Here's How to Style Your Bar Cart So It Doesn't Feel Basic

Chic bar cart with patterned lamp and small plant.

Lauren Zillinger for Laura Metzler Photography 

My bar area has long been one of my favorite spots to style within my home, especially as someone who’s an avid collector of glassware, cocktail napkins, and decorative trays—I love having the opportunity to display all of my beloved finds.

While there’s a time and a place for stocking up on everything trendy, your bar cart doesn’t have to look just like everyone else’s. Here’s how to create a display that’s timeless and unique.

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Try a Table

I’ll always have a soft spot for the traditional bar cart on wheels, but I actually haven’t used a rolling piece in a while. Lately, I’ve opted to place my cocktail-making essentials atop a side table or dresser, which makes for a sophisticated setup.

Many of the rolling carts I’ve spotted lean a bit trendier than I’d prefer, so if you, too, are drawn to more traditional décor, consider repurposing a vintage marble side table or small chest as a bar space. Facebook Marketplace and local secondhand shops are excellent places to source such furniture pieces on the cheap. 

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Decant Unsightly Liquors

Tray with beautiful glass bottles.

Photos by Lauren Zillinger for Laura Metzler Photography 

We won’t judge you for purchasing that bottom shelf bottle of vodka, we promise. But if you come home with a liquor bottle that isn’t the prettiest, it may be worth emptying its contents into a glass decanter. This will take your setup from college dorm room to elegant adult-like home in a snap.

And while some may find purchasing certain spirits just for their eye-catching bottles to be a bit frivolous, we’re not opposed to doing so. There are many gorgeous labels to be found—Boodles gin and St. Germain are some of my personal favorites.

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Add Some Light

Placing a lamp atop your cart or table adds instant sophistication. It doesn’t matter what style of fixture you use—I’m constantly switching lamps from one space to another and have tried out quite a few in my bar area.

A black base will add a moody touch, while a wicker lamp will make your space grandmillennial chic in no time.

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Introduce Intrigue

Don’t be afraid to add a purely decorative object or two to the bar area. I love stacking books—particularly those filled with fun cocktail recipes or published by my favorite restaurants—but why not add a bust sculpture or a cute trinket tray on top of your pile of titles? These types of items will add personality and make a statement from the get-go.

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Mix and Match Trays

Why settle for just one tray when you can incorporate a few? I styled a small marble tray from H&M Home atop an oversized woven piece from Dear Keaton to section off my liquor bottles and protect my table’s marble top. The two trays I used represent quite different aesthetics, but there’s never anything wrong with some pattern mixing.