Making a Mini Kitchen With Your Own Bar/Tea Cart

There are a number of reasons to get a bar cart for your kitchen. First, they’re a great way to add storage space for your kitchen stuff, and if you’re a socialite who likes having friends over, it’s also a way to set out food and drinks they can actually go for — instead of, you know, raiding your fridge. And, to be completely honest, bar carts just look really good as decorative items in a room.

Better yet, get a tea cart.

Step 1: Ornate Necessities

When choosing your bar cart, try to find something that’s stated and looks classy in your kitchen. A bar cart is a small item that draws a lot of attention, so you want to avoid the Ikea look (exception: you’re in a dorm room and can pull off the Pinterest-level cute look successfully) and make sure it’s dressed up well enough to be worth the focus of the room. If you have any food items, coffee cups, or tea bags, it should be a given to take them out of plain, original packaging and put them in a decorative container; for example, your lucky charm cereal in a glass canister. Ceramic canisters are great for hiding uglier things — like plastic silverware or Keurig cups. Other items can go in crates, baskets, etc., depending on the theme you’re going for. These usually go on the second or third shelf, since they’re bulkier and are more storage-like. On the other hand, prettier items — like glassware — can go on a decorative shelf.

Photo by Annie Spratt

Step 2: The Baubles

Add purely decorative items to your cart next in order to complete the staging effect and finish off your look: a vase of flowers, old books, apothecary jars, an antique weighing scale (super chic), a mini statue, a porcelain tea set, or a matching sign. The sky’s the limit — pick whatever you like and experiment. If you tend to snack at night, try out some DIY glow in the dark projects and see what you end up liking (examples: a string of lights in a clear container, glow sticks in a glitter mason jar, or a small candelabra with battery tea lights). If you have a dorm room, these bar cart objects can provide a comforting glow during lights out from wherever it stands in your room.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to be rigidly organized with the items on your bar cart. While it shouldn’t be as cluttered as a garage sale, you’ll want to pull the items together so there isn’t a lot of empty space, and so your eye is guided from one decoration to the other. This does’t need to be done on overkill, but keep it in mind when you’re designing your layout.

If you need to add appliances, such as a coffee maker or blender, don’t worry about the plainness of one item disrupting the rest of the look. The combination of decorations you have should understate the appliance enough that it doesn’t detract from the overall elegance.

Photo by James Cousins

Practical Tips

1. If you have very limited space in the fridge (which often occurs in a dorm), you can move certain liquids to your bar cart: just buy a decorative drink dispenser that matches with your look and set it up on your cart so it’s always accessible. It’s best to pick drinks you don’t mind being not cold, like water, but there are ways to get around the lukewarm temperatures of a drink dispenser if you’re determined: plastic ice cubes, frozen lemon slices, etc.

2. If you have no room for your mugs, hang them up with a line of hooks on your bar cart.

3. Tea carts can be very beautiful and classy, but there are a number of tea carts manufactured in relatively recent times which, at first glance, have the look of an antique, but with a more cursory observation, reveal themselves to be replicas from the age of typewriters (and not the pretty kind). Watch out for this; if you do end up adopting one of these guys, however, a little bit of TLC in the form of white paint and French letter stencils (the etc. goes without saying here — always feel free to get creative!) can turn it into a tea cart worthy of a king or queen.

Take It Away

There are so many different ways to arrange your bar cart, an infinite number of things you can add, and a variety of styles to suit your personality and home: minimalistic, modern chic, classical antique, industrial, country, shabby chic, boho…the list goes on forever. The sky’s the limit; go for what speaks to you and take it from there.

(Make no mistake — these bar carts are obviously not mine, but they’re a great source of inspiration when you’re doing research to get started. In order of left to right, go here to check each of these awesome carts — and respective bloggers — out: Cloth and Patina, Chronicles of Frivolity, and the Nelly Joyce Blog’s Instagram.)

Once you’ve imagined your dream cart and worked it into reality, try keeping the essentials but changing out your purely decorative items every so often in accordance to the seasons, your mood, or just plain for fun. Altering the look slightly from time to time will keep things fresh and interesting, and it can keep you from feeling like the style of the room has gone stale. It’s also something fun to mess with whenever you’re in a decorative or crafty mood.

Good luck, Champagners!


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