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Buy vs. DIY: Vintage-Inspired Bar Cart

Bar carts are not only a must-have for entertaining, they’ve become a staple in modern décor. As a standout piece in any room, bar carts offer a chic and personalized way to display your liquor and cocktail glasses. The vintage-inspired designs are a nod to the glamorous 1950s, where drinks were strong parties were frequent.

Now, bar carts are back and better than ever, but so many varieties currently on the market come with a steep price tag. Even vintage pieces at flea markets can set you back a couple hundred dollars. While some may see the timeless piece as an investment, others just aren’t willing or able to cough up that much cash.


DIY: From Ikea Utility Cart to Luxury Libation Station

Meli Bandera, web designer and blogger for Blush and Jelly, wanted her own version of a bar cart without breaking the bank.

“For months, I was searching for the perfect bar cart for our new home. Everything I did like was ridiculously expensive, especially when we needed other things for the house,” she says. “So I started to brainstorm and realized that I could save a lot of money with just making it myself.”

Inspired by the vintage bar carts she'd been drooling over on Pinterest, Meli saw the Ikea BYGEL Utility Cart for $24.99 and realized she could make it work with some creativity and a little paint.


Before: Meli started with this Ikea Bygel Utility Cart. Photo courtesy of ikea.com.


She assembled the cart via Ikea's instructions, but left the white trays off. Meli then took the silver frame outside, and used Krylon Metallic Gold spray paint to give the cart a vintage look. She had an old spray paint grip on hand to make sure the color was applied evenly.

The cart was sprayed with four coats of paint, and she waited 30 minutes in between each coat to let it dry. Meli’s new bar cart plus all of her supplies cost her less than $35 – a far cry from the expensive bar carts on the market.


After: Meli's completed bar cart after being spray painted and decorated.

Photo courtesy of Blush and Jelly.


After a successful DIY project, Meli keeps her cart stocked with vodka, white rum, champagne, simple syrup, rose syrup and grenadine. She organizes her cocktail glasses (thrift store finds for less than $5), and supplies on the three tiered trays. Adding a touch of her own personality, Meli decorated the cart with colorful paper straws and hanging flags. The best part? It’s super handy when serving libations.

“It has created an additional social space in our home,” she says. “When family and friends come to visit I feel like a good host that can mix them a drink or two.”

Time: 4 hours

Cost: $35 (add $5 to buy a spray paint grip)


Buy: From Inexpensive to High-End

If you’re not up for the task of building and painting your own cart, or if you’re dying for a timeless investment piece, there are several options for your dream bar cart. Many come in sturdy iron or bamboo, and the variety of shapes and sizes are endless. Etsy and eBay even offer some vintage pieces for purchase, but may require a little restoration.



Image via Wayfair.com.


This contemporary silver and glass Elmira Serving Cart has a more modern design, and works well in homes that have stainless steel and brushed nickel accents. The cart requires assembly, but only costs $92.95 on Wayfair.com.



Image via Macys.com.


This Vitale Bar Cart from Macy's pays homage to the 1950s with its sleek brass design. Both tiers are lined with mirrored glass, and the shelves make for easy and secure storage. Now on sale for less than $450, the bar cart combines functionality with sophisticated style. 



Image via interiorhomescapes.com.


This Lisbon Vintage Bar Cart by Arteriors has a sleek and antique design, and comes in a distressed-looking brass or silver. The shelves are also mirrored glass and protected by guard rails, but the hefty price tag of $1,200 definitely makes this item an investment piece. 

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Meet our Writer
Jennifer Geddes
Celebrations Writer

Jennifer Kelly Geddes has hosted Christmas cookie swaps, New Year's open houses, Thanksgiving for 22, and all manner of dinner parties in her Manhattan and Ghent, NY homes.

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