How to Style a Bar Cart

LAST UPDATED: Jan 07, 2021 | PUBLISHED: Oct 14, 2014 | By:

Simple tips that will show you how to style a simple but beautiful bar cart for any occasion.

Styled bar cart with wine, glasses, plates and a vase full of branches on the top tier. Bottom tier has more drinks, decorative antlers and apples.

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A bar car is a great transitional piece to use throughout your home. It can function as a drinks trolley when entertaining, as a buffet for desserts, or it also can serve as an end table or entryway table for any room in your home.

I find highly styled bar carts beautiful, but difficult to navigate. Have you ever been to a cocktail party where you’re terrified if you pull the bottle of wine out that you’ll knock over a glass?

Psst… Read the background story of our vintage gold bar cart here if you’re in need of a laugh!

I love finding a blend of style and function that leaves you fearless of pouring that glass of wine, rather than worrying about the domino effect you may start by moving just one little item on the bar cart.

My design style tends to err on the side of a minimalistic aesthetic. The saying “fashion over function” has never been my philosophy because I feel that style and function should always blend. I enjoy entertaining and like to look at it beyond aesthetics to create an effortless flow for my guests.

Oftentimes, doing so, this gives me more opportunity to enjoy our guests. The same theory applies to styling a bar cart. It should not be fashion over function.

Simple Tips For Styling a Bar Cart

For my elegant Thanksgiving table setting, I included a bar cart in my dining room as part of the overall design. The goals were to ensure that it not only looked beautiful, but that everything was easily accessible.

These simple tips will help you to style a bar cart with ease for any occasion:

A styled and functional bar cart needs details, heigh, something organic and decor

Bar Cart Basics

Every bar car needs:

  • Beverages
  • Appropriate glassware
  • Cocktail napkins
  • Plates and utensils if it’s doubling as an hors d’oeuvres or dessert bar

Styling Rules

By following these simple design rules, you will always have a beautifully styled cart:

  • Something organic: flowers, branches, fruits, etc. bring life to the vignette.
  • Detail: it truly is all in the detail. Sometimes even the simplest details can truly elevate style. In this cart, I used a stag head wine cork {which I gilded, of course}. Little accessories can make a big impact.
  • Decor: I tend to choose something pretty and seasonal, but limit it to just a piece or two so that it doesn’t hinder accessibility.
  • Tray/bowl: layering is key in all aspects of design. It gives the bar cart a little added depth and in this cart, groups the signature cocktails.
  • Height: whether a vase filled with flowers or a lamp, give it height to add interest.

Drink and Glassware Placement

Whatever you’re serving, make it convenient for guests to serve themselves. It’s one of my best entertaining tips – always encourage your guests to feel at home. Ready-to-drink cocktails and decor are best on the lower level, while wine is easier to pour from the top level.

Styling The Bar Cart For Christmas

I applied the same “rules” to style the bar cart for Christmas. The time the magnolia wreath brings the organic, natural element as well as height snd color.

My favorite gilded stag head makes an appearance again (it’s so festive!) and I kept the decor minimal with some pretty pomegranates in a gold footed bowl. They add a lot of color and their pretty little seeds will make a great addition to my salads after our dinner party.

Christmas styled bar cart with a magnolia wreath and pomegranates
Gilded stag head wine cork

Next I added wine, white in a chiller, and appropriate wine glasses. For the lower level of the cart, I always place the drinks we’ll use a little less frequently during the evening.

I know they’ll just have a few pours and we’ll be refilling wine far more often. I like grouping alcohol together on a tray.

Top down view of the styled Christmas bar cart with bottles of wine on top and hard alcohol on the bottom shelf

After I’ve set up the bar cart, I always double check that everything is functional and accessible.

Pomegranate & magnolia bar cart styling

I hope you have enjoyed these bar cart styling tips and can incorporate them into your own gatherings!

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How to style a bar cart - the simple tips & tricks to great styling, while keeping it functional for entertaining!
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How to Style a Bar Cart

Bar carts are a great addition when entertaining, and these tips for styling help make entertaining effortless.
Course DIY
Prep Time 0 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Cost n/a


  • Bar Cart


  • Beverages
  • Appropriate glassware
  • Cocktail napkins
  • Plates and utensils if it's doubling as an hors d'oeurves or dessert bar
  • Something organic
  • Little accessory
  • Tray or bowl
  • Item to add height
  • Seasonal decor


  • Have your bar cart and all your necessary items ready
  • Choose something organic to give your cart life such as flowers, fruits or branches.
  • Choose a little accessory to add to the cart. Those little things can add big impact.
  • Layering is key as it gives the bar cart a little added depth
  • Give a height element like a vase of flowers or lamp.
  • Adding a seasonal element or two is a great way to change up your cart all year round.


Ready to drink cocktails and decor are best on the lower tiers, while wine is easier to pour from the top level. 


mini loaves of bread gift wrapped