A few Best-Of posts ago, I discussed the somewhat ambiguous relationship between collecting and hoarding. Although the traits of each vary, what often sets collectors apart from hoarders is their choice of display. While there are certainly exceptions to every rule and nobody should make generalizations, collectors seem to more consciously display their various accumulations in beautiful, thought-provoking ways. Hoarders, on the other hand, seem to be less discriminating in the way that used styrofoam cups, shoelaces, broken toys, obsolete devices and dead cats are given equal consideration in their homes.
It’s amazing what a good display can do. It can make all the difference between an informed collector of biological curiosities and a total psychopath with bones and animal corpses strewn about his basement. The same goes for everyday items like books. When you walk into a friend’s house and see reading material arranged artfully along a series of beautiful hardwood bookshelves, you can rest assured that this person is likely a clear-thinking, rational human being. If you walk into a friend’s house only to find various books and magazines stacked in misshapen piles around every room, you know that concealed jars of urine can’t be far away.
The above is definitely true of alcohol. If you buy bottles of top-shelf liquor only to leave them on coffee tables or perched atop TV sets à la undergraduate frat boys, don’t be surprised when your guests ask where the beer pong table is or worse, refer you to a counselor. Whether or not you are, in fact, a popped-collar frat boy or a closeted booze fiend, it’s always best to impart your chosen lifestyle with a touch of class — in the form of a bar cart! Bar carts and at-home bars are wonderful for two reasons: 1) They make your home instantly more inviting. No longer will guests be confused about where to congregate at parties or what to do if the conversation suddenly goes south. 2) They make you look like a connoisseur, a person who appreciates the finer things in life — even if all you have is a bottle of Georgi Vodka and some Mountain Dew. Never underestimate the power of a good display!
To celebrate the beauty of bar carts and to bid adieu to the last days of summer, I’ve chosen some of the best examples of at-home bars and bar carts from the Design*Sponge archives. May they guide you as you plan your own end-of-summer parties and upcoming autumn soirees! Also, be sure to check out our Behind the Bar archives for some choice drink ideas! Cheers! — Max
Image above: Zoe Johns and Max Catalano transformed a midcentury console into a chic bar by placing a gold tray with various libations on top of it. The bar also doubles as storage for tumblers and drinking glasses when they aren’t in use.
Image above: Photographer Jen Altman adds a touch of glamor and decadence to her family’s Park Slope home with this glimmering bar cart.
Image above: Jane Cameron of Fête Magazine created a beautiful yet low-key bar with a junk-shop table and a simple wooden tray.
More bar cart inspiration after the jump . . .
Image above: Designer Kristen Davis used a coat of pink paint and some wrapping paper to transform a drab yard sale table into a cute bar fit for any party.
Image above: Photographer Raya Carlisle created a cheerful makeshift bar in her kitchen through a combination of small trays, beautiful glasses and bright color.
Image above: Caitlin and Eric Flemming illustrate how practically any surface, even a bookshelf, can be turned into an attractive space for serving drinks.
Image above: The bar cart in the corner of Kimberly and John Canale’s living room creates a warm and inviting atmosphere and lets guests know that it’s okay to sit back, relax and linger.
Image above: Photographers Andrew and Gemma Ingalls use a writing desk as a bar large enough to accommodate even the most intimidating crowd.
Images above: Blogger Joslyn Taylor created a charming multifunctional bar in the space between rooms through the use of wallpaper, paint and some complementary accessories.
Image above: Blogger Monica Cruz-Hernandez transformed a rusty old bar cart from a yard sale into a beautiful like-new serving station with storage to spare!
Image above: Paul and Megan Wilkes use a brightly colored vintage bar cart in their Dallas home.
Image above: A windowed cabinet doubles as a miniature bar in Kate and Alden Woodrow’s home. Cocktail books and go-to favorites are kept on top, while additional liquors and glasses are stored below.
Image above: Naomi Stein, owner of the boutique construction firm Design Manifest, created a glamorous nook for a vintage bar cart she won at an auction.