Avid home decor and entertaining enthusiasts, this one’s for you. Over the last few years, we’ve seen one particular trend change the interior design game – bar carts!
Bar carts are adorable, useful and incredibly versatile. You can set them up with your favorite mixed drinks for a house party, with popcorn and twizzlers for a movie night, or with mugs and coffee grounds for a fabulous coffee cart. No matter what the occasion, the best part is that you can style your cart for less than a round of drinks!
We’ve styled our very own cart to give you some inspiration for your own. No matter how you’ll use it, check out our intern Tori’s guide to creating a bar cart!
The Bar Cart
First and foremost, determine what size and shape is best fit for your needs and space. After weeks of hunting, I found mine at Homegoods in silver and spray painted it gold to fit my vision. The perfect cart is the foundation of your creation, so choose wisely and find your cart before you start accessorizing or filling it.
Before you go and buy a bar cart, think about upcycling a piece you already have. A few prime examples would be a retired changing table or a makeshift kitchen island. With subtle upgrades, you can revive your unused furniture into a show-stopping entertainment spot.
Wine + Spirits
Keeping 3-5 bottles on hand is standard for styling. If you host often and know your guests like a range of different drinks, stock strategically to suit everyone’s taste. Keep in mind that you don’t have to display all of your liquor inventory. Highlight several expensive or limited edition bottles and keep the rest in storage.
With larger bar carts, diversify your assortment with liqueurs, sparkling water and eye-catching mixers. Mixers for your cocktail of choice, liqueurs, sparkling lemonade or water and growlers add pops of color and depth depending on the shape of the container. Using taller bottles on the bottom shelf will help fill the height gap and make it aesthetically pleasing.
Divide and place your array of liquors and mixers on opposite ends of the cart to create a sense of equilibrium. Add a decorative tray under your mix and it’ll automatically make the look more put together and styled.
Shop the assortment: Bourbon cherries, orange bitters, Moscow Mule mixer, sparkling lemonade,
From cookbooks that infuse alcohol to flaming shots 101, people can get pretty creative with their reading choices. Think of choosing your bar literature similar to how you would choose your coffee table books. Ask yourself what kind of books you’d be most likely to use for your mixology experiments, while adding a book or two that will spark interest with your guests.
One of the perks of incorporating literature is the infusion of dimension and height interest. Stack an eclectic assortment of two or three books then place a key piece on top, such as a decanter, vase of flowers or ice bucket. By placing these pieces on top of books, your eye becomes more drawn to them while the pieces fill the space between your cart and your wall decor.
My book collection is a mixture of Homegoods clearance and lightly used Amazon finds for a third of the price. Check thrift stores, Anthropologie, TJ Maxx, Homegoods, Urban Outfitters and Target periodically. These stores keep their literature section well stocked full of fascinating reads and change their variety seasonally.
Shop books: Shake, The Cocktail Chronicles, The Drunken Botanist, 12 Bottle Bar, Wine Folly, Cocktails on Tap, The New Cocktail Hour
Glassware is an inexpensive component that adds tremendous value. Include a couple highball or old fashioned glasses depending on your taste. For wine enthusiasts, add red and white wine glasses or champagne flutes.
If you’re into the beer scene, mix and match a set of eclectic pint glasses from your favorite craft breweries. Glasses don’t have to match so get creative by combining complementing cups of various heights and uses.
Aside from the actual drinkware, invest in a quality cocktail shaker! They come in all shapes, sizes and quirky styles – like pineapples or mason jars. Your guests will love the uniqueness!
For the final glassware essential – the decanter. There are two general types of decanters – one for wine and one for whiskey. Wine decanters have an open top, similar to a vase or pitcher. Decanting wine for 15-20 minutes helps remove sediment and the oxygen exposure helps enhance and soften the flavor. Back in the day, decanters were used because whiskey only came in barrels. Modern whiskey decanters, from my research, are used primarily for the aesthetic.
Shop glassware: Globe decanter, mason jar shaker, pineapple shaker, wine glasses, Moscow Mule set
Repurpose Your Ice Bucket
In other styling guides, the pictures always show the ice bucket ready to go with Champagne and ice. While this is great for product shots, it’s not realistic for everyday use. Fill it with your favorite koozies or use it as a temporary flower vase for year round use. I stored bartending tools, koozies and coasters that I didn’t want directly displayed on my shelves.
When throwing a party or hosting a Sunday brunch, rearrange your ice bucket front and center on the top shelf. Transform your station into a mimosa bar with champagne flutes, decorative straws and an ice bucket with a bottle of bubbly in it. This will put your cocktail napkins, stir sticks and decorative straws to good use.
Accessorize With Knick-Knacks
Adding knick-knacks was my favorite part of this project because I could add more personality to it. After all, it’s about the little things, right? Make sure to be intentional with the stuff you add to your cart.
My focus was on my love for craft brews with just a hint of Margaritaville. My key accessories were growler caps from Homegoods, koozies and bar tools from local breweries, and gold accents such as the napkins and little tray.
Essential accessories you should include are a jigger, strainer, bar spoon, napkins and a bottle opener. This will ensure you have all the equipment to make drinks on the spot for guests.
Shop knick-knacks: Growler caps, bar tools, lemon + lime coaster set
Artwork, decorative shelving and rugs can be a necessity to make sure your cart doesn’t look out of place. Wall decor gives you the option to mix your most memorable photographs with your favorite quotes or gallery-wall-esque pieces. I added three Fractures of my recent beer festival adventure, a close friendship and an Etsy-inspired digital print. Some other wall ideas could be decorative shelving or a small aarco board with your favorite saying.
On the actual cart, I hung a festive banner to peak interest and be different. My cheers banner was on clearance after New Year’s Eve at TJ Maxx for $2, so obviously it was a no-brainer purchase. Target, off-price retailers (TJ Maxx, Homegoods, etc), Urban Outfitters and cute boutiques generally sell great bar cart banners.
To finish the look, I bought fresh flowers and used a pink highball glass as a vase. The pop of orange flowers tied together elements on the bottom shelf and the Fractures. Check out Homegoods for inexpensive faux flowers that you can use both on your cart or coffee table.