Bar cart styling tips from interior design experts

Textures and colours make the cart complete (Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Bar carts are the coolest home trend of the moment, with Primark’s £35 gold and glass option selling out almost instantly, and every home influencer on Instagram showing some form of art deco inspired cart.

Research from Barcardi also found that Google searches for ‘bar cart’ rose by 80% from beginning of lockdown to the summer.

Given we’ll be spending the next month (or more) without any pub trips, it makes sense to have a pretty and functional bar cart for your sipping needs.

However, if you’re thinking of investing in a cart, you’ll want it to look stylish rather than cluttered.

With that in mind, we’ve spoken to some of the UK’s top interior designers to find out how to make yours more Gatsby than jumble sale.

Measure up your room

Before you even purchase your cart, you’ll want to ensure it’s fit for the space. Although you may have seen one online that looks lovely, if it’s too big or small it can be dwarfed by other furniture or look too imposing.

Gwendoline Alderton, who runs GA Interiors, tells ‘When you know where it’s going to sit in your room you can work out the exact measurements of the bar cart.

‘There’s no point just buying something and then hoping it will fit into your room because it invariably doesn’t. Understand where you’ll place it first and then it’s less overwhelming when you come to buy your bar cart, because you already know exactly what you’re looking for.’

Think of a theme

If your room has ultra-modern Scandi vibes, there’s no point going for a Hollywood Regency style mahogany cart. Similarly, if your interiors are dark and atmospheric, beech wood and white might not complement this.

Gwendoline says that the best way to get around this is create a theme for your cart.

‘The best way to style your bar cart is to create a little story with the items you display on it,’ she says.

‘They need to be connected in some way. You could use items of a similar colour, style or texture and remember to keep to odd numbers (a vase of flowers, and a book, and a candle) because this make your story more interesting.’

Bacardi’s new bar cart has a musical theme with space for vinyl (Picture: Bacardi)

Add non-booze props

The bottles you choose are going to be the star of the show, but the added extras bring this all together.

Designer, Hugh Miller, who worked with Bacardi to create a bar cart with a vinyl mixing console included, says: ‘Express yourself and let your creativity flow by incorporating items which reveal your passions. From your favourite vinyl to vintage glasses and stacked books, personalised props can create a real conversation starter.’ 

Incorporate greenery

Our love of houseplants knows no end, and this doesn’t have to stop at your bar cart.

Hugh says: ‘Add a dose of life and colour to your festive drinks by incorporating a trailing plant, a single tree branch in a vase or some larger tree branches in a basket.

‘Or keep it seasonal with some holly and mistletoe to add some festive cheer.’

Pineapples add a tropical twist

The great thing about a bar cart is that you can add and remove items to it as the trends change. As it goes, pineapples are the motif of the moment.

Hugh says: ‘Move over cactus, this year, the pineapple is back and it’s a key fashion motif for home decorating. Whether it’s pineapple accented drinks ware, bronze versions or the real deal, have fun with this trend and give this fruit a prime spot on your cart.’

Interior designer Paulette Stephens adds: ‘Add something quirky and fun as the idea behind a good bar cart is to set the tone for the kind of evening you want your guest to have!

‘On my cart that’s the pineapple which doubles up as an ice container.’

Paulette has used metallic and marble tones to make fun motifs like the pineapple look grown-up (Picture: Paulette Stephenson)

Play with height

London-based interior designer Emma Green says: ‘Balance items with different heights such as large bottles, small glasses.’

This should stop the bar car looking like a standard kitchen storage unit, and make it an area for curiosities and pretty things.

Hugh adds: ‘Play around with height and make clever use of space by using each level of your drinks cart.  Style each level with items of differing heights to please the eye and create that showstopper moment for your guests.’

Fruit and spices add scent and colour

Adding fruit or fragrant cocktail ingredients firstly means you’ll have plenty of ideas for unique drinks, but also brings come colour and breaks up uniformity.

Hugh says: ‘Take inspiration from the drinks you’re serving by styling your cart with key cocktail ingredients designed to delight the senses.  Think bold colours, zesty fruits and heady herbs and spices such as cinnamon sticks and rosemary sprigs.’

Emma’s top tip is that ‘a simple lime or bowl of limes can look stunning and add some colour.’

With Christmas coming up, you could even have a go at dehydrating some orange slices, attaching them to a string, and using as a small garland.

Use different glass textures

Buying one set of glasses isn’t a bad idea, but you can add more intrigue to your cart with a mixture of shapes and colours.

Because glass is transparent, it won’t look too cluttered either.

Emma says: ‘Add a mixture of different types of glasses, e.g standard ones and cut glass or crystal glasses to add some luxe and sparkle.’

Mirrors, crystal, chrome, and different shapes add texture and the feeling of space (Picture: Emma Green Design/Snook Photography)

Curate your utensils

You’re going to need shakers, shot glasses, and more if you want to make cocktails worth their (margarita) salt.

Try to avoid displaying those promo student shot test tubes or cracked plastic measuring spoons. Instead, go for quality items that are cohesive with each other.

Emma says: ‘Utilise your equipment as display items such as silver cocktail shakers and ice cube tongs.’  

Expensive-looking materials finish off the look

Interior designer Amalia Boier tells that just a few thought-out items can level up your cart.

She says: ‘Some beautifully elegant elements such as agate crystal coasters, Ralph Lauren brass cocktail picks, a statement vase with flowers, and a great choice of glassware would really serve their purpose and elevate that living room corner into a proper Gatsby space.’ 

Thrift stores and flea markets might be off the table during lockdown, but you can get vintage and homemade finds on eBay or Facebook Marketplace for not too much money. These unique pieces look unique and expensive – even if you got a bargain.

More: UK

Give your bar cart another purpose

As part of generation rent, you’ll know that you need your homewares to be adaptable. A bar cart is exactly that, and if you decide you want it to take on another life, it’s easily done.

Gwendoline says: ‘Obviously you can use it as a mini bar in your living room when you don’t want to keep going back and forth to the kitchen for drinks, but you can also style it in other ways around your home.

‘As they’re usually quite compact, you could have one in your bathroom to display your favourite products or in your bedroom to showcase your jewellery or makeup.

‘If you have a bar cart on wheels then it also becomes a useful side table that can move around the room depending on your needs, eg: as a place for your cup of tea and reference material when you work from home or as a mini library for your favourite reads that help you relax at the end of the day.’

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