If you’ve spent most of your adulthood living abroad, “the pub” is the stuff of nostalgia, small talk, and anecdote. Pubs make up the heart and soul of English life. Ask any British man or woman, and they will nearly always have their favorite “local.”
Traditional pub style feels cozy and warm, with lots of dark wood, low ceilings and roaring log fires. If you have the space, why not create a warm place to hole up in your home this winter and drink a few cheeky beers with friends? Here’s how to get the look.
BRITISH HAS PUBS, AMERICA HAS BARS
Generally speaking, or generally drinking, if you will, America has more of a bar scene than a pub culture. British pubs are quiet, relaxing environments. Brits occupy pubs in the same way Americans occupy coffee shops.
Most British pubs take their charm from the old buildings in which they’re housed. No two are ever the same, but many share quaint and quintessential characteristics like low ceilings held aloft by wooden beams, stone floors, log fireplaces, mahogany shelving littered with bric-a-brac.
CREATE A PLACE TO PLAY
Set up your own favorite games to entertain your friends and family in your home pub. If you have the space, a pool table can be a great investment. If not, a simple dartboard makes for great fun, too.
NAME YOUR ESTABLISHMENT
Pubs often have quirky names. There are oddly named pubs such as The Goat and Tricycle, The Wobbly Bobby and The Swan with Two Necks. Have fun with this! Make up your own pub name and have a sign created.
Layer dark textures, like stone and wood. Avoid bright overhead light and integrate something softer, like iron wall sconces. Consider installing wainscoting or some type of wood paneling on your walls to create visual warmth and texture.
USE CUSTOM OR ANTIQUE WOODWORK
Many pubs have beautifully carved, ornate woodwork surrounding the bar area, often incorporating stained glass, mirrors and brass rails into the design. Hunt down a local craftsperson or specialized company to create one for you.
SELECT THE RIGHT FURNITURE
Choose something traditionally English to furnish your pub-style space. Vintage wooden stools and wooden tables have more of an authentic feel.
FAKE SMOKY CEILINGS
The rules have changed, but pub-goers once smoked heavily in these spaces. The ceilings would get thickly tarred with cigarette smoke. If you don’t like the idea of re-creating this look, try using some tarnished tin ceiling tiles, as in this bar area.
USE FROSTED GLASS
Pubs traditionally had smoked or frosted glass to hide their patrons from the street and create a dark and cozy feeling. These days clear glass and brighter decor have become more popular, as more women and families are venturing into pubs.
CARVE OUT A CORNER
If you can’t dedicate a whole room to your own personal pub, carve out one corner for a bar area to host drinks and entertain a small number of guests. Make sure you incorporate a hinged section of the bar that you can lift up and close behind you, so you still feel like the lord of the manor.
It’s no coincidence that British soap operas are almost always centered around the local drinking establishment. For the pub is so deeply engrained in Britain’s sense of community, such an intrinsic part of the culture, that for those who leave her shores no adequate replacement can ever be found.