Why I Love Bar Cabinets (And You Should, Too!)

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.


Image: @vbutts13

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.


Image @westelmuk

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).  


Image: Homepolish

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:


Image: @ahintofdecor

Go bright to add a pop of color to the room:


Image: @interiorsandresotrations

Go glass-fronted if you still want to display your stash:


image : @lucyjwhitehouse

Go mirrored to make a small space feel larger:


Image: @northern.no

It can double as an entryway console:


Image: @meganhopp

6) And there’s one for every aesthetic.

Modern Farmhouse:


Image: @nicolehollissf



Image: @nataliemyers



Image: @westelmuk



Image: @alekmodin


Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 3.44.47 PM

Image: @maxaltola

Some shoppable options:

Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 5.25.06 PM

This minimalist modern option is from CB2.

Screen Shot 2018-05-22 at 7.49.32 AM.png

If you dream of sipping bourbon from a leather Chesterfield in a wood-paneled study, this traditional look may be up your alley.

Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 3.19.59 PM.png

For a pop of color, try this blue cabinet with a Greek key design.  

Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 3.21.42 PM.png

The picture frame molding gives this white bar cabinet an old-world vibe. Available from Wayfair

Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 3.24.19 PM.png

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.

Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 5.23.18 PM.png

Buy this Anthropologie stunner here

Screen Shot 2018-05-21 at 5.27.59 PM.png

For a coastal look, the Henley from One King’s Lane is just the ticket.


This classic black design is so versatile.

Screen Shot 2018-05-22 at 7.43.26 AM.png

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: interiorjoydesigns@gmail.com

Now go fix yourself a cocktail!





  1. Love this post!! So many great styles to choose from and I love that you have links to where they can be bought. The red lacquer one is one of my favorites of course :). I’m with you on the closed bar cabinet vs. cart–don’t like the idea of dusty glassware at all!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post, love the variety of cabinets you featured. I just bought a bar cart but find myself using it to hold grandkid’s summer supplies- unbreakable dishes, cups etc. I am now inspired to turn a small Chinese lacquered chest into a bar cabinet.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s