Owning a bar cart is the pinnacle of adulting. It shows you’re put together enough to host an elegant gathering and have graduated from shots at the college bar to classier cocktails. Plus, who doesn’t love showcasing their higher-end spirits and collection of martini glasses?
But, it's easy for a bar cart to look boring. While the cart itself might be stunning with chrome and glass, if you’re just slapping some liquor bottles and glasses on there, it really isn’t doing it justice. And you’re missing out on another opportunity to seriously show off your style.
Below are tried and true tips for bar cart styling that interior designers love using with their clients and in their own cocktail corners.
Use a Few Statement Pieces
Jade Joyner, co-founder, principal designer, and chief creative officer of Atlanta-based interior design firm Metal + Petal loves incorporating unique pieces that she’s found while thrifting whether it’s a unique seashell tray or a funky frame. That way the bar cart feels elevated without taking away from its actual purpose: to make drinks.
In particular, she loves using framed art, trays, and small sculptures to add some depth and pizzazz to a place that’s typically designed to just hold cocktail materials. Joyner also loves using patterned ginger jars of different sizes to fill with stirrers and other drink-making essentials to break up the glasses on the bar cart.
While including multiple elements can really make the bar cart feel expensive, don’t go overboard. “I think if you have one piece that’s truly unique, you don’t have to have everything be unique,” Joyner says. “It doesn’t have to be this explosion of weirdness.”
Layer Multiple Pieces
Once you have all your knick-knacks and additional pieces secured, it’s time to style said pieces. Joyner recommends starting with trays and boxes, then adding in liquor bottles and glasses, and finishing things off with smaller decor pieces, like frames and sculptures.
If your bar cart is two-tiered, she says to keep the liquor bottles down there for some added height on the bottom level. “Adding depth and height and weight to the bar cart is what makes it look more stylish,” Joyner says. I think bar carts look bad when they’re one-dimensional and just glass.”
Add Some Greenery
For a pop of color, bring a hanging plant into the mix like a philodendron or pothos, whose leaves will cascade over the side of the cart.
“A great place to find a good little plant is your local nursery, and that's such a good fun find,” Joyner says. “Something that trellises down the bar cart and gives it some texture.”
Don't Squeeze In Too Much Stuff
There’s a lot of potential when it comes to choosing the small décor pieces to spice up your bar cart, but you don’t have to put everything on it. Sashya Thind Fernandes, founder and principal designer of Boston-based interior design firm ID8 Design Studio, recommends storing the liquor you don’t typically drink elsewhere to make more room for these stylistic choices
“I wouldn't stock the cart with everything in your collection, just what you drink often and regularly and that’s about it,” Thind Fernandes says. “Just keep it simple. Keep it clean.”
To consolidate spirits more cohesively, Joyner also loves storing them in decanters. She tends to shy away from the classic crystal ones and opts to mix in brass or bone decanters for some texture—just be sure you know what alcohol is going in which.
Think Outside Traditional Styles
While glass and brass bar carts may be the go-to choice, Thind Fernandes prefers a more industrial look that will completely elevate your bar cart aesthetic. She suggests exploring black, chrome, or vintage stainless steel carts for something different and expected.
Don’t want a traditional bar cart? Thind also says you can transform other furniture pieces to be your own personal cocktail corner. For example, you could take a shelf of your bookshelf and style it with decanters and glasses or use a console table as your cocktail supply storage and keep it next to entertainment pieces like a record player or bartending coffee table book. The options really are endless.