Thirsty Thursday: Bar Cart Makeover

What apartment is complete without a bar cart or liquor cabinet? As a former bartender, I’ve amassed a decent-sized collection of booze and barware.  So figuring out how to store it on the cheap was at the top of my apartment to-do list. It’s been eight months and I still don’t have a bed – but I do have a bar cart. Priorities. Am I right?

Hollywood Recency Bar Cart

I originally thought the bar cart could double as a side table. Turns out I needed way more room for my booze.

This is not a picture of the one I own. Vintage Hollywood regency bar carts are ‘spensive. Like hundreds of dollars expensive. New ones and reproductions are around the same price or a little less, but I was really jonsing for an authentic vintage piece. Luckily, I found this one at Affordable Antiques in Naperville.


Harvest gold is so hot right now


Pretty swank, right?

Pretty swank, right?

I had seen it previously going for $60, but the antique dealer was closing up shop and slashed prices. I picked this gem up for $20. It’s more arts and crafts than hollywood regency, but with a little elbow grease and paint, I am definitely happy with the results.

First, the floral motif had to go. Unfortunately, the adhesive from the laminate left some residue that was hard to sand off. Lame.


Annie Sloan chalk paint is amazing. It primes, paints and dries to a soft matte vintage finish. It’s a little pricey ($12.95/4 oz sample), but a little goes a long way. I’d write out instructions, but I literally watched a youtube tutorial, cracked open the jar and started painting. I wanted to keep the brass accents (screws and casters), so I just taped off part of the cart, put on two coats and buffed-in the wax.


I also decided not to paint the bottom shelf and sanded away some of the paint at joints and around edges to keep some of the original wood exposed. Unfortunately, the top of the cart was still super bumpy and I didn’t feel like adding a layer of epoxy to the top of the cart, so I just put a sheet of Paper Source wrapping paper on the top as a quick and interchangeable fix.



Finally, I picked up a wine rack from Goodwill for a couple dollars and a wine glass rack from IKEA.



Here’s what my bar cart looks like now!


In all, I think this project cost about $40. Not too shabby!

Here are just a few helpful links if you’re looking for more inspiration. 

5 ways to build a bar cart – from Bob Vila’s website…so you know this is legit.

14 bar cart designs and makeovers – Here are some more before/afters

Industrial Inspired cart for $40 – cool weekend project/guy gift from Premier

Man, writing this post made me thirsty! And it’s so cold outside. Hot toddy time!




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