Wish your home felt like it belonged to sophisticated adults instead of a college fraternity or a gang of toddlers? A bar cabinet is your answer. I’m not advocating you put an actual bar counter with stools in your living room- you don’t want it to look like the lounge area of a bed and breakfast. I’m just saying that when you have friends over, being able to whip up a classy cocktail in a real shaker and serve it in some glasses reserved for that specific purpose makes you feel like the “hostess with the mostess” as my mother used to say. This is probably why bar carts have been all the rage for the last couple of years, especially on instagram and pinterest, as millennials have begun aging out of their kegger days and into the dinner-party-hosting lifestyle. But, you guys. We’ve been doing it all wrong. And I’m here to share the gospel of the bar cart alternative.
Quick backstory: When I renovated our kitchen last summer, I had to decide if I wanted to go the traditional cabinet route, or opt for the trendy open shelving that I saw in almost every California-modern kitchen I was pinning to my inspo board. I love the look of open shelving; it feels organic, airy, and contemporary. But I also love our collection of mismatched coffee mugs, colorful vintage Heller bowls, and painted Nathalie Lete plates. I noticed that in the images I was pinning, all of the dishes on the open shelves seemed to match and conformed to a neutral color scheme. My colorful, incongruous dishes would look chaotic and jumbled displayed on open shelves. And would I really want to style them on the shelves as I unloaded the drying rack? And what about the fact that I would need to dust them? It was all sounding like a lot of extra work. So I went with traditional shaker-style cabinets in a crisp white. And even on rushed days when I throw everything into the cabinets haphazardly, my kitchen looks clean and bright.
But…I thought this was supposed to be about bar cabinets. Let me explain. Kitchen cabinets are to open shelving as bar cabinets are to bar carts. Did I do that right? It’s been a while since I had to learn analogies for the SATs. Bottom line: This isn’t about kitchens, but I started there because many of the same reasons apply to why I’ve become a bar cabinet evangelist. Don’t get me wrong; I love me a well-styled bar cart, but for those of us who seek style and function, the bar cabinet is the clear winner. Read on for a list of reasons you need a bar cabinet in your life, plus a roundup of some of my favorites and where you can buy them.
1) It keeps your bottles and tools hidden behind closed doors.
This means there’s no need for styling and you can stop worrying about the fact that your favorite brand of gin comes in a blue bottle that totally clashes with the rest of your living room decor.
2) It saves you time.
Those cute bar carts require tidying and dusting in order to look good. With the bar cabinet, stick the bottles in, shut the door, and be on your merry way.
3) It’s kid and pet friendly.
I am not suggesting that your kids or pets should partake of the bar’s contents. The opposite actually! With the cabinet, say goodbye to glass bottles getting knocked over by accident (dog tails) or on purpose (I’m look at you, cat).
4) It provides extra storage.
Bar cabinets are great for small spaces because of the extra shelf space on top – they can even double as a media console! In my living room, my TV sits on top of my bar. Fun fact: This cabinet began its life as the bar cabinet of my grandmother before being passed down to my mom and eventually me.
Photo and design: Annabel Joy
5) It’s incredibly versatile.
Go tall and skinny for a narrow spot:
Go bright to add a pop of color to the room:
Go glass-fronted if you still want to display your stash:
image : @lucyjwhitehouse
Go mirrored to make a small space feel larger:
It can double as an entryway console:
6) And there’s one for every aesthetic.
Some shoppable options:
This minimalist modern option is from CB2.
If you dream of sipping bourbon from a leather Chesterfield in a wood-paneled study, this traditional look may be up your alley.
For a pop of color, try this blue cabinet with a Greek key design.
The picture frame molding gives this white bar cabinet an old-world vibe. Available from Wayfair
For a midcentury look, try this piece from West Elm.
The Delphine bar cabinet by Jonathan Adler is mirrored on the outside and a gorgeous robin’s egg blue on the inside. Buy it here.
Buy this Anthropologie stunner here
For a coastal look, the Henley from One King’s Lane is just the ticket.
This classic black design is so versatile.
For a romantic look, opt for antiqued glass like this design from All Modern.
Hope you enjoyed this post! I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments and if there’s another trend you’d like me to take on or a question for me to tackle, comment here or email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Now go fix yourself a cocktail!