26: How to Style a Bar Cart
Monday February 23, 2015

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 “The ornaments of your home are the people who smile upon entering time and time again.” 
― Maralee McKee

After watching the six seasons and two movies of Sex and the City, the one decor essential that seemed would be a perfect fit for the en vogue iconic New Yorker, Carrie Bradshaw, was the bar cart. However, since she was always out on the town, she really had no need. However, when Vogue interviewed Sarah Jessica Parker in their on-going series 73 questions, a glimpse of said bar cart was revealed. So maybe Carrie Bradshaw is not in need of one (although, I’m sure Mr. Big would be in favor), but SJP certainly is on the same page as today’s post.

The idea of a bar cart has always been in the back of mind. The simplicity of creating a space wherever you’d prefer to serve guests and offer something lovely to eat or drink has not only been enticing to me, but something that allows you to be prepared at a moments notice for guests, entertaining regardless of what the event might be.

While the scene in Breakfast at Tiffany’s springs to mind when I think of entertaining in small, yet chic quarters, the exciting news is we call create this environment. And today I look forward to showing you how and offer reasons to consider adding this to your simply luxurious sanctuary.

The benefits of having a bar cart on wheels are many. As you will discover, the options are endless depending upon your taste and needs. From metal to bamboo, mirrored trays to wood, rectangular to oval – gold or silver, type “bar cart” into your search engine, and the shopping options will astound you. Below I will offer a handful of carts to get you started as well as share the one I finally knew the moment I saw it was going to be mine.


1. Versatile

Perhaps you live in a small studio or maybe you live in a spacious historic estate, the good news is any house, apartment or living space can accommodate a bar cart.

2. Keep the conversation flowing

If your floor plan isn’t open and the kitchen is separate from the lounge or living area in which your guests congregate for conversation, each time the host wishing to refill or restock a platter or glass of wine for the guests, they must leave the room. With a bart cart, this frustration is eliminated, and guests can even help themselves which allows everyone the ability to relax.

3. Move the conversation

If you are having a dinner party, beginning the evening in the living room or another room away from the dining table allows for a more relaxing conversational setting. At the same time, after dinner, move your guests back into the sitting room for the same reasons. Each time you, kick start a new conversation, allow people to become more comfortable and mix up who is seated or standing to whom potentially instigating new connections.

4. Relax in comfort

As I briefly mentioned above, moving guests away from the dining table and into more comfortable seating where they can relax can invite the evening to take its natural course. If the energy is rolling, time will be forgotten and a very memorable time is more likely to be enjoyed.

5. Mobility

Having the ability to move your cart to your guests and where it will best suit whichever situation you are organizing in your home is an wonderful perk. During the holidays, I hosted a gathering at my home and so stationed the bar car near the tree, but also made space for the bartender to stand behind it comfortable able to survey the room should anyone need a refill or a drink.


1. Decide What It Will Be Used For

Simply because Mad Men stocks their bars with hard alcohol doesn’t mean that is all a bar cart is good for. Depending upon your lifestyle and preference, a bar cart can be ideal for just about anything. From morning pastries and mimosa and tea in the morning, to high tea and nibbles in the afternoon, to a wine and artisan beer bar in the evening. Whichever you prefer, stock and shop accordingly.

2. Glassware 

Based upon how you will be using the bar, select glasses that are beautiful as well as functional. You can certainly choose matching sets or enjoy stopping into decor consignment shops for unique wine glasses in a variety of colors and sizes. If you are serving tea, there are stunning tea cups and saucers for bare minimal prices at yard sales and second hand stores.

3. Tools & Supplies

If you are stocking a classic bar cart capable of making mixed drinks, you will need certain supplies, but if you are preferring a more morning bar cart set-up, the supplies will be a little different – perhaps a pastry pedestal stand? Below are three lists for your preferred function for your bar cart:

Mixed Drinks

  • ice bucket
  • martini shaker
  • strainer
  • jigger
  • toothpick
  • ice tongs
  • stirrer
  • colorful straws or sterling silver straws
  • cocktail napkins

Wine & Beer

  • wine bottle opener
  • bottle opener
  • decanter
  • ice bucket for white/rose wine
  • cocktail napkins

Tea and/or Breakfast

  • teapot
  • tea cups and saucers
  • tea strainer
  • pastry display
  • napkins
4. Beverages

Understandably, you will want to stock your bar with the drinks you prefer, but for appearances sake, do keep in mind design and organization. Organized by color, type or style, the effect of chic often is awareness of presentation. Feel free to decant or place hard liquor in beautiful decanters as they could be filled with your signature drink of choice.

5. Matches

While most people don’t smoke anymore and if they do, rarely indoors, I prefer to have matches for lighting candles in the room. I am not perpetually on a scavenger hunt to find matchbooks to add to my collection as they add conversation, but also a simple signature style to the cart. Also, if you have a fireplace, these are easily accessible for starting a cozy evening indoors.

6. Mother Nature

With all of the metal and glass adorning your bar cart, adding a touch of Mother Nature with a simple bouquet of flowers softens the look and provides just the right balance.

7. Conversation Pieces

Whether its a unique bowl full of corks as I have on my bar cart, a unexpected souvenir from your travels or a beautiful painting set just above or on top of your bar cart, add a conversational piece that will reveal something about yourself, but not too much so as to prompt a question to kickstart a conversation.

8. Candles

Always an option if there is space, I found my candelabra for five dollars at a pop-up estate sale while walking down NW 23rd in Portland. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work, but it sure has been the right addition to add a touch of height in the corner of my living room. With the addition of the soft light, it creates a more intimate mood and can be light depending upon the time of day or the people you are with.

As someone who loves conversation and the beauty of not knowing exactly where any conversation may lead with the proper food and drink to allow for your guests and yourself to relax, the bar cart is an essential detail to consider welcoming into your home.

In the short time that I have had my bar cart, I have already enjoyed spending time and entertaining in my home far more than I ever expected. After all, our homes need be the destination in which we can relax, unwind and invite those we love and wish to know better do the same when we invite them into our home or share our home with them.

Details about my cart:


Petit Plaisir:

Porter magazine






26 | The Simply Luxurious Life, Www.thesimplyluxuriouslife.com

10 thoughts on “26: How to Style a Bar Cart

  1. Thank you for this post — I’ve just recently been shopping around for a bar cart for my dining room, so this is quite helpful! Yours is style beautifully! FYI, the prices on the West Elm carts are listed incorrectly ($39,930.00 and $49,950.00 and should be $399 and $499).

  2. Love this post, it couldn’t have com at a more perfect time. I’ve been eyeing up bar carts for a few months now and will hopefully be getting one and putting my own together very soon! Some great tips here and a few ideas for decorating I hadn’t thought of! Love the bowl of corks! Unusual yet very chic!

    Sarah 🙂
    Saloca in Wonderland

  3. This episode was really inspiring! A couple years ago my Grandma got me a bar cart (I think Ikea or Walmart) for christmas to help me organize my room. I WAS using it to store groceries like a mini pantry in my room(I live with my parents but have to keep most of my food in my room)… until tonight. Today I listened to this podcast episode and decided to use it to set up my bento station, something that wasn’t very cohesive. It’s very simple but I can put anything I need to use to cook on the top, wheel the whole thing out to the kitchen, have ALL my tools(and have to dash back to my room while cooking) and whatnot. I’ll be blogging about it tonight, but let’s just say I’m really excited!

  4. Ah! I love that you referenced the iconic party at Breakfast at Tiffany’s; the film is so lovely, and I actually stumbled across a vintage vinyl record of the soundtrack to play on my gramophone to really set the mood.

    The bar cart idea is lovely! I recently had a guest spill on the dresser I was using as a makeshift bar, and let’s just say a cart would have been not only chicer, but also easier to wipe down the next morning!

    Like many of your readers, I am a devote francophile with a little blog on French-infused, feminine life+ style. It would be an honor if you and your readers might check it out: themodernsophisticate.com

  5. What a tremendous podcast for styling a podcast!! I have a credenza instead of a bar cart but I am definitely using your tips to spruce up the look!! It really needs an update

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