5 Genius Ways to Style a Bar Cart for Every Occasion


For a big gathering, like a New Year’s bash, a bar cart can be a virtual bartender if you stock it with the very basics—whiskey, gin, vodka, a garnish or two, and a snack. Guests who have “their drink” can make one themselves. Keep the stash of wine, beer, and Champagne on a nearby sideboard or console.

Brunch Buffet bar cart

Arranging some items on a bar cart helps with crowd control. Think of it as a small station for the accessories—drinks, fruit, bagels—while the bigger table is for hot dishes and other main brunch fare.

Set out the food  in the center of the top shelf for easy access. Fill in the gaps with a few pretty eye-pleasers: a vase of creamy roses, a sculptural objet, a single shiny candlestick.

For easier entertaining, add a prepoured signature drink—like a juice-and-Champagne blend with a fruit-slice garnish—on one end. It keeps guests moving along.

On the bottom shelf, stock extras: the makings for more drinks, additional plates, and a few other fruit options.

 Bedside Display bar cart

A bar cart in lieu of a nightstand gives you more room for stuff you love.

You should stick the utilitarian items (reading lamp, alarm clock) front and center. But they’ll look infinitely more glam alongside a collection of decorative objects. If your cart has a mirrored surface, like this one, play up the poshness with items made of luxe materials, such as Lucite and metal.

Opt for a few hefty pieces over a multitude of little ones. Not only does a grouping like this look neater and more impressive but it also makes it easy to transfer items to a shelf when you need the cart for a party.

Easy styling trick: Play with shapes. Offset a pile of big, rectangular books with a curved vase and a sculptural piece.

Snowy Afternoon Retreat bar cart

A bar cart doesn’t have to hold barware at a party, especially when you’re having a daytime, dressed-down get-together. Stock it with sweet treats instead.

Set out cheery mugs, a carafe of cocoa, and a cup of cinnamon sticks as stirrers. You can raid the kids’ rooms or bookshelves for a few props to make the array feel even homier.

Toss a spare blanket or throw over a chair to create a cozy resting spot.

Line the cart’s lower level with trays of (bakery-bought) mini pies, a heaping bowl of apples, and other indulgences. Tuck a few dish towels or fabric napkins under the serving pieces—they bring in a burst of color and allow for quick cleanup.

Inviting Entryway Spot bar cart

A stylized catchall just inside the front door adds function (and some fun).

Bring the outdoors in with a potted plant—an easy way to liven up the space, especially in winter. Choose a hardy variety, like a ponytail palm, so you don’t need a green thumb to keep it alive.

Use bowls to corral items that you need on the go, like keys, stamps, and sunglasses. Vessels in a mix of sizes, shapes, and colors (stick to a two- or three-hue palette) look more artful than uniform containers.

A midsize woven basket can hide incoming mail until you have time for sorting. When you need the cart for entertaining, transfer the containers to a closet shelf and leave the decorative pieces (candlesticks, plants) in place.

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