At Home: The Bar Cart

wheeled bar cart

As I recently admitted to my friend D, I’m becoming a little obsessed with home decor. For so many years, with both of us working and jeune homme living at home, decorating just wasn’t a priority. Yes, we’ve done some home improvements over the years, but the goal was mostly about function. Form was secondary.

Above: rectangular wheeled cart

But after a few months of working at home, and having hosted three holiday gatherings since October (Jewish High Holidays, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Eve), I’m ready to start making our house more attractive and welcoming. I want a space that lifts my spirits, and where I can feel comfortable having friends over and entertaining again. In short, I’m nesting.

I’m starting with some smaller “quick fix” improvements, including updating our bed linens, and trying to make better use of the space we have. Our house is on the smallish side (1500 square feet) so Accumulation Happens. Counters and tabletops become storage spaces if we’re not careful.

I’ve been hankering for a bar cart for some years now. There’s just something about it that evokes a certain Jazz Age glamour while being quite a functional and useful item. Whether you serve cocktails or mocktails, wine or soft drinks, tea with scones or coffee and pie, it’s easily pressed into service. I’d periodically searched both online and on foot but hadn’t seen one with both the size and aesthetic I was looking for, and/or that wasn’t a small fortune. On a whim I started searching again a few weeks ago, found this one and decided to pull the trigger and order it.

I used to joke that I’d know I’d “made it” when I never had to assemble another piece of furniture again. Ha. But this piece was pretty simple and straightforward, and took about 90 minutes total, from unpacking to finish. I’ve had enough bad experiences with “assembly required” furniture over the years that I’ve learned:

  • before you start, read the directions all the way through, then read them again
  • identify all of the parts required as described in the instructions, and be sure everything’s there. That means counting every screw, washer and bolt too.
  • lay everything out where it’s easy to get to. I like to put all of the screws, bolts and fastenings in a shallow dish so they’re easy to grab. If there are more than one size of each, use a separate dish for each size.
  • before you start, BREATHE and go read the directions again.
  • go slowly and methodically. Review the directions as you go. Take a break in the middle if you need.

round wheeled bar cart

Et voilà! I was pretty pleased with myself. This was a relatively easy project; there was only one type of screw, and the only tool required was an allen wrench that was included. Everything lined up well, and the assembled cart is solid and sturdy.

I swear I have no idea where half of those bottles came from… I still want to trick it out a bit more, make it prettier. Maybe invest in some decanters?

Shown above: cart | cocktail shaker | Paris Cocktails | martini glasses

Do you have a bar cart or other wheeled cart at home? How do you most often use it?

Carts And Accoutrements…

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25 Comments

  1. January 25, 2017 / 3:35 am

    Jazz Age is just the term that came into my head with the first photo.
    I would search second-hand and antiques for decanters. Though your spirits are probably better off in their well-sealed bottles. Wine gets decanted to remove sediment or to let it breathe for a little while (not very long) because it’s a little bit past prime.
    We have a chinoiserie cabinet for a bar. An interior light (installed by husband) turns on when the doors open. It is useful for keeping the bottles out of sunshine and minimizing dust.

    • Elle
      January 25, 2017 / 9:36 pm

      One warning about purchasing second-hand or antiques decanters for actual use (as opposed to decor) – it will be difficult if not impossible to know if they contain lead. Buying new decanters will ensure that you will be able to check lead content. Ravenscroft makes some beautiful decanters with clean lines, all lead-free. (No personal connection!)

  2. Martina
    January 25, 2017 / 4:34 am

    I’ve been thinking of getting a bar car, or at last something to use to display some of my pretty glasses…including the same martini glasses that you have!

  3. Merrilyn Nicholson
    January 25, 2017 / 4:53 am

    Hi Susan, Love your retro look drink cart…We have an antique carved oak commode cabinet to which my husband added glass shelves at levels to suit bottles etc….in commemoration of its former use it is now affectionately called ‘The P#ss Cabinet’….a little bit of crazy Aussie humour for Australia Day….Cheers …Merrilyn

  4. Pam
    January 25, 2017 / 5:42 am

    Love your bar cart!! When I retired, I downsized from 2500 sq ft to a beach cottage half that size. Became an expert on donating many of my accumulations and rearranging/repurposing art & furniture. Still redecorating and like you, going beyond functionality… Adding a beautiful bar cart is so tempting.

    • Pam
      January 25, 2017 / 5:45 am

      Forgot to mention your great choice of cocktail shaker. Hadn’t seen one like that. Really nice touch.

  5. January 25, 2017 / 5:58 am

    Yes!!! We bought a bar cart about 3 years ago, and absolutely love the jazz age, and welcoming feel it gives to our otherwise very country feeling home. We use it all the time. I thought I wanted decanters as well, but I do think spirits keep better in their own bottles. I did get a beautiful silver ice bucket to put on it.
    Love yours!

  6. Suz
    January 25, 2017 / 6:16 am

    We have considered a bar cart too but have yet to jump in. I like the round shape of yours. You have styled it nicely!
    And agree, where do all these bottles come from…Thank you for posting.
    Suz from Vancouver

  7. January 25, 2017 / 7:01 am

    I don’t own one, but I think it’s a SEXY idea!

  8. Cher
    January 25, 2017 / 7:30 am

    I love your bar cart. also the gold pineapple which i’ve seen in stores. I inherited a1960’s wooden bar cart and I enjoy setting it up in different ways. isn’t decorating fun!!

  9. Francoise
    January 25, 2017 / 8:30 am

    I’ve always loved elegant bar carts as well. On the same note, I watched Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder recently where the couple’s bar table figured prominently, or so it seemed to me.

  10. January 25, 2017 / 8:33 am

    Love this! Just saw one very similar at Target! It’s only available online though. I’m obsessed with the mid century look, and bar carts really fit that vibe. If I had space for it I would happily add it to my MCM decor.

  11. Duchesse
    January 25, 2017 / 9:57 am

    We love our bar cart, and here is a perhaps useful bit of advice: Keep only clear alcohols on that cart unless you drink, say, your bottle of bourbon within several months and totally wreck it if it is held in light longer. Even in a room with curtains, light will “cook” the liquor and affect the flavour of dark rum, rye, scotch etc. and especially fortified wines (e.g., sherry) or wine-based blends like Dubonnet and red vermouth. We had bottles we rarely used, and it happened- an expensive mishap.. We keep tequila, gins, vodka on the cart and the others are in a cupboard. Or just step up your speed of consumption 😉

    • Susan B
      January 25, 2017 / 10:13 am

      Good to know. I’ll bet that some of the bottles on the bottom shelf may need to be tossed at this point then, several years old!

      • Duchesse
        January 28, 2017 / 10:33 am

        JMS’ comment below supplies the correct term; the spirits will oxidize. Thanks, JMS!

    • Elle
      January 25, 2017 / 9:40 pm

      Agree! When my siblings and I cleaned out my parents’ home, including liquor cabinet, we thought we’d have quite a party! Turns out that most of the liquor had “turned” – quite a smell and quite a small fortune literally down the drain! Yes, drink up!

  12. Pink azalea
    January 25, 2017 / 12:22 pm

    Love your bar cart. Our apt. came with a built-in bar so we can’t justify buying a bar cart, much as I would like. I love interior projects as much as I enjoy fashion and I am glad you have the time to spend on your home. It is really fun to see what you are doing. Probably common sense, but a designer once told me that people usually choose colors for their interiors they look good in.

  13. JMS
    January 25, 2017 / 9:44 pm

    That’s really charming. Not on my own list, for Reasons*, but I just adore yours!

    *Husband doesn’t drink at all, I have the Higher Wine and Spirits Certificate so am paranoid about my spirits (especially brown goods) oxidizing, apartment too tiny, etc., etc.

  14. Elle
    January 25, 2017 / 9:48 pm

    I too have been casually searching for and keeping an eye out for a bar cart. I attribute it to my binge watching of Mad Men, or more generally to the related resurgence of all things mid-century. Speaking of which, my mother had a classic mid-century brass and glass tea/bar cart on which she displayed a large silver tea service (UGH!). When she died a few years ago, none of my siblings wanted the tea set or the cart. Now, don’t I regret giving that piece away!

    By the way, I love the expansion of your blog to include your home decor activities. I’d also be interested in reading about other aspects of life after leaving the working world. I’m still working myself, but would enjoy your perspective from the other side.

  15. Schmidt Catherine
    January 26, 2017 / 9:31 am

    Very nice and usefull. I’ve got one for the garden. When I’m not using it, I put a nice plant on, even in winter.
    You didn’t answer me last time, do you speak french ?

    • Susan B
      January 26, 2017 / 10:31 am

      Hi Catherine,oui, je parle un petit peu de français… 😉

  16. nell
    January 26, 2017 / 9:35 am

    Very handsome cart! I love the streamlined ocean liner look in all furnishings. We have a cart, midcentury modern, and mostly teak on wheels, but our drinking consists of me occasionally ordering wine in a restaurant. So the wheels are off it, and my husband claimed it as a night stand. I’ve tried to get it back, but he loves it so much…

    I use a small Eastlake library table my aunt left me as a side table in the dining room– it serves a similar purpose, for both serving and just giving an extra table surface in a quite small space…

  17. GingerR
    January 26, 2017 / 7:05 pm

    I bought a bar cart at an auction. It’s nice because it’s easy to reposition. For years people have bunched up in my kitchen but having that cart wheeled into the middle of the living room gave them all a good reason to bunch up there. When the party is over then it can go back into it’s corner.

  18. January 27, 2017 / 12:10 pm

    Most glam, Susan! Love how you’ve set it up, especially the angosturas – I love a pink gin! I invested in a power screw driver during my recent spate of flatpacking, that so helped!

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