This Just Might Be the Most Underrated Item In Your Home Right Now

published Apr 15, 2020
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Bar carts are, quite possibly, the most versatile home item. Sure, they’re designed to be a gathering spot for happy hours and dinner parties (in addition to storage for glassware, spirits, and bowls of fresh citrus), but even before social distancing took hold, they proved themselves to be a jack of all trades.

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If you want a bar cart revamp that’ll help you make better use of your liquor station, here are some clever alternative uses, straight from a few trusty designer friends. From coffee carts to a WFH station on wheels, it’s time to get this household staple to work a little harder.

Credit: Dims.

Turn It into a Traveling Library

Imagine a curated collection of your favorite titles, mobilized and ready to follow you around wherever you go. If you’re in a studio or a small space, turning your bar cart into a rolling side table that can live next to your sofa or bed is a pretty good idea.

Kelly Reynolds and Chad Falkenberg, the interior designers behind Falken Reynolds, suggest adding a small lamp to the bottom shelf, using it to top a stack of books or magazines. “A light source lower to the floor adds so much warmth and, just like a campfire, brings the eye downward, making the space feel cozier and more intimate,” says the duo. “Plus, it’s also great to illuminate the other items on the shelf.” 

Balance out the composition of the cart by placing heavier objects on the bottom and the lighter ones above. Not only will this keep the cart sturdier, but this way, you can easily remove the smaller pieces above and use the top shelf as an ad-hoc work surface if need be.

Turn It into a Home Office Work Cart

“In today’s world of self-isolation, dining rooms have become de facto classrooms, home offices, and virtual meeting grounds,” says designer Kevin Isbell of Kevin Isbell Interiors. “A bar cart is an easy and portable way of minimizing the clutter that comes with all that.” 

Once the work or school day is done, Isbell suggests clearing the dining table and loading it all up onto this storage piece, rolling it away, and keeping it out of sight. Allowing the day’s activities to stay separate from the evening’s can help ward off the potential stir-crazy feeling you might get from having to work and live in the same spot. 

Credit: Devon Jarvis

Turn It into a Vertical Indoor Garden

If you’ve taken more interest in planting seeds and flowers recently, perhaps your bar cart will be better served as a tiered mobile garden, according to Decorist designer Joshua Jones. The best part? As lighting changes throughout the day, you can easily wheel your greens over to their ideal sun conditions. 

If you don’t plan on sowing any seeds, simply fill the cart with potted plants instead. Regardless of where your cart goes during the day, Jones suggests styling out the spot where you leave it most of the time. “If it’s up against a wall, put up art above and around the cart to make it look like it has a home in that particular spot and not as if it was just left there.”

Turn It into a Spa-on-Wheels

Just because you’re spending a lot more time indoors doesn’t mean that self-care should go out the window. Create your very own R&R trolley by corralling your favorite candles, essential oils, towels, and face masks onto the cart. Complete this portable oasis with a few fresh-cut flowers, a book, and any other trinkets that help you wind down.

Decorist designer Emerie Forehand loves the idea of using a bar cart as a vanity and wheeling it around to where the natural light is best in her home at any given time of day. She keeps a small mirror, makeup, and brush organizers on hers but also stores her hair products and perfumes on it as well. 

Turn It into a Family-Friendly Libation Station

If you’re not quite ready to give up the idea of a bar cart, Adam Meshberg, founder and principal of Meshberg Group, suggests transforming it into a multi-purpose nook the whole family can get in on.

Meshberg keeps Mason jars filled with trail mix, bamboo straws, and various other sweets on his home bar cart. “The bottom shelf holds my alcohol, while the two top shelves have been turned into a snack and hydration station for my kids,” he says. 

He also likes to use the top tier as a supplemental kitchen counter, keeping a juicer or blender on it, often with a decorative bowl filled with fresh fruit directly aside it. This way, the little ones can grab a healthy snack on-the-go or use them to make fresh juice. 

Turn It into a Picture-Perfect Coffee Cart

Does it seem like you’re drinking a lot more coffee these days? While a coffee cart is nothing new, there’s always the opportunity to elevate the concept. Serena & Lily’s design shop merchandise manager, Caitlin O’Keefe, is all for accessorizing hers. “Try adding a stack of books, a floral arrangement, and a small lamp to maximize visual interest,” she says, “And don’t forget to layer in a piece of art for good measure!”

And it doesn’t have to be all caffeine all day long either. Wheel the cart by the spot you’ll be working in and place a pitcher of water and a few glasses on it, so that you can stay hydrated throughout the day.  

Turn It into a Colorful Craft Cart

Finding activities that can keep little ones occupied for lengthy stretches of time is a job in itself. Turn your libation station into a booze-free center for crafts by filling it with a variety of art supplies. Think markers, coloring books, washi tape, and whatever else you can get your hands on. Designers Leigh Lincoln and Aly Morford of Pure Salt Interiors suggest keeping it simple. “Don’t feel the need to over style it, especially in small spaces where less is almost always more.”

If you find yourself without a bar cart, don’t fret. Here are a few tried-and-true favorites that are just as versatile as they are cool. 

Metal Bamboo Bar Cart

This antique-inspired bamboo cart is ready to serve up all kinds of flair, whether it be used to house spirits or your ever-growing skincare collection. Crafted from wood and metal, this compact option is prime for small spaces.

Buy: Metal Bamboo Bar Cart, $149 from Antique Farm House

Credit: Dims.

Barbican Trolley

Serving cart, rolling storage, activity center… the possibilities are endless with Dims.’s ever-so versatile trolley. Streamlined and sturdy enough to hold a bounty of bulky items, this sleek take on the classic can easily travel from room to room.

Buy: Barbican Trolley, $350 from Dims.

Credit: Houzz

Gold Midcentury Bar Cart

Bring a well-deserved touch of luster to your new WFH nook with this sleek, gold-finished bar cart that’s as spacious as it’s durable. Style the piece with art, plants, and a stack of books and allow the mirrored surfaces to radiate the colors throughout your space.

Buy: Gold Midcentury Bar Cart, $123.99 $99.20 from Houzz

Credit: Wayfair

Teter Bar Cart

Whether you’ll be using it as a coffee cart, rolling library, or a spot for art supplies, this multi-functional utility cart is ready to step up to the job. Its perforated metal tiers make it easy to clean while a powder-coated finish means it’s versatile enough to live both indoors and out.

Buy: Teter Bar Cart, $169.99 from Ebern Designs