I want to talk to you today about bar cart styling but first a bit of psychology. You know those silly online tests you can take to determine whether you are more ‘right-brained’ or ‘left-brained’? I always come out nearly equal – 50% left brain, 50% right brain. Not that I give those kinds of tests a lot of weight, mind you, considering the theory has all been but debunked but well, whatever algorithms they have tell me that I’m apparently both creative as well as logical.
There’s part of me that likes order, that likes to break things down to the sum of their parts, to have structure and a plan. And then there’s the other side that likes to be surprised, to be creative and spontaneous, to go with my gut and just see what happens. How these things can co-exist in one brain, each trying to balance the other isn’t something I can explain. But I feel the push and pull of both – my logic vs my emotion and depending upon the situation, I give in to either one or the other.
When it comes to decor, I am often more apt to allow myself a little freedom to get creative, to try and fail, to play with it until I’m pleased by the sum of the parts. But I do like to figure out if there are patterns in what I tend to do, when all the pieces fall in line, I give some thoughts to the how or the why.
I did a post not too long ago about deconstructing the coffee table vignette. I realised after a while that I was using a bit of a ‘formula’ to create something that was pleasing to the eye and the post itself went a bit viral on Pinterest. It’s been a popular one which tells me that you guys find it helpful when things are broken down in an easy-to-follow formula of sorts. And that makes my left brain pretty excited.
So I thought today – considering it’s nearly the weekend – that I’d do the same process but this time with how I style my bar cart. I’ve had my bar cart for something like 5 years now. I still love them despite their popularity and I’m actually just starting to think about the possibility of trading mine for something different. It’s a tight fit in the alcove due to the handle on it and so I’m thinking perhaps a little tiered table on wheels might fit that spot better. However, in the meantime, I decided to give it a bit of a refresh.
And in doing so, I realised that no matter how many times I style and change up this thing, I always fall back on the same basic pattern.
Now, I’ll repeat the fact that I’m a total maximalist. I dig a bit of what I like to call ‘artfully arranged clutter’ so if this is not your bag and you take a more minimal approach, then you can simply leave out a few of the items or check out other bar cart styling on my Pinterest board for inspiration and deconstruct them in the same way I did here.
Bear in mind, there’s no right or wrong way really – this is just what seems to work for me.
The 8 Elements for My Perfect Bar Cart
I know I bang on about the joy of trays a lot around here but seriously, if you want any vignette to look pulled together – especially when you are corralling items together, stick a tray under it and suddenly it looks styled. The one I have here was from Homesense and the pearl inlay around the edges gives the whole thing a little bit of texture which I like. I would recommend something with sides for a bar cart (as opposed to something completely flat) so that the edging gives a little something extra to look at. I would also recommend going with something that contrasts the shape of your cart. If it’s square like mine, choose a round one to add some extra curves. If it’s a circular one, consider a square or rectangular one – contrasts in shapes are always a great way to add some interest.
There are so many gorgeously design bottles out there. Wayne has taken to finding me pretty alcohol bottles when he’s food shopping because he knows I love ones with quirky shapes. On my bar cart, you’ll see I have a Disaronno bottle with an amazing animal print (limited edition with Roberto Cavalli and they come up with a new one each year), Monkey Shoulder Rum which not only tastes amazing but also has a trio of little brass monkeys perched on the side and Blanton’s Gold Edition Whiskey which has a tiny racehorse on top. There are some other stunning bottles out there depending upon what you enjoy drinking – I’ve always loved the stately looking Hendrick’s Gin bottle, Kracken Rum’s double handle, Chambord’s stunning round shape, Bombay Saffire Gin’s beautiful blue colour. They just always look gorgeous on display.
I get a lot of my glassware from eBay and thrift shops and vintage glassware is one of the things I find most difficult to resist. It was one of the reasons I decided to include some shelving above my bar cart to have somewhere to display them. However there are some beautiful designs out at the moment if you don’t fancy hunting around. I fell in love with these Anthropologie monogrammed glasses last year and was thrilled to see they were back in stock a few months ago. Get them while they are hot, however, if you like them. I expect they’ll sell out again coming up to the gift giving season. A few really pretty glasses, wherever you get them, should be a given on any stylish bar cart.
A cocktail shaker
There’s something about a lovely cocktail shaker that just says ‘party’ to me. I purchased mine a few years ago now but I’ve seen some gold ones here and there since then. Of course, there are other styles – I’ve seen some beautiful wood ones, shiny silver ones, pink ones – find one that speaks to your style and display it with pride.
An ice bucket
Similar to a cocktail shaker, an ice or champagne bucket shows you mean business. The bar cart is not just something pretty to be looked at (okay, it mostly is, let’s be honest) but also to be called into service at a moment’s notice. Who wants their guests having to root under the frozen peas to find the ice in your freezer? No one really. Make it easy, keep it within easy reach with a gorgeous ice bucket. You can find some beautiful vintage ones if you fancy the thrill of the hunt or grab a pretty one in the sales before Christmas. There are plenty about at all different price points.
A piece of art
A bit of art will add some personality to your bar cart as well as some visual height. I hung that one with a command strip so it could easily be removed but I quite like the fact that it’s offset a bit, almost an acknowledgment that I know the damn cart isn’t perfectly symmetrical in the space so why not just go with it. I’ve seen a lot of ‘bar cart art’ out there (do a search on Etsy to see what I mean) but I prefer to see a piece of art you really love – an old small oil painting picked up in your travels, a little bit of abstract art you made yourself, or a piece from an artist you love – rather than something with a slogan or too gimmicky.
Every vignette – and I mean EVERY one – should include something living. Or in my case, something faux that looks like it’s living. So a lovely plant, a bunch of flowers, even a small bowl of fruit will add a bit of life to your bar cart. Remove these ‘living’ items and your bar cart will be pretty but not at it’s best. Trust me on this one, it just always works.
And finally, you really just always need to throw in a bit of ‘weird’ in your styling. Use something you wouldn’t normally see on a bar cart or something that’s there just for fun. It will show off your personality, create a bit of a talking point and make the whole thing just a little more you. Embrace your personal weird. It’s an entirely good thing.
Need a bit of help? Here’s a quick and easy guide to get the look of my own bar cart!
*affiliate links are indicated by an asterisks. You don’t pay any more but I’ll earn a few pennies to buy more pretty bottles. Win-win!
1 Disaronno Limited Edition Bottle* / 2 Gold Cocktail Shaker* / 3 Beth Hocknel Art Print* / 4 Gold Pineapple Ice Bucket / 5 Gold Ice Bucket / 6 Pearl Inlay Tray (set of 3) / 7 Blanton’s Gold Edition Bourbon Whiskey* / 8 Monkey Shoulder Scotch Whiskey* / 9 Anthropologie Monogrammed Glasses
Now there’s no excuse not to have a styled bar cart! What do you have on your bar cart? Go on, I’d love to hear from you!