Bar cabinets, whether standalone or on wheels, making a case for fun


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HIGH POINT, N.C. -- The truth is any surface -- from your kitchen counter to your nightstand -- can become a bar. But if you're reaching for the alarm clock and knock over the Seagram's, it's time to get help.

Testimony to the interest in home bars from cabinets to carts and more came at the Spring Furniture Market in High Point, N.C. You could blame it on AMC's "Mad Men" or the guilty pleasure of sipping with a tiny umbrella.

More likely it's the public's nostalgia for the cocktail culture, cultivated to perfection in the 1950s and early '60s and continuing to evolve from flavored vodkas to handcrafted drinks. Whatever the case, consumers are clamoring for shaken, stirred or straight up and a pretty place to put all the accouterments.

The bar cabinet was the first piece to find its way back into the home. More recently, stand-alone bars and cocktail carts have crashed the party as well.

Every generation rediscovers what the last one already knew: Parties are more fun with a bar and a bartender behind it. Designer Celerie Kemble's art deco-inspired, parchment-lacquered and leather-inlaid bar for Maitland-Smith stirred up a lot of interest at the market in April. The silver eglomise top and brass accents set it apart from your run-of-the-mill man cave bar.

"A standalone bar or bar cart sends the message that there is always the possibility of glasses clinking, ice knocking and the chance to see a fresh bead of condensation roll down your glass. Even if you aren't planning to partake, it adds spirit to the room," says Ms. Kemble.

Another that was influenced by art deco design was Theodore Alexander's bar with a padded leather, diamond-patterned center panel. The bar is done in a handsome wild rosewood veneer with a back-lit onyx panel on the serving surface. It also features swing-out shelves, one with a removable steel ice bucket.

If space is an issue, there is a multitude of smaller cabinet-style bars on the market. Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams offers several, including the Ventura bar with a California modern two-tone exterior and the stylish LaSalle bar, which has Mozambique veneers and an interior red lacquer drawer with black felt bottom to store those sterling-silver olive picks. Both are versatile enough to be used for other purposes such as a night stand.

"People often want to entertain at home but feel pressed for time. Having a bar that keeps what you need at the ready is a real time-saver and stress-reducer. ... Besides, it looks really cool, like in those classic old movies," says co-founder Mitchell Gold.

Dorya, an upscale furniture manufacturer with Turkish roots and a U.S. base in Miami, is known for its exquisite lacquers and high-end pieces. The bar cabinet in a taupe lacquer offers ample storage for everything needed to get the party started.

If your place is small or you just want the convenience of a movable libation station, then the cocktail cart is the solution. Some come with removable trays while others feature gallery rails and bottle holders, but all are on wheels.

"In addition to being a harbinger of festivities, the bar cart is a spectacular accessory in and of itself while working as a stage for other glimmering accessories and elements usually made of metals, glasses and, in my favorite fantasy, stitched leather or parchment and lacquer," Ms. Kemble says.

Sophisticated versions include her leather-wrapped bar cart with glass shelves for Maitland-Smith, Theodore Alexander's burled ash cart with gallery rail or Ralph Lauren Home's polished stainless-steel with glass, which swings out for more serving area. Rowe Furniture's more casual version in orange lacquer and glass is meant for indoors but could easily adapt to a covered outdoor spot for the season. Crate and Barrel actually makes one for outdoor entertaining in powder-coated aluminum as do several other companies.

So cheers to the manufacturers for raising the bar for home entertaining, inside and out.

mobilehome - homes

Patricia Sheridan: psheridan@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2613 or follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/pasheridan.


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