Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Side effects of watching too much Mad Men

I recently started watching Mad Men on Netflix, and proceeded to blow through the entire four seasons in a just a few weeks.  Sean hates it, so I became best friends with my iPad and started watching an unhealthy amount of TV at every waking hour.

Then, after a few dozen episodes of watching the characters swill drinks and chain smoke in their awesomely retro 1950's offices (not to mention their mostly super cute 1950's clothes), I made a super logical conclusion - I NEEDED to find a bar cart.  Stat. 

It's honestly a little weird how much I started fantasizing about my bar cart.  I had a picture in my head of the perfect mid-century bar cart, stocked with all sorts of sophisticated liquor that I, a sophisticated grown-up, would consume.  Forget girly drinks, I was going to start drinking fancy aged liquor on the rocks.  People would look at me and bask in my sophisticated adulthood.  I'd have friend over and throw cocktail parties, where we could sip martinis and talk about...grown up things.

If I could only find the right bar cart, my life was going to change.  I was convinced.

So, in between Mad Men episodes, I started browsing obsessing the internet for the perfect match.  Here's a few examples of my inspiration:

via etsy

via ebay

via ebay
All of these options would have worked perfectly.  Problem is, there's no way I was going to spend $1,000+ on a bar cart.  Or honestly, even $100+.  We have too much else to do and buy for this house, and a bar cart is just not something in the "need" column, despite what my inner fantasies might tell me.

So, I did what I do best and started obsessively trolling craigslist for the next best thing.  My searching was largely unsuccessful at first - things were either too expensive, or too hideously ugly.  I had a few "almosts" but nothing I felt strongly enough about to venture out and see.

Then, one day, I came across some craigslist ads for a vintage store in Long Beach called Magnolia and Willow.  Score.  Their pictures weren't that great, but the prices were very reasonable and they seemed to have a decent selection, and I just really had a good feeling about what I might find.

My first free Saturday, I tore myself away from the iPad and headed South on the 405 to check out this little hole in the wall.  And I'm definitely glad I did.  They had a really tremendous selection of all things vintage, and the prices were overwhelmingly reasonable.  I thought things were much more fairly priced than at the flea markets in the area, where people tend to know when they have something cute and price it ridiculously. 

The lady who runs Magnolia and Willow was SUPER friendly.  I found out that it's actually kind of a vintage superstore, and a bunch of sellers sell their stuff at the store, and the owner just collects commissions.  I overheard the owner talking to someone else about how running a store like this was basically her dream and she worked hard to make it a reality.  Very cool.  I think there's actually a few other vintage stores in the Long Beach area that I'll have to check out, but on this particular day my car was already filled with stuff.  More on that later.

As you might have imagined, I found a cart!  Actually, I found a few - there were 2-3 carts at Magnolia and Willoe that would have done the trick, but one in particular caught my eye.  It was a super retro kitchen cart that was covered with a bunch of vintage tool boxes tools, so the lovely owner helped me unbury it once I made my selection.

The price?  A super amazingly reasonable $29.

The problem?  It was a little rough.  

Excuse the picture - it's an iphone shot in the backyard in fading light.  As you can see, my quaint little cart was just a tad beat up and rusty.

I originally thought I'd rock the rusty chic look, but Sean wasn't buying it.  He doesn't always share my creative genius, and he thought this looked like something I pulled out of the garbage (um yeah, I WISH I pulled this out of the garbage).

Plan B = rummage through the garage for some spray paint.  I had found a can of white spray paint and a can of oil rubbed bronze (both Rustoleum) in the garage, and after deliberating for a bit on an all-white cart, I decided to try some kind of two-tone look.

I was so excited and impatient about my purchase that I actually did all the work on this the same afternoon I bought it - thus the fading light in the pictures.

Since the paint was chipped and rusty, I sanded the whole thing with some fine-ish sandpaper to smooth it out, wiped it with a damp cloth to remove the dust, then went to town with a few half-empty cans of spray paint.  I honestly just winged this whole project and it took a total of about an hour. 

My only in-progress picture is this incredible example of my perfectly taped off legs.  AKA, I found some newspaper and taped it on the legs in the sloppiest way possible.

I then did 4-5 coats of verrrrrrrrry thin paint.  I think I'm actually getting the hang of this spray painting thing.  When people say thin coats they mean THIN COATS.  

Through the magic of the internet, and after a day or so drying outside and a few confusing trips to the liquor store, here's what my $29 cart turned into:


The top looks black, but it's actually the lovely oil rubbed bronze, so it has a subtle metallic shimmer, like so:

It actually needs another coat of white, but my can of white  spray paint ran out and I haven't gotten around to buying more.

So, that's how my bar cart dream became a reality.  Thrilling stuff.  And, for the record, it's totally turned me into the sophisticated grown up I imagined.  For example, I'm currently writing this post from the couch, wearing sweatpants that are covered in dog hair, the button down I wore to court this morning that I am too tired to change out of, and drinking a Corona. 

A girl can dream, right?


  1. I love your bar cart! I don't know if it's because of the season (I.e. tons of holiday parties normally with people you try to impress ((Bosses and coworkers)) or just because Mad Men and retro is coming back, but I have seen so many posts about bar carts. I like yours the best though because it's actually reasonably priced and still cute/functional.


  2. Thanks, I'm so glad you like it! It's honestly not 100% what I would have pictured, but especially for the price I couldn't be happier. Being cheap forces me to get creative :-) I haven't seen many other bar carts "around" in blog land, I'll have to run a search.