My Backyard Hangout

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I’ve always found it interesting how the design of a place affects the overall atmosphere. Like how warm lighting makes a room more inviting. Or how white furnishings create a feeling of clean and modern. Just as it does for interior design, having a certain arrangement of elements, or a theme for your outdoor bar, can make it feel interesting and unique. There are tons of great ideas out there, including how to design a rustic outdoor bar. If that’s what you’re searching for, keep reading. Below, you’ll find 11 of the best ways to get started.

Live Edge Bar Top

The term “rustic” often invokes images of earthy, natural décor, which is why having a live edge wood bar top is a great fit for this theme. Live edge means that they’ve left the wood’s natural edges, or sometimes even the bark, untouched. Doing so results in a slab with irregular sides, rather than polished smooth. One of my favorite places to buy décor is Etsy, which has some cool options for rustic wood bar tops, including this one, which has a clear resin coating to make it waterproof. To make your bar even more unique, you could buy a live edge top with color in the epoxy resin. If you’re a DIY kind of bar owner or these options are out of your budget range, you could also use some unfinished slabs and do the epoxy yourself, using an online tutorial. Check your local home improvement store for live edge slabs, or purchase some here. If you’re looking for rustic bar shelf ideas, you could also add in some floating live edge shelves to match.    

Rustic Outdoor Bar Stools

If you’re looking for rustic outdoor bar stools, there are a few different choices. One is solid wood, in which case you could choose something like acacia, eucalyptus, or teak. You can read more about the pros and cons of each here. You could also choose some rustic patio bar stools like these, which are a mix of wood and metal. A third option could be adding some pieces that are either naturally or intentionally distressed, like these metal bar stools. If you don’t have a full outdoor bar, you could still purchase some bar stools as part of a rustic outdoor bar table set to make your backyard fit this theme.

LED Outdoor String Lights

As I mentioned in the intro, lighting plays a big factor in the mood of a space. You don’t want anything too harsh or bright, but you still need enough lighting that it’s comfortable. This is why string lights are a popular choice for backyards. Some people string them between trees or along the rafters of a pergola. If you want to attach them to your bar, many people string them up around the top of each side. You can also place them beneath the bar top, if you feel that you need extra. Two of the most common choices for lighting include incandescent bulbs and LEDs. Incandescent bulbs seem to be more common for string lights; however, I recommend purchasing an LED option. LEDs often cost more upfront than incandescent bulbs, but they last longer and they use less energy, which can save you money over time. For example, these LED bulbs have a lifespan of at least 15,000 hours (some LEDs can last up to 50,000 hours) and use 0.6 Watts of power versus an incandescent option that is estimated to last at least 2,000 hours and uses 11 Watts. At the time this article, the LED option was only around $13 more.

Another misconception with LEDs is that they all produce intense, bright lighting. The truth is, there are several different temperatures, ranging from around 2000 Kelvin to 5000K and up. For a rustic feel, I prefer something in the 2700K range, which produces a warmer, more yellow light. Many string lights fall within this warmer range, meaning there are plenty to choose from. There are some options that even offer dimmable lights, so that you can change the temperature without buying multiple sets of lights.

Rustic Outdoor Bar Signs

I’ve already mentioned Etsy as one of my go-to marketplaces for designing a rustic backyard bar. Aside from the wide array of unique items on there, a lot of sellers offer custom products, including personalized signs. For a rustic outdoor bar (and any bar really) I like the distressed wood look, such as this one. I also like the personalized neon signs, like this one, which can add some extra lighting as well. Of course, you could always choose to make your own personalized sign, using paint or a wood-burning kit and some stencils. If you prefer a basic sign, metal marquee letters, fit well with a rustic theme. 

Corrugated Metal or Reclaimed Wood Paneling

Another way to create a rustic outdoor bar is to add either wood or corrugated metal paneling. Many people place it on the counter, beneath the bar top. You could also put it along the back wall, behind your live edge shelves. Or you could choose to use it in both places. For example, having corrugated metal sheets beneath the counter and wood at the back of the bar. In either case, consider what you think will look best for the bar as a whole. To find the metal or wood, you could upcycle some from an old project or a recently demolished structure, like a house or barn. You could also check with local stores and ask them for any unused pallets. If none of those options are possible, you can buy new metal sheets and wood paneling online. One thing to note, if you choose to buy wood paneling, they are typically not waterproof. To get the most use out of them outdoors, you should apply a coat of sealer to the exposed areas.   


Just as it can for an indoor setting, having a theme for your outdoor bar can create a more inviting place to hang out. The rustic theme often emphasizes more natural elements, such as metal and unpolished wood. Some ways that you create a more rustic outdoor bar include adding a live edge or wood panel bar top or shelving. Personalized neon or distressed wood signs, as well as metal marquee letters, are also nice additions. Finally, you can also add reclaimed wood or corrugated metal siding, LED string lights, and bar stools made of wood, metal or a mix of the two.

Do you have a rustic outdoor bar? Leave us a comment down below and share this article with your fellow bar owners. 

Want to find more inspirations for your outdoor bar? Click here.


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