How do you make your bar cart top-shelf? We asked three of our designers for their tips to styling a bar cart in any space and how to make it party perfect.
So you have a bar cart—how do you make it stylish and not just a place to stash booze? We teamed up with our friends at Diageo to ask three Homepolish designers for their tips on curating the perfect cocktail spot in your space (no matter the vibe)—plus, offer advice for keeping it stocked for all your shindig needs.
Design by: Kristin Riccio
Photo by: Clinton Perry
Above design by: Rhobin DelaCruz
Photo by: Heidi Bridge
Why do you think bar carts are such a must-have in modern spaces?
: Modern times are stressful—everyone is working 100 miles per hour, every day. Sometimes it’s nice to just come home and have a glass of wine!
: A well-designed space should feel comfortable and inviting. It should feel like a place you’d want to hang out in. What’s more inviting than offering your guests a drink as they enter your home?
: I think it’s important that even the most modern space feels inviting and livable. Your home should be shared with your friends and family, and welcoming someone into your space with a cocktail is one of the best ways to do that.
What styles of bar carts do you like to pair with what types of spaces?
Ariel Okin: Bar carts are the sparkling accessory in a room. They add a pop of glimmer, a moment for styling, and a place to congregate around. Right now I’m really gravitating toward rattan bar carts. They work with many different styles (Mid-Century Modern, Traditional, Coastal), and they add texture to a space without feeling too overpowering.
Melanie Burstin: If you’re going for an organic modern home or Mid-Century, you’re going to want a nice wood bar cart. If your vibe is more traditional, I’d recommend a nice brass and glass cart or even something lacquered in a shiny black paint.
Tina Rich: My favorite type of bar cart is rattan—they look great in a more natural or beachside space. If you’re space is a bit more luxe, you can’t go wrong with a simple brass bar cart. While there are really great ones on the market these days, I prefer to source vintage (my go-to is Chairish!). There are so many amazing, unique options out there!
Photo by: Julia Robbs
Design by: Noa Santos
Photo by: Claire Esaparros
Which pieces of furniture are great for transforming into a makeshift bar car?
Ariel Okin: Antique chests and sideboards are great as bar carts. Open shelving, trays and tray-tables, and wall-mounted cabinets are also atypical ways to create a pretty bar moment—or create space for a bar in your bookshelves!
Melanie Burstin: Any storage piece of furniture with a nice surface can be used as a bar cart. This way, when you’re living in smaller spaces, you gain more storage but can distract from having another case good by turning the top into a bar.
Tina Rich: If you like to entertain, you might need more space than a typical bar cart. I love the look of an old vintage armoire or an ornate credenza stocked with an assortment of liquor bottles and gorgeous antique glassware. It gives off the vibe of an old speakeasy and creates such a great statement in a space!
Photo by: Sean Litchfield
What do you like to hang above or behind a bar cart?
Ariel Okin: Mirrors are a nice thing to hang above a bar cart because they reflect the bottles, creating a jewel-like quality.
Melanie Burstin: I’m a huge fan of quirky art, and I think over a bar cart is the perfect place to take decor less seriously. I’ve hung neon flamingos for clients before, but even a formal dog portrait would do just fine. Paintings that have punchy text also work well behind the bar. The sillier the better!
Tina Rich: I love to do a small gallery wall of three or four small and medium pieces of art above a bar cart.
How do you like to style a bar cart to ensure it doesn’t look like a sea of alcohol?
Ariel Okin: Organize your booze on a beautiful tray and keep the amount of liquor manageable to avoid a cluttered feel. Also, add in some fun elements for styling (cocktail napkins, wine opener, etc.), but don’t crowd it too much. Editing is key!
Melanie Burstin: Maintaining a clean-looking bar cart is definitely a challenge when you have a lot of small pieces out in the open. I recommend grouping like items and trying to stick to a few color palettes. Dishes and trays can also help keep the smallest pieces of your bar kit organized.
Tina Rich: I like to to keep my bar cart uncluttered, so I transfer some of the liquor into crystal decanters. A well-designed liquor bottle is like a piece of art, so I tend to keep those in sight. I like to keep my bar cart styling simple with a gorgeous ceramic bowl full of limes and lemons. I add glasses grouped on a trey, a stack of coasters, and a set of bar utensils. Some flowers or a small potted plant and it’s set!
Photo by: Julia Robbs
How do you jazz up the bart cart for a party?
Ariel Okin: The bar cart becomes the focal point of the room during a party, so it demands some dressing up! It’s nice to break out the fun glassware, add in some pretty straws, lemons or limes for color and practicality, a beautiful ice bucket, and some fancier cocktail napkins.
Melanie Burstin: I’ll fill one handmade bowl with olives, another with some lime slices, and I always add a vintage ice bucket with a nice pair of tongs.
Tina Rich: I love to entertain and my guests are always gathered around the bar cart, so I want it to be fun and interactive! A Bloody Mary bar is always a good time. I serve Ketel One with a couple of homemade Bloody Mary mixes and I print cocktail cards with a variety of recipes to get my guest started. I serve everything from bacon to crab legs to mini grilled cheese sandwiches to top it off!
What’s your go-to cocktail?
Ariel Okin: My go to cocktail is a Don Julio with club soda, two limes, and a splash of pineapple.
Melanie Burstin: I always have Don Julio stocked on my bar because I love a Spicy Paloma. They’re both refreshing and have a kick!
Tina Rich: My go-to cocktail is a Cucumber Margarita, so I always have Don Julio Silver stocked on my bar cart. I add muddled cucumber, simple syrup, and lime—it’s the perfect summer cocktail!
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