How to Refinish a Midcentury Modern Metal Bar Cart

Hanging on to a piece of rusty or chipped metal furniture? Give it a fresh, colorful update with these simple steps.

Wheel Cart Repurposed Into Bright, Accessible Mini Bar Set Up

Wheel Cart Repurposed Into Bright, Accessible Mini Bar Set Up

This simple cart frame is easily accessible, space conscious and can be easily maneuvered for indoor or outdoor use. A coat of bright blue paint brings it to life and creates a fun and contemporary bar cart. A potted plant and decorative pitcher add the perfect finishing touches.

From: Samantha Pattillo

By: Samantha Pattillo

Materials Needed

You can use these tools to makeover any outdoor item made of wrought iron. The steps are simple, and all the materials are the same no matter the item.

  • 80- and 120-grit sandpaper or sanding pad
  • painter’s tape
  • outdoor spray paint
  • trisodium phosphate aka TSP (only if your item has significant rust)
  • wire brush (only if your item has significant rust)

Before

Vintage and antique items can be great alternatives to buying new. They are usually more affordable and definitely give a more unique look to your home. This little midcentury modern bar cart had seen better days when we found her, but with a little elbow grease and a fresh coat of paint, she looks brand new!

Metal Bar Cart Makeover: Before

Metal Bar Cart Makeover: Before

Vintage and antique items can be great alternatives to buying new. They are usually more affordable and definitely give a more unique look to your home. This little midcentury modern bar cart had seen better days when we found her, but with a little elbow grease and a fresh coat of paint, she looks brand new!

From: Samantha Pattillo

Remove Rust

If the item you have is covered in rust, you’ll need to wipe it with TSP and a wire brush to remove any dirt buildup or grease from the metal. When it’s dry, remove as much rust as you can by briskly running the wire brush across any rusty areas on the metal. 

Sand the Cart

Luckily, this bar cart didn’t have any rust spots on it, so we skipped straight to sanding. Take your time sanding down all of the surfaces you are going to paint; this will help the paint adhere to the surface, and a nice smooth finish will look and feel best in the end. If you have some really rough spots, start with 80-grit sandpaper, then work your way to 120. 

Metal Bar Cart Makeover: Sand the Cart

Metal Bar Cart Makeover: Sand the Cart

Take your time sanding down all of the surfaces you are going to paint; this will help the paint adhere to the surface, and a nice smooth finish will look and feel best in the end. If you have some really rough spots, start with 80-grit sandpaper, then work your way to 120.

From: Samantha Pattillo

Prep for Painting

Tape off any areas you don’t want painted. In this case, we didn’t want to paint the wheels on the bar cart.

Metal Bar Cart Makeover: Prep for Painting

Metal Bar Cart Makeover: Prep for Painting

Tape off any areas you don’t want painted. In this case, we didn’t want to paint the wheels on the bar cart.

From: Samantha Pattillo

Paint the Cart

Judging how many cans to buy can be a challenge. For your reference, we used almost two whole cans for this project.

Always apply multiple light coats of spray paint, rather one or two heavy coats. If you do heavy coats and don’t wait long enough in between coats, you run the risk of having that permanently “sticky” feeling on the piece. Hold the can about 8″ away and just spray a light coat, overlapping each pass and releasing at the end of each.

Metal Bar Cart Makeover: Paint the Cart

Metal Bar Cart Makeover: Paint the Cart

Always apply multiple light coats of spray paint, rather one or two heavy coats. If you do heavy coats and don’t wait long enough in between coats, you run the risk of having that permanently “sticky” feeling on the piece. Hold the can about 8″ away and just spray a light coat, overlapping each pass and releasing at the end of each.

From: Samantha Pattillo

Spray paint can be messy. The over-spray goes everywhere, so make sure you pick a place that doesn’t have anything around that you mind getting a dusting of paint on (including yourself).

Metal Bar Cart Makeover: Paint the Cart

Metal Bar Cart Makeover: Paint the Cart

Spray paint can be messy. The over-spray goes everywhere, so make sure you pick a place that doesn’t have anything around that you mind getting a dusting of paint on (including yourself).

From: Samantha Pattillo

Remove Tape

Make sure you wait plenty of time for the piece to fully dry, then remove the painter’s tape. Since we used an outdoor spray paint, no clear sealant is needed.

Metal Bar Cart Makeover: Remove Tape

Metal Bar Cart Makeover: Remove Tape

Make sure you wait plenty of time for the piece to fully dry, then remove the painter’s tape. Since we used an outdoor spray paint, no clear sealant is needed.

From: Samantha Pattillo

Style and Use

A bar cart always looks best with some yummy beverages on it! Using both shelves of the cart is great for parties; you can store extra glasses and mixers on the bottom shelf and leave the top for drink prep and little snacks. Now let’s party!

Before

Metal Bar Cart Makeover: Before

After

Bright Blue Bar Cart With Cocktail Supplies

Metal Bar Cart Makeover: Before

Vintage and antique items can be great alternatives to buying new. They are usually more affordable and definitely give a more unique look to your home. This little midcentury modern bar cart had seen better days when we found her, but with a little elbow grease and a fresh coat of paint, she looks brand new!

From: Samantha Pattillo
Tags: 
  1. bar cart

Bright Blue Bar Cart With Cocktail Supplies

A bar cart always looks best with some yummy beverages on it! Using both shelves of the cart is great for parties; you can store extra glasses and mixers on the bottom shelf and leave the top for drink prep and little snacks. Now let’s party!

From: Samantha Pattillo

3 Outdoor Furniture Flips

See All Photos

These three outdoor furniture pieces had seen better days before we got our hands on them. See the before-and-after photos and get step-by-step instructions for the projects.

From: Samantha Pattillo

Wooden Chaise Longue: Before

Bringing wood furniture back to life after a year or two outdoors can seem daunting, but it’s actually very easy and oh-so-satisfying when you’re done. This wooden chaise was sun-bleached and a bit grimy after laying out under the sun and rain, but overall it was still in great structural shape.

From: Samantha Pattillo

Wooden Chaise Longue: The Makeover

A good cleaning, sanding and staining will work wonders on a tired piece of wood furniture. But if you want to take your makeover up a notch, consider adding a fun, tropical-inspired design like we did here. Oil-based paint pens make it super easy to add intricate details. Get step-by-step instructions for this project >>

From: Samantha Pattillo

Wooden Chaise Longue: After

This tropical-inspired lounge chair is now the perfect place to relax poolside. Add a few toss pillows and a great magazine and get your chill on. Get step-by-step instructions for this project >>

From: Samantha Pattillo

Metal Bar Cart: Before

Vintage and antique items, like this midcentury modern bar cart, can be great alternatives to buying new. They offer one-of-a-kind style and are often more affordable, but sometimes they need a little TLC.

From: Samantha Pattillo
Tags: 
  1. bar cart

Metal Bar Cart: The Makeover

You can follow the same steps to clean up any outdoor item made of wrought iron. If the piece is rusty, you’ll want to tackle that first with trisodium phosphate (or TSP) and a wire brush. Luckily, this bar cart didn’t have any rust spots, so we skipped straight to sanding and spray painting. Apply multiple light coats of paint (rather than one or two heavy coats) for a smooth finish. Get step-by-step instructions for this project >>

From: Samantha Pattillo
Tags: 
  1. bar cart

Metal Bar Cart: After

After a little elbow grease and a fresh coat of paint, this bar cart looks as good as new. We stored extra glasses and mixers on the bottom shelf and designated the top for drink prep and snacks. Now let’s party! Get step-by-step instructions for this project >>

From: Samantha Pattillo

Rattan Peacock Chair: Before

Intricately hand woven out of rattan, peacock chairs made their way from England in the 19th century and took their place in gardens across the US. Now, they’re coming back in a big way as part of the new boho style trend. This miniature peacock chair just needed a little love and a punch of color to get back on the style bandwagon.

From: Samantha Pattillo
Tags: 
  1. peacock chair

Rattan Peacock Chair: The Makeover

After a thorough cleaning, we gave this chair a fun ombre paint treatment using a chip brush to really get into the crevasses. Next, we wrapped the outer frame with bright teal ribbon. This allowed us to cover the existing black wrapping that was cracked and fading. Get step-by-step instructions for this project >>

From: Samantha Pattillo
Tags: 
  1. peacock chair

Rattan Peacock Chair: After

Bring the whole look together with a fun toss pillow that pulls in the colors of the paint, ribbon and (in this case) the front door. Rattan, while great for outdoor use, needs to be taken care of. Keeping it under a covered porch or entry (as seen here) is a great way to protect it from hard rain and sun. Get step-by-step instructions for this project >>

From: Samantha Pattillo
Tags: 
  1. peacock chair

Photo By: unknown

Keep Reading

Next Up

How to Refresh a Rattan Peacock Chair

Add a pop of color to a woven rattan chair with a fun ombre paint treatment and a vibrant ribbon trim.

How to Paint Mod Black and White Dots on a Basic Rug

For the modern patio, take a basic outdoor rug and give it your personal spin with simple painted dots. Choose any colors that complement your other outdoor decor.

How to Maintain and Repair Your Outdoor Furniture

Keep your outdoor furniture in top shape with these tips. Already dealing with worn wood, crusty cushions or rust-marred metal? No worries — we’ve got pointers for repairing not-so-pristine pieces, too.

How to Build an Outdoor Bench With Storage

Add extra seating to your patio or deck with this DIY outdoor bench featuring beautiful fretwork panels and hidden storage under the seat. Using minimal tools and a few supplies from the home improvement store, you can build this stunning storage bench in one weekend.

How to Add a Colorful, Geometric Pattern to a Basic Outdoor Rug

Give a drab gray rug the color treatment with paint samples and tape. With a few colors or a lot of colors, this pattern offers infinite ways to add a punch to your patio.

Give a Tired Outdoor Wood Chair a Tropical Update

This wooden chaise longue was a little worse for wear after a year exposed to the elements. See how we gave it a fresh new look by sanding it, staining it and adding a tropical-inspired design.

Sealers, Paints and Stains 101 for Wood Decks

Protect your deck with the right sealant for the job.

Sealers, Paints and Stains 101 for Concrete Patios

Choose the right sealant to keep your patio in tiptop shape.

How to Make an Easy DIY Outdoor Movie Screen

Transform your backyard into an open-air movie theater with this easy DIY screen made from PVC pipes and a white sheet.

16 Deck and Patio Ailments (and How to Fix Them)

When something goes wrong with your deck or patio, should you attempt a DIY fix or call a pro? We’ll help you diagnose your deck and patio disorders and determine the best remedy.

1,000+ Photos

Browse beautiful photos of our favorite outdoor spaces: decks, patios, porches and more.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.