Five Ways to Bar on a Budget

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There’s a time for decking out your bar with luxurious crystal stemware and $80 bow-tie shaped wine bottle stoppers, but that time is not amidst a massive full-home redesign. (Actually, it’s debatable whether there’s ever a time when an $80 wine stopper is appropriate, even one shaped like a bow-tie, but I digress…)

We wanted to stock our bar with the finest in shiny pretty things, but if we had any hope of surviving our upcoming bathroom renovations, we’d need to ball bar on a budget.

Here are a few ways that we made our space sparkle without breaking the bank:

1. Skip the Hipster Mugs, Buy Local

Every time I go to Home Goods I have to dodge at least one rabid mug collector making a bee-line for the Rae Dunn aisle. I know this is going to be very controversial, but I just don’t get the appeal.

Rae Dunn is like the April Ludgate of the mug world. A coffee mug that says “coffee”? Wow, #SoMeta

If you want an eclectic mug collection (but don’t want to shell out $14 for that coveted Dunn on the black market ole neighborhood swap page), why not create a collection of mugs from your favorite local cafes and coffee shops instead?

Inspired by an auntie (who has an impressive collection of mismatched mugs from her travels) I started collecting mugs years ago, buying one everywhere I travelled to. When we put up our floating shelves, I picked a handful that went with our kitchen.

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2. Display Corks

Unless you’re in college (where a color-coordinated display of old Burnett’s and Smirnoff bottles is basically the frat boy equivalent of French country rooster decor), it’s generally frowned upon to turn your alcohol consumption into art. The exception here is corks. Corks tow the line between trashy (literally, displaying trash) and classy socially acceptable. 

Not only does this save you a trip to the trash can every time you pop a bottle, it’s also a great way to commemorate special events; save corks from major milestones (like the day you closed on your house, or the bottle you picked up from a supermarket while wandering the 15th arrondissement one starry night in Paris, or that $5 bottle of Bachelor Monday Barefoot…)

To add a little bit of function to frivolity, you can toss in a bottle opener for good measure.

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3. Replace Clutter with Convenient Storage Solutions

Fun fact: everything looks better in a glass canister. Seriously. A glass canister is basically like The Swan for unattractive food. One of these bad boys will make your microwave Quaker look like gourmet steel cut oats.

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A drink caddy is a great compliment to a modern farmhouse kitchen. It’s also a great place to stow otherwise unsightly things, like Sweet’n Low packets or that green matcha tea powder you bought that one time you thought you were going to change your life and drink meal-replacement smoothies.

I’m currently using mine to house some colorful straws and a seasonal blend of coffee that I didn’t want to mix into “general population” (aka my coffee grounds canister)

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4. Put Your Best Glass Forward

…even if that glass came from Ikea. Find glassware that looks cohesive with your theme, but is functional for daily life.

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These carafes? They’re less than ten bucks a pop, but that plastic cap on the top has revolutionized the way I store beverages: not only can I use these on the dinner table, I can also use them to store juice and milk in the fridge (replacing ugly cartons and jugs).

(Ok, maybe “revolutionized” is a strong word to use for a carafe. But I’m excited!)

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Another huge hit: these Bormioli Rocco glasses. Made in Fidenza, Italy (not far from the birthplace of my beloved Carrara marble), these have a great Euro vintage vibe while also complimenting our modern farmhouse kitchen.

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Displaying pretty glass is great, but don’t be afraid to stow-away some less-used (or less-loved) pieces. You don’t need to keep all of your stemware on display. Don’t hesitate to stash extras under the counter, especially glasses that you don’t use as often.

If you’re a wine enthusiast, it’s convenient and aesthetically pleasing to keep a few glasses at the ready on your floating shelves. Souvenir shot glasses, on the other hand? Not so much. Champagne flutes are handy to have on hand… but does special-occasion glassware need to take prime real-estate away from a daily-use item? Not so much. (Wish as I may…)

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5. Find a One-and-Done Coffee Machine

Tempting as it may be to have separate devices to pull hot espresso shots, froth milk, brew a pot of drip coffee, produce a single-serving straight into your mug from a little plastic k-cup, or brew drip into an ice pitcher for cold brew… it’s probably a good idea to consolidate.

That’s the call I made, anyways. While shopping for coffee equipment I was wooed by budget espresso machines and cold brew pitchers, but I ultimately made the call for an all-in-one station that would serve a multitude of purposes without monopolizing counter space on our bar.

We got this Ninja coffee maker. It brews single-serving drinks without the hassle of k-cups or coffee filters, and it has a setting for a more concentrated blend over ice. Bonus: he’ll match our Ninja blender.

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Shop our budget-friendly drink bar below (note: affiliate links below! For more info on what that means, check out the Dreaded Disclosures Page)

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About Accidental Suburbanites

Just a couple of kids turning a house into a home, one Pinterest fail at a time.
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