At first glance, this doesn’t appear to be bar shelves but therein lies the design magic. Nothing about this looks like a traditional bar and yet that’s the point. This quiet vignette lives in the family room of Athena’s Brooklyn townhouse. Yes, the navy, ochre, and gold tones are a complete departure from the rest of her home but this is yet another reminder that taking a bold color risk, even in a singular space, can still work in an otherwise neutral environment. That is clearly evident in this stunning visual.
While the initial vision for this room was to align with the layered neutral on neutral aesthetic of the rest of the home, something wasn’t working. The room felt incomplete, so Athena enveloped the walls and ceiling in deeply saturated navy plaster—this offered a suede-like quality. Once transformed, the room became the cozy nook she always wanted it to be.
When designing the bar shelves, Athena approached them in the same way she would any other shelf in her home—like curiosity cabinets. Yes, the bar essentials are still there, but she’s surrounded them with artifacts, vessels, and meaningful objects to engage and trick the eye as it scans the room. Why should practicality have precedence over visual appeal?
As you style your own bar shelves, here are a few simple guidelines to keep in mind:
- Create vignettes by pairing various heights and shapes.
- Group objects in similar tones and patina.
- Orient each shelf differently from the one adjacent to it, and add the offbeat (like something found in nature that does not “belong”) to move your eye about the bookcase.
- If you get overwhelmed, step back and take a photo to assess it as an entire tableau.
As always, let curiosity be your guide and push yourself beyond your design boundaries to take a chance, a risk on something—you might be surprised at what happens next!