What do I want for my first Mother’s Day? A bar. Seriously. And, no, not because being a mom has driven me to booze. (Well, not totally…)
At an impromptu dinner party with friends the other night (not sure if ordering in, eating off paper plates and telling people to eat on the couch constitutes as a “dinner party” but just go with it, okay?) I realized that we don’t have a great set up for hosting a party that allows guests to serve themselves a beverage. These were my best girlfriends, though, so I had no reservations telling them to open up my cupboards to find themselves a glass – and some of them even did so without my instruction. But for the guests that don’t know you well enough to rifle through your cabinets without judgement (“oh you keep your baby food near your dog food, huh?” – um, they’re both our children, so yeah. “3 half-used bottles of Nyquil?” – Dude, the last thing you ever don’t want to have when you need it is Nyquil. Am I right? “A whole shelf full of seaweed snack packs?!” – In my defense, those things only come in packs of like 80 at Costco and they’re so dang good!)
Soooo, back to that bar. Right now we’ve got that cute little brass & glass vanity table I scored at Goodwill in the entryway. It’s cute, I love it. But it’s also not very stable and it’s purely for decorative purposes and the occasional pocket dump. (side note: I did intend for this to become a little bar cart/table and planned to paint the back of the mirror with chalkboard paint so I could write out fun phrases like “Cheers!” or the cocktail of the night…but that hasn’t happened yet. And, also, the table is a bit wobbly so I don’t feel comfortable with ten liquor bottles all grouped on top). Thinking that Declan will be crawling and trying to pull himself up pretty soon here, I’d like something a little sturdier in this area and a bar totally fits the bill. It’ll also free up some space on our open kitchen shelving units so we can get the loose glass bottles out of there, away from curious baby fingers.
Here’s what I was looking for…
- Medium toned wood to coordinate with our rustic coffee table from West Elm and the reclaimed wood fireplace mantel.
- Industrial/modern to counterbalance all the wood tones from aforementioned and the floor.
- Black to complement the inside of the fireplace and the dining room chandelier.
- White, to be safe. (but then if the white didn’t go well with the white walls, we’d have to paint a HUGE wall…so maybe not.)
- Less than 50 inches wide, which rules out a lot of sideboard/buffet style furniture pieces.
- Height was less of a restriction because it’d be against a really tall wall but we were being conscious of the carbon monoxide detector and thermostat, both on that wall.
- Since the adjacent hallway is the entryway and the other side is the dining room, it’s a spot that gets a ton of traffic so we also didn’t want something too deep that would protrude off the wall too much.
- Something hefty that will hold up to toddler abuse later on (and will need to be affixed to the wall in case of toppling by toddler or earthquake).
- Storage for tall/irregular-shaped liquor bottles (we already have wine storage underneath our dining room table – though I’m not going to say we couldn’t always use more!).
- A handy spot to pour drinks that’s open enough to encourage guests to self serve.
- Cubbies, drawers, shelves or racks to organize miscellaneous barware such as wine/bottle openers, cocktail napkins, toothpicks, serving bowls, an ice bucket, cocktail shaker, glasses and stemware.
- Enclosed storage to keep glasses and stemware less dusty.
West Elm is usually my first go-to because most everything there is just about my style. This is from the same collection as our coffee table but it’s too short and only has shelves inside, which doesn’t offer the versatile storage options we need. I was also really drawn to the drama of the Parquetry Armoire, which could totally work as a bar cabinet by removing the hanging bar at the top. But, it just wasn’t right.
The Swig Mini Bar from CB2 gets great reviews and has a simple, clean style that I’m drawn to – plus it comes in white and gray, both fantastic options. But, it was a bit underwhelming and still gave the impression that my guests would have to go digging through the cabinet (most likely crouching down to see the contents inside) to find what they want.
I like the simple design of the Victuals Grey Bar from Crate & Barrel, and I especially like that it has legs off the floor a little. While I didn’t originally set out for grey as a color option, our sofa is a dark charcoal color and we do love grey – in fact, if our bar ever moved from the entryway to the kitchen, it would fit right in with our lower cabinets. But, this style of cabinet still felt a little too awkward to just open up for guests. Though there’s a small little pull out tray for mixing up drinks, it feels a little dinky, and I also don’t like the idea of open doors just swaying about, especially with contents stored in them.
Crate & Barrel seems to really get that people like to drink and to do it in style. The Bourne Bar Cabinet is a sleek midcentury modern style – I am especially swooning over those brass pulls and if I mentioned to Kevin that it even remotely looked like it could belong in Don Draper’s office, he’d buy it for me in a heartbeat. But, the storage seems small and the space beneath the cabinet seems wasted. It would, however, make for a great little tuck-away office, with space to pull up a chair and a slot in the back for cord management. Add that bottle of scotch and Mad Men it up!
So, after scouring the internet, here are my top three contenders:
The Clive Bar Cabinet from Crate & Barrel does seem like a Clive, doesn’t he? Tall, handsome, a little rugged. I love him. The reclaimed wood pieces and iron would pull the room together to create a nice little triangle of pieces along with our coffee table and the mantel, and the iron frame is just off the floor so it’s not wood furniture on wood floor. (That’s a lot of wood.) Pull-down shelves give guests the go-ahead to grab themselves a glass and pour a drink from the bottles provided in the center, but the bottom closed cabinet can still tuck away things that aren’t readily needed. Plus, the open shelf at the top allows space for a few styled pieces like a serving bowl and plant, plus it’s open to make room for our in-a-tricky-spot carbon monoxide detector and thermostat – we could easily hide them behind a plant and still have easy access to change the temp. The only downside, as you may have guessed, is the whopping price tag on this bad boy (as BFOTBM always says, “champagne taste, beer budget.” And, in this case, it’s so, so true!) That aside, I think he’s perfect. One reviewer (which, now I can’t see the reviews online…fishy…) mentioned that the lower pull-down shelf is too low to be convenient for most folks so I need to take a trip to South Coast Plaza to get a little face time with Clive before we go steady.
After Clive, the Clyde Bar from Pottery Barn comes in a close second. Maybe first. I’m fickle. Clyde looks like a small workhorse, but functional he is! I was pretty much sold on this guy when I saw that Pottery Barn has ingeniously crafted the cabinet doors to completely wrap around to the side (out of the way – yeah!) and open up to invite guests to come on up and make themselves a cocktail. That’s just what I wanted, Clyde, thanks! An added bonus is that the top flips up too, providing an extra spot for displaying goods. The downside to that is that if you’ve got any decorative items living up on top of the cabinet when it’s not in use, that stuff will have to find a new home before guests come over. Hmmm…I’m not sure what to do about Clyde. I pretty much thought I’d found my perfect bar mate but I called around and no Pottery Barn stores have him in store for me to look at. The dimensions seem very compact but that might be a good thing for that wall — I don’t want this to be a totally overwhelming piece of furniture and since Clyde doesn’t have any glass, legs or open shelving, he’s a dense chunk of black rectangle when he’s all closed up.
Lastly, if you know me at all, you probably know that I’ve been dying over the gorgeous Patchwork line of furniture from West Elm for ages. I so, so want the Secretary to work — it’s got the drop-down cabinet and the mix of wood and white, brass handles…totally gorgeous. The con side of the list on this one is pretty short: I don’t love that the left cabinet door must stay open to access where we’d store glasses and barware – it’ll block the entryway hallway and also means that everything else in that cabinet will be visible. So, yeah, only pretty stuff goes in there. And, if I’m being honest, I’m a tad concerned that all the different wood colors may be a bit too busy since it’ll be the first thing you see when you walk in the door, and also because it’s the transition piece of furniture between our living room/dining room/entryway. That’s a lot of pressure for one piece of furniture.
Which one would you pick? Have any other recommendations for me? What do you want for Mother’s Day?
P.S. For more bar carts and furniture (and drink recipes!), check out my Libations board on Pinterest.