Bar Cart Rehab


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