A DRINKS TROLLEY ALTERNATIVE - THE BOOKCASE BAR

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I love a well styled (and well stocked for that matter), bar cart or drinks trolley as much as the next person with a bit of an interiors obsession. As a voracious consumer of Instagram grids and interiors blogs, sometimes it can feel like life shouldn’t be complete without one. I admit to being sorely tempted in the past and the most recent hint of a waver came about when we moved my desk upstairs into the new workspace/spare room.

Giddy with the prospect of having a bit of extra space to use in the living room, we were mulling over our options when Patrick looked at me and said “Bar cart?” I mean come on… these are the words that any woman with a Pinterest obsession wants her husband to utter right?

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For a brief second I had epic visions of West Elm * inspired proportions dancing around my head but then three things stopped me. The first was that we could really do with more seating in the living room. When friends are over and the dog is still intent on claiming more than her fair share of the sofa, space for bums on cushions is scarce. We could have a chair in that space… and make it a relaxing reading corner too. 

Two - the cost. I love them but they’re a big investment. And of course, have bar cart - have to have the accessories to furnish it. Having just spent a small fortune on plastering and decorating, our home funds said a firm no and it feels too much like spending money and acquiring stuff with no genuine need.

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Thirdly and possibly the most relevant of the reasons… Is it really us? As much as I love a good bar cart vignette, I don’t think what I originally hd in mind is right for our living room. When it comes to art deco styling in particular, I remember nearly hyper-ventilating with excitement the first time I walked into West Elm in London and saw their Terrace Bar Cart * . And yet, that doesn’t mean it would work in our house. I’m sure I could have a search around for ideas and make it work in a Scandi inspired way but like I said… funds.

The recent living room work was about refreshing the white paint, pairing back and trying to tune into our own style stamp a bit more… as opposed to being too easily influenced by everything in my online eye line. The major living room makeover from a few years ago had me way too carried away with accessories… a fact which Patrick would frequently point out as I unpacked yet another decorative object with a flourish. Turns out he many have been right but whatever you do, don’t tell him I said so.

There is of course an opposing argument for the drinks trolley discussion - I am partial to the occasional Dirty Martini, Mojito or at the very least, a really good gin and tonic, so what to do? Enter the Bookcase Bar or Cocktail Corner… or whatever form of Gimme A Drink alliteration you’re able to come up with. 

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Our ancient IKEA bookcase was ripe for another round of shelf-styling and if memory serves, Patrick came up with the idea of clearing a shelf to store bottles on last Christmas. A couple of weeks ago, post plastering and decorating, we were able to put everything back into the living room. Once we’d cleaned the dust off every possible surface you can manage to cover with dust and carried out another book audit, I spent a very contented ten minutes faffing with the drink shelf.

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How I Styled Our Bookcase Bar

I used my square tray from White Black Grey as a base and hunted out the copper cocktail shaker I bought from John Lewis * a few Christmases ago. Only bottles of the right hue were allowed pride of place and I fully admit to allowing myself one Pinterest inspired purchase… because it was gin! I’d seen the Finnish brand of Kyrö Napue Gin * pop up on lots of my favourite interiors Instagram feeds and vowed that the next time we ran out of gin (which clearly wouldn’t be long), we’d replace it with a bottle of this. Once a sucker for aesthetics, always a sucker for aesthetics.

The other empty gin bottle with copper lights in was an idea borrowed from Salcombe Gin Distillery when we visited Soar Mill Cove this winter. Once your favourite bottle is empty, rinse, allow to dry and fill with battery operated lights… turn them on when it’s time to let your guests know that the Bar Is Open!

The small IKEA cactus that’s about four years old (and possibly the longest living plant I’ve owned) and a couple of Martini glasses completed the picture. Minimal styling needed - maximum fun when someone asks “Is it 5:00pm yet?”


Should you have space and funds for a bar cart and prefer something more in the Scandi style vein then I love the Block Table by Normann Copenhagen * and also the House Doctor Trolley * in black - both of these are from Amara . For a more budget friendly option, try this one from Wayfair * at £65.99.


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