A Suitcase Bar Cart: an Easy Transformation

Find your cool, hip vibe by creating a vintage suitcase bar cart in a flash!

Have you run across a vintage suitcase at a yard sale? Better yet, have you found one in your storage or had it “gifted” to you? What to do with it??? Create a suitcase bar cart!

My mother was selling this for $5 at her yard sale. No one bought it so I got if for FREE!
Straight Out of “Mad Men”

My dad could have been on “Mad Men.”

I am not kidding you. Indeed, he could have been in a Nebraska version of the show “Mad Men.”

However, not all the drama, thank you very much. But the style, the trends…the accessories!

This treasure belonged to my father.

Samsonite luggage.

It was the gold standard for a traveling businessman in the 60s. Not only was this the stylish trend, but also a well made piece that lasts forever.

In this instance, it lasted till 2021.

Well, in spite of its longevity, this one needs a little cleaning up to shine up the leather and the label.

First, I cleaned off 50 years of gunk!

Love the inside tweed lining! Similarly, I cleaned that up too with a good vacuuming and some upholstery cleaner.

But 1961 luggage does not exactly function in a 2021 world.

You still see them on the airport luggage carousel. They are the lonely ones surrounded by a sea of black suitcases that can pop wheelies and skid across the terminal in record time. Yet, vintage remains classic and shouldn’t be thrown away.

Perhaps a transformation is in order?

But, how do we get from vintage suitcase to trendy, functional bar cart?

What is a common thread between 1961 and 2021….hmmm?

1961 – Golden age of drinking during office hours and throwing massive evening cocktail parties.

2021 – A pandemic year with bars closed and the only bar nearby is at HOME! (Throwing smaller, more personal cocktail parties…)

While consumption moderation is always key, hosting a cocktail party, large or small, is a popular way of entertaining whatever decade you are in. Additionally, this bar cart keeps things handy and easy to use.

Bar Cart Creation

The middle divider panels are so amazing, but I only need one and I need it on the inside back and not the inside middle of the suitcase. (Say that three times fast!)

Daddy would understand.

In this situation, stapling one of middle panels to the back wall of the suitcase enables me to keep and still use the cool, hip tie “station” that was in the middle.

Love my staple gun!

Personalization is the key to your bar cart. It should house what you will use (drink), functional barware, and some of your personality thrown in for good measure.

I asked my daughter, Madeline, for help with this project so we set it up at her house.

She has great style and wonderful ideas! In other words, she makes me cooler than I am.

At least she makes me feel that way!

My cool daughter, Madeline.

Propping out the suitcase bar cart is the super fast part.

Well, go ahead…time me!

On Your Mark, Get Set, GO!

Next, after setting the opened suitcase on a luggage rack as the base, we started to add decanters, glasses, specialties wines and assorted liqueurs, martini shaker, etc. The “cart” started to fill up very quickly!

Additionally, as an homage to my father, I lined the back wall of our new bar cart with assorted ties. They tuck in nicely and add some color to the back of the “bar” and the suitcase lining.

2017 was a good year, I think?

Every local bar you walk into has an enormous mirror along the back wall. As a result, you see all of the beautiful bottles and glass reflected back to you.

For my mirrored effect, I chose a glass embellished vanity tray. It is small, but has a pretty big effect!

Fortunately, it hooked perfectly on the tie bar and adds some much needed femininity to the already masculine style.

Ahem…women enjoy a glass or two as well!

Color, pattern, and texture make a great combination.

Whether vertical or horizontal, this crystal glass tray is just so pretty. In other words, more reflection!

Suitcases have depth and we don’t want our decanters hidden from view. In fact, they should be highlighted!

On the left, some stylish home decor books (have I mentioned I’m obsessed?) are the perfect pedestal. Plus, I love the pink bookbinding layered against the masculine suitcase lining.

Not finished yet!

Don’t you think this suitcase bar cart is taking shape?!

Pops of color always work!

I can’t NOT have some sort of plant in the scenario. (Sorry for the double negative!) In the foreground, the planter that holds this succulent looks just like my son-in-law, Will.


My handsome son-in-law, Will.

See, I told you!

Here are a few similar items that might work for your bar cart…

Above all, use what fits your style and your “bar style.”

Even Madeline and Will’s dog, Arlo wants to get into the act! Of course, she approves!

Arlo is the SWEETEST!

4 Minutes and 45 seconds!

Admittedly, there might have been some additional minutes of sideline tweaking but that’s the fun part!

The hardest part of this project was just in the cleaning of the suitcase. However, everything else is a matter of personal preference and styling.

I think we have bridged the bar cart decade span between 1961 and 2021 quite nicely. Consequently, I saved this family treasure and put it to good use.

Now, time to relax…and have a drink!

Cheers! (literally!)

If you liked this project, I would love to share others with you! How about…

A Wood File Cabinet Makeover

How to Gold Leaf Anything!

A Wicker Chest Transformation

A Tabletop Fire Pit in Three Easy Steps

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.


    1. Hi Karen, Thank you so much! It really is fun to give something new life again. Thank you for reading and commenting!

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