenery.

bookshelf Bar close up

Make sure you place each kind of glassware together, for instance champagne glasses in one shelf, martini glasses in another, etc. Wire baskets are a great way to organise bottles and other items.

Build a pleasing contrast with flowers and plants
The setting really comes together when you layer flowers and greenery. To offset the look, I’ve added pockets of vibrant green hydrangeas and ferns with a smattering of yellow, purple and red flowers. You can use marigolds, mogra, bougainvillea or desi gulab; these bring in typically Indian scents and colours to the setting. Arrange them in anything you like from brass thalis and bowls to pickle jars and clay kulhars.

Decorate, don’t clutter
Once you’re done adding the basics, then work in decorative elements. I’ve worked in a few glass jars filled with battery fairy lights. Remember not to pack the bookshelf too much because functionality is key. Leave one shelf empty to serve as a workspace where people can make their drinks. I’ve kept a few books, which I love using to add height where needed.  People automatically convene at the bar, so make sure there is enough space to move around it.

Next up…

Surprise your guests with this understated look for Diwali that our stylist calls ‘anti' festive

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