Saturday, February 04, 2012

In Honor of Tiki Month, some more.

After much effort, toil, angst, deliberation and frenetic Craigslist-surfing...I managed to get the very first component towards my (eventual) Tiki habitat. I managed to buy a bar and (I think) a pretty bloody nice one at that. It has only a couple of tiny dings and chips, but nothing that even someone as manually unskilled as I can't set right. Those teeny flaws aside, it's practically new.

Below is the "overall view" of the beast.

It weighs a TON...that slab o'granite top does not help and, even worse, makes it ridiculously top-heavy when all you have are one and a half men (me & #1S) to schlep it from the wifely minivan to the back room via the obstacle course of a hypercluttered garage, tall steps and rugged lawn terrain. Even worse when the grownup in the equation is supposedly down with the flu. But I am nothing if not committed.

Or, perhaps this is proof I should be.

I'm slightly embarrassed to state in public how little I paid for this thing. I spotted it on CL and it was being sold by a storefront church which seems to have been using it (probably donated, I'm guessing) as a hallway table. All of the other semi-acceptable bars I had seen on CL for the last year -- did I mention I was patient? -- were running in the $1500 range (turns out this caliberbar retails for +/-$3K + sales tax) and this was not only FAR nicer, but also FAR cheaper. When I got there I was pleasantly surprised to see it more "tikiable" than I expected, with rattan-like panels and a workable color. It's got a Tommy Bahama-ish kinda feel to it. (See next)

Above is a closeup of the ornamental detail. (See what I mean about the Tommy Bahama thing?) So the question is this: How could I tikify those column-ish/rosette things (they look like they will pry off cleanly and relatively easily)? I was thinking of a shallow-ish set of wooden plaques with something (anything!) more tiki-ish, and possibly replacing those grooved columny details with something bamboo-y.

You may have thought I was on an extended jag of slackery and sloth. But no. There are men who, when the muse strikes them to transform a given area of their dwelling into a particular habitat immediately set to it with implements of demolition, followed by power tools wielded with much artistry, and in three weekends you have a showpiece in the back room/basement/terrace/etc. I, as will become abundantly clear in subsequent entries, possess almost entirely none of the skills required to bring such a project to gorgeous fruition.

Between what I have in my mind's eye and and what I have NOW is a vast expanse mostly traversed via credit card, and then only when my beloved looks upon me with benevolence and pity. So, necessarily, my approach must differ from that of my betters. Instead of hurling myself headlong into a project and gracefully dispatching unexpected obstacles with a breezy smile, I must plan, plan, plan and then plan some more. Even this is less than ideal, because I can't draw. As a consequence, I have to pursue matters in an even more primitive way. Planning with crayon, if you will.

What I do is simply to scour Craigslist, thrift shops and garage sales and see what I find. Whenever I am feeling expansive, I even rummage through eBay. The purpose is to gather the necessary chattels of tikification so that when the happy day for launching my Tiki habitat approaches all I'll really have to do is cover the walls with __________, cover the ceiling with ___________, install _________ lighting and I'm good to go.

I know some people like that clutter-shack look, some people like that nautical/shipwreck look. I'm happy to go with a theme I call All The Tiki Things I Got Really Cheap Look. Your mileage may vary. Therefore, just to show you that I am still feverishly working the whole Gather Mode Thing, here are the acquisitions as of today. I have a couple of small bits o' tiki-ish hand luggage. I have no idea what I'll use them for, but they were free and tiki enough for me. Next to them is a medium-ish bit o' tiki luggage that I also have no idea what to use it for. I'm thinking these may hold all the odds and ends one needs to have handy in one's tiki habitat, but which would either look weird and out of place in the open OR would be stashed somewhere inconvenient. Feel free to suggest. I also got that smallish cabinet ($8) under the drinks-globe where I am storing all the non-tiki glassware; because, after all, you may get the odd guest who would rather have a Negroni than a Navy Grog. I'm thinking some refinishing and judicious appliqués would do wonders for it. Propped up against it is a brass & cherrywood shelf. Doesn't look particularly Tiki (but a case could be made that it looks nautical-ish) but it was only $5. Ignore the TV dinner tray tables. And finally, atop the bar a plumed tikiand the tiki glassware. I had never seen a plumed tiki, but for $1.50 I was willing to take a chance. Now. Here I must make a confession that just might send me from the list of Orthodox Tikiphiles to Reformed (if not Heretical) Tikiphiles. I prefer tiki glassware to tiki mugs. There. I said it. That's not to say I don't like mugs (in fact, there are several I have in my sights and you can see I have Trader Vic's coconut mugs and Mai Kai rum barrels) but that I prefer the glassware.

Because I am also something of a Disneyphile (what? shut up.) I like the glasses from WDW's Polynesian Resort. From left to right we have 1- current WDW Polynesian Resort Tiki glass (short, clear) a gift from the lovely & gracious Poppy, 2- Hukilau 2008 DOF, 3- vintage-ish Trader Vic coconut mug, 4- recent-ish Mai Kai rum barrel, 5- plumed tiki I got for practically nothing, 6- mid70's WDW Polynesian Resort Tiki highball, 7- Hukilau 2009 DOF, 8- mid70's WDW Polynesian Resort Hurricane glass, and 9- vintage-ish WDW Polynesian Resort Tiki glass (tall, frosted & logo'ed). Not pictured: vintage-ish WDW Polynesian Resort Tiki glass (short, frosted & logo'ed).

Now, I'd LOVE to get some suitably tiki "luggage stickers" for the baggage. Given that my decor philosophy for the tiki habitat is "What things in nice shape can I get REALLY cheap?" and given what's out there in general, I think this will eventually skew more in the tiki-nautical direction. Bamboo, rattan, but also dark woods and brass. (I'd love to include a periscope, but I think the zoning guys may object strenuously.)

More than anything else -- and here I think I'm in the solid majority of Tikiphiles -- I want this habitat to be IMMERSIVE. You step in, plop down, and within 10 minutes have no idea if it's day or night, what day of the week it is, or even what year it is. Speaking of mugs, etc. there are a few I'd dearly love to have. The room in question -- a rather narrow-but-deep specimen -- has a decent sized window at the very back; where "behind the bar" would be. The view from said window is underwhelming. I'd LOVE to put something waterfall-ish there. (More on this anon.)

Again, patient Craigslistery has paid off in that I have found an old "wine cabinet" with a ruined refrigeration unit for -- let's just round down -- essentially nothing. Took out all the rusted, useless guts and I am left with a lovely, near-mint solid oak cabinet. Rattanize (this is a stretch for me, so cross your fingers) the panels, stain to match the bar and I finally have a place to stash my hoard of ardent spirits, liqueurs, syrups, bitters and hyperabundance of glassware (both Tiki and civilian). The former winecellar thing has been rigged up to be functional. Not IDEAL, mind you. But functional. As you can see, it came with a upholstery-ish grapevine fabric panel lining thing that's more Napa Valley than Rapa Nui. So, regrettably, it's gotta go. (If, for some bizarre reason, while you are on a Tiki forum you're also in the market for some grapevine fabric panels...I will trade them for something cool. Then I'll be Trader Joke. All sales final, offer void where prohibited.)

I removed the X-shaped wine bottle storage shelving and installed (screwing in things more-or-less-level is pretty much the uppermost limit of my DIY skill set) a couple of glass shelves rescued from a Craigslist fridge, and a sliding shelf -- you can see it in the fully extended position above -- from a cannibalized computer desk and a (temporary) light. These shelves are framed with suitably sized wood frames, from a frame guy...who looked at me VERY weird when I made this request. And, most elegantly, I tucked in my old dorm fridge which my wife had been begging me to jettison for epochs. (I covered up the space with some spare grape fabric. It's a complete jury rig, but looks fine from 3 ft or further, and besides this isn't permanent.)

The flooring on this beast is an unholy mess. Some ancient sort of parquet that probably began to dissolve its bonds sometime during the Ford Administration. That one's easy...bamboo flooring. This is the outside, in its current state. Remember that. Besides rattanizing the front, which is likeliest the Tiki aesthetic path of least resistance, I have been toying with the idea of covering the outside with [I have no idea what, just go with me on this, will ya?] to make it look like a big steamer trunk of yore. Then I'd slap a lot of the same travel stickers as I threatened to do to those Tiki hand-luggage pieces from 2-3 paragraphs ago. I am not sure what I'll discover once I excise the grapey fabric. Assuming it's merely fabric and padding, I was thinking of replacing the fabric with something suitably Tiki. Maybe reconditioning some past-their-prime shirts, or some tapa cloth or...something.

Since I know you guys have all been on pins and needles as re. the back window of the proposed Tiki habitat, here's what I have struck upon. (Tell me where I am making a blunder, before I start taking out implements and making changes.) The eventual window-behind-the-bar in question is +/- 5ft (call it 1.5m for those so inclined) by +/- 3ft (.9m). There is also enough room under that overhang (6ft/1.8m) to plant correct tropical foliage to add suitable depth. Unlike our cousins in chillier climes, all of the usual foliage will grow outside just fine. Also! I had been musing about a waterfall oustide that window. Which led me to...think of playing with the rain gutters so that, immediately behind this window, all the water from a given rainfall (it's been known to rain here in, really, it does) can be channeled into a serious rainfall. Anyway, this is the room that will eventually become the Immersive Tiki Habitat. You can see what I'm talking about. Its current purpose is to serve as a homework station, which is why you will spy all sorts of shelf-y, computer-y things. Incidentally, the desk on the right came THISCLOSE to being comandeered as a bar. It's from Broyhill's "Fontana" line. The size is right, and with some very minimal work (a couple of bamboo-ish wood appliqués, some matting and tah-dah) can be turned into a Tiki bar very happily. Those are going for $200 on CL, on average. Just saying. Anyway, that's it for this report. Feel free to chime in with suggestions or impassioned cries of warning.


P.S. For those who are interested in following the progress of my eventual tiki habitat, be warned...this will go GLACIALLY slow, as I have very little in the way of time and even littler in the way of DIY skills and even littler than that in $$ my beloved wife will allow me to spend on such a project. Even if the projected space is the size of a medium phone booth.


Blogger Chris said...

Just learned of your site from Doug at the Pegu Blog. Like it Joe, really do! I'll be watching and reading.

5:04 PM  
Blogger JMG said...


10:51 AM  
Blogger TimGee said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:59 AM  
Blogger SquirrelFarts said...

Found this via Pegu Blog as well. I appreciate the CL scavenging efforts... it almost always pays off given enough patience. The rain gutter waterfall idea certainly sounds interesting and would love to see how the logistics turn out. Best of luck to your future tiki efforts.

10:04 AM  

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