Amazing garden bars that are helping their owners through lockdown
Three weeks into lockdown with the sun shining across much of the country and a slower pace of life taking root, who isn’t missing their local pub?
While the Government shows no sign of re-opening bars and restaurants anytime soon, there is a solution.
Samantha Brick and Mandy Francis spoke to four women lucky enough to have a bar in their gardens!
They may not be able to invite friends over, but they can recreate some of the ambience of their favourite watering hole.
Here, they share their tips for creating a home-pub and explain why nothing beats a bar in the garden…
‘I chill bottles in an antique Dior clam shell’
Celebrity interior designer Celia Sawyer, 53, lives with 57-year-old film director husband Nick, and their children, Lili, 20, and Jack, 17, in Poole, Dorset.
Celia says: ‘Just as the lockdown started, the sky was a perfectly inviting blue.Even though it was still freezing outside, I told my family: ‘Grab a blanket, we’re going outside to our bar!’
Celebrity interior designer Celia Sawyer, 53, lives with 57-year-old film director husband Nick, and their children, Lili, 20, and Jack, 17, in Poole, Dorset
‘The world feels rather depressing and weird right now, so it’s so good to be out having a drink and trying to feel positive.
‘And having been out delivering food parcels to elderly neighbours, it was the perfect moment of downtime.
‘Nick made our garden bar as a surprise for me in 2014.It took a carpenter three days and I love it. It has a beach hut feel that fits perfectly with the location of our seaside home on the Sandbanks peninsula.
‘The mirrored panels reflect the beautiful sea views and I keep the open bottles chilled on the counter in a giant antique silver clam shell — one of a pair that used to belong to Christian Dior that I bought for around £4,000.
Celia’s bar area includes a giant antique silver clam shell — one of a pair that used to belong to Christian Dior that was bought for around £4,000
‘Since that first night of lockdown, we’ve been using the bar most days; my favourite drink is a good dry rose, or a nice oaky chardonnay.
‘I’ll admit we have been drinking more than normal, but I attribute that in part to the good weather.
‘The bar has got full plumbing and electricity, plus speakers, so we’ll often put on some relaxing jazz or reggae.
‘It’s the ideal spot to entertain friends — which can include famous faces, such as Harry and Sandra Redknapp — but I’ve been sensible and resisted the temptation to have drinks over the fence with our neighbours.
‘I’m looking forward to the day — hopefully not too far off — when I can invite friends over again.’
Tipples and a pizza oven
Make-up artist Lisa Valencia, 50, her photographer husband John, 52, and their sons Oscar, 27, Zak, 22, and Jonah, 20, live in Highams Park, East London.
Lisa says: ‘As anyone with adult children — furloughed from work but living at home — will understand: a garden is like another room of the house.
‘That’s probably why we have spent a large part of our lockdown days, and evenings, in our garden bar.
Make-up artist Lisa Valencia, 50, her photographer husband John, 52, and their sons Oscar, 27, Zak, 22, and Jonah, 20, live in Highams Park, East London
‘Luckily ours also has a pizza oven which we have used a lot — I even finished off our Easter roast lamb in it — and we’ll definitely be here this week when both Jonah and Oscar celebrate their birthdays.
‘And because we can’t get to the supermarket the way we used to, we’ve been relying on local shops and delis, which means tasty treats like goat’s cheese for our pizzas.
‘I haven’t really drunk more during lockdown but I do like to video chat with my family with a glass of rosé in the garden!
‘We built the bar a couple of years ago when an extension completely destroyed our back garden, forcing us to redesign it.
‘The first and most expensive purchase was the wood-fired pizza oven (around £1,200), which John then built the bar around.
Their bar area includes a wood-fired pizza oven, which cost around £1,200, which the bar was built around
‘We wanted an industrial feel, so the base of the counter is made from gabion — heavy duty wire cages — filled with rocks that cost us around £300.
‘The counter top is a piece of marble (costing around £400).The stools were £250 each.
‘The bar has an electrical supply, so we have lights and a working sound system.
‘I try not to compare what we are doing now with last year but there have been upsides to the lockdown.
‘It’s lovely having all five of us round the table each night, whereas before we’d all be so busy we’d often eat out or at different times.
‘I definitely enjoy making the table look attractive with candles and flowers.In these strange times I think we all need a little lift.
This bar contains everything — including the kitchen sink
Yoga teacher Maria Longman, 35, ยาขับเลือด lives in Chertsey, Surrey, with husband George, 45, a builder, and children Sacha, 14, Chloe, 13, and Sidney, 11.
Maria says: ‘I probably looked mad but three weeks ago, as lockdown started, I began cleaning my beloved outdoor bar, ready to open it as usual on Easter weekend.
Yoga teacher Maria Longman, 35, lives in Chertsey, Surrey, with husband George, 45, a builder, and children Sacha, 14, Chloe, 13, and Sidney, 11.
The bar itself is made from offcuts of wood that Maria’s husband George sourced from work and then had cut to size
‘Since we built the bar two years ago, we’ve celebrated the start of spring with a big barbecue for friends and I wanted still to mark the event this year.
‘So we ordered a curry and some Cobra beer from our local pub (who deliver), got dressed up and had a special date night à deux.
‘And after weeks indoors it felt as if we’d properly gone out!
‘My husband designed and built Rocco’s Bar — named after a beloved pet dog that died — and it has a 12ft-long covered bar.
‘The bar itself is made from offcuts of wood that George sourced from work and then had cut to size.
There’s a sink with running water for rinsing plates and glasses, an electricity supply powering two fridges, recessed spotlights in the ceiling and a small wall-mounted TV, plus two large industrial-style pendant lights which cost about £50 each and double as infrared heaters.
We even have toilets built onto the side of the bar so we don’t have to traipse through the house any more.
I’ve enjoyed a few cheeky gin and tonics in the warm afternoons and eaten my lunch out here most days.
We’ve even managed a few beers across the garden fence with our neighbour and his sons.When lockdown is over and we can celebrate with friends, we’ll have our traditional barbecue.
‘We are surviving lockdown with our Tiki bar cocktails’
Housekeeper Natascha Ashford, 43, lives in Thakeham, West Sussex, with husband John, 54, a landscape gardener and their children James, 15, and Olivia, 12.
Natascha says: ‘We’ve been so lucky to have warm weather that over the past three weeks of lockdown we’ve been using the bar a lot, treating ourselves to cocktails at the weekend.
Housekeeper Natascha Ashford, 43, lives in Thakeham, West Sussex, with husband John, 54, a landscape gardener and their children James, 15, and Olivia, 12
The Tiki bar was made with a couple of sturdy pieces of timber, which cost around £30, plus some tropical accessories, fairy lights and bar style drinks dispensers
‘During the week we’ve been rustling up mocktails to cool us down after working on garden projects.
‘We even managed to raise a glass and shout ‘cheers’ to our neighbours at a safe distance through the hedge in the evenings.An Aperol spritz or a pink gin is my favourite tipple.
‘Thinking about it, we probably have had a few more drinks than normal!
‘I fell in love with the idea of having a kitsch, Polynesian-style Tiki bar in my garden after seeing pictures of them online.
‘So I was thrilled when John offered to make me one for my birthday two years ago.
‘The only things he had to pay for were a couple of sturdy pieces of timber, which cost around £30, plus some tropical accessories, fairy lights and bar style drinks dispensers.
‘On Good Friday we decided to make the most of the bar and had a BBQ.
‘Music was playing, the kids sat on the bar stools while we cooked and as the sun set the fairy lights lit up.
‘Things feel weird at the moment, but the bar means we still had a really lovely day as a family.’