before & after: bar cart redo

Sometimes the simplest projects are my favorites, especially when they provide dramatic results. I’m such a wimp when it comes to sanding; I just don’t want to put in the time to do it, and I know I end up passing on a lot of potentially great pieces because of it. It’s nice to see a project every once in a while that proves what an incredible transformation can be achieved on a piece with good bones if you just take the time and effort to sand, sand, sand away the rust and grime. Monica scored this bar cart for $30 at a yard sale, and after some elbow grease and a little spray painting, she finally has the gorgeous, minimalist bar cart she’d long been searching for. Nice job, Monica! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

Read the full post after the jump . . .

Time: 1–2 days

Cost: about $50 (garage sale cart $30, spray paint and sandpaper $20)

Basic Steps: Like any shabby chic project, the key here is to find an old piece with good bones. The garden cart I picked at a garage sale was full of dirt and rust but not corroded. If you can take the piece apart to reach every surface with the sand paper, I would advise to do so. The better the sanding job the faster the spray paint job and the nicer the finish. Thus it was the sanding that took most of my time and led me to sand one day and leave the painting for the next, but it can be done all in one day if using spray paint. As for the paint scheme, I kept the palette simple and clean. I re-painted the trays white and added gold only on the frame for some metallic accent. — Monica

  1. Sal says:

    Gorgeous! did you take it apart to paint the legs separate from the body? Or was it just a super tape job?

    1. rachel says:

      you can take these completely apart; you can see on the legs where the screws attach it to the trays. THis makes for much easier painting and cleaning! Also, there is probably a set of nuts that go on the back of the bolt to hold the screws in place.

  2. elizabeth says:

    this is awesome!

  3. donna says:

    Great makeover job but I can’t believe someone wanted even $30 for it. They should have been happy she took it off their hands.

  4. melanie says:

    I love it so much!
    I’ve been hunting for a bar cart for months without success. Thankfully yard sale season is now beginning here in Canada.

  5. Ashley Whiteside says:

    I have this exact cart, and hadn’t dreamed it’d take paint so well. PLEASE tell me what brand you used.

    Great results! So simple and do striking!

  6. Brittney S. says:

    I was going to say the same thing…30$?! They should have given that to her for free. At least now its priceless!

  7. Sarah Falls says:

    So simple yet so cool!!!

  8. Wow! I’m beyong impressed, and will now hopefully remember that even if a piece looks really rusted and dirty, sandpaper and paint can work wonders!

  9. Cheltz says:

    I’ve done the exact thing to the exact same cart, except mine has an outlet in it. Yours looks great! (although, I’m with Donna — $30 was a ripoff :(.)

  10. Sabrina says:

    What Donna said. The before looks like something that would be dumped on the street.

  11. Claire King says:

    I love it! I want one just like it!

  12. Tonya says:

    I have the identical cart and this gives me hope. It isn’t in as bad of shape, but definitely could use some lovin’.

    I too am curious about the paint and did you just use sheets of sandpaper to sand it or do you have a small sander that worked for most of it.

  13. oh wow. that looks amazing!! it makes me even more sad that the one i found on craigslist like that was $75! and it was definitely in the “before” condition…

  14. Kelly says:

    Love it! I’ve been looking for a bar cart forever and I’m now super inspired to keep looking!

  15. sarah says:

    A piece is worth what you’re willing to pay, & I say she did an awesome job {while still saving a ton of cash vs. buying new}. I love to salvage throw-aways like this. Quite a bit of elbow grease goes a long way – just look how gorgeous it is now! Beautiful.

  16. Lela says:

    This is what I’d call recycling at it’s best! Fabulous job!

  17. Mary Jo says:

    Your obviously did a meticulous job of sanding. Yes taking an item, apart as you said you did, is the key to any major refurb job. You should be extremely proud of how your diligence paid off. KUDOS!!!

  18. Alison C. says:

    This is gorgeous, for sure, but I am also surprised it was $30. I bought the exact same model for $12 and mine is in way better shape (and a cute yellow!).

    I would like to know how you stocked it. I need ideas for mine. What is in the large glass jar? Trays? Glasses? I need ideas.

  19. Suzanne Knighten says:

    Absolutely fabulous!

  20. Jill says:

    Amazing!! I’ve got a similar cart that I was going to throw out but now that I’ve seen what you’ve done maybe it’s worth saving.

    But please tell me … what kind of paint did you use? It looks so smooth and glossy.

  21. Monica says:

    YAY! I am so happy my project made it on here! Thank you for all the comments!

    $30 was a bit steep for me as well, but I had looked for any cart for a long time and hadn’t found one, so I had too swoop it up when I saw it!

    As for the Sanding and Painting I did take it all apart and get into all the nooks. The paint I used was Krylon Spray Paint, special purpose Gold and a basic satin White for the trays.

    XOXO

  22. nell says:

    Great looking cart–I love the vintage metal Cosco pieces such as that cart, and a fabulous transformation. Don’t feel badly about the 30.00 I’ve seen them well over 100 at times on ebay and Etsy.

  23. Michael says:

    Bravo Monica! It’s a versatile cart that can be used in so many ways. The small monetary investment + elbow grease is well worth the immaculate results. The gold painting turned out really well.

  24. Wow, it looks amazing! (I would have probably walked right by something that rusty.)

  25. Jan says:

    I snagged my rusty old cart for $2.50, but around here the going rate for a rusty utility cart is about $20. In better condition they’re about $30. And things are usually cheaper here in Oklahoma. These cart are a desirable collectible for the very reason they look so great when someone brings them back to life!
    I was about to decide to sell mine as is because I wasn’t sure how it would turn out if I take it apart to paint it. I’ll be repainting for sure! Now to decide what colors!

  26. Jaclyn says:

    I know this totally isn’t the point of this post, but Sadaf tea!! Greatest black tea ever. My dad drank it when he was growing up in Iran, and my mom orders it by the case for him online.

  27. Mimi says:

    Bought one of these a few months back for $12.00 at Salvation Army. I love this cart! (I think my grandmother had one) Just haven’t decided how to redo it. Thanks for some inspiration!

  28. Debra says:

    I just bought this same cart for $20. I couldn’t believe someone had painted mine an ugly matte brown. When I flipped it over, the original color was a pretty bright red. If I’m not mistaken on the 2nd shelf, are those vintage Culver glasses? I bought a similiar set of 4 for $6, so I was pretty happy!

  29. Erin says:

    Absolutely incredible transformation! Can you make me one please :) Haha, I will definitely be on the look out for an old ratty bar cart to transform now. Thanks for the inspiration!

  30. Kim says:

    Holy crapparoni! Great job. It must have taken forever to get everything so smooth.

  31. violetta says:

    I’m obssessed with bar carts, or as they are called in Australia, drinks/tea trolley. I have three, two wooden that def. need work and a smaller one in a glass and chrome deco style. You have given me inspiration to attack one of my carts that is painted black, to sand, sand, sand…..

  32. Bethany says:

    I redid one for my mom when I was little, oh man, I wish I had a picture it was so bright and cheery, and it made her so happy!!! This is so cute. Thank you for the flashback!

  33. ANGIE says:

    I REALLY LIKE HOW SIMPLY THIS WAS KEPT. REALLY LIKE THE COOPER PAINT ON THE FRAME.

  34. Steve says:

    Beautiful transformation but they must have seen you coming. $30 for that rusty piece of junk.Come on , really? That’s definitely a free to $5 cart where I’m from.

  35. shannon ripple says:

    question, bought one of these at yard sale and am having a heck of a time getting the screws and bolts out. i tried to use some rust blast spray, but so far, no luck. Any other advice to get this thing apart? It is a little wobbly right now.

  36. France Geek says:

    I remembered this post from months ago this morning when I came across an identical cart (except with plug in it like another reader commented) and I snatched it up immediately. $2 in Sutter Creek, CA. I think I’ll do mine like yours but with black satin trays instead. Love Krylon! Thanks again for submitting.

  37. Ebonn says:

    Just scored one of these for $5! Looking forward to giving it new life!

  38. Valerie says:

    Scored? For $30? That’s not a score, that’s a rip off. I wouldn’t have paid more than $5 for that rusty thing! Especially with the cost of supplies and labor going into it. It turned out beautifully but it’s far from being a bargain.

  39. I can’t believe that was $30!!!!! I just scored one in way better condition for $2! I also have my mom’s which has different chrome, it goes up across the top. Anyway, I love the after, now debating on chrome legs or painting them like you did. I hate to paint over the chrome though….

  40. Shayna says:

    Yeah! I love this I got one just like it for $5 at an estate sale and have not been brave enough to take on the project. But you have inspired me. THANK YOU!!

  41. Katrina Porter says:

    My dad refinished a bar cart we got after my mom’s dad psssed away.
    It’s looking a little rough around the edges. It time for me to get some sandpaper and some paint. What grit sandpaper did you use for sanding it?

  42. Julie says:

    I have this EXACT cart that I found in an old closet in my parents old house–I was going to throw it out! I’m so glad I saw this–what an inspiration! Unfortunately my mom put sticky contact paper on it (I swear she did on everything) so it’s going to be some work, but I hope it will be worth it.

  43. marylou says:

    j’adore ce projet, il montre combien un peu d’imagination et de travail peuvent donner de merveilleux résultats.
    Bravissimo.

  44. Sophie says:

    Wow, great job! Did you replace the wheels? Also, were there any dents that you had to fix? It looks pretty smooth! Thanks. – S

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