Design Moves to Steal From Some of the World’s Best Bars, Part II

by Scott Wagner

More tips to make your home bar decor stand out

For the second installment of “Design Moves to Steal from Some of the World’s Best Bars” we zeroed in on Paris, London, and New Orleans to find some sophisticated spots with cool kid appeal. From an underground hideout inspired by a pre-Columbian god to a speakeasy drenched in red, check out our finds below along with some ideas on how to cop the looks for your own bar at home. 

Serpent a Plume, Paris 

The Vibe: Surrealist after dark.  

How to get the look: Located in the Place des Vosges (the oldest square in Paris) Serpent a Plume is like a design dream brought to life. Inspired by a pre-Columbian god of the underworld, it’s a mix of furniture as cool as the people it caters to and the kind of Aztec antiquities you maybe once saw at the Met. Designed by Vincent Darré, a man known for interior work on a par with that of Dalí, it’s a place meant for indulgent nights oh so surreal. 

Achieving a similar look requires you to take note of the De Sede sofa dressed in white leather, the black and white checkerboard floor, and hits of history by way of stone sculptures hanging from four-hundred-year-old walls. It’s complicated, but doable. Start with a modular sofa in a style straight out of the seventies and create a conversation pit anchored around a cluster of velvet ottomans. Scour Ebay for some old stone sculptures (bonus points if they’re South American) and, most importantly, avoid overhead lighting at all costs. Remember, simplicity is key — you want to artfully arrange a few pieces that make a statement and not much else. 

The Berkeley Bar & Terrace, London 

The Vibe: Calm, cool, collected. 

How to get the look: The Berkeley Bar & Terrace is a polished place where you’d be correct in ordering your bourbon neat. Walls clad in real walnut, a black marble bar, and plenty of brass make for a bar that leans toward the softer side of all things masculine. Brutalist-inspired archways were installed to divide up the rooms into intimate spaces, where leather wing back chairs and modernist tables are arranged in the interest of quieter conversation. 

As this place proves, a white room doesn’t have to be boring. You’ve just got to find the right shade and layer on top. Hit up Benjamin Moore and ask for a gallon of their warmest white. Paint everything. Walls. Ceiling. Millwork. Once you’ve got your all-white canvas, consider installing a bar top made of Black Marquina marble and place two twelve inch tall brass lamps at either end. Hunt for a pair of brown leather wing back chairs and put them on top of the plushest gray rug you can find. If you’ve been blessed with a fireplace, use it. If not, put out some beeswax candles for that golden hour glow that’ll do double duty when your Dunhill runs dry. 

Bar Marilou, New Orleans 

The Vibe: Small Batch with a bookish twist.

How to get the look: Blood-red walls and a tiger-motif carpet speak to Bar Marilou’s wilder side. Think of it as a high-end watering hole that’s equal parts exotic and rich, and visually energetic enough to keep you wide awake even after one old fashioned too many. Concepted and executed by Los Angeles-based designer Pamela Shamshiri, the furnishings are nothing short of a mashup meant to reflect the spirit of the lively (and at times, debaucherous) city in which it exists. 

From the color of the walls to seating covered in more than one shade of velvet, there’s plenty of inspiration to be had. After looking at every image of the place we could find, there’s one that we felt was more actionable than the rest: an intimate corner with library-like appeal. The takeaway? Consider building your bar around your books with a set of shelves that also serves as a place to hang art. It might not be the liveliest cue to take from Marilou, but sometimes a good bourbon and a book is all you need. 

Editor’s Note: Top image courtesy of Nick Karvounis, Unsplash 

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