The American dream isn't cookie-cutter houses in identical, looping cul-de-sacs. It's not about the car you drive, your job, or the clothes you wear. The American dream is about the freedom to create the kind of life for your family that you want. The freedom to move to a tiny island in Washington and begin building your "new old farmhouse." That's exactly what the Bullocks did when they moved into wide open spaces with their "big farm dreams," as Sarah Bullock wrote to me in an email.
Chris and Sarah built their very own backyard bar shed after dropping what Sarah says was their "perfectly normal, successful life in the city and somewhat suddenly decided to move to our dream location on a tiny island in Washington State". With those "big farm dreams" from earlier, the Bullocks are in the process of building what Sarah calls their "new old farmhouse." That's where the Bar Shed comes in.
When asked what inspired her and her husband to start this DIY project, she said, "Ummm.. alcohol?!" I agree with her; after all, isn't every beer better looking at sunsets as glorious as the one in photos below? She continued, writing, "Let me tell you, it can be hard to entice people to hang at your trailer! So, we pretty quickly knew we wanted to build the bar shed!"
Those same folks the Bullocks wanted to entice were willing helpers with the project because, as you probably know, a bar shed for your neighbor is a bar shed for you to hang out in, too. What makes this design even more special is that it was constructed from scratch using found materials from the property after clearing and leveling the area. She wrote,
"It started with napkin sketches and walks around our farm to find the right location. We had to clear and level the land and every rock we used for that process was found around the property - a pretty epic game of hide and seek! We are lucky enough to have handy friends who were as excited about our crazy ideas as we were who came to visit and help build. We had so much fun doing it! It was a ground-up build that really turned out better than we imagined."
The most important takeaway from the Bullocks' shed design is that it was homegrown. A community crafted it, the same community that now enjoys it. Their favorite part?
"Our favorite part of the shed is the indoor stove and outdoor fire pit. We love to cook over open flame and host dinners at the shed! In summer, we're always outside and the Bar Shed is a staple. In the winters, we'll bring the picnic table inside and use the stove to make hot toddies and enjoy the shed with our friends!
What's even better is that, despite looking like a shed with a bar, it doubles as a dry cabin for guests. As Sarah wrote,
"The bar can be removed from the shed to make room for a huge vintage rug and a big air mattress. The bar shelves make for a pretty awesome headboard! Our whiskey barrels double as nightstands which are useful for guests to enjoy their nightcaps. A refill is always within reach! We have friends who fight over who gets to wake up to the beautiful view in the Bar Shed!"
I've seen many backyard sheds while researching the trend, this might be the best view I've seen yet. How amazing is the fire pit?!
Since completing the project, the Bullocks have hosted their annual 3rd of July party there and you can even see one of the fireworks shows from the party. I asked the couple about outdoor living and a few favorite memories of the shed bar. Her answer made me want to book a trip...
"The party grows every year but we had 75+ people over last year and always have a blast! Friends and family bring friends and family, everyone brings amazing food and drinks and we all sit around a fire at the Bar Shed and have an awesome time waiting for the big show!"
Of course, I had to ask this crafty couple for some friendly advice! As a fan of tiny homes, I've always loved the idea of a bar shed, inspired by my love of unique garden sheds and bar ideas. Sarah really put it best when she shared their tips with you, readers. After all, I trust her and Chris, it sounds like they throw the perfect party, right?
"Have fun and keep in mind that a fun space is your end goal. Be creative, do what works for you! Our Bar Shed isn't fancy, it's a 10x12 rectangle, 98 percent is salvaged material so it wasn't expensive and certainly doesn't have to be perfect to have a good time (for our first 3rd of July party we had no roof)! What's really important are the memories made with the people you care about. That's what you and other people will remember!"
Whether this is a new trend for you or something you've had in mind for a while, it's important to remember that while we call it a home bar, whatever you create should be a place for you to take a load off. Everyone deserves a place they can run off to for a scenic happy hour.
Echoing Sarah and Chris' excellent advice, your epic bar shed can take many forms. Maybe you'll convert a storage shed into a tiki bar shed and make your own bar stools. Maybe you'll have your own backyard party that folks wait all year for, too. It can be a backyard retreat, a backyard pub, a she-shed, a man cave, the new local watering hole, a small outdoor bar from a kitchen window, or even just a stack of bar plans you've yet to decide on. The possibilities are endless.
The American dream isn't in a skyscraper in the city. In this case, the American dream is a place for friends and family to bring friends and family. It's a gorgeous Bar Shed, crafted by regular folks like you and me, built from the land. It's country life.
Follow the Bullocks' journey as they complete their dream farmhouse by checking out Sarah's Instagram here. It'll make you swoon, y'all.
This post was originally published on March 13, 2019.