Bar carts were really popular in the 1950’s and 60’s, but they fell out of favor for quite some time after that. Luckily, they are back, and still pretty nifty. Today, we’re here with five easy steps that explain how to decorate a bar cart.
Unlike the stationary bar cabinet, the bar cart was originally intended to be mobile. I can’t imagine pushing one of these things out, all loaded with glasses and liquor bottles. Let alone in a dress and heels. Nor trying to push it back from whence it came at the end of the party. Thankfully, the current trend is to park the cart against a wall. Way safer and easier!
How to Decorate a Bar Cart
So, let’s dig into the answer to how to decorate a bar cart. As with any decorating project, it’s best to start with the overall look. Pick something that will work with your existing decor, or if you’re starting out, what you aspire to have. Do you want your bar cart to look glam? Retro? Modern? Eclectic? Boho? Nautical? Farmhouse?
Once you have the overall aesthetic, it’s time to gather all the elements. One of the nice things about outfitting a cart, is that you can shop your home for a lot of the decor. Grab that weird ceramic owl that Aunt Martha gave you and make it the centerpiece of your cart. Or use your collection of vintage tiki mugs as your glassware and the inspiration for the whole bar cart.
1. How to Decorate a Bar Cart – The Cart
Obviously, it all starts with the bar cart. There are so many styles to choose from! Traditional, industrial, Mid Century Modern, rustic, or contemporary? Round, oval, or rectangular cart shape? Finally, cart and shelf material: metal and wood, metal and glass, all metal, or all wood?
Personally, I would choose an all wood or a wood and metal cart. In addition to getting the warmth of wood, it would be easier to keep clean. A cart with glass shelves will show every drip and spill. (I’m not the best housekeeper!)
Choose a cart that is compatible with your lifestyle. Are you the type of person that would set up the cart and never change it again, or would you change the styling on a regular basis? An all wood cart would give the most flexibility for different vignettes, if that’s what you like to do.
Finally, get a cart that’s big enough to provide a nice workspace on top. A cart that has some kind of railing around the top surface can be a great help in keeping everything looking neat and organized. You could also use trays to keep everything corralled, if the cart does not have rails.
2. How to Decorate a Bar Cart – Equipment
Next, you’ll need to get some bar equipment. Of course, the equipment will depend on what you and your guests enjoy drinking. Wine or beer drinkers don’t need a whole lot of equipment – a waiter’s corkscrew is a handy all-in-one tool.
Cocktails open up a whole world of tools and gadgets, but again, the equipment will depend on the drinks. For simpler mixed drinks, you might only need an ice bucket and measuring jigger. Or, you might want to have something specific like a muddler or a citrus zester.
To get a designer look, the metal finish of the bar equipment should match or complement the bar cart. For example, bright metals like gold or brass, would look great with a dark cart. Try to limit the different metal finishes to two.
Bar equipment should be placed on the top shelf, or near the top, since you will use it often.
3. How to Decorate a Bar Cart – Glassware
Just like with the bar equipment, glassware is going to depend on what you drink. No matter the shape, glassware can add a layer of interest to your cart. Find some cool shaped glasses like these Cosmopolitan ones, or some neat vintage ones, and place them on the middle or lower shelf.
4. How to Decorate a Bar Cart – Liquor
Place the most often used bottles on the top, so they are within easy reach. Five to seven bottles would probably be the maximum number of bottles to have out. A decanter set looks great on a bar cart.
5. How to Decorate a Bar Cart – Accessories
Some accessory ideas to add:
- Appetizer plates
- Houseplants or succulents
- Books (but as a book person, this doesn’t seem like a great idea!)
- Fresh flowers
- Linens – napkins, tea towels
- Ice bucket & tongs
- Swizzle sticks
- Small lamp
- Fresh fruit
- Home decor items – figurines, vases, bowls
Place one or two items on the top of the cart (leaving enough elbow room so you can still work), and scatter items on the other shelves. Just like styling a bookcase, try to balance the overall appearance of the cart.
How to Decorate a Bar cart – organization
Organize the bar cart by levels, with most used items going on top, and working down to least used items.
- Top Shelf – items you will use most often and a work space. A few liquor bottles, bar equipment, accessories, and a few glasses, if you have room.
- Middle Shelf – items that are used less often, but still need to be within easy reach. Glassware, additional liquor bottles, and accessories.
- Bottom Shelf – items used the least frequently. Accessories, rarely used liquor and glassware.
Now that you know how to decorate a bar cart, and once your cart is all setup, it’s time to sit back, enjoy a drink and admire your handiwork!
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