Melanie Jeanne

The Art of Styling a Bar Cart

Come in, take a seat, let us make you a drink.

That’s how we feel in this house. We want a warm and welcoming environment where the bar is always open to friends and we’re ready to settle in and relax into conversation or watch a hockey game or take the party outside and lounge by the pool or fireplace. As a result we have consistently taken wasted space in our homes and turned them into lounge / bar areas. And these spaces always feel most like us and make us so happy. Do you know the feeling?

It may seem odd to say that a bar area in our house makes us so happy. But, it’s not because of the alcohol (although our bottle collection is top notch and beautiful). Its truly because of the decor. This space is our place. It is where both of our personalities exist in harmony best. It is where our love for rich colors, supple textures, pretty little things and all things masculine collide with all things feminine, coming together in one space. This space is the place we can escape the go, go, go and settle into board games, card games and conversation.

Pulling together the perfect bar cart and lounge area is truly a personal journey because I believe each and every one of us live and love in spaces differently and our spaces should truly reflect who we are. I think the most valuable thing to focus on when starting out is personality. It’s my number one rule of thumb in any space in our home, the space must speak to our personalities, it just feels better that way. It must feel like us in order to truly settle the soul and create joy and comfort.

I also think every space, including a bar cart / lounge, must have detail. There are so many places in our home that just aren’t us yet (more to come on that), they aren’t tied up neatly with a bow, they don’t truly reflect who we are and what we love, they’re just not quite right yet (but I promise they will be soon). And I think the reason they aren’t quite right yet is because they are lacking detail. In a bar / lounge the devil surely is in the details. It can’t just be a space that looks pretty, it should also be a space that fulfills a purpose and succeeds at delivering on the ultimate goal – serving drinks and allowing us and our guests to relax and enjoy one another.

There is an art to pulling together a bar cart (I’ll share all the details of our lounge later) that reflects all personalities. Here’s how we did it:

The Environment: We always envisioned the formal dining room of our home as a lounge. We don’t dine formally so we figured let’s at least ensure the space is used to its full potential and create the lounge of our dreams. We took the old taupe walls and created a moody environment by painting the walls black. This simple touch creates such a rich, masculine environment that makes the space feel cozy yet modern to us.

The Display: We have a lot of bottles that we have collected over time; from travels to gifts received. We love our collection and wanted to be able to display the majority of the bottles we have collected over the years and we knew we needed a shelf that could stand up to the weight. We also wanted our shelf to disappear into our walls as best as possible and decided this Stairway Black 96” Wall Mounted Bookcase would serve our needs. We wanted to create a vignette that shared more than just bottles and included our personalities to boot, so the extra shelves came in quite handy.

The Bar Cart: We chose a feminine oval bar cart, the Abby from Pottery Barn, in order to balance masculine and feminine details within the space. We went with oval because so much of the rooms structure, furniture and accents have hard edges. We selected brass to contrast and pop against the black walls as well as bring in a bit more of my (Melanie’s) personality. We didn’t want to be overwhelmed by a chunky cart with  lot of detail and we wanted to ensure that the cart served its purpose. Our favorite and most commonly used bottles sit on the top shelf for easy access.

The Bottles: Base your selection on personal preference. That is the only rule. J loves whiskey, I love tequila, we bought other bottles to round out the selection to ensure we could make a gin drink or two. There are bottles in our collection based on flavor and there are some based on bottle design. The only rule is to ensure you have a bottle of each type of liquor to serve guests their favorite beverage.

The Decor: Here’s where the fun really lies…  

  • Art our way – Our guitar holds a special place in our hearts, it was the first gift I gave J when he sold his drum kit and stopped playing in a band. It hangs in the heart of our home for easy access. It adds a nod to J in our decor. And the rich color and shape are eye catching and add interest. The letter board on the shelving unit is a sweet nod to a bar menu and highlights our favorite drinks. The hashtag marquee light helps to tie the bar shelves and cart together. It plays off of the lettering on the letter board, brings brass accents to the shelves and adds playful light for ambience at night. The ammunition box is actually an Ammodor (Ammunition Box Cigar Humidor) which was gifted to J one year and adds so much character to our shelving. It is playful and useful as J loves a good cigar every now and then. It’s all in the little details.
  • The Glassware – these are vintage polish glasses from my grandmother’s collection. They are easily accessible for a simple sampling of any one liquor and add such feminine detail on the cart.
  • The Tray – Corrals all of our favorite bottles in one place, allowing for a focal point that can be cluttered while also feeling organized and under control.
  • The Vase / Wine Chiller: I love the idea of having a dual purpose item on the cart. When not in use chilling wine, it is used as a vase to bring in a bouquet of beautiful living flowers. Decor with purpose is essential.
  • Top Shelf Details: Napkins, stir sticks, drink umbrellas; whatever you love, include it in the extra spaces and places. These little details come in handy at all times when serving others and yourself. Spearing olives, preventing sweat rings, or playing up the playful nature of your space, these nick nacks have your back.
  • Bottom Shelf Details: S.Pellegrino bottles add a pop of color and serve to make drinks with soda water an easy task. A playful shaker in brass accents speaks to both our personalities and makes dishing out drinks fun in the meantime. We love our pineapple shaker as it reminds us of island time, mai tais and sand in our toes. And our book Riviera Cocktail is the start of a collection of coffee table books dedicated to famous cocktails around the world.  
  • Cocktail / Bar Books: We also have a small collection of cocktail / bar books on the bottom shelf of our bookshelf. They help to inspire new drinks, remind us of ingredients in classic cocktails and add decor that is useful in our home often. We have learned to love many new and varying cocktails based on these book. (Books include: Rose All Day, The Art of Mixology, The New Cocktail Hour, Around the World in 80 Cocktails, The Essential Cocktail Book & The Essential Bar Book)  

Whether just starting out or refining your bar and bart cart take the time to ensure your space reflect you! Your personality should shine through your house and home and be visible in the littlest of details. 

I’m certain it is 5 o’clock somewhere. Cheers!

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