4 Reasons Bar Carts Get Our Respect

Thanks to Mad Men, bar carts are big right now. In March, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History inducted Don Draper’s suave Italian number into its permanent collection, spawning a host of headlines (think LA Times, USA Today and more) and “how to get the look” stories. But as luxury interior designers, we’re just pleased that the supremely multi-talented bar cart is finally getting the respect it deserves.

150528 JLI Blog Bar Carts Image 1

Mad Men main character Don Draper’s bar cart has bolstered a bar cart revival. Photo: Pinterest

Of course, this isn’t the first time the bar cart has shot to national glory. It’s made a lasting impression as a classy cocktail hour accessory in iconic movies galore, such as “The Seven Year Itch,” “High Society” and “Auntie Mame,” which helped lend it a chic mystique that survives to this day. But in fact, the archetypal bar cart far precedes these moments of glory, having started life in the Victorian era as a tea trolley and morphing into a cart for alcoholic beverages at the end of Prohibition.

150528 JLI Blog Bar Carts Image 3

One of our favorite bar carts is the Nureyev Trolley by Soane Britain, which comes in a range of sizes and finishes and is a repro of a French 1940s version owned by Rudolph Nureyev. Photo: Soane Britain

But in all of its forms, the bar cart gets our admiration and respect for its exceptional flexibility and decorative potential. It is often called the perfect double-duty piece for good reason: since it comes in every style and an astonishing range of sizes it can be used in any kind of space. Yet, in truth, the options for a bar cart far surpass the few uses the term double-duty implies. Consider the following benefits to be had from a bar cart:

150528 JLI Blog Bar Carts CB Dwell

The handsome Libations Bar Cart from Crate & Barrel and patrician Connaught Bar Cart from Dwell Studio can both work anywhere. Photos: Crate & Barrel, Dwell Studio

1. On-the-spot assistance: We often use a bar cart to make entertaining effortless; it can be a full-service movable bar or a portable serving stand to use during meals. But it can also work as a side table or a console in virtually any context—from formal living and dining rooms to hardworking home offices and serene master suites.

150528 JLI Blog Bar Carts Image 6

In our Astor Street Residence project, the Nureyev bar cart makes it possible to enjoy cocktails or even a buffet meal in the study.

2. Extending space: Storage is another strong suit for the bar cart, as it can provide efficient and effective extra space, permanently or when the need arises, with ease and grace. Roll it up to a desk to hold the overflow from a project, or site it bedside to become a makeshift activity area for working or eating.

South Loop Residence Office Edit

We use bar carts to extend space wherever needed, as we did in the office of our South Loop Residence project.

3. Quick transformations: One of our favorite strategies is to use bar carts to turn bleak Chicago balconies into patches of paradise for various sorts of al fresco activities. For one client, we transformed an austere concrete terrace into a full-service entertaining area stocked with practically everything but the kitchen sink, and for another, we created a mini-container garden that could come inside in rough weather.

150528 JLI Blog Bar Carts Image 9

Serve drinks and also grow herbs on a cart that can come inside in rough weather. Photo: TheGlitterGuide.com, styled by Whitney Leigh Morris

4. Making a design statement: Best of all, a bar cart can be used to make a major statement as the center of attention in a space, or it can be understated and quietly do a job at hand. As Chicago luxury interior designers, we’ve found that regardless of our clients’ style, there’s a bar cart out there to suit their decorative desires.

150528 JLI Blog Bar Carts Image 7

A bar cart is often called the perfect double-duty piece, since it comes in every style, an astonishing range of sizes and can be used in any kind of space. Photo: Dash of Darling

29 May 2015

up To Top