THE BACKSTORY • Barrie Benson is crazy about two 1950s classics: Maison Jansen furniture and cocktails. How fitting, then, that the Charlotte, North Carolina–based designer’s new étagère marries the two, wrapping a central shelf of the open-air piece with unlacquere­d brass for a tucked-in bar (“my husband and I love having charming little spots for cocktailma­king,” she says). Swapping glass shelves for cerused oak modernizes the look and puts it in easeful conversati­on with libraries and living rooms, where Benson imagines a pair flanking a sofa. And, as she is quick to point out, that sexy stage can also glow with a reading lamp and a carefully leaned piece of art. No stirring required.

MEET THE MAKER • Benson’s early career designing furniture for hotels was a master class in how classic pieces can be reinvented to meet shifting needs as well as scale, an ethos she embraces still. “Once you learn that you can draw anything, you get addicted to being able to make things better and more suited to the client,” she says. In fact, Benson emerges from each Highland House project with a watercolor of the piece—perfect, perhaps, for that spot right behind the gin.

MAKE IT YOURS • Benson étagère, $7,497; highlandho­use

Speaking of cocktails: A flurry of new options for storing and pouring ignites the cabinet-versus-cart debate. Hidden intrigue or rolling, wide-open revelry? (Crowds known to form around both...)

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THE FIND • Highland House’s Benson étagère

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