Outdoor Bar Design Ideas for Pubs and Clubs

Creating the perfect outdoor bar space for pubs and clubs allows owners to expand their seating areas and provide an inviting atmosphere for guests. When designing an outdoor bar, it’s important to think about the overall theme, decor, and functionality. The outdoor area should feel like a cosy extension of the indoor space with enough lighting, seating, and amenities to make guests want to hang out for hours.

For pubs and clubs with a backyard space, an outdoor bar and lounge area is a fun way to utilise the extra square footage. Wood elements like a bar top and pergola instantly give the space an earthy, pub-like vibe. Add stone accents and comfy outdoor bar furniture like bar stools and upholstered seating to make it ultra-inviting. 

Anchor the area with a large bar equipped with storage, sinks, and space for mixing drinks. Include extras like a beer tap wall, cocktail station, pizza oven, or fire pit to make it a go-to spot. With the right ambience and decor, the outdoor addition can become the life of the party.

When designing your outdoor bar concept, think about your overall vision and how to use the backyard space best. Map out enough room for a dining table, bar seating, and lounge areas while also allowing space for guests to mingle. 

Use lighting, landscaping, and structural elements to define different functional zones. The result will be a versatile outdoor oasis perfect for serving food and drinks from happy hour through late night. With these tips, you can create the ultimate al fresco hangout spot.


Maximise Your Outdoor Space

The first step is looking at the backyard or outdoor area you have to work with. Measure the square footage and map out how much space you want to allocate for the bar, seating, service areas, pathways, and more.

Having enough room for bar stools, tables, and lounging while still allowing space to walk and mingle is key. If it’s a narrow space, build the bar along one length of fence or wall to anchor it. For larger square footage, create multiple zones like a central bar area surrounded by dining and seating pockets. Use pathways, landscaping, and lighting to help define and connect the different functional areas.

The goal is to create an inviting layout with good flow.

Build a Showstopper Bar

The bar itself deserves special attention since it will be the space’s focal point. Invest in building a substantial bar structure with weather-resistant and durable materials like wood, concrete, and metal. Sturdy construction is key for handling heavy use and moisture.

Size it generously – at least 10-15 feet long to allow ample room for bar stools and service space behind the bar. Include cabinets, shelving, sinks, glassware racks, and other bar essentials. You can even add special features like a kegerator, beer tap wall, ice wells, or cocktail station for serious entertaining. The bar should be outfitted to handle hosting large crowds and busy nights.

Use warm wood tones, comfy leather bar stools, old brick accents, and antique-style light fixtures for a pub or club vibe. Stone and metal touches also fit well.

Deck out the bar facade with shelves to display your glassware and liquor selection. The more detail you add, the more your bar will become a focal point rather than just a serving counter.

Lounge Areas and Seating

One common mistake is not allowing enough seating around the bar. Make sure to leave room for bar stools and add high-top tables nearby for extra seating. But also include lounge areas and standard dining tables further from the bar to create different experiences.

Upholstered chairs, benches, ottomans, and sofas encourage guests to relax and linger. Sectionals are great for large groups. Use side tables for drinks and snacks. Place seating areas around fire pits or fireplaces to instantly make them more inviting.

Umbrella - 2.5m Diameter

Scatter end tables throughout so guests always have a spot to rest drinks. Outdoor rugs help define seating vignettes and add softness underfoot. 

Take cues from your indoor space and carry through any signature lounge furniture or designs. The goal is a laid-back, welcoming vibe.

Atmospheric Lighting

Proper lighting is what transforms a backyard into an atmospheric nightlife hotspot. First, make sure there is adequate general lighting across the entire space. Pathway lighting will help guide people between the bar and lounge areas.

Then layer in accent lighting like pendant lights over bars and tables, string lights overhead, and candle-lit lanterns. Sconces mounted on walls provide focused illumination right where you need it. And don’t forget lighting inside cabinetry and under a bar counter to highlight the bar area even more.

The lighting plan should complement the mood you want to achieve. Steer clear of harsh fluorescent or neon lighting in favour of warmer incandescent and Edison bulbs. Dimmer switches also allow you to control the ambience. As the sun goes down, the right lighting takes over to keep the space lively and inviting.


Define the Space with Landscaping

Don’t overlook the importance of landscaping and greenery in making your outdoor bar design feel polished. Potted trees and plants help soften the environment and create natural dividers between different zones. Use planters to line pathways or border seating areas. Hanging flower baskets mounted on fences or walls also add charm.

If space allows, consider adding permanent garden beds along the perimeter. This creates a lush, enclosed feel that makes your backyard oasis feel more secluded from the world. Just avoid planting trees, shrubs or plants that will block sunlight. And be strategic with placement so plants don’t impede pathways or growth doesn’t end up overtaking the space.

Extra Touches and Fun Add-Ons

After getting the basics like the bar, seating and lighting dialled in, look for ways to add extra touches that make your space special. Fire pits instantly amp up the ambience and give guests a cosy gathering spot. Pergolas topped with string lighting provide architectural interest and help define the bar zone. This can make a good space for adding your outdoor pool bar or poolside bar.


Some other popular add-ons include:

  • Outdoor beer garden with long communal tables
  • Heated floors for cooler climates
  • Misting systems for hot & dry climates
  • Large fans to keep air circulating
  • Outdoor beer taps and draft system
  • Wine casks or whiskey barrels as bar decor
  • Bar games like cornhole, giant Jenga or Connect Four
  • Portable heat lamps for extending the season
  • Outdoor televisions for watching sports
  • Music audio system with zoned speaker areas
  • Pizza oven for firing up quick snacks and pizzas

Having activities and amusements beyond just eating and drinking gives guests more reasons to spend time and come back. The right mix of fun extras tailored to your brand and backyard space can help your outdoor bar concept stand out from the competition.

Kitchen Support & Service

If you plan to serve food and full meals outside, ensure your outdoor bar setup can smoothly interface with the outdoor kitchen. Depending on your menu, you may need additional storage, refrigeration, prep space, and cooking equipment like grills, etc., located outside.

Think through what type of service you’ll need, such as a pass-through window from the kitchen to the patio bar or dedicated staff to run food outside. A point-of-sale system that connects indoor and outdoor stations will allow fast service no matter where a guest sits. Having the infrastructure to handle full-service dining will make the outdoor space even more popular and functional.

Weatherproof the Space

Since the elements can impact an outdoor bar, choose patio furniture and surfaces made of weather-resistant materials that can withstand sun, rain, and humidity without breaking down. Powder-coated and stainless steel metals fare better than raw, unfinished metals. Look for all-weather wicker, teak wood or durable synthetics for upholstery. Include umbrellas for additional shade.

For the bar and any cabinetry, use marine-grade wood that can handle moisture or mould-resistant bamboo. Make sure countertops are made from waterproof materials like quartz, granite, or stainless steel. Any appliances or electronics will need to be rated for outdoor use. Taking steps to weatherproof the space will allow the bar and furnishings to last for years to come.

Style it with an Eye-Catching Decor.

Once all the infrastructure is in place, the fun part is styling your space. Look for decorative accessories that give off the vibe you want – whether it’s a cosy English pub, modern chic, or backyard BBQ. Use accent walls, murals, signage and artwork to reflect the brand.

Vintage-style pub decor like old whiskey barrels, bottles, and framed photos line the walls and bar back. For a sleeker look, hang large-format contemporary art prints. Wooden crates make great risers to display rows of glassware bottles.

Layer in textiles like throw pillows, outdoor rugs, and drapes to soften hard surfaces and tie seating areas together visually. The goal is decor that complements the design while infusing colour, interest, and personality.


Ambience & Music

Along with the aesthetics, don’t forget to design for comfort. Provide heating, fans, shade, and blankets so guests can enjoy the space in any weather. Make sure seating is generously sized and cushy. Arrange furniture in ways that facilitate intimate conversation.

Use ambient background music to match the mood you want to achieve, whether upbeat or relaxed. Invest in a dedicated outdoor audio system that allows zoned control over different areas. Set the vibe with the perfect playlist and volume, inviting guests to unwind while allowing easy conversation.

Consider the Neighbours

If homes border your outdoor bar, take steps to minimise noise and privacy impacts on neighbours, especially later at night when things get loudest. Strategically place solid fencing or dense landscaping to create barriers. Sound-dampening materials like acoustic wall panels can also help absorb noise.

Clearly, post signs reminding patrons to keep voices down and music volume within limits after certain hours. Making an effort to manage sound can help avoid problems that lead to neighbour complaints down the road.

Local Permitting Laws

Most jurisdictions require permits for a commercial bar, especially those with permanent foundations and structures. Building codes give specifications for materials, electrical, plumbing, fire safety, etc. 

There are also health department considerations for serving food and alcohol outside. Work closely with your contractor to ensure the design meets local requirements in your area – this will prevent headaches during and after construction.

Accessibility Accommodations

Design the layout and components to meet accessibility guidelines and allow those with disabilities to navigate and use the space easily. This includes having wide enough pathways for wheelchairs, providing ramps if there are elevation changes, leaving clear space around seating for mobility, and positioning some seats at an accessible height. Keep DDA compliance in mind from the beginning.

Maintenance Needs

While outdoor bars offer great ambience, they do require some extra maintenance compared to indoor-only setups. The bar, furniture, and decor will need to be pressure-washed periodically to keep them looking their best. Refinishing or resealing wood elements annually will maintain quality.

Landscaping requires regular pruning, weeding, fertilising, etc., to stay tidy. Any lighting, heating or audio systems will need occasional upkeep as well. Factor ongoing maintenance into planning and budgeting to keep the space looking fantastic.

Extension of Your Brand

Most importantly, your outdoor bar’s look, feel, and vibe should seamlessly extend your brand identity. Use familiar logo signage, menu design, and decor choices that reflect the indoor space. Keep the casual, welcoming atmosphere consistent. This continuity between indoor and outdoor creates a cohesive experience for your pub or club.

Frequently Asked Questions

What size should I make my outdoor bar?

For commercial use, plan for at least a 10-15 foot-long bar. This allows space for multiple bar stools and a bartender work area behind the bar. Make sure to allocate enough square footage for bar seating, lounge areas, pathways, and service zones.

What are the best materials for building an outdoor bar?

Use weather-resistant materials like pressure-treated wood, composite decking, concrete, and steel. Surfaces should be able to withstand moisture and heavy use. Marine-grade plywood and waterproof laminates work for cabinetry. Choose durable bartops like granite, quartz, or stainless steel.

How can I get electricity to my outdoor bar?

Outdoor electrical work requires permits and a licensed electrician. The bar will need enough circuits and outlets for lighting, appliances, TVs, music, etc. Consider installing an electrical subpanel if extra capacity is needed. Use GFCI outlets and exterior-rated fixtures, wires and conduit.

How do I stock and equip my outdoor bar?

Provide glassware storage, under-bar refrigeration, ice bins, blenders, draft beer taps and other bar tools. You may also want specialty equipment like kegerators, wine fridges, pizza ovens, etc. Have enough space to mix cocktails and serve multiple guests at once.

Should I build a cover or roof for my outdoor bar?

An overhead structure like a pergola or partial roof helps protect the bar from sun and rain. Make sure there is still openness for ventilation and fire code compliance. Fans can improve air circulation if covered. Choose materials that can withstand outdoor exposure.

What rules apply for serving food and alcohol outside?

Most jurisdictions require permits for commercial outdoor food and liquor service. There are health department regulations for sanitation, prep areas, waste management, etc. Building codes also govern structural safety. Know your local laws.

How can I reduce noise from my backyard bar?

Be considerate of neighbours by controlling the volume of music and reminding patrons to keep their voices down later at night. Strategically place solid fencing, plants or acoustic panels. Install sound-absorbing materials and insulation within bar construction. Don’t place speakers and noise directly facing homes.

Maximise Your Backyard Potential

Having an outdoor bar and lounge area allows pubs and clubs to make the most of their backyard square footage. Turning unused space into an inviting outdoor oasis provides more seating capacity, expands food and drink sales, and gives guests another reason to spend more time at your establishment. By following these design and build tips, you can create an outdoor bar space that becomes a beloved and lively addition to your business.

For personalised guidance on planning your ideal outdoor bar, pub, or club, contact the experts at Aaron’s Outdoor. With years of experience designing and building customised backyard bars and lounges, they can help advise you through the entire process – from layouts and permitting to construction and finishing touches. Reach out today to start bringing your outdoor bar dreams to life!

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