Lifestyle & Seasonal

Roll in the fun: Serving carts for the patio

Retro is hip. Each year brings a new twist on an old trend, and it makes us all wonder why it ever fell out of favor. This year’s outdoor living trend may be the return of the serving cart.

You are familiar with the serving cart or “kitchen trolley:” a two-or-three-tiered shelf unit with two legs and two wheels (or sometimes four wheels), used for the ease of serving food and drinks. Think of old movies with a white-gloved waiter pushing a gilded trolley full of drinks along the art-deco tiles of a grand hotel’s pool, or remember the whiskey-laden carts seen in practically every Mad Men episode. And who can forget the snack trolley on the Hogwarts Express with its chocolate frogs and jelly slugs?

To be sure, you need not to magically resurrect Grandma’s 1950s-era special. Serving carts have come a long way. There are modern designs in materials like teak and wrought iron. These moveable tables-and-shelves provide a convenient way address many outdoor living situations. A cart can hold grilling supplies, a condiment bar, or a drink stand, or be stacked with magazines and small toys for poolside fun.


Bahama Outdoor Aluminum Bar Cart by Christopher Knight Home

When looking for a cart for use on your patio, make sure the height of the push bar is at a comfortable level. Two-wheeled serving carts are supposed to be lifted only slightly in order to keep the contents steady. A wheelbarrow-like lift is not going to work, so make sure you can stand up straight while lifting the cart about one or two inches up from the ground. Also, check the width of your doorways, walkways and paths. Usually patios have wide berths but serving carts often go indoors to load up then outdoors to serve. If the cart will stay in one flat paver stone area, smaller wheels are sufficient. Stairs are more easily traveled with 2 larger, rubber-tired wheels.


Medium Oak Industrial Style Bar Cart

Whether you are barbecuing or making s’mores, a serving cart is the best way to get the party to come right next to you. All the supplies are in one place and kept orderly when not in use. Carts come in all shapes and sizes and at all budget levels. If you want to go authentic retro, take a look at thrift shops or search online at sites where people sell their old furniture and household goods. A coat of paint and sealer can make an original into a conversation piece. Choose a color that complements your other patio furniture pieces. Pick up a few paintable accessories like wooden spoons or grilling utensils, wooden candle sticks or flower vases to match the cart, and your outdoor room will have that easy-luxury feel family and friends will love.

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