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The Life of the Party: Table Transformed into Bar Cart

With summer here, we have the opportunity to take advantage of longer days and warmer nights by taking our parties outdoors. Why not create a festive and fun bar cart that will become the center of your event?!  A cast-aside table can be turned into a mobile party station to transport your favorite beverages around any space for a fun summer celebration with friends and family.
Ability level:  Mid-level to advanced
Age Level:  Adults or teens with adult supervision and support
Items needed:
  • Wooden end table
  • Stemware racks (two to three)
  • Wheels/casters (four)
  • Metal shower caddy
  • Screws and hooks
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Sandpaper/sandpaper block (optional)
  • Scrap wood 
  • Wood glue
Time requirement: 1.5 hours (not including glue drying time)
wheels and stemware racks for Tim's diy bar cart
Cost: Approximately $50
  • $7 for side table
  • $20 for wheels/casters
  • $15 for stemware holders
  • $2 for hooks and screws
  • $3 for shower caddy

Tim finds a side table to use as a base for his bar cart at Goodwill

Tim's side table, plates, and glasses found at Goodwill

Step 1:  Time to Hunt for a Table, Dishes & Accessories

In the furniture section at any Goodwill, you will find lots of great options to use as the base for your future bar cart.  Look for side or end tables made of wood and have legs that are an inch or more in width.   Consider a small cabinet, too, as it will give you some good storage options.  For my transformation, I truly feel like a came across a unicorn!  It was the perfect height, had an outdoor feel to it and even the color was fantastic! Head to the housewares section to look for glasses, plates, containers, and other items.  Again, I scored four margarita glasses, other plates, and dishes that all had matching, summer colors.  Check to see if there are any shower caddies or other small shelves you can use to provide additional storage.

Step 2:  Painting Prep

If your piece needs to be painted, which is very likely, prepare your piece by sanding it. Take a sanding block or piece of sandpaper and lightly rub it all over the object.  Don’t worry about removing the entire existing color or finish, you are simply buffing it to make the paint adhere better.   When done, wipe down the piece with a damp rag or paper towel.
Step 3:  Pop with Paint
Since this is a piece that will be part of your good times, select a bright and vibrant color.  Apply a thin but solid coat of paint.  You might want to apply several layers of different colors to add extra visual interest and dimension.  Let your piece dry between coats.
Step 4: Divine Distress (Optional)
Use your sandpaper or sanding block to lightly sand along edges and places that would naturally get worn from use or handling.  I love this technique because it will call attention to the design details.  You will sand it to show the layer of paint or wood beneath the surface.  When done, wipe down to remove dust.
Step 5: Poly Protects
When your piece has totally dried, use a brush to apply a thin coat of polyurethane over the entire piece. This will protect the paint from moisture and dirt if your piece is outside and might be exposed to the elements.
Tim drills a hole and screws in the wheel

Step 6:  There is Something Fun about Wheels

It is amazing how adding wheels give a piece some immediate, funky coolness.  There are so many options so I selected wheels with a silver finish and a screw on top so I only had to drill one hole each to attach them.  Flip your table over, place on drop cloth or towel to prevent scraping, grab your drill, select a large drill bit and put it to work.  Once you drill the hole, screw in your wheel. You may need to use a hammer to tap on the wheel to ensure it goes in all the way and is tight and secured.

Tim displays scrap wood and stemware holders added to bar cart

Margarita glasses hang from Tim's stemware racks

Step 7:  Add Stemware Holders

Move your piece onto a table or workstation and use the drop cloth or towel to keep the top scuff and scratch free.  Depending on the look and width of the underside of your table, you may need to add a scrap piece of wood on which to attach the stemware holders.  Again, I got lucky because I just needed to add one 2X4 trimmed to size.  I added wood glue and a couple of screws to secure the holders in place. 
Tim's shower caddy used for bar cart storage
Step 8:  Add the Shower Caddy & Hooks
Flip your bar cart over and determine which side will be the front.  On either side, use your drill to create holes for the hooks then screw the hooks into the piece.  Adding a shower caddy, based on the size and height of your piece, is a perfect storage option.  Use your drill and screws to attach it.  To match the silver of the wheels and the stemware holders, pick a shower caddy that is either white or silver to compliment the overall look.

Tim's friends enjoy bar cart and colorful chairs

Step 9:  It’s Party Time!

Roll your bar cart to your balcony, porch or patio.  Add plates, dishes, bowls, and glasses along with beverages, snacks, and other refreshments. In this case, I had two colorful chairs from a previous DIY project that matched the cart perfectly and helped to create a fun gathering space. Now invite friends and family over to enjoy your transformed bar cart and let the summer fun begin!

Tim Kime is an artist, life coach, connector. He is President of Kime Leadership Associates offering executive coaching, meeting facilitating and motivational speaking.  He is also Chief Creative Force of Transformation Junkies which upcycles furniture and other household items into functional works of art. He combined his two passions—unleashing the potential in people and transforming items with the launch of the Art of Possibilities Workshops.  These workshops are part upcycling, part dreaming, part goal setting.

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