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DIY Bar Tray Tutorial

I’ve been seeing a lot of DIY tutorials for bar carts, which seem to be the latest fad in home decor. I get it–it speaks to a Mad Men aesthetic and it certainly has an element of glamour to it. I don’t have room in my dining room for a full bar cart, though, so I wanted to create the next best thing– a bar tray. A bar tray sits on a table or counter top and neatly displays all your bottles of liquor. This was a really, really easy DIY. Here’s how I did it.

You’ll need:

  • a picture frame, preferably with raised sides (IKEA is an excellent resource for this)
  • scrapbook paper
  • scissors and tape

IKEA Picture Frame on

I found this frame at IKEA. It was $10. I picked it because the sides of the frame are raised, like a tray would be. I also liked the long rectangular shape, which is the perfect shape for the buffet unit that I was going to put it on. Pick a shape that makes sense for where you’re going to be setting it.

Back Of Frame on

Take the back part out of the frame. Using the insert as a guide, measure and cut your scrapbook paper.

Scrapbook Paper on

Unless you’re using a roll of paper, you’ll probably have to tape together multiple pieces of paper to fit the entire surface of your tray. I tried this with a striped pattern and it was just too obvious that there were three pieces of paper being used. So I tried this polka dot pattern instead and you really can’t tell unless you get right down next to it. Buy a few different patterns to see which one works best.

Taped Paper on

Tape together the paper so that you have one long continuous pattern (put the tape on the back of the paper so it’s not visible). Then tape the paper to the insert, just enough so that it stays in place (you want to be able to remove easily later on if you want to switch the paper out).

Empty Bar Tray on

Place the papered insert into the frame and seal it back up, then flip it over. Doesn’t this look great? I love this particular method for making a bar tray because the glass on top will protect the paper from being stained by any drips or moisture from the liquor bottles, and you can easily switch out the paper. Use Christmas paper during the holidays, themed paper during parties, or just switch it when you’re tired of looking at that pattern. At $.50 a sheet, this is a super cheap wait to switch up your decor.

Full Bar Tray on

Now arrange your bottles on the tray. This is a good opportunity to wipe them down if they’ve gotten sticky or dusty. I arranged mine by height, tallest in the back, and also tried to alternate dark and clear liquors so that it was more aesthetically pleasing.

Full Bar Tray Display on

And here’s the complete look in my dining room. Cute, right? Who wants a whiskey sour?

Author: Beth

Writer, blogger, basset-hound walker. Beth is a connoisseur of nachos and holiday films. She loves books, sidecars, costume jewelry, and people with a quirky sense of humor.

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