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Bar & Lounge Furniture Guide. Updated

No one wants their bar or lounge to look generic or crammed full of off-the-peg furniture. Your vision of the interior is unique and it’s this ambience that will attract clientele and – more importantly – ensure they keep returning. An interior that has well-thought-out space planning, a coherent theme, and carefully chosen, complementary furniture and accessories, will stand out from the crowd. And that’s why it is so important to take time sourcing your bar and lounge furniture.

At Inside Out Contracts, we can help you with every stage of your design and fit-out and you can see examples of some of our most recent projects. Whether you’re looking for bespoke banquette seating, dining furniture, bar stools, side tables, or accessories, we have an incredible range of furniture to suit every space and design requirement. But before you start browsing and planning, here are some top tips on how to pick your bar and lounge furniture. With so many choices, it makes sense to pinpoint your design criteria and what will work best in your venue.

Space planning

Is your venue one large space or does it have alcoves, rooms or zones that would benefit from different styles and types of furniture? Before you even start to think about what – and how much – furniture you’ll need, you should consider the customer journey: how can you make it as quick and easy as possible for people to enter the venue, find seating and make themselves comfortable. After all, once they’re sitting down and relaxed, they will be ready to place an order. And whether that’s at the bar, at a table, or on low seating in a snug area, the seating should be as inviting and accessible as possible.

Other things to consider:

• Ceiling height: If your venue has particularly low or high ceilings, you should select your seating accordingly. A space will look more confined if you use high bar stools in a low-ceilinged room; whereas only using low seating in a cavernous space could make it appear empty and cold.

• Floor level: Floor levels should be even throughout, so make sure you check this before you begin your fit-out. When a venue gets busy with customers and waiting for staff, an uneven floor is an accident waiting to happen.

• Space elevations: Is your venue all on one level, or are there any steps up or down to different areas? While this provides visual interest and results in a more dynamic space, it also means more consideration for your seating and dining options.

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Seat height and seating density

Once you’ve mapped out the ‘zones’ in your venue, you can think about which type of seating will work best for each area. This will depend on the primary function of your venue: if food plays a big part, then you’ll need at least some dining-style tables and chairs; if you’re opening a cocktail or lounge bar, you could focus on lounge chairs with low-seat heights, which can be paired with low stools to save cost and also increase covers.

Bar stools are also a cost-effective way to increase covers, as you are essentially doubling up the functionality of the bar area. They also add interest to the venue, as you will be mixing heights and delineating areas. Another option is to group bar stools around [poseur- link] tables. These tables are tall with a small, sturdy base and a small tabletop, so they are ideal for maximising covers while providing space for customers to place drinks and snacks.

Seating options the main choices

• Armchair: As the name suggests, these often include arms and will be made from fabric, with a padded base and back for the ultimate comfort and relaxation. Perfect for larger venues with distinct spaces.
• Lounge chair: Smaller than an armchair so more economical on space, these tend to be lower down and can be paired with side tables for casual drinks.
• Dining chair: If you’ve got a substantial food menu, you’ll need at least some dining tables and chairs to accommodate dining customers. Here, it’s often best to combine with a table in the same range, to ensure the optimum spacing between the seat and tabletop, and the perfect alignment of the chairs around the table.
• Low stool: If space is at a premium, low stools offer the ideal compromise between cover numbers and comfort.
• Bar stool: Swivel, stacking, height adjustable, with or without backs – it’s not just about choosing to include bar stools in your venue, it’s about which style works best. If you need your space to be flexible, stackable stools are a must. However, if the bar area is a focal point, you can choose a more permanent, statement stool.
• Bench: A versatile option that maximises covers in a range of different spaces.

Table options – the main choices

• Dining table: From two-seaters to ten-seaters and beyond, your space and its primary usage will determine what size, and how many, tables you require. (See our Table Size Guide for more information.)
• Poseur table: These tall drinks or dining tables are a versatile choice and can be combined with bar stools or used alone for standing around and placing drinks on. They generally have a smaller tabletop than other designs and a sturdy base.
• Coffee table: A good choice for matching with armchairs or lounge chairs for casual drinks and bar snacks.
• Side table: Smaller than a coffee table, these are space-saving, easy to move around, and perfect for versatile spaces that might need reconfiguring for different events.

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Choosing materials

When selecting your bar and lounge furniture, the materials and finishes you choose will have a big impact on the style and ambience. However, you’ll also need to consider the footfall and usage of your space and furniture, as any unholstered pieces will need more upkeep, while wooden furniture can be more easily knocked and chipped in high-use areas. Avoid porous tabletops, and select stain-proof fabrics, where possible, to keep your furniture looking fresh and stain-free. Stackable furniture is great for space-saving and versatility but again, consider the material choices – any furniture that will be moved and stacked frequently should be a durable and robust material.

Materials – the main choices

  • Wood
  • Metal
  • Plastic
  • Wicker, rattan, or woven
  • Upholstered
  • Sustainable materials

Lighting your venue

If your bar or lounge is divided into different zones, it’s important to choose lighting that works with each one. Low-level lighting is ideal for drinks, but diners need to see what they’re eating. So, in dining areas, you’ll need something more practical but still aesthetically pleasing, for example, a feature cluster light, or pendants over the dining table. Whatever you choose, the lighting needs to complement the furniture style. You will also need to consider table and stool height, space (for example, if you’re using floor lamps), and how easy it is to access ceiling lights to change bulbs and clean the fixtures.

Find out more

For more inspiration, and to give you an idea of the array of different interiors that are possible, have a look at some of our bar and lounge furniture projects below.

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Inside Out Contracts
Building 16, 42 Creek Road, London SE8 3FN
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