Turn a Side Table Into a Faux Bar Cart

Transform a side table into an easy-to-create, affordable bar cart stocked with repurposed items.
By: Liz Gray

As spring days heat up, I love to host small gatherings with just a few friends. Full-size bar carts are gorgeous, but you don’t need to stock a full bar for a casual affair. That’s why I decided to transform one of my favorite side tables into an easy-to-create, affordable bar cart stocked with repurposed items. You may even have most of the materials on hand! Here’s the finished product:

Ready to style your own faux bar cart? Here’s how to do it.

Find the Right Table

A small table with two or more open levels is ideal for a pint-sized faux bar cart. (This one serves as my bedside table in the cooler months.) Once you’ve shopped your home for the perfect table, move it to your sunroom, deck or patio to give guests easy access to beverages. You can even add casters on the bottom to move it from place to place with even more ease.

Pick a Theme

A loose theme ties your bar cart together and helps you choose the cocktail and the decor.  I was inspired by both the hue and the flavor of in-season Meyer lemons. Since I have a lot of red-orange and turquoise pieces in my home, I decided to accent the cart with accessories in those hues.

Gather the Essentials

With your theme in mind, shop your home for essentials. Here are the basics you’ll need to stock your cart:

  • Signature cocktail ingredients
  • 1-2 non-alcoholic beverages
  • Bottled beer (optional)
  • Shot glass or shooter glass for measuring ingredients
  • Container to chill cold beverages
  • Drinking glasses for the group
  • A serving tray
  • A hand towel to clean up spills or drips
  • A piece of art or fabric to display behind the cart

Use What You Have

Take a walk around your home and make a mental list of what you already have on hand. Don’t limit yourself to traditional barware: I repurposed a colorful tart pan as a serving tray, and hung a springy scarf as an impromptu curtain. Large terracotta flower pots make fantastic drink chillers. (Choose one without a drain on the bottom.)

Get Guests Involved

As a guest, I always enjoy trying my hand at mixing my own drink. As a host, it’s one less thing you have to do before the party starts. To empower guests to mix their own, I added a wooden chalkboard featuring the recipe for one of my spring favorites — Spiked Thyme Lemonade — behind the bar. (Recipe below!) The cute stoneware bin on the end was originally intended for pencils or utensils, but it made the perfect home for my thyme garnish.

Add the Finishing Touches

Stick-on chalkboard labels help guests determine what is what, and they can be easily changed for the next gathering. A glass dish of Meyer lemons is both a decorative accent and an ingredient in the signature cocktail. Don’t forget paper straws to garnish!

Spiked Thyme Lemonade

Serves 1

1 ounce Meyer lemon juice
2 ounce gin
1 teaspoon lemon-thyme syrup (recipe follows), or to taste
6 ounces lemon soda
Thyme sprig, for garnish

Fill a glass 1/3 of the way with ice. Squeeze 1 ounce Meyer lemon (about 1/2 lemon) into glass. Top with 2 ounces gin and 1 teaspoon lemon-thyme syrup. Top with lemon soda, then stir and enjoy.

Lemon-Thyme Syrup

Makes 2 cups

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups water
4 sprigs thyme
Juice and zest of 2 lemons

Combine sugar and water over medium heat and heat until sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from heat, add lemon juice, lemon zest and thyme. Let stand for 15 minutes, then strain to remove lemon and thyme pieces. Refrigerate until serving. Keeps for about 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

Now mix up a cocktail for yourself and raise a toast. Happy hosting!

Want More?

See All Photos
Top designers and bloggers share tips on how to style the perfect bar cart.

Shop Related Products

Keep Reading

Next Up

How to Create the Best Coffee Station at Home

Charge your batteries for the day by setting up a coffee bar with all the essentials.

Dressed-Up Dresser Ideas From Readers

Think twice before you lug that old dresser to the dump.

8 DIY Shipping Pallet Projects for Your Outdoor Space

Transform plain shipping pallets into gorgeous outdoor pieces at little to no cost.

Before-and-After Chair Projects from HGTV Fans

These chairs were destined for the dump before they were rescued by crafty HGTV fans. See how they were transformed into new pieces.

How to Turn a Trashed Bedside Table Into a Charming Cottage Nightstand

For less than $20 in materials, turn a sad little table (that was once destined for the dump) into a cottage-style charmer that provides handy bedside storage.

11 Clever, Crafty Ways to Use the Things You're Hoarding

You know those wine corks, Mason jars and spare buttons you've been saving for future craft projects? Here are 11 DIYs you'll actually want to use them on.

Flea Market Flips for Every Room in the House

Hitting the flea market this weekend? Read this first for inspiring makeover ideas from 'Flea Market Flip' for every space in your home.

25 Outdoor Bars to Celebrate National Beer Day

Grab a beer. We're going outside.

20 Stylish Coffee Tables to Inspire Your Own Design

It is the center of your living room, after all.

DIY Stocking Stuffers: Turn Thrifted Flannels Into the Ultimate Cozy Bracelet

Christmas is coming! Even if you're cash- or time-strapped, it's not too late to turn old flannel shirts into fashion-forward handmade gifts for coworkers and friends.

Meet the Team

Get to know the talented writers and editors of HGTV's show and design blog. 

Go Behind the Blog

From the Archives

Take a look back at our past posts, from entertaining and design trends to up-and-coming HGTV shows.  

Read All Our Past Posts