I've never been a huge drinker, but I'm a big fan of bar carts. They're elegant, inviting, and encourage a party just by glancing at them. Recently, I'd been finding myself going down rabbit holes of "bar cart inspiration" – both on Instagram and Pinterest. A few of my favorite interior designers and influencers had been giving theirs a refresh, so I decided it was time to add one to our home.
When Black Friday arrived, I scored this Target bar cart (which I'd been seeing consistently throughout my research, and is actually the same one Leslie owns!) for just $100, and cleared a small cove in my living room for it to inhabit.
Before I got to styling, I saved a couple of my favorite inspiration shots and discovered that there were a few similarities between my favorite setups: lots of muted colors (with a couple of intentional pops), at least one candle, trays or cutting boards, leaning art, stacked coffee table books, and something "alive" (like fruit, greenery, flowers, etc.).
Once I compiled that list, I got to work collecting trinkets, books, and other items I thought would elevate that little corner from flea markets, boutiques, and even Emily and G (they gave us some incredible books during their move!). I'm the kind of person who can get decision fatigue, so when I browsed through markets, I bought most of what I gravitated towards. I kept the majority of the pieces under $15 and ensured they were pretty versatile so that I'd have options for the bar cart, could use them elsewhere in the house, but if I had to resell them, I wouldn't feel like it was a major loss. This system worked well for me personally, as I placed every potential treasure on the floor to examine while I assembled the cart. If you're looking to arrange a bar cart yourself, I'd recommend a few items (in addition to bottles of liquor!) that make the small space feel personal and give it a bit more character:
Would I even be a member of the cupcakes and cashmere team if I wasn't constantly burning beautiful candles? Byredo is one of my favorites, both for their scents and the classic black and white jar, but Je T'aime Jane by Bella Freud, which we carry in the Shop, is a bit of a more affordable (and equally stunning!) option.
Since I didn't need the bottom level of the bar cart, I wanted to find decor that filled up the space (vertically, too!), added a bit of color, and tell a little more about us as a couple. A book on libraries, New York City, the French Laundry cookbook, and the gilded edition of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy were exactly what I was going for stylistically and symbolically.
Through my inspiration board, I realized that cutting boards or trays define the space and make certain elements of the decor feel more intentional – I added my candle and two smaller bud vases on top of my small wooden cutting board so they wouldn't feel lost amongst the top tray.
Whether it's above the cart or leaning on it, art is an easy way to personalize such a small area and add an element of sophistication. I opted to go with a black and white map of Manhattan and a vintage gold mirror to keep it simple.
I've recently become obsessed with tuberose (both for the visuals and the intoxicating smell!), so I salvaged a two-week-old bouquet for the sake of these photos. But, you could add a bowl of citrus, dried eucalyptus stems, or even a potted plant to liven up your space.