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Party Cart…y

How to turn an old rolling cart into a bar cart, otherwise known as a party cart…y.

OK, bad puns aside, this has to be one of my favorite projects, mostly because I love taking old junky things from the brink of disuse and bringing them back to the life of the party.

Party cart made from an old rolling cart.

Old Rolling Tray Cart to Beverage Center Party Cart

When I found this cart for sale on Craigslist, it was quite sad looking.  Hospital cream color, rust peeking through, neglected, unappreciated.  But not for long!

Cream colored hospital cart with rust stains.
Rust stains all over the top tray of an old metal rolling cart.

It was begging for a makeover, and I was looking for a project.  With a couple coats of spray paint, some cork and jute, and a lot of TLC, it was ready for its night on the town.  Here’s how I did it.

1.  Every makeover starts with a good wash-up.

Cleaning supplies for stripping rust and painted metal.

First I scraped off the parts where paint was flaking, then scrubbed everything with steel wool, then a scrubby sponge, a sander, then good old fashioned soap and water.

Scraping rust off a metal cart so it can be painted.

This was physically the hardest part of the project.  (Think Karate Kid and “wax on, wax off.”)  But hey, at least it got me out of going to the gym that day.

Sanding a metal cart so it can be repainted.

Also, you CANNOT skip this part.  If you don’t prepare your surface well, the paint won’t stick and you’ll have to start all over, and then some.

2.  Then the foundation.

The whole piece got three light coats of glossy black spray paint.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I like Rustoleum.   When you’re using gloss spray paint, keep layering on light coats until it looks uniformly glossy after it dries.  This can take a while, but is worth the effort.

3.  And now for a few highlights here and there.

I found cork board contact paper at Lowe’s and thought that would soften the black metal nicely, but when I cut it out and looked at it on the cart, it didn’t quite pop like I wanted.  So I found a stencil pattern I liked, drew it on with ballpoint, then went over it with a wide tip marks-a-lot.  Voila!  Pattern was just what it needed.

4.  And some accessorizing.

I was afraid the paint would scuff easily on the handles, so I decided that wrapping them in jute string would not only be functional, but right on trend as well.

This was a little tricky, requiring some coordination and a lot of hot glue.  But I think it finishes off the piece nicely.

Black painted rolling cart with stenciled cork trays

5.  All that’s left is getting dressed for the party!

Party cart made into a beverage center.
Rolling cart with bar supplies.

I made this little project into a drink cart, but with a few different toppings, it would be cute and useful as a dessert cart too, or a craft supply center. The sky’s the limit now that it’s pretty enough to go in any room!

Anatomy of a Healthy Re-upholstery Project - The Palette Muse

Thursday 13th of March 2014

[…] For a tutorial on sanding and spray painting, check out my earlier how-to on this Bar Cart . […]

Anita C. Lee

Wednesday 28th of November 2012

How clever of you! You must have very creative genes--I would never have seen the possibilities in this poor cart.

Meredith Wouters

Thursday 29th of November 2012

Thanks! (For both the compliment and the creative genes)


Wednesday 28th of November 2012

SO cute! I love projects like this...haven't had one for awhile...might need to start browsing craigslist :)

Meredith Wouters

Thursday 29th of November 2012

Thanks Johanna! I love craigslist. Let me know if you find a good project - maybe I'll post it here!


Creating a color-filled life. Conquering my little world one DIY project at a time. With lots of coffee and chocolate. Albuquerque NM. Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ Facebook