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Best drinks trolleys and how to style them: design tips from the experts

A bar cart is a must-have accessory for the consummate cocktail lover or perfect party planner

Published: April 29, 2022 at 8:00 am
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If you love to entertain at home, a drinks trolley - also known as a bar cart - is a must-have item of furniture. Once seen as a retro throwback, in the past few years the drinks trolley has enjoyed a renaissance, becoming an ultra-fashionable way to display your favourite spirits and glassware.

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Having a drinks trolley as a room accessory allows your guests to help themselves to drinks, giving you more time to relax and enjoy your own party. Plus, a bar cart makes for a stunning room accessory if you're looking to add a glamorous touch.

You can also use your bar trolley as an additional side table, so it's a functional and fun item to have to hand.

Here, five interior design experts share their top tips on how to style a bar cart. We've also added five of the best bar trolleys on the market so you can find the perfect match for your interior.

How to style a drinks trolley: tips from 5 experts

drinks trolley

1) Incorporate statement glassware

With a variety of drink options comes a variety of glasses to choose from. Think carefully about what you will be serving, and stock your bar cart accordingly with the correct glassware. Statement glassware is not only perfect for serving your classic cosmopolitans in style, but they also draw people to the bar cart, encouraging them to start a conversation over making their own drinks too.

'Bar carts create a sense of occasion in any sitting room as they are a perfect accompaniment for entertaining guests, but no bar cart is complete without beautiful glassware,' says Ivana Allain, Studio Director at Helen Green Design.

'We recommend a statement decanter or two for airing wines, and simple but practical wine glasses and tumblers. The longer and thinner the glassware, the nicer it is to hold and the more elegant its appearance.'

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2) Use the top and bottom of the bar cart

If you have a multilevel bar cart, use both the top and bottom of the bar cart and balance its décor. Too many bottles on one side can make the bar cart appear cluttered and out of balance, so place bottles of similar weights at opposite sides of the bar cart on different levels.

'Always put bottles on the bottom and glassware at the top of a bar cart, as it is safer to put heavier items at the bottom,' says Eva Leone, Studio Director at Lawson Robb.

'Bar carts do not have to be used exclusively for drinks and glassware. You can place accessories such as vases, small sculptures or flowers to create an alternative use for your bar cart that focuses on sculptural art.'

3) Leave space for flowers

The easiest way to create a casual but charming bar cart is by incorporating natural elements into it. Whilst bar carts can be busy in terms of décor, leaving room for flowers can make the drink station seem approachable instead of intimidating. Just be sure to choose tall vases and smaller bouquets to conserve space on your bar cart.

'Plants and flowers brings character and life to your display and soften all that glass and shiny surfaces,' says Alexandra Laird, Design Manager at Burbeck Interiors. 'You could use a hardy succulent or aloe vera for a long-life addition, or you can try a more feminine arrangement of your favourite colourful florals.

'Also, don’t forget herbs as some fresh rosemary snipped from the garden in a nice short vase or even jam jar is not only pretty but adds the perfect flourish to your 6-o clock G&T!'

4) Use cocktail ingredients as décor

Cocktail garnishes add the finishing touches to your cocktails, but why not use the ingredients as décor as well? For instance, a mint plant could help liven up the bar cart and make the space smell fantastic, whilst a bowl of citrus may aid visual interest.

'Cocktails have made a real comeback recently. People love to mix drinks at home, so it’s important to have different garnishes to add that final touch to any drink,' says James Ashfield, Studio Manager, Rigby & Rigby. 'A simple bowl or two in matching glassware design to your other glasses will make it feel effortless.'

5) Match the season to the choice of drink

So that your bar cart always remains in fashion, match your choice of drink to the season. Not only will this keep your bar cart updated and fresh, but you can centre your designated colour scheme around the colour of the bottles.

For example, the season autumn is defined by colours red, orange, yellow, purple and brown so it would be good to style the bar cart with bottles of bourbon, fall spices and cranberries.

‘Styling your bar cart can depend on the season too. If the season is spring, you could accessorise and style your bar cart with pastel colours to match the alcohol on display,' says Nicki Rodriguez, director of LHR Design.

'For example, rhubarb gin with pieces of rhubarb in the dispenser, would work great in spring. For the warmer, summer season, Pimms is very popular whereas Autumn promotes enriching oranges, red and browns, like those found in a whisky or cognac.

'Lastly, Christmas is a fantastic time of the year, with seasonal drinks such as mulled wine. During the festive season, decorate with bowls of cranberries, mistletoe, orange segments and cinnamon sticks.’

Images courtesy of FTD.

Best drinks trolleys to buy in 2022

Hoobro Serving Trolley

Serving trolley

While there are lots of loud and dazzling drinks trolleys around, you may prefer a more subtle accessory to blend into your room’s interior. We love the rustic-looking shelves which would look great against a dark green or navy wall. If you’re a fan of industrial style décor, this could be the drinks trolley for you.

Thanks to the wheels, you can move this bar cart around with ease. When you’re not hosting a drinks party, why not pop it in your kitchen and benefit from the extra shelf space? Or enjoy an alfresco feast and wheel your dinner and wine into the garden. 

Lida Gold Metal and Glass Bar Table

Lida Gold Metal Glass Bar Table

For a touch of Art Deco flair, this Oliver Bonas drinks trolley is a fabulous choice. With mirrored shelves, and a glamorous gold finish, place this lovely design in the corner of your room to complete your cocktail party setup. 

There are no wheels on this model, so it’s one to consider if you’re looking for a more permanent feature.

  • £225

Buy the Lida Gold Metal and Glass Bar Table now from Oliver Bonas 

Pimlico Antique Brass Drinks Trolley

Pimlico Antique Brass Drinks Trolley

We love the retro feel of this elegant drinks trolley from Dunelm. The antique brass finish gives this bar cart a sense of character. Pair with velvet furniture, animal prints and vibrant patterns for a striking look.

Practical too, there’s a convenient and stylish handle for easy manoeuvring and enough room on the bottle shelf for tall bottles and glasses.

VonHaus Gold Drinks Trolley

VonHaus Gold Drinks Trolley

As decorative as they are functional, circular bar carts are particularly eye-catching. This VonHaus model has a brushed-gold finish and smoked mirror shelves, and with three tiers, there’s plenty of room for your favourite glassware, cocktail shakers and liqueurs. 

If you don’t have the largest of drinks collections and you’re wondering what to put on a drinks trolley, why not decorate with cute picture frames and house plants for a homey look, as demonstrated here. 

For a daytime treat, stack this home accessory with delicious cakes and teas for a sweet birthday surprise or catch up with friends.

Lucena Bamboo Trolley

lucena bamboo trolley

Opt for a more natural vibe with this bamboo drinks trolley. Ideal for a boho-chic room filled with wall hangings, plants, floor cushions and rattan, this bar cart is a quirky buy that’s sure to be a hit with guests. 

Pile on your wine glasses and tipple of choice for a chilled-out, relaxed gathering. This style would also make a super garden feature on a sunny day if you’re hosting a BBQ. Let your guests help themselves to drinks from this transportable bar cart.

  • £265

Buy the Lucena Bamboo Trolley now from Graham & Green 

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Feeling crafty? Learn how to make a glamorous bar cart from an old side table.

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