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The Gator Hut & Lori's Tiki Bar - concrete Moia page4

Pages: 1 2 67 replies

Since putting a built-in pool in last summer my husband & I have been transforming our backyard into a tropical paradise. Last year we got the pool, added a big carved tiki and started adding cold hardy tropicals. In preparation for our build I scoured hundreds of posts here on Tiki central and got tons of inspiration. Please note that New Jersey is pretty much devoid of anything tiki so almost everything has been mail ordered. We're kind of going for a beach shack/ tiki bar theme but we're not truly tiki in all aspects, for that I apologize.

But since I really enjoy all of your builds I thought I'd share what we've been up to.

We started in the fall framing the hut, which has since been named the Gator Hut. "Gator" is the nickname of one of my sons. My husband named the bar he's going to build me "Lori's Tiki Bar" which so uninspired at least the hut's name is cool. We've begun with the hut and will hopefully build the bar next.

My husband, Jeff is the brains behind our build and I am his assistant. We started by digging and pouring footers then put the base frame (which we framed and built from scratch on our basketball court) on top of the footers with the help of our teenage boys. That thing was HEAVY!

Then we did the same thing with the walls and got those standing up, adding extra horizontal pieces for stability once it was up.

After the frame was complete we sided it with some exterior panels, I think they're called T-111 from Lowe's. It's already primed and when the weather gets a little warmer I'll be painting it almost the same color. Speaking of weather, the winter was really mild this year so we were able to work on the hut in December! Although you can't see it from below, the roof is just regular shingles.

In March we trimmed it out with vinyl fake wood and added a door faced in bamboo slats which I marine varnished.

Next up we brought electricity to the hut. We added a small scale palm weave to the ceiling which was WAY harder than I anticipated then hooked up a ceiling fan. The bronze sconce on the outside went up too.

We ordered a cedar Bahama shutter for ventilation and got that up. (It got marine varnished too.)

The last two weekends have been spent working on the walls. First we put up thin plywood (luan) as a backer then darker, wide palm weave on the top part of the walls and bamboo reed fencing on the bottom.

Next up is installing the homemade french doors my husband and I build for the side of the hut and get some bamboo trim up. I need to trim around the top of the walls, as a chair rail and around the doors etc. as well as figure out what to build and how exactly to construct a grid on the ceiling. I'll post more pictures as we progress but your suggestions and advice are always welcomed. :)
Thanks for looking!

Tiki Newbie

[ Edited by: LoriLovesTiki 2012-05-06 18:10 ]

[ Edited by: LoriLovesTiki 2012-05-06 18:12 ]

[ Edited by: LoriLovesTiki 2012-06-04 08:53 ]

[ Edited by: LoriLovesTiki 2012-07-09 17:55 ]

[ Edited by: LoriLovesTiki 2012-08-22 07:10 ]

[ Edited by: LoriLovesTiki 2013-06-09 18:35 ]

[ Edited by: LoriLovesTiki 2013-07-04 20:06 ]

[ Edited by: LoriLovesTiki 2016-03-27 18:45 ]

Your on your way
Have fun and keep postin those pics
Looks great so far...

I agree....great start...looking forward to more pictures as your project blossoms.

Update: We're close to being done with the Gator Hut and construction on the structure that will shelter my tiki bar should begin next weekend, We purchased a pergola type structure that is going to span a round concrete patio adjacent to our pool. Now for the progress photos:

we've painted the hut a tropical Carribean blue and started adding some masks and other decorations. We've also added french doors we built from scratch to one side and finished the reed and weave for the walls and trimmed out the doors and floors. Oh yeah, I forgot we added a wood laminate to the hut's floor too.

I am in the process of ordering some bamboo splits to finish trimming out the walls.

Lookin great
Mai-tai time

Update 7/9/2012:

We had a graduation party last Saturday and really busted our butts to get the hut & bar done. It's been a long time since I've posted pictures and for that I apologize but it was pretty much non-stop work around here in the past 2 months or so.

We started the bar with a pergola kit:

And then bought some unfinished cabinets to start as the base of the bar itself.
Then framed out the bar around those cabinets, built a service bar and upper bar from wood:

Then I stained and varnished the bar tops and covered the front and sides of the bar with bamboo splits.

I was able to get a 5" diameter bamboo log split locally and we used that on the corners and across the front. Then everything got multiple coats of marine varnish.

My husband did a bang-up job with the electrical so after that was done I attached brown wired mini lights to the underside of the bar roof, added tiki string lights around the perimeter then hung a few glass floats, a wooden bird, a couple of wind chimes, a coconut head and the "crowning touch" the blowfish lamp I bought at Ohana!! And we also added thatch to the roof, which really made it look like a tiki bar.
Here's a few finished shots:

In the meantime the Gator Hut got bamboo trim on it's ceiling. I still need some more "stuff" for its ceiling but the walls are looking pretty good. I'll post pictures of the Hut later. In the meantime, thanks for looking!

Wow...great job in a short time. Love the blowfish and your bar sign. Cheers :drink:

Great job!

Is the thatch just around the edge, or is the entire roof thatched?

Got any more pics of the finished back bar area?

Is that hut you built first a changing area or chill out space? I think we need more pics of the inside. :)

[ Edited by: jimsflies 2012-08-21 03:33 ]

Thanks for looking. The thatch is completely covering the bar's roof and it's artificial. The real stuff would get destroyed in our snowy NJ winters.

I'll take some pictures of the back of the bar today and the inside of the Gator hut. I bought some swag this weekend in Cape May. Nothing great but acceptable here in New Jersey where anything tiki is nearly non-existent.

Stay tuned.....

You have created a very fun environment. Well done. Looks like a great place to relax and have a cocktail, or two. :)

Littlegiles, thanks for getting me to take some new pictures. Here they are:

Bar from the back:

Inside the hut:

A close up of the roof thatch:

My tiki speakers, which I just love:

And a shot of the ceiling including my puffer fish I bought at Ohana at the Lake and the new metal shark we got last weekend down in Cape May.

thanks for looking! :)


[ Edited by: LoriLovesTiki 2012-08-22 07:09 ]

Great update. Love the backyard plants and atmosphere around the pool. A great tropical getaway in NJ.

Love the inside pics and i was really drawn to the old wooden shelves on the wall. Did you build those? They add a great feel to the room.

Thanks for the update!

I'm proud to say that I built those shelves ALL BY MYSELF! They were stupid easy too. They're pallet shelves. All you need is a pallet in decent shape where the wider and narrower planks are lined up back to back. Then you cut those 2 pieces away from the rest of the pallet by cutting the supports. Then measure the width of the space in between those 2 pieces and cut 2x4s to fit the space. Then nail through the front and back to hold the new bottom of you shelf in place. (I used a nail gun.) Screw through the wider back piece into a stud and you're good to go. They're perfect for tiki mugs cause they're super safe up there and won't fall off! You can double up the 2x4s to raise the mugs up so you can see them more.

I'm sure my explanation made it seem WAY more difficult than it really was. Google "pallet shelves" for better directions. So cheap & easy.

Very cool shelves Lori, did you "distress" them somehow or you just started with aged pallets? The wholes setup looks great.


They were made from pallets, as is, no distressing on my part.

Thanks for checking out my build,

Gator done!


Nice looking bar/pool area! Those tiki speakers are a great idea. Just what I've been searching for. Did you buy those or just use a mask to cover existing speakers?


They're actual outdoor tiki speakers. I got them off eBay.


They came with enough speaker wire to run around the peremeter of the pergola to the backside where the stereo sits.

Lori I luv your slice of Paradise. Do you mind if I refer to you as "Mz Awesomeness" from now on? A tip of the hat to you and your husband.
Btw, I told you a little fib. I don't have a "knot" mug like yours after all. Mine is a different mfg. and says "Aloha Hawaii: on the side.
Spring is on it's way-break out the rum and enjoy what you built!


(that's whatI call you in my head, rhymes with "yummy" LOL)

You just made my day! "Mz. Awesomeness!" That's probably the nicest things that anyone has ever called me! I humbly thank you! I can't wait to share your compliment with the hubby. we do love our little NJ tiki paradise.

If you & the Missus or you & your bro ever get close to NJ you're welcome to view it in person and enjoy some cocktails with us.


Lori I can't believe I missed this until today. What a beautiful tiki paradise. Wendy

Thanks Wendy!

Was the mug you made for me in any of the pictures? It sits on my mug shelf in the Gator Hut. If it's not in the pictures I'll take a new one when we thaw out in the Spring, which is not TOO far away, I hope!

Those were really great! I so love the idea of having one in my own house. How I wish I could make one too. For now, I only have a simple deck in my backyard where I stay with my family at night or some not so busy days. At both side of these stands a tiki torches which I have bought a year ago from http://www.buytikitorches.com and we uses them as our light at night. I was planning to improve it more so that I can hold some family gathering in our own house. I think I should pursue with this one. :)

[ Edited by: Hakalugi - fixed link - 2013-02-21 20:25 ]

My very talented and loving husband built an addition to Lori's Tiki Bar and I am THRILLED with it! We discovered some problems last season - 1) when standing behind the bar the bartender got baked like he/she was in the oven and 2) the neighbors behind us had a bird's eye view into our bar (and us them as well) which only got worse when Super Storm Sandy took down one of their big trees. So we planted 3 large Leland Cyprus trees on our side of the fence and built a back bar, which is pretty much done.

It has a large cabinet underneath a countertop which holds a water dispenser/ice maker and our triple headed Margaritaville blender. Above it is a deep shelf which I placed some of my less expensive tiki artifacts since it open and a few tiki mugs I like to look at. At night I put the blender and my tiki mugs underneath , which I padlock - just in case.

Any questions, let me know. The backside of the back bar is covered in an artificial weave. (Which apparently I have no pictures of, I'll get on that.)


[ Edited by: lorilovestiki 2013-06-09 19:00 ]

[ Edited by: LoriLovesTiki 2013-06-10 07:23 ]


Looking good! I know how hard it is to locate cool Tiki items, being in MN, I have to order most things as well. Very nice looking pool area! Question, which palm plants are those you have planted, and HOW do you get them to live thru winter?? I have failed at keeping palm plants alive thru the winters here. Now I just have to live with the tropical flowering plants, in a pot, and in the fall we just pitch them. Sadly.
I love this forum, so many inspiring, talented people here!! :)


Sweet addition. We need more pics...further back to see how it all looks with the bar and everything. Also a better pic of the side weave. Where did you get that stuff? I think that might make a good option for the front of my bar to tie in with my outdoor furniture.

Hey Jimbo,

We struggle with getting tropical to live through the winter here too. This past winter we lost 3 out of 6 palms but our bananas came back! The palms we are having the best luck with are windmill palms and a needle palm. I swear I spend more time worrying about my palms in the winter than is normal! Our yard is really windy and several attempts to protect the palms blew away!

Good luck to you.


The synthetic weave we bought was "basket mahogany." You can find it here: http://www.palapastructures.com/opaccessories/palmmatting.htm

Hope that helps! I'll take more pics soon. Thanks for looking.


very very cool!!!!

Lori, is that my mug in with the "less expensive tiki artifacts"? Just kidding :lol:

Love the new additions, beautiful and functional. You are lucky that Mr. Awesomeness builts all of that for you :D


Good eye Mike!

Your mug is part of the "tiki mugs that get locked up at night!" I left the fake wood carvings, Kmart tiki statues and coconut monkey looking head out.

Your mug is one of my most prized possessions!!!! He is safely secured under the main bar waiting to come out to party next weekend.

Oh, and one more thing. I was telling my husband that we need to make some kind of leveled storage (like small steps) for the area between the blender and ice maker for some liquor bottles we could put out during a party. Because it's an outside bar I have my liquor under the front bar in a cabinet that I lock but I hate that! I know I've seen some pictures in this forum but if anyone has any kind of "stadium seating" for their booze I'd appreciate it if you could post the pics. Thanks in advance!

Lori thanks for the link. That synthetic weave isn't cheap!

Where did you get the thatch you used? I still might try the real stuff. Trying to weigh cheap/real versus expensive/synthetic.

[ Edited by: jimsflies 2013-06-10 10:59 ]

We got our artificial thatch from the same website. Yeah, synthetic is expensive but it's pretty much indestructable. We detest upkeep so this works for us. Good luck on what you decide.

It looks like everything is coming together nicely! During the winter you could sit inside the gator hut with an electric blanket. :) I like your speakers.

My word of warning with using pallets. The company I work for and the companies we do business with store drums of hazardous waste on pallets.
Pallets get reused over and over so you can't always tell what's been on them. Just be safe.

Lori, where did you end up finding the split bamboo and round dock style poles from in NJ?
Great job!

I got some of the split bamboo online and some from a place in Lakewood that is going out of business after 100 years. :( I actually called them yesterday to see if they were still open and if they had any. They're closing in 2 weeks and have some stuff but not the bamboo flats. The large dark bamboo that's under the bartop (not sure if it's visiable in the pictures) came from there.

The pilings came from Tuckerton Lumber. I need to pay them another visit to get a few more for the newer beds and for a boardwalk-like bridge between the hut and the bar.

Lori, I love the new addition to the bar.

Sorry to hear about the trees you lost, but you might have some luck with Elephant Ear plants. There are so many different varieties and at the end of the season, you can dig up the bulb, toss them in a paper bag and put them under your sink. Then when frost danger is over, just stick them back in the ground. The same can be done with Canna bulbs. No need to toss them out.

When I built a wetbar into a closet in our den, I added a couple risers for bottles. Not the best picture and this was during construction, but maybe it will help. They were an after thought and I ended up using scrap wood to build them. If you need more pics, I'll look and see if I have any before the top was added to show how it was put together.

  • Dale

[ Edited by: littlegiles 2013-06-12 07:26 ]

Guess I'll have to take a ride down there for the pilings. Can't find any up here in northern NJ.
Thanks again.


Dale - that's exactly what I'm looking to build. I don't think the husband will too much difficulty making one. thanks for posting the picture.

Erick - I see pilings down the shore all the time but tracking down a source was hard. I love the look, definitely worth the effort. You can get the rope at Lowe's. We bought an entire reel of it and have more to use next time. Good luck and post pictures of your tiki space.

For this season my husband, the Mastermind had two projects in mind. Ok, that's a lie, he actually has four but there were two main ones - the back bar and a boardwalk of sorts between the bar and the hut. We're having a graduation party this Saturday for our sons' high school graduation and I'm proud to announce that project #2 is completed two days early! It came out even better than I thought it would.

We built the deck itself out of hardwood deck boards over a pressure-treated frame with 4x4s for the uprights. The railings are cedar, the same wood as we used to build the french doors and will be coated with marine varish tomorrow morning (ok, we're not technically done) and the perfect touch is the cargo net railing, held up with manilla rope.

I was playing with my DSL to get some low-light shots - thanks for allowing me to share!

I also wanted to mention that I finally made two fake fishing float lights. I really wanted a Tiki Skip one but I had these two plastic globes I bought for our outdoor light poles that I couldn't use b/c they had seams in them that were taking up space in the garage and taunting me with my mistake. (They were non-returnable.) So I was going to attempt weaving a net for them when Murph posted that he used a cotton basketball net. It took me a little while to find a couple online but I got them, dyed them with a bunch of teabags to make them less white and bought a pendant light kit from the home improvement store. And also, cause I'm lazy and kind of in a rush I used colored light bulbs instead of trying to tint poly and paint the inside of the globes.

I put one in the bar and one in the hut. They won't pass the authentic test but I'm happy with them and all of my house guests won't know the difference! I'd prefer to have one of Skip's lights but these I made myself, didn't cost a lot of $ and most importantly reused something that was garbage to me and taking up space.

Thanks Murph!!!

Edited to add that the light isn't so bright in person. It's a nice green glow....


[ Edited by: LoriLovesTiki 2013-07-04 20:37 ]

I love the way your did a collage of your Ohana 2012 goodies! My husband and I went last year & this year so we have 2 of everything. Some items are on selves and coffee tables in our tiki room, but I have always loved "collaging" things!
Looks GREAT in your place!

Thanks Tiki-Kitty!

I missed going to Ohana this year but we have a big trip to Hawaii next month. Maybe we'll get back to Ohana in 2014 although I really have my sights set on getting to Hukilau! Glad you liked the collage.


Lori your place looks very inviting and your green float looks great.


Looking sharp! Congrats to you and your son!

I really like what you have done this year. The boardwalk looks great and the "Float" light looks very convincing. By not tinting the globe you can always switch out the lightbulb if you want a different look. Maybe blacklight for halloween? :) Just sayin'.

  • Dale

Thanks everyone! Here's a view from upstairs that jimflies asked for a while back...


[ Edited by: LoriLovesTiki 2013-07-08 20:10 ]

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