When starting a bar, it’s important to create a full menu, design the bar top and tables carefully and hire a friendly staff that can provide a positive experience for visitors. But one element that can really tie everything together tends to get overlooked too often — lighting.
The right lighting design can make your bar cozy, vibrant or inviting — whatever vibe you’re trying to create for your business. It can also direct your customers’ eyes to the most visually appealing part of the space, thus creating a focal point and improving the overall design.
Jon Taffer of Bar Rescue said in an interview, “It’s also essential to decide what the focal point is going to be in the room. It shouldn’t be a bright light on top of the POS station or a bad wall or an ugly piece of art. The brightest thing in a room should be a beautiful Wicker display or an open display kitchen something that merchandises and creates appeal with lighting as a key.”
Bar Lighting Ideas
If you’re designing a new bar or trying to improve the look of an existing one, here are some of the top bar lighting ideas to consider.
Pendant lights hang down from the ceiling and often include unique shades or glass orbs that turn them into focal point pieces. They’re perfect for arranging along a bar or placed over tables. These pendant lamps from Niche Modern provide some visual interest and illumination over the top of a bar area in Austria’s Hotel Dollerer.
Track lights are arranged along one long line, making them perfect for accentuating the area directly above a bar. They come in many different styles and levels of brightness. This image from DecorPad shows track lighting mixed with pendant lights over the top of a bar.
This type of light fixture is mounted to the wall and often serves both as a source of illumination and a unique decor feature. They don’t often throw a ton of light, but they can work for bars that want to include old-fashioned or dramatic lighting schemes. This Yii product is a modern example of this format. But there are also plenty of vintage inspired and industrial options.
Industrial styles are particularly popular in today’s bars. This type of light fixture can come in a variety of formats, from hanging lamps to wall mounts. But they usually include exposed bulbs, metal and unfinished surfaces. This one from SaveLights is an example of a statement light fixture that fits with this style.
Chandeliers come in many sizes and styles. There are traditional ones, like this one at the Chandelier Bar in Christchurch. And there are also modern and dramatic options. Chandeliers are best suited for bars that want to really make a visual statement. But many of these fixtures can throw a lot of light as well. They should also usually be placed over tables or bars.
Stained Glass Lamps
Stained glass lamps are perfect for traditional bar decor. They come in a variety of colors and styles. So you can choose the ones that fit with your aesthetic goals or just add an entire array of them throughout the space. These lights serve more as decor than practical lighting, but they can certainly supplement overhead lights or work in a dramatic bar setting. This option is from AliExpress.
Pool Table Lights
Plenty of bars have pool tables or similar activities that may require their own special lighting. Pool table lights tend to have their own unique style. These large lights are often statement pieces that feature stained glass and beer or liquor brand names or images. Others, like this example from Amazon, feature images or visual designs.
Some bar lights are a bit more subtle. With ambient lighting options, like the options included in this example from Lightology, you can illuminate spaces like the area underneath the bar and along the edge of the floor. This can serve as supplemental lighting or as a dramatic option for bars that prefer a dark vibe.
Make your bar top stand out with light that actually illuminates from the top of the bar. You can even make it stand out with colorful uplights like those pictured here from Ice and Lime. This option may be best suited for trendy bars or nightclubs.
String lights are usually better suited as decor than as your main source of light. But they do add some variety and visual interest to a variety of spaces. They can even work for bars that have outdoor patio spaces. You can find small twinkle lights or strands of lights with large statement bulbs. This example comes from PartyLights.com.