HGTV Star Orlando Soria's Creative Tips For Styling Your Bar

According to Men's Health, lovers of whiskey are often perceived as authoritative, masculine, and discerning. However, whiskey can also have refined and romantic qualities, if you ask Orlando Soria. Soria stars in HGTV's "Build Me Up," a home renovation show that focuses on helping people through life's unexpected changes. Collaborating with Kentucky-based whiskey brand Maker's Mark, Soria created the Remarkable Home Bar Giveaway, awarding two lucky winners with a complete bar cart makeover.

While the Remarkable Home Bar Giveaway may be over, you can still follow Soria's home decorating advice to create the perfect bar cart all on your own. In his interview with Whisky Advocate, Soria details some of the common mistakes homeowners make when styling their bar area and his solutions for upgrading yours. In this article, we'll dive into Soria's top tips and tricks for styling a bar cart that feels romantic, relaxing, and authentic to you and your space.

Showcase your tastes

The majority of items on your bar's surface should serve a purpose in making drinks, but this doesn't mean they can't be aesthetically pleasing, too. Your bar cart should be a place that inspires you and sparks conversation in your home, so look for useful display pieces that pique your interest, says Orlando Soria. "It can be big or small, but find something exciting that you love," he reveals in an interview with Whisky Advocate. Some of his examples include a beautiful pitcher, vintage glassware, or a delicate stirring rod. For some less fragile décor options, consider placing cloth napkins, coasters, or recipe books on your tabletop.

Just like how every home is different, not every bar cart will look alike — and they shouldn't, according to Maker's Mark's managing director, Rob Samuels. He states that the perfect home cocktail is "all about the personal details, from the space where you're enjoying it to the company you're enjoying it with" (via Forbes). As you're designing your bar cart, consider the mood you'd like to evoke. Will the space be fun, creative, relaxing, or romantic? Are your personal tastes more luxurious and refined or spontaneous and eclectic? 

Curate your collection

When it comes to learning mixology, homeowners know there are many tools of the trade; shakers, strainers, muddlers, jiggers, bottles, and more can quickly pile up on your bar cart. Many homeowners are proud of their collections, but "in reality," Orlando Soria says, "you don't need to see all of your glasses all the time" (via Whisky Advocate). Instead of overcrowding your bar's surface, Soria suggests keeping boxes or baskets on the shelves under your bar cart, and using the storage to tuck away small tools, linens, syrups, and other items. Storage helps to give the bar cart a cleaner, more organized look overall. 

Soria recommends curating your bottles and barware by style and seasonal appropriateness, too. A bright pink rum bottle may feel fun for summer, but out of place during winter. Transition into the holidays by opting for warmer, earthier spirits and festive barware. Switching out your bottles, tools, and glasses can be a fun way to celebrate the changing seasons, and you'll still have your favorite cocktail ingredients nearby but tucked out of sight. 

Display with variation

Picture a bar cart with three identical wine bottles, and one with three different spirits. Which bar cart is more visually appealing? Orlando Soria tells Whisky Advocate that varied bottles "will make [the bar cart] look a lot more eclectic and considered." He prefers to place bottles together in a group of three or five, a design technique backed up by many other experienced professionals. As interior designer Ann Drake verifies on her blog On Sutton Place, the decorating "rule of three" keeps you from having too much symmetry, which can look boring and poorly thought out.

So display an odd number of bottles on the surface of your bar cart, and be sure to consider their color and size. You can also consider each bottle's colors, label design, and subconscious connotations to match with your seasonal décor. A group of three unique bottles will feel naturally balanced, and each grouping tells a story. Soria suggests, "it's kind of about reading composition, a little still life using your bottles as the subject." 

Select décor carefully

What's one common mistake homeowners make with their bar carts? "People normally have art that's way too small, so there'll be a huge console on a wall and then a little tiny thing," Orlando Soria tells Whisky Advocate. "I like to encourage people to find large-scale art." He feels that vintage art, in particular, can lend a special charm to whiskey carts. 

Displaying one large piece of spirited art can transform your bar cart from a dusty corner in your home to its own laid-back scene. Alternatively, homeowners may want to consider a gallery wall to fill out empty space. Gallery walls have always been timeless, but they've seen a resurgence in home design trends. According to interior designer Sheyna Vilson, people enjoy gallery walls because they tell a story (via Life Savvy). And just like every gallery wall is unique, so is the story behind every spirit and cocktail. 

Indulge in the story

When designing your bar cart, it may help to think of yours as a shrine to good times, relaxation, and success. Collecting vintage, handmade, and artisan items is one of the best ways to honor and delight in each spirit's story, and they can enhance the experience of every cocktail. "You want that romance, that nostalgia, that age, because that's what makes whisky so romantic and wonderful," Orlando Soria tells Whisky Advocate. Style your bar cart by building upon the spirits you love. Learn about their history, traditions, and distilling process, and bring those elements into your space. 

It's fun to dress up a bar cart in elaborative and decorative items, but Soria also says "It's good to have [some] things that are distinctive that help define the space and other things that are more simple." When in doubt, Soria turns to lighting; a warm and ambient light source can set the perfect mood for your bar space, and it allows each spirit to remain the star of the show.