Staying consistent serves you well Design: A reproduction sideboard is a better choice for an 18th-century living room than a modern wet bar.

March 16, 1997|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,LOS ANGELES TIMES SYNDICATE

I've long wanted to add a serving bar to my living room. What's held me back until now is the room's 18th-century furnishing style, which has always seemed to call for something more than the usual mirrored alcove with shelves. Can you help me come up with a suitable alternative?

Whether you'll find my main suggestion acceptable will partly depend on your willingness to have a bar that makes do without refrigeration and running water. If that's OK with you, perhaps you'll find my advice appealing. If not, I won't be of much help, I'm afraid, because the idea of installing plumbing in an 18th-century-style living room makes me shudder.

Besides, a beautiful crystal pitcher and ice basket should certainly be adequate for serving guests on almost any occasion. Assuming you agree, I think you should consider something like the elegant sideboard shown in the photo.

Its traditional styling will clearly complement the other furnishings in your living room. The historical period is almost identical; Baker Furniture adapted this piece from the original -- made around 1815 and on view today in the Edmunston-Alston house in Charleston, S.C.

Dressed up with fine decanters and silver trays, a sideboard of this sort will look wonderful when a decoratively framed and beveled mirror is hung on the wall above it.

A number of other possibilities are also worth considering. If your living room isn't particularly large, a stationary butler's tray might be preferable. It may not be as stylistically appropriate as a reproduction sideboard, but space constraints might necessitate a compromise.

Perhaps you want more storage capacity than a sideboard provides. In that case, a server with a closed base cabinet could be the answer. If you can find a painted piece of this sort with a marble top, it will add an eclectic dimension to your living room. In addition to functioning as a full-fledged bar cabinet, so distinctive a server will automatically become a focal point.

In general, the key to designing a good-looking living-room bar lies as much with the accessories as with the actual furniture. As long as the serving piece is good-looking and of reasonably high quality, it can be outfitted in such a way as to attract favorable attention and to mesh with a room's overall style.

In your own situation, don't be afraid to introduce a few accessories that are more glitzy than what you would normally display in the room. After all, a bar is supposed to have a festive look -- and it's quite possible to achieve that while remaining within the bounds of good taste.

Pub Date: 3/16/97

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