If you’re a newlywed or going to be a newlywed soon, chances are you’re weathering the challenges merging two lives brings to the table. This may include attempting to make room in the closet for a second person, trying to “de-feminize” every little accent in the living room, or clearing a few drawers in the bathroom. You are soon going to find that another person moving into your bachelorette pad means making a few sacrifices. But that doesn’t mean you have to give up style!
For G and I we are creating our first home in my current apartment, a cute little space in our sleepy downtown beach town. With a little less than 800 square feet, our home is tight as we begin moving G’s belongings into the space. That means the few rooms have multiple uses such as the second bedroom playing the roles of storage, office, and workout station, and the dining room also acting as craft room, library, and drink bar. So as we trek into “spring cleaning” and looking to donate any items throughout our two stocks of belongings, the question of essentials comes to mind. Today I wanted to touch on how you can keep style with your coffee and wine bar while utilizing the best spaces available.
As a wine connoisseur, having an area for my various wine items is something I consider an essential no matter where I live. My wine fridge has been to college and took residence in my dorm rooms right beside me. Coffee has also become a must-have throughout my workdays, so looking at how to incorporate both into a functional and stylish space in the apartment has been an exciting challenge.
With a counter-less kitchen (yes, it’s THAT tiny!), I had to make the choice of where to set up a coffee and wine bar somewhere between the dining and living rooms. I settled for a corner of the dining room and began designing our drink bar. We use this set-up on a daily basis and love that it is eye-pleasing for guests.
First up, let’s talk coffee.
1. Programmable coffee maker
Top priority, a way to make coffee. Depending on your preference, use a full pot drip maker or a single serve machine. Yes, there are fancier ways to brew coffee (i.e. a French press or a coffee grinder) but when you’ve spent too long in bed or are running late due to a superb morning workout, then go with the easy route! I highly recommend a programmable maker which allows you to set the time of brewing each morning. Since most of us do not have time to brew — and also can’t see straight in order to brew — a perfect coffee, the simple solution is to go with a “set it and forget it” capable machine.
2. Travel coffee tumbler
Talking about not enough time in the mornings, am I the only one who never has a chance to drink her whole cup of coffee before needing to leave for work? If you’re anything like me, then you need a travel mug which allows you to throw in that half-full mug as well as top off with the remaining brew in your pot.
The travel mug which I swear by is the Miller Tumbler by Starbucks. I have had numerous travel mugs for coffee over my college and career years and none hold a candle to the Miller. It offers both a silicon handle and band-wrap so your hands won’t be uncomfortable while holding it on your morning commute. The screw-top clicks shut meaning no drippings on your new white blouse. Plus I make it a sport to sit down at my desk, begin working, and forget my coffee every day. By the time I finally need that mid-morning caffeine kick, my coffee is still hot — sometimes even three or four hours later!
3. Coffee menu
Perhaps not an essential to all, but for this entertainer, I must have a coffee menu or brewing book somewhere close to my coffee bar in order to create new drinks for my guests. Pinterest always has some menu options, but I’ve now started seeing wall decals of the correct layering techniques and quantities of ingredients to make lattes, cappuccinos, and so much more! What better way to be a barista in your own home!
4. Creamers and other additives
I left coffee off this list as I figured that’s a given essential for any coffee bar — and there’s the fact I’m still on the hunt for the best coffee to keep my bar stocked. (Do you have any suggestions? I’d love to try something new!) I’m one of those people who loves adding flavors to her cup o’ Joe. If it’s not tan, then it’s not for me! Thus my coffee bar’s cabinet is full of flavored goodies: marshmallow syrup, cinnamon sticks, pure sugarcane cubes. Plus my personal favorite: CoffeeMate Butter Pecan creamer. Ohmigoodness, you guys… An old friend got me hooked on this stuff and it is my go-to on the daily.
5. Cute, expressive mugs
Is a coffee bar even complete without mugs? You have to have something to drink out of while you’re chilling on the porch or chowing down breakfast at the table. Travel mugs just don’t do the aesthetics justice either.
I tend to go through “mug phases.” I have so many and seem to gain new mugs every year. So, I trade them in and out. Currently my mugs seem to be pairs (for G and myself) and are your typical “engaged” mugs of puzzle piece His and Hers, but I also have an awesome Wonder Woman and Superman set from my mom. For those oh-so-glorious Instagram shots, I usually pull out the traditional white mug as well. Cute mugs that express your personality make the morning that much better with a tasty drink inside.
6. Coffee warmer
Hi, I’m ______ and I heat up the same cup of coffee at least six times every day. Did you add your name to the blank? Join the club, chica. I always seem to find myself busy with chores at home or busy with projects at work or just plain busy any time I have a cup of coffee in hand. And that usually means when I remember my drink, I’ll take a sip to find a cold, milky coffee in my cup. Yuck!
Thankfully, there are awesome gadgets like
microwaves this coffee warmer that take up little space on my desk and keep my coffee happily warm. And in the afternoons when I finally am finished with my caffeine intake I can throw a little candle on this digit and have it melt into an inviting space for friends and family that evening. This is a win-win find!
7. Wall mug holder
If you’re trying to maximize space in your little home, then you need to consider working vertical. This means take to the wall for inspiration! One of the amazing gifts we received from our bridal showers was this hooked mug hanger:
Though I found an antique cabinet to incorporate in my coffee bar, my multitude of mugs, wine glasses, and other glassware was overbearing. Cue this extremely useful wall piece which allowed me to make room for the less pleasing eye candy of the coffee set-up (like coffee cans, filters, sugar bags, etc.) inside the cabinet.
G’s aunt found this decor at a local craft show. Craft shows are great places to look for cutesy accents to any coffee bar. Etsy is another perfect spot to look. Try finding something that fits your house decor theme and maybe has an important saying to you and your partner. For G and I, “My Cup Runneth Over” was the best saying we could add to our coffee bar as it incorporates scripture into our morning routine.
8. Milk frother
I mentioned that tan is the new black when it comes to my coffee. Well, nothing makes a creamier coffee than adding some frothed milk to the equation. Cue the wonderful discovery of ToBox USA and their extraordinary milk frother!
ToBox is an up-and-coming online company that allows its customers to buy kitchen gadgets directly from factories. This means you buy awesome and must-have products that can be up to 40% less than those from retail shops. As a woman on a budget, I find myself browsing the pages of ToBox regularly to see what sort of mischief I can add to my cooking lifestyle (and I know this is only going to get worse after the registry is closed following the wedding.)
This milk frother is a great addition to our coffee bar. I was tempted to go with a frothing wand, but loved the idea of simply adding milk to the canister and hitting a button as I get ready in the mornings. Not only does this heat milk to the perfect temperature, but creates the perfect amount of foam! *ToBox USA provided a sample for review of their product.
I sometimes even add a bit of my butter pecan creamer to the milk in order for a flavor punch. Just fill to the line, hit the frothing style of your choice (my go-to is latte), and let the magic happen. Once ready I use a spoon to block only the milk to pour into my coffee. Then I scoop the foam on top and wooh-la! Instant barista!
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9. Little splash of life
I am a firm believer no home is complete without some plant life inside it. Not only do flowers brighten up the dreariest of days, but plants filter the air and create a calming atmosphere. And what better place to set some greenery or fresh flowers than on your morning stop? Go small with a succulent or dream big with a beautiful bouquet.
Now that we’ve talked morning ritual essentials, it only makes sense to discuss the best way to wind down in the evenings: wine. Since good wine is my Number One wine bar essential, I didn’t feel the need to add specific wines to my list; we all have different palates and what I like might not be to your tastes. (But if you want to ever talk what my favorite wines are, please hit me up!)
1. Wine fridge
I’ve mentioned my wine fridge already, but it truly is one of the central piece to my wine bar. I love having the option of chilling my white and sweet bottles at the correct temps. It is a classier option than sticking a bottle in the refrigerator or throwing ice in a glass (though neither of those options are terrible because… wine!)
And there are so many options when it comes to fridge options. Mine was a silent auction purchase for $25 when I turned 21 years old and I knew very little about wine. With my knowledge now, I would be inclined to buy a dual fridge with two temperature controls. However, my wine fridge is large and I love the capability of housing craft beer and other drinks in it besides wine.
2. Wine key & other bar tools
Obviously you have to have a way to open your wine bottles. Personally, I’m a fan of wine keys simply because that’s what I used on a daily basis during my wine career. However, electric corkscrews are a great bar piece for any wine connoisseur.
Actually, ToBox has a great electric corkscrew in their Bar & Wine section. Use UNCORKINGPEONIES to get an additional 50% off the already awesome price of only $20!
Other essential bar tools include a foil cutter, aerator, wine saver, and wine stoppers.
Aside from an aerator, a beautiful wine bar staple is a crystal decanter. Decanting wine from the bottle oxygenates it and releases its rich aroma and flavor. If you want to impress your guests, amplify the ambiance of a wine night, and enhance the purity of the wine you’re serving, then a decanter is the way to go.
Be sure to find a decanter engineered for a standard 750mL bottle as well. Many manufacturers will claim a volumetric capacity of 1700mL but volume is actually pointless. What really matters is how much breathable surface area the bottle of wine is exposed to in the carafe. I absolutely love the 100% hand-blown crystal Le Chateau Wine Decanter. This decanter has debuted at several dinner parties and was my first purchase when I acted as wine club manager at the Winery. It has a beautiful design, including a slanted top to avoid drips, and made a statement at all my events. For those looking for gift ideas for their wine-loving friends, this is a great idea!
You may not consider coasters as an essential for a wine bar but I’m here to tell you that they are. Stemmed wine glasses can be slippery even before you’ve had a glass or two. Utilizing a cute coaster is the perfect solution. I received these silicon wine coasters at my bridal shower and I did not realize what I was missing! These wrap tight around the base of the glass and come in a variety of colors as a sort of glass charm — you’ll never mix up glasses with friends again.
5. Cheese board
Okay, okay, I could go on and on about my love of charcuterie when it comes to a wine gathering, but I’ll relay on my last post to do that job. There are plenty of cheese boards out there that are adorable (I’m a sucker for anything Michigan shaped), but I love to go with flexibility and functionality when it comes to my cheese board. That is why I love my Royal Craft Bamboo Board. The bamboo doesn’t absorb any smells and the unique design allows me to be creative in my displays.
I want to go on and on about why cheese boards are pertinent to a wine bar, but I’ll just direct you again to my charcuterie post and call it a day.
6. Wine glasses
Glasses are a given, right? Let me just put a little disclaimer here to say I am not picky on my wine-holding products (solo cups work just as well as Riedel, folks) but I will state I utilize a crystal glass on the regular with the phrase, “I Am Woman Hear Me Pour.” There is just something classy about swirling your wine in crystal, even if you’re wearing PJs and a messy bun.
7. Personalized accents
When it comes to wine accents, I am all over chalkboard signs and fun puns. Be sure to customize your wine bar to fit your personality. Yes, you’re going to have friends think you’re classy simply because you have a wine bar, but make the space yours also. Add a stylish wine rack, cork cages, barrels, or trinkets to show your character. Wine is meant to be enjoyed after all.
Ready to get started making your perfect coffee station and/or wine bar? Share your own essentials for either (or both!) here at Uncorking Peonies. I would love to see pictures or hear about your personal touches.
Happy drinking, friends,