5 Genius Ways to Style a Bar Cart for Every Occasion
It’s a serving station when you’re entertaining, a display spot when you’re not. Here are five top-shelf setups.
For a big gathering, like a New Year's bash, a bar cart can be a virtual bartender if you stock it with the very basics—whiskey, gin, vodka, a garnish or two, and a snack. Guests who have "their drink" can make one themselves. Keep the stash of wine, beer, and Champagne on a nearby sideboard or console.
To buy: Mid-century bar cart, $349, westelm.com.
Arranging some items on a bar cart helps with crowd control. (Not everyone needs to bunch up around the table.) Think of it as a small station for the accessories—drinks, fruit, bagels—while the bigger table is for hot dishes and other main brunch fare.
- Set out the food (here, bagels, spreads, and clementines) in the center of the top shelf for easy access. Fill in the gaps with a few pretty eye-pleasers: a vase of creamy roses, a sculptural objet, a single shiny candlestick.
- For easier entertaining, add a prepoured signature drink—like a juice-and-Champagne blend with a fruit-slice garnish—on one end. It keeps guests moving along.
- On the bottom shelf, stock extras: the makings for more drinks, additional plates, and a few other fruit options.
To buy: Libations bar cart, $599, crateandbarrel.com.
A bar cart in lieu of a nightstand gives you more room for stuff you love.
- You should stick the utilitarian items (reading lamp, alarm clock) front and center. But they'll look infinitely more glam alongside a collection of decorative objects. If your cart has a mirrored surface, like this one, play up the poshness with items made of luxe materials, such as Lucite and metal.
- Opt for a few hefty pieces over a multitude of little ones. Not only does a grouping like this look neater and more impressive but it also makes it easy to transfer items to a shelf when you need the cart for a party.
- Easy styling trick: Play with shapes. Offset a pile of big, rectangular books with a curved vase and a sculptural piece.
To buy: Metropolitan bar cart, $300, zgallerie.com.
Related: How to Make a Moscow Mule
Snowy Afternoon Retreat
A bar cart doesn't have to hold barware at a party, especially when you're having a daytime, dressed-down get-together. Stock it with sweet treats instead.
- Set out cheery mugs, a carafe of cocoa, and a cup of cinnamon sticks as stirrers. You can raid the kids' rooms or bookshelves for a few props to make the array feel even homier.
- Toss a spare blanket or throw over a chair to create a cozy resting spot.
- Line the cart's lower level with trays of (bakery-bought) mini pies, a heaping bowl of apples, and other indulgences. Tuck a few dish towels or fabric napkins under the serving pieces—they bring in a burst of color and allow for quick cleanup.
To buy: Aiden bar cart, $200, worldmarket.com.
Inviting Entryway Spot
A stylized catchall just inside the front door adds function (and some fun).
- Bring the outdoors in with a potted plant—an easy way to liven up the space, especially in winter. Choose a hardy variety, like a ponytail palm, so you don't need a green thumb to keep it alive.
- Use bowls to corral items that you need on the go, like keys, stamps, and sunglasses. Vessels in a mix of sizes, shapes, and colors (stick to a two- or three-hue palette) look more artful than uniform containers.
- A midsize woven basket can hide incoming mail until you have time for sorting. When you need the cart for entertaining, transfer the containers to a closet shelf and leave the decorative pieces (candlesticks, plants) in place.
To buy: McAllister bar cart, $199, birchlane.com.