Turn a $60 Ikea Kitchen Cart Into a Gorgeous, Party-Ready Mini Bar
Looking for an easy way to gain entertaining space in your home without adding square footage or breaking the bank? Try customizing an off-the-shelf kitchen cart with paint, stain, and accessories to create a one-of-a-kind bar cart that suits your style and caters to guests. Set it up in the dining room or living room to encourage self-service. When guests are long gone, use it as extra prep and storage space in the kitchen or simply wheel it away!
Start with an unfinished kitchen cart
The Ikea Bekvam kitchen cart ($60) is a great base for this project. It's made of solid birch and offers a wood top and two shelves for plenty of storage. The shelving can be assembled with the slats facing up or down depending on your preference. (Here, the bottom shelf is assembled with the slats facing up to hold bottles on their sides. The other shelf is assembled with the slats facing down to provide a little more security for loose objects.) Two robust casters allow for easy transport. And for the price, you'll still have money for booze!
Customize the cart with paint and stain
Once assembled, give the cart a quick sanding to scuff up the wood surface. Wipe the surface clean. Get creative with paint, stain, or food-safe oils and waxes to give the cart a unique look. The paint shown here is semi-gloss Pine Grove (#511) by Benjamin Moore in the Advance line. The wood top is finished with a coat of Howard butcher block conditioner followed by a few coats of Howard butcher block oil. Don't worry about spills! The paint is durable and wipeable, and the oiled top can be resanded and reoiled as needed.
Add a practical handle
Pick up a 6"-8" long handle at your local hardware store. Install it on the side of the cart opposite the casters so that it can be used to lift the legs and maneuver the cart around the house. Plus, it doubles as a towel bar! Keep a pile of classic bar towels on hand for quick cleanups.
Don't forget the bottle opener
Mount a bottle opener directly onto the cart so guests always know where to find it. It's inconspicuous and makes opening bottles a one-handed cinch.
Load it up
Have fun loading the cart with bar essentials! You'll need an ice bucket, cocktail shaker, basic bar tools, coasters, and drinking straws. Mix finishes (e.g., shiny, matte, brass, stainless steel, wood, etc.) for an eclectic look. Throw in a vase of flowers and a citrus bowl to keep the vignette fresh and colorful.
Shake up the drink menu
Select one or two new drink recipes to try at home with your friends and family. Consider keeping a copy of Shake, a practical cocktail guidebook, on hand for seasonal drink inspiration. The book also provides a list of spirits to stock a home bar.
Add a little art
Hang a framed print or painting above the bar cart with damage-free hanging strips to fill vertical space and inject personality into the self-service vignette. When the party's over, the art and cart can be easily removed. But don't be surprised if you decide to keep them around indefinitely.