Welcome to the Tiki Central 2.0 Beta. Read the announcement
Celebrating classic and modern Polynesian Pop

Tiki Central / General Tiki

What's more fun?...

Pages: 1 21 replies


...building a Tiki Bar or having one? Wondering if it's better to spend a year of weekends building one, or to do a "Monster House" and have one built.


Well, I'd compare it to building up your own Tiki mug collection, or buying one complete off somebody. If you buy the mugs individually, every one has it's own story, and the resulting collection will mean so much more to you than getting a collection 'fully formed'.

It's your own individuality that counts, so put your personality into your Tiki Bar. Buying one 'off the shelf' is as meaningless as buying an art print just because it matches your sofa and carpet color scheme.

Trader Woody


For me, I think only I can build the bar I want. Okay, I could draw up the plans and have it built, but it would likely cost a lot. Or maybe not. If I bought all the supplies and dropped them off at someones place who is more adept and has more tools than I, it might not be as much as I imagine. I dunno.

I have my bar designed, but I am far from building it. I still want to spend a while with what I have as a working bar and see where it's lacking. I have rarely used our current bar as a bar, just as a prop and a place to sit and drink, not mix.

Rain posted on Sat, Jun 21, 2003 4:28 PM

I'm considering building a simple "starter bar," with this rationale in mind:

i don't have one at all now.
if i have one that isn't quite up to par, that would be more motivation than just not having one to build a really cool one.

gotta find some free repurposed materials first, though.

I have been working on plans for a tiki bar ever since I signed the contract on my new house. The downstairs recroom will be done in a 50's/60's Retro Tiki look and the bar will take up approximately 1/4 of the space. I was fortunate to win a second hand fridge (4.5' tall with freezer) in a silent auction at work for only $125. I won't be able to put in a wet bar, but everything else will be there.

For me the excitement is drawing up the plans and looking for supplies. I'm not a builder, but my Father in law is. He is excited to start building. I'm ready to start watching the plans come into reality....unfortunately, the house won't be finished until mid/late October. ARGH!!!

Once all is Kopacetic and the illusion is complete, having it is much more fun...

If you were to spend as much time working and earning money as you would on building it yourself, then you could buy one with that money that is five times better than the one you would have built.

Did that make sense?

Mojitos for breakfast...


On 2003-06-22 08:49, Geeky Tiki wrote:
If you were to spend as much time working and earning money as you would on building it yourself, then you could buy one with that money that is five times better than the one you would have built.

That's kinda how I'm thinking. Yes, one could go down the DIY path and I'm sure it would (eventually) be satisfying. Hell, I could dig my own backyard pool too -- but would it be worth the grief?

I think that as long as I was involved in the design I'd still feel a sense of ownership, and then I'd let the real craftsmen get on with building it. That way I'm spending my weekends mixing drinks instead of scratching my head down at Home Depot.



I think it completely depends on what floats your particular boat. Personally, I live to design & build things, it's what I do for a living, it's what I do for my hobbies, hell, I do it in my dreams. It's not a normal weekend without at least three trips to the hardware store. With my tiki bar, I was always working on one project or another, it was evolving, and that was as much fun for me as entertaining my friends.


I say build the bar no matter what. I personally found that building my bar was totally satisfying and while it is not a great bar it is a wonderful accomplishment. I am still fooling around and "tweaking it" on weekends. And this comes from someone that did not have a saw or a drill until his 40's. It has opened up some creative instincts I didn't think that I had as well as help reduced stress from the 9 to 5'er.

Hey VegasVic!
You do something I don't have time to do and I do something you don't have time to do. Hmmmmm. You need a tiki bar and I need your station on many cd's for my store. Let's talk. you ever in So. Cal., HB? It'll be a start and then you could build on from there. (accessssssories)

That you're even considering having it built shows that the fun of it all for you isn't in numerous trips to Home Depot but in other aspects of Tiki bar ownership (collecting, accesorizing, mixing drinks). Who does the hard work is nothing, what makes a Tiki space unique are the personal touches of the owner. Your friends aren't going to see your fabulous Tiki space and say "Dude-! Excellent use of a miter saw!" When I visited tikimaxton's gigantically huge Castaway Cove (in Portland, Oregon. By invitation only.) I didn't once think about the actual physical labor he put into the joint. Instead I thought "When the hell am I getting that Mai Tai?" I was also appreciative of the creative vision behind the place and didn't once think "Did he use staples or nails on that wall?"


Yes, Woof, but what if you knew that every piece of that complete bar was created by the owner? Or, what if you knew that every piece was bought and put together by someone else? Don't you think it makes a difference? Sure. But maybe not important. Some people have more money than time and tools and talent for such things.

And, although I really want to build my own bar, if it's still on paper after 2-3 years, maybe it's time to outsource it. Or maybe I hang on to my dream.

I could go buy every mug I want on Ebay, or spend the rest of my life wandering the earth looking and taking what I stumble across. The later is the way for me. It means more when I have scrounged for it myself. And it means more when I have slowly built it myself.

I also happen to have a very unique design in my head that I have never seen before. I can' tlet someone else build it...

I am not sure if you saw the pics of my entertainment center on the Events thread (July 12 unveiling of Monkeymans lounge) but that is a prime example of what you can do if you have the vision and the patience (I am an accountant! not a carpenter).

Someone else on this thread mentioned that you can spend that time making more money and pay someone else to do it.

That all depends on what kind of a job you have. I work on a salary so I get the same pay no matter how much I work so my free time is truly free.

The materials for my entertainment center rounded out to roughly $1800. If I paid someone else to make that exact same piece it would have cost me more that $5000.

Yes it took more time, but I learned something in the process and I enjoyed doing it.

Are you the kind of person that gets satisfaction from the process or frustration? Do you feel that you have more time than money (thats me) or more money than time. If you are the latter, I say pay someone else.

I knew this would be a cool thread :wink:

There is no correct answer to the question. IMHO, those craftsmen out there who can turn lumber, bamboo, plumbing, and wires into a fully functioning and stylin' tiki bar are amazing and deserve nuthin' but kudos.

For the rest of us, or maybe just some of us, the thought of stepping over all that stuff in our basement for a year (not to mention the battering our eardrums will take) is a nightmare waiting to happen, and the last thing we want is for anything "tiki" to cause us grief.

My takeaway from this is that a Tiki Bar is a labor of love -- and it's owner needs to put some personal "equity" into it to make it a true reflection of his/her love of all things tiki. When I finally do get mine, I can assure you that the first Mai Tai made behind it will taste just a little bit better than any other I've had before.

Aloha and Mahalo,


My Tiki room has been evolving and expanding for 12 years, and has been transplanted to a total of three homes. There's no need to do it all at once. Photo evidence over the years shows it changing and growing over time. I add new things as I get them, make improvements as I have time and money. No one is going to judge anyone for having a less Mai-Kai-esque Tiki room in their homes - even mega-collectors like Duke Carter and Big Bro started off with one lone Tiki at some point.

And, don't think that in 1970 a place like Tiki Ti looked exctly like it does now... all that crap behind the bar accrues and mutates over years - or decades. Don't be in a hurry. Let things grow organically.


Absolutely. Organic is key. Since I rent, my bar is made from that modular wire shelving you can get at Stacks & Stacks and what not. That way the whole thing is freestanding and those shelves can hold hundreds of pounds each. That's KEY in an apartment where I've never found a stud in seven years. And I have a LOT of booze on those guys. By dressing it up with thatch and knicknacks, it gets better looking all the time. I thought it looked good four years ago, but when I look back on those pictures, it looked really plain. It would be nice to have something moe substatial, but until I buy a place, it's not worth it. Plus, the whole thing breaks down so it's easy to move.

On 2003-06-24 11:12, martiki6 wrote:
That's KEY in an apartment where I've never found a stud in seven years.

No, Swank, I don't think it makes a difference. With someone's home bar, it's the vision not the hammering I'm impressed with. That's standard in society, Frank Lloyd Wright gets all the books and documentaries made about him, not the guys who actually built his visons. If you, Swanky, had your bar built and I, Woofmutt, were getting drunk in it I would be slobbering something like "Shay Shwanky, thish ish shum shwell plashe you dreamed up here. Now how 'bout a little more of that good 151 rum to top off my drink?" Thoughts of you sweating and cursing over the course of a hundred weekends would not enter my mind (no doubt in part due to your fine mixing skills).

Well, in my experience, building the bar was a bewildering, frustrating, obsessive, satisfying and expensive undertaking. But nothing beats the thrill I get when people walk into i t for the first time and say, "Oh my god, you BUILT this?!". I think I know know what artists feel like when they get rave reviews at a gallery opening.

Quite frankly, even after nearly 3 years, I still don't think I've spent as much time hanging out in my bar as I did building it, but that's o.k. In the winter, when my hot tub sits below the beach scene mural, I can just kick back and admire my own handiwork (and scheme about new additions), and that's probably where I get the most enjoyment of all.

On 2003-06-22 22:38, woofmutt wrote:
"When the hell am I getting that Mai Tai?"

Wait your turn bub! I'm only one person for goshsakes - you want it fast or you want it good? Pick one. These are fine, hand-crafted drinks - they don't make themselves you know. Besides, those carvings you brought bought you a place in the front of the line (hint)! :wink:

"Did he use staples or nails on that wall?"

Staples. But don't tell anyone.

Bottom line, this is a journey vs destination issue. My bar will never be "done" as far as I'm concerned, and I'm happy with that, 'cause it makes me happy to be part of the evolutionary process. On the other hand, bar building projects have forced me to cancel numerous happy hours, so I've missed out on some hangin' out time...


When I took up the task of creating my tiki bar I was totally psyched! My wife and I just moved into a new house and there was an existing room in the basement that I had announced would be the home of my full-on tiki bar. (my previous bar had started off in a more bastardized mix of vintage cocktail shakers, glasses and vintage barware) I drew up my plan and had a great time locating the supplies - a roll of matting from Oceanic Arts, shelf brackets from Ikea, fabric to upholster my oak bar, floor matting and bamboo from Pier One, thatching from Bamboo Hardwoods, etc. I found myself disappointed when I was completed because I had such a great time building it. But, like many others have mentioned, the bar keeps growing and changing and that's why it stays fun! Someone on TC once said that a tiki bar is never finished and I'd have to agree.

Pages: 1 21 replies