A Guide to Accessorizing a Bar Cart


Accessorizing a Bar Cart

Bar carts are back! There’s no better way to individualize your bar cart than to add accessories. Still, accessorizing a bar cart, and doing it well, can be a little tricky if you’re new to the process. This may make you wonder, is there a particular approach or method to accessorizing a bar cart that leads to consistent, good results? 

Accessorizing a bar cart will be different for everyone depending on their vision. Still, most will employ the use of attractive bottles, drink-recipe books, flowers and general bar equipment like shakers and mixers. Each shelf is usually divided into zones to organize and create symmetry.   

If you’re looking to accessorize your bar cart and you want some advice, you’ve come to the right place. Below you’ll find our guide to accessorizing bar carts. We’ll start by helping you pick the right one, then we’ll lay out what you can do to really make it your own. So let’s see if we can’t liven up your home with a little clever accessorizing, shall we.   

Are Bar Carts Still In? 

In the 50s, you weren’t one of the cool kids if you didn’t have a bar cart to serve guests with when they came to visit. Over the next several decades however, bar carts began to fade from actual use into more of a decoration in and of themselves. 

Now-a-days, people have rediscovered the beauty and convenience of bar carts and they’re most definitely back in vogue! People aren’t choosing between practical use and decoration anymore, they’re employing both. Individuals have found that they can style them to express their own personal aesthetics and have fun with their friends all at once. 

Ask Yourself What You’re Going For

The first step in accessorizing any bar cart is to decide what kind of look and function you’re going for. In terms of function, you want to decide if this bar cart will be something you actually use for its intended purposes, or whether it will be purely for decoration. For its look, you want something that catches the eye but doesn’t feel out of place in the rooms where you have it. 

Figure Out Where It’s Going 

Where you put your bar cart will play a big role in deciding how you accessorize it. You want it to stand out but you don’t want it to look out of place. Sometimes that’s a fine line that can be difficult to skirt. 

Fortunately there are many places where a bar cart can fit and add to the look of your home. Below we’ve listed what are some of the best places to put your bar cart and why: 

  • Entry way: Traditionally, a lot of bar carts were set up in entry ways. This really puts the bar cart front and center for guests entering your house, plus it’s conveniently placed for a little after work drink. 
  • Against the wall in your dining area: If you have a small empty or semi empty wall near your dining area, you can fill it out with a bar cart. This makes it extra convenient if you’re looking to have a few drinks with dinner. 
  • Corner of an office: If you work from home, your bar cart may make an excellent addition to your office. It can still be wheeled out when you have guests over but during most of the day it will make your office look fuller. 
  • Kitchen: When you’re mixing drinks it’s good to be nearby the kitchen in case there are any extra supplies you need. Finding a place in your kitchen for the bar cart can really boost the level of convenience you get from it. 

Wherever you decide to put your own bar cart, you should pay attention to the color schemes around it and any optical illusions of size that might be created by surrounding objects. If you’re not just using yours as decoration, you should also be thinking about where you will use it most and whether or not you can conveniently move it there from your spot if need be. 

Find a Bar Cart to Accessorize 

Before you can add any accessories to your bar cart, you have to have one. If you’ve already got yours ready to go you can skip this section. However, if you’re still trying to decide on your bar cart itself, the following tips will help you make up your mind: 

Think About Size 

Bigger is not always better. Bar carts come in a variety of sizes. Depending on where you plan on putting yours the ideal size may change.

For example, if you want to have a bar cart in a small office, a little one that can fit on the wall caddy corner to your desk may be perfect. On the other hand, if you’re putting one in a wide living room with a high ceiling, a smaller one will just look even smaller. In that case a medium to large bar cart will probably look better. 

You also need to make sure that you have sufficient space for your bar cart. When you’re looking at bar carts in person, they can look smaller than they really are because the other furniture around them creates an optical illusion. Always make sure that you use a tape measure. 

Pick a Material and Theme That Looks Good in Your Home 

Bar Carts can be made of a variety of materials that span from stone to finished wood. While there are practical considerations over which material is best, most people decide based on whether or not it matches the style they’re shooting for. 

Below we’ve broken down your options of the material of your bar cart, alongside a brief description of their benefits:  

  • Wood: Wooden bar carts are really dynamic in that they can fit a variety of styles. Wood can fit anything from a down home rustic look, to a sleek, modern design. If you’re on a budget you can consider MDF (manufactured wood) as an option. It may not be as durable, but it still looks like regular wood.  
  • Glass: Glass bar carts can look lustrous but also appear to take up less space than they really do. The optical illusion created by being able to see through it is something that can play in your favor. At the same time, it doesn’t quite have the bold look of the other types. 
  • Metal: Depending on the type of metal, these bar carts can look classic or very modern. Most often, you’ll find these in brass. The golden look of the brass really pops when you have it against a white background.
  • Stone: Stone bar carts are great if you want yours outdoors. These are generally weather resistant and easy to wheel out onto your back deck, patio or gazebo, for a few summertime drinks with friends and family. 

Consider the Style

Do you want an old school bar cart that looks like it rolled right off the set of Mad Men? Do you want something with a modernist twist that can fit in the trendiest new home?  Are you sure you know what you want at all yet? 

These are the questions you need to ask yourself when thinking about style. Mostly, you’ll want something that matches the room in which you will display and/or use the cart, as well as whatever you’re going to put on top of it. Even at this stage you should be considering how you want to accessorize it for the most optimal results. 

Ensure Your Bar Cart Has the Right Features

The features of a bar cart include things like wheels, shelves, drawers and racks. There are even some bar carts that come complete with cabinetry, where you can hide away your less impressive stuff. 

This is another place where having an idea of what you want to accessorize with ahead of time can really help out. It will inform how many shelves you need, the size of the cart and even the functionality of the wheels.   

Don’t Overthink It 

Now that you’ve picked a bar cart in line with your vision, let’s talk about how to really make it pop.

It’s at this stage that a lot of people fall into the trap of overthinking. That overthinking can make this process much more difficult than it needs to be. Remember to take a step back and trust your gut when you’re picking what to put on your bar cart. 

If something looks good on the cart but you’ve never seen someone do something similar before, go for it! This process is all about making the cart your own.

Use the Trays/Shelves as Styling Zones

Dividing the bar cart into different zones can not only help you organize it, but style it as well. In fact you can make each zone correspond to a specific essential. This will give your cart a certain level of symmetry that’s pleasing to the eye, and it will make it easier for your guests to find what they need. 

Once you have the essentials laid out in the prospective areas, you can fill the rest of the space with your additional decorations and accessories. 

For example the top shelf could be where you put the nice looking liquor bottles, while the middle could be dedicated to glasses. You could fill out the top with some flowers near the bottles and the middle with a couple of recipe books stacked on top of each other, next to the glasses. The possibilities are really endless. 

Decide if You Want a Signature Drink or a Variety

Will your bar cart be the place where you show off your specialty bourbon collection, or will it act as a general bar with drinks of all kinds to please any guest?

The nice thing about accessorizing around one drink or type of drink, is that it allows you to play with themes. If we go with the example of bourbon, you could get a miniature barrel tap to go near a carefully placed display of bottles. 

If you use it as a full bar on the other hand, you have the opportunity to make your bar cart look eclectic and colorful. This will let guests know you’re a person of taste who is willing to try new things and express new styles. 

Find Beauty in the Basics

Glasses, cocktail shakers and old bottles can make for great accessories that are both decorative and functional. The trick is to know what should go on top of the bar cart and what should be put away in your cabinets.

It’s not uncommon to put the high dollar liquor on the cart and have the other stuff separate, but available at the request of guests. That said, you don’t have to go with super expensive stuff, but rather things that are in visually engaging packaging. There are plenty of bottles out there that aren’t super expensive but have a compelling look to them.  

Alongside your bottles, glasses and shakers, you can have additional practical materials like cloth napkins, or even bowls and plates. In fact, there are people who use bar carts specifically to display things other than alcohol. 

Add Some Color and Variety 

Once you’ve got all of your functional but decorative practical supplies set out (bottles, glasses, shakers etc.) it’s time to add a splash of color and variety to the surface of your bar cart. This can be achieved with anything from a vase of flowers to a small decorative statute. 

This is also a good time to add things like recipe books, so your guests can not only pour themselves a drink or two, but find new concoctions to mix up at the same time. These books are great because they fill space, add a splash of color and increase the functionality of your bar cart. 

Think About the Possibility of Spills

Anytime mixed drinks are being made and shared amongst more than two people (let’s be real, it happens with just one as well), there are bound to be some spills. When you’re placing accessories on top of the bar cart, you should keep that in mind. 

If you use a cocktail table cover that you don’t want stained or damaged, it might be a good idea to switch it out anytime you actually use the bar cart or pick a different one. The same rule applies to other items that might be damaged. 

Just use your common sense and you’ll be all set. Don’t be that person who placed their great grandmother’s antique recipe books too close to where people were mixing drinks.

Leave Some Space On the Shelves 

When you begin to get into styling your bar cart, it’s really easy to get carried away and completely fill every nook and cranny of empty space. Unfortunately, as fun as it is to do, the results usually don’t look that great. 

Instead, you want some space for what you’re displaying to breathe and gain definition. Though it’s often overlooked, space is as essential as any of the accessories you add to the cart. The space is what frames the accessories and makes them stand out more to your guests. 

Leaving space will also help you avoid the all too common mistake of putting too much of the same thing on the cart. Meaning, a person might have four of the same mixers when they really only needed to display one or two. Usually people only do this because they think filling all the space on their bar cart will make it look more impressive. In reality it will just look more cluttered. 

Break the Rules and Be Creative 

There’s a reason why we are writing a guide and not a tutorial. Though the difference between those two things may be small, the implications are big. A tutorial is a step-by-step process you follow along with exactly. It doesn’t require a great deal of creativity. A guide is looser. It’s more like a general outline of what works for most people. It doesn’t tell you exactly what to do. 

What does this have to do with accessorizing a bar cart, you might ask? Well, because these are just general guidelines and not hard rules, you shouldn’t worry about trying something completely new to see if it works. Don’t feel like you have to do it exactly the way you saw another one done online. 

Most importantly, have fun doing it! Start making good memories with your bar cart from the beginning and stay loose while you work on it. You’ll be more creative and driven if you do and the finished result will show it. 

So Really, How Do You Accessorize a Bar Cart?

Accessorizing a bar cart begins with picking the right one. You can use anything from a vintage brass to a brand new, lightweight MDF cart. Ideally the one that you pick will in some way match the surrounding area you plan on displaying it in. Once you get it home, you want to select zones for specific accessories on each shelf/tray to make the accessorizing process easier. 

Next, you need to add the essentials like your alcohol bottles and mixers, as well as some decorations like flowers and old books. It’s a good idea to have some sort of organization to everything so that the cart has more symmetry to it, and is easier to use for guests. What you decide to do with your bar cart after that is all up to you. What theme will you chose? 

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