The bar cart serves a variety of functions: it ensures that entertaining supplies stay organized and within reach, adds aesthetic charm and conveys personality within a space, and provides guests with a spot to mix their own drinks during get-togethers. But, who’s to say that setup on wheels is the only option?
There are plenty of ways to create a bar station in your own home even if you don’t have the space or desire for a traditional cart. We turned to some of our favorite designers’ projects for inspiration.
Sleek and Chic
Ashley Roi Jenkins of ARJ Design transformed a built-in cabinet within a kitchen into a bar area. An oversized brass mirror adds intrigue to the space while making it appear larger, and thoughtful accents keep the setup looking chic, not chaotic.
Erin Gates transformed an antique dresser into a beautiful bar space, placing a tray on top to corral bottles while protecting the piece’s surface. Traditional décor elements—such as a classic bust sculpture and ginger jar vase—add vintage charm.
Bookshelves can make for a wonderful bar setup. “When compressed for space, borrowing space from a bookshelf to set the stage for a small bar statement is absolutely okay,” Anne R. Kokoskie, owner and designer at Styled by A.R.K., says. “I especially love when this is done in a library. Although you can host as many liquors as you wish, when you have limited space, it is best to feature your favorite choice.”
Bonus points if your shelves are already painted in an eye-catching color. Emilie Munroe added tropical touches to this bright green bar shelf, which add welcome playfulness and whimsy.
Pretty and Petite
Similarly, go ahead and make use of a makeshift bar area. All you need is a cute tray, colorful glassware, and a few festive touches, such as embroidered cocktail napkins, a pretty bottle opener, or a crystal decanter—simple yet sophisticated.
Go Big At Home
Why not convert a series of shelves into a restaurant-worthy bar display? “Instead of doing a bar cart, I love the idea of doing a built-in bar,” designer Mary Patton says. “Ultimately, it will add value to your home and it can double as storage, so it's a win-win.”
Renting? You can still replicate this look without installing a built-in. Adds Patton, “A great alternative hack is to buy a bookshelf from IKEA and paint it the same color as your wall.”