Kim Childs has a passion for collecting.
A Richmond native, Kim is owner of Rare & Worthy, a curated collection of eclectic vintage home decor and furniture. Her One Kings Lane-based online store holds everything from a graniteware basin to bamboo ming-style side chairs – and the goods go fast – really fast. Recently, Childs has noticed a new trend among her chic, cocktail-savvy clientell: a bar cart renaissance.
“I get a bar cart and it’s gone in hours,” says Kim. “They are becoming impossible to hold onto.”
Vintage barware may be trending, but it’s what the cart represents that really piqued our interest.
“When I’m entertaining, my bar cart becomes a centerpiece. It’s a place my friends gather around to make adult drinks, and inevitably the items on the cart turn into conversations themselves.”
What does Kim Childs choose to place on her cart? We paid a visit to Kim and her husband, Jordan (owner ofShine Craft Vessel Co.), in their home where they live with two pups, Dylan & Thompson, to find out and to get some tips on styling our own.
In the dining room of the Child’s newly renovated Church Hill home, a restored vintage cart with glass shelving sits in the corner of the electric blue dining room. The first thing we notice are the pineapples.
“If I see a brass pineapple, I pick it up.” Kim says. The large metal fruit in question clearly acts as an aesthetic anchor for the right side of the top shelf. “I used to buy and sell them for years, but now I keep every single one I can find. This big one is an ice bucket.”
As she walks us through the pieces on the bar, Kim makes design decisions on the fly, such as switching out a heavy, ceramic buddha lamp with a less ornate vintage piece. It’s clear from the ease with which the swap occurs that Kim makes these changes frequently, and isn’t one of those designers to set up a perfect, immovable vignette. She admits, “It’s never the same thing that’s on there.”
A curated collection of decor from books to a mid-century wine opener keeps the explorer’s eye moving around the bar. “Collections are important because they help tell a story. I always keep vintage cocktail books on my bar as a collection. I love the writing style, and the pictures are so unique.”
Last but not least, the booze. The Childs keep their selection refined with choice whiskeys, tequilas, bitters, and of course, two bottles of premium moonshine.
Bar Styling Guide
We asked Kim to take us through her bar styling process. Here’s what she had to say.
Anything can be a “bar cart.”
Short on space or unable to dedicate a sole piece of furniture to cocktailing? It’s all good. The more creative your bar area, the more of a conversation piece it’ll become amongst your guests. I have friends in NYC who reserve a drawer in their dresser for a bar; even an empty shelf in a bookcase works wonders. I picked up my current bar cart off Craigslist from an older lady who used it as a home for her plants on her sun porch. An unused footstool, blanket chest or console table all have potential in my eyes.
Grab a tray.
A tray’s purpose is not only to corral clutter, it also helps to define a home for a collection or grouping. Every bar cart I style first comes together with a tray. They are essential to ensuring all of your liquor bottles have a dedicated place to live and a disparate collection of barware feels cohesive and purposeful. Remember, a simple tray elevates the ordinary, a classic silver-plated or brass tray defines sophistication, a modern lucite tray funks up any bar area, and a pattern-packed tray serves as the perfect pop for the eye to take notice. How do you want your bar area to be defined?
It’s all about layering.
I’m a huge believer in layering your interior spaces much like you’d layer your wardrobe. Yes, there are certain essentials (You can’t leave the house without pants on!) but what really defines personal style is how you mix and match the extras. I like to think of my bar cart as a place to showcase some of my favorite collections and mementos; a place for the material things I love that make me…well, me. Currently on my bar cart, I have a collection of vintage cocktail books from the ’50’s & ’60’s as well as the humble start of a brass pineapple box collection. Did you know that in the South, pineapples are a traditional symbol for warmth, welcome, friendship and hospitality? Along with a stiff drink, I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to welcome guests!
Find a vintage light source.
As a furniture dealer and interior designer and stylist, I’m partial to creating inimitable moments throughout the home- who wants to look like they live in page 26 out of the Pottery Barn catalog? Lamps help to define the intimacy of these moments; There’s something about vintage lighting that captures the rareness of life better than any other light source. So scour eBay and local thrift stores for the right lamp that defines you bar cart. Remember, a new shade will work wonders for an old lamp, and since your bar cart is an expression of your personal style, have fun with it! I love how my kitschy bare-bellied Buddha lamp lives here- maybe my bar cart is the only place he is truly at ease in my home. All I know is he makes my smile every day, and what else really matters?
Adorn with interesting barware.
In my book, a cocktail is only as good as the glass it’s served in. So layer your bar trays with interesting pieces; maybe its the start of a collection or the culmination of a lifelong obsession. I love cheeky coasters, linen cocktail napkins, vintage crystal coupes, old brass corkscrews and engraved julep cups…to name a few. Maybe it’s a keepsake from a once-in-a-lifetime trip, or a champagne cork from the night you proposed to your love. As long as it’s interesting, it could be anything.
Photography by Alexander Kreher