Bar Cart Rehab
06.20.2012

Sometimes the best things in your home are the ones that required some work. Last summer, my mission was to find a bar cart. But I wasn’t going to be happy with any bar cart. I wanted a vintage bar cart and I wanted a fixer upper. I’m not normally one to ask for extra manual labor, but in this case I just loved the idea of finding a hidden treasure and making it over to something shiny and new. So I hit the Rose Bowl flea market… and Long Beach… and Fairfax… and Pasadena… and the Rose Bowl again. I had all my friends on the case. I scoured Craigslist, Etsy, and Ebay. After six months of obsessive searching, crying fits, and questioning my life, I was ready to give up and buy a file cabinet from Staples in which to store a 6-pack of Pabst.

But then I got the call. Jessica of Life’s Little Jems, who’s a super talented interior designer and treasure hunting maven, was scouring a junkyard in Sun Valley (as you do) and found the perfect one… or at least it had the potential to be perfect. So I dropped my bowl of cereal on the floor (not really but doesn’t that make it sound more epic?) and ran out the door to go see this beauty. The yard was filled with an array of fascinating things all piled up like a scene from Wall-e. I was there for all of about 5 minutes before this piece of abandoned tarnished mess (mine for the price of $45) was loaded up in the back of my car and we were on our way home.

I had no idea what it was going to take to get this thing looking presentable, nor was I sure it was even possible. The handle was broken off, the wheels were warped, and the shelves had at some point shaped into rhombuses. But before it could show its face to a professional of any kind, it needed to be polished. Ian and I spent a Saturday afternoon giving it an olympic quality scrub with Brasso so it would at least look like brass, and then it was ready for the metal guy – the hardest part. Silly me, a brass solderer is NOT the same as a welder. It took another month of searching and then finally – thanks to Alissa of The Goods Design (another amazingly talented interiors guru) I finally found a great guy down in El Segundo who could take my case. Phew!

After a few weeks at this brass doctor, who enlisted his friend the glass guy to provide the custom shelves, it was finally ready to go home. Now it was time for the best part – dressing it up and getting it ready for action. I hit the flea market again the next Sunday, where I found a horse head bottle opener, delicate coupe glasses for Absinthe aperitifs, and my favorite set of numbered Tom Collins glasses. I added in a stack of prohibition-y cocktail recipe books, my favorite little single serving Sofia champagnes (no bubble left behind!), colorful straws, and liquor bottles many of which were chosen solely for their design.

I couldn’t be happier with the results. I wanted to create the feeling that any cocktail could be mixed at any given time and I think we achieved that. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I’m not gonna lie – when you tally up the cost of cart itself, the polishing supplies, the soldering, and the glass, I could have bought a brand new or refurbished vintage one and saved myself the trouble. But where’s the fun in that? To top it off, it was ready just in time to make its debut in Glitter Guide‘s feature about my home yesterday. Hop on over to check it out if you missed it!

 After photos by Ian Sheppard

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  1. Rebecca says:

    What an amazing find! That cart is so gorgeous! It’s amazing what people throw away, isn’t it?

    Rebecca (hearts)…

  2. Ana says:

    I’m so jealous! I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect (and affordable) bar cart for about a year now. You did a beautifully job cleaning that baby up!

    Ana @
    http://projecttrophywife.blogspot.com

  3. Marti says:

    Stunningly beautiful! All your hard work paid off
    Marti

  4. Kaitlyn says:

    Wow!!!
    This is wonderful!
    Great idea :-)

    http://www.pinkbowicecream.blogspot.com

  5. ohh it is SO pretty! I wish I had the patience to find a cool old one, mine is from CB2, but I love it!

  6. Jamy says:

    Oh my! This is the most amazing before/after I have ever laid my eyes on. Simply beautiful and so very inspiring! I love it.

  7. Tiffany says:

    wow I love it!! looks beautiful, & I love Crystal Head Vodka :D
    I’m the same way – when I want to find something for the home I search for ages until I find the perfect one

  8. Amazing find! The transformation is utterly incredible and it looks fab in your home! xx

  9. fabulous find, and equally fabulous restoration! i just snagged a gorgeous vintage brass and glass bar cart myself via craigslist – it even has lucite wheels!

    i covet your glassware – those tom collins glasses and coupes are incredible!

  10. Hello from a fellow Glitter Girl! Just found you over on GG and am so glad I did; I’ve spent a solid hour browsing your archives (I’m going back in for more!) and couldn’t be more smitten with your blog! You are most definitely a woman after my own heart. Adding you to my blogroll over on my site now, and will be back for more!

    P.S. I LOVE your bar cart (even more so for the fact you put so much elbow grease and love into it)

    Briony xx

  11. Ok- I just fell in love with you a little bit-seriously! I can’t tell you how many times I have done a similar thing: Obsess over finding something to fix up, and then spend so much time, effort, and money making it perfect. And you’re right- it would almost always be faster, easier, and cheaper to buy new. But these projects always end up becoming my most cherished pieces. I can’t give up the obsession! Thanks for sharing!

  12. COMMENT
    Absolutely gorgeous. Just want to again say how thrilled I am to have found you via Glitter Guide!!!
    Best, Whitley

  13. COMMENT
    Oh. My. Gosh. I think I just died a little – this is THE perfect bar cart. I’m recently married and we have some leftover liquor and I’ve been dreaming of getting a beautiful vintage bar cart to store it all, and you’ve just inspired me even more. LOVE! x

  14. [...] DIY bar cart inspiration. get ready with these summer [...]

  15. Ruth says:

    LOVE the numbers glasses!!!! WANT.

  16. I am beyond in love with this. Just found your blog! Your newest follower.

  17. Ally says:

    You truly have a fantastic imagination. When I saw what the bar cart first looked like, I personally would have passed that up. I’m sure everyone thought you were crazy but you have absolutely done it. The phrase “bringing back something to life” is the epitamy of what you’ve done here. You should be very proud :)

  18. Nicole Rene says:

    WOW. Is all I have to say….

  19. Barina Craft says:

    True vintage can’t be replaced. Great to see this classic bar cart all fixed up with nice attention to all the details.

    The extra step was all the matching era barware which gave it the finishing touches. Kudos!

  20. [...] source ] Tweet !function(d,s,id){var [...]

  21. Alice says:

    along with probably every other single comment on here – wow wow wo. this bar cart re-vamp is amazing, stunning, and well freaking awesome. the glass and barware is awesome. I love the single holders for the pellegrino (ESPECIALLY), and now i am on a hunt for single serve champagne! love this.

  22. Wanted: Bar says:

    [...] {1/2/3/4/5} Cancel reply [...]

  23. [...] I adore silver and mercury glass, and so my transition over to other metallics has been a slow one. However I’m loving all the brass and gold elements that are around at the moment and so am planning adding a bit of bling with some champagne gold frames at Fairly Light HQ. Catherine Sheppard’s bar cart stole my heart several months ago and although I haven’t got room for one myself, I’ll happily steal a few elements from her stunning gallery wall. Image credit:: The Life Styled  [...]

  24. [...] Photo via The Life Styled [...]

  25. [...] go-to blog (remember the Salty Basil Dog I told you guys about HERE??). Oh, and have you seen her bar cart make-over? Kind of jealous to be [...]

  26. [...] shot from the hampton hostess…who wouldn’t love to be a hampton hostess?! and from the life styled…loving the green bottles of pellegrino for a spot of [...]

  27. Erin says:

    I absolutely adore this post (and your bar cart) – I’m in Australia and brass bar carts (especially ones with the bamboo influence) are rare as hens teeth – this is going to float your boat: http://www.1stdibs.com/furniture/tables/bar-carts/antique-french-bamboo-bar-cart/id-f_663468/ getting a professional to give your baby some specialised soldering doesn’t seem so bad now :)

  28. [...] credits:  Vintage Style 1 /2 / 3 /4 ; Modern Style 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 ; Creative Drink Stations 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / [...]

  29. [...] re-do by The Life Styled. love the pop of [...]

  30. [...] images from top to bottom:1./2./3./4./5./6./ [...]

  31. Susan says:

    What a great story and fabulous makeover! I found a bar cart about 2 years ago at a junk store for $80, and I just love it! It didn’t hurt that I saw the exact same one online for $1,200! I think I’ll hold onto mine a while longer as I’m sure you will too!

  32. [...] Social, The Decorista, Pottery Barn, A Beautiful Mess, Style Me Pretty, The Life Styled, and The Glitter [...]

  33. […] outside the box and create your own. One of our favorite re-purposed bar carts can be found here at http://www.thelifestyledblog.com/bar-cart-rehab/. Or take a vintage console or sideboard and make it shine with the aesthetics of your own […]

  34. […] credits:  Vintage Style 1 /2 / 3 /4 ; Modern Style 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 ; Creative Drink Stations 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / […]

  35. […] source: The Life Styled […]

  36. Mary says:

    Hi, I recently received a vintage bar cart and the brass parts need some work. I live in Culver City and was wondering if you had contact info for the brass solderer you used in El Segundo?
    I realize your entry was from a year ago but any help would be awesome!

  37. Bar Carts says:

    […] Social, The Decorista, Pottery Barn, A Beautiful Mess, Style Me Pretty, The Life Styled, and The Glitter […]

  38. […] DIY Bar Carts […]

  39. […] inspired to find a fixer upper just like it.  Read the story behind this amazing bar cart here.  Speaking of bar carts and cocktails….I had the pleasure of meeting the fabulous blogger […]

  40. […] Wheel Bar Cart has an awesome retro design! Gold, green, and red accents bring the look together. (via The Life […]

  41. […] Devon Dyer Home Tour via The Glitter Guide  /// 2:: Decorista /// 3:: The Lifestyled Blog /// 4:: Sugar and Cloth  /// 5:: Kimberly Lewis Home /// 6::: Style Me […]