From Tea Trolley to Bar Cart

Upcycle Cart

When my Aunt asked if I was interested in having my Grandma’s mid-century tea trolley my answer was a resounding YES! I always love to feature pieces in my home that have a personal story to tell and I have such fond memories of it sitting in my Grandma’s house. I knew right away that it would be perfect as a bar cart in our apartment because of the simple silhouette and the gold frame — but I’m wasn’t the biggest fan of the red trays.

I really didn’t want to make any permanent changes that would forever alter this family piece, so I came up with a quick solution to update the look without causing any damage. In the end, I found some supplies at Dollarama to make a temporary solution and it made all the difference!

Upcycle Cart
The Materials
  • My Grandma’s tea trolley bar cart (obviously)
  • Yoga Mat x1
  • Marble contact paper
  • Ruler
  • Craft paper
  • Pen
  • Scissors

In total, I spent $6 on all the materials needed! I was surprised to find high-quality contact paper at the dollar store. If you have a Dollarama near you, I’d highly recommend going in for the marble contact paper. It’s $1.25 for a small roll which beats the $20 price on Amazon. Normally I find that contact paper looks kind of tacky (pun totally intended) but this marble contact paper has a matte finish which I find is a lot more realistic.

01 | Template

The hardest part of this project was creating a template that was exactly the same size as the base of the tray. Thankfully, the trays on the bar cart are removable which made the process a little bit easier! To start, I took a large piece of craft paper and placed it on the tray. Then, I grabbed a pencil and lightly traced the inside lines of the tray to create a general shape as a starting off point. My pencil was kind of sharp and ended up cutting the paper for me while I was drawing which made my life a lot easier! My friend Sophie snapped this shot of me with a satisfied smirk on my face and it makes me giggle every time.

Upcycle Bar Cart
02 | Contact Paper

DIY projects always involve a little trial and error. I definitely tried this a few times to get the cleanest edge! The easiest way to do this was simply to trace the template onto the contact paper and cut it out with scissors instead of trimming the contact paper to size after rolling it out. I had my wonderful friend Sophie take photos so I only have photos of the failed version! After the contact paper was all cut out to the right size, I rolled it out, inch by inch, onto the yoga mat using my ruler to remove air bubbles.

Upcycle Bar Cart
03 | Trim the yoga mat

For the last step, all I had to do was cut out the yoga mat to size! With the contact paper already trimmed to the right shape and size, it was as easy as cutting along the line to create a clean edge that would fit the shape of the trays. I made two tray mats for the top and bottom and called it a day!

In my opinion, the best DIY projects require minimum effort (and cost) and have a huge impact! This little upcycle made all the difference to this little nook in our home and made the midcentury design a little more current. Here are some more beautiful shots, taken by my Sophie, of the finished look.

Upcycle Bar Cart
Upcycle Bar Cart
Upcycle Bar Cart
Upcycle Bar Cart

What do you think about the little update? I think the new marble mats really brighten up the bar cart and make the whole piece look a lot more current. To style it, I went with a summery theme using some fun striped straws in this little dispenser from the dollar store, lemons and limes in a vintage bowl, and my favourite gold rimmed rocks glasses that I bought for $4.00 at a thrift store! I used a simple wood tray from HomeSense to corral all the little pieces on top and tie everything together. On the bottom shelf, I just arranged our liquor bottles and this amazing white typewriter that I found on the side of the road!

This blog post would not have been possible without the help of my lovely friend Sophie from S+C Photography! She’s already helped me with a few blog posts like my March Review and Daily Desk Essentials and I love her crisp and clean style. She’s amazing at capturing moments and we had SO much fun shooting together. There’s another blog post coming later with the second part of this shoot and she had me laughing so hard I had tears running down my face!

If you’re in the Ottawa area and looking for a photographer, I highly recommend her and her husband! Check out their website and Instagram for more information!

sincerely,rowan logo
Sophie Renaud Fournier

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