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

Pages: 1 39 replies

Hey all -

I've been on TC officially since '09 (unofficially since long before that...) All that time, I've been reading/scrutinizing/pondering/drooling over all the INCREDIBLE home Tiki bars in this section.

We lived the apartment/condo life in Chicago for far too long, and finally made the leap out of the Big City for more of a smaller-case big city, lovely (and lovable) Milwaukee, WI a year ago this past October.

A full year of renovating and restoring our 1953 MCM Frank Lloyd Wright-acolyte designed split level on the shores of Lake Michigan, just south of the city, and finally - FINALLY - I can start working on the basement bar!

There's a lot of Tiki stuff and Witco all over our house, but a bulk quantity of awesome stuff (including probably 2/3 of our 300-400 mugs) has been boxed up sitting in the basement for over a year, just waiting for its time to shine... see...

All the years spent lurking on TC, tropical tipple in hand, culling through the Home Bar Builds section while sitting in a little one-bedroom apartment, looking out at piles of snow, HOPING for the day I could someday build my own tropical retreat... well... let's just say we're well on our way.

Welcome to the Black Lagoon Room... what will be a (sort of... loose...) melding of two of my favorite things in the world: Tiki and old monster movies (in this case, specifically, Our (Gill)Man in the Black Lagoon.)

I don't want it to feel like a theme park ride, or like you're in the movie or something, or even a collection of memorabilia from the movie... the hope is to make a spot that feels like an old school bar that could have existed in the same world (and one that we can showcase all of our decade-plus worth of collections of Tiki stuff... soo...uhh..I guess not really like a bar from that same world at all..) A light homage, so to speak... a Tiki Bar, through and through, but with some nautical touches and a few little elements of Creatch thrown in for good measure, with some references to his home in the Amazon.

But... on to the good stuff.

Fair warning, updates will be SLOW GOING... we dumped just about all of our ready cash into de-crap-ifying our house this year. Wall to wall bright red shag carpeting, the falling-apart kitchen, 1990's appliances and walls of mirrors had to GO. We want to do the bar RIGHT and not cut any corners, so there will be some delays waiting on the electrician and some other structural things we need to address first. I hope to have "finished" (we all know its never REALLY finished) photos in the next few months... ideally by summer.

But this weekend, we did a TON on the entryway to the bar itself, and I was so giddy, even with fingers full of bamboo splinters, I needed to share. We are not handy people, but we jumped right in.

Without further to-do...

When we moved in... a white hallway. The previous owner had some photos and things hung in here... normal stuff. There was a thoroughly unremarkable late-70's globe light... not anything too exciting.

First thing we did, probably a year ago, was at least change out the light fixture. This Orchids of Hawaii beauty was purchased from our pals at BambooLodge Vintage. It once hung in the wonderful Aku-Tiki Room in Kewaunee, IL (which has certain sentimental value to me, even though I barely saw it, as Kewaunee is about 20 minutes outside of my hometown... I remember going to Andris Waunee Farms on field trips as a kid.) It's purdy...

More recently, after months of tearing out floors and cabinets and living out of one room of the house, we were able to paint the hall a more respectable shade of dark, atmospheric brown...

Finally, the past two weekends, we were able to start chopping up matting and sawing bamboo. The matting, it should be noted (along with some really incredible carved trim we'll be working into the bar itself) came from Milwaukee's own Lake Surfer... he moved recently and had to take down his wonderful home bar Hale Nalu. We'll keep at least a portion of it alive in Cudahy, continuing the trend of existing in the only Tiki bar in Cudahy (a city with plenty of non-Tiki bars...)

Goodbye boring, plain hallway... Matting up:

The Witco mask with spears lights up. It is awesome. It was the last piece of Witco we found in the wild in Chicago before officially moving out. It wasn't cheap (though... I'm sure in the right conditions it could sell for a lot more) but it fits this particular wall EXACTLY. So we had to bring it home. We'll be running the wire down to the basement so it can light up, too.

You'll also see some KILLER wallpaper we bought from Spoonflower, a design by Michael Uhlenkott... it's SO F*&$ING COOL! It works perfectly in our space!

Getting this far felt like the theme from Chariots of Fire should be playing in the background.

But then... oh god... us city folk bought a saw and started cutting bamboo! Somehow, miraculously (a.) we didn't screw anything up too bad, and (b.) we didn't cut off any of our fingers. It went surprisingly fast, to boot... All the bamboo came from our pals who run the wonderful Tip Top Atomic Shop in Bay View. It had all been lurking in the rafters of their garage, just waiting for us to show up one day with a not-big enough car for it to jut out of sharply for a mostly white-knuckle drive back to our house.

Wall 1, framed out:

Wall 2:

The whole deal:

The big poppa Tiki at the top of the stairs is a later-era Orchids fiberglass totem we found in a thrift store in Chicago years ago... it had been in a Chinese restaurant (the guy we bought it from didn't know what one... if I had to hazard a guess, I'd say the defunct branch of Tong's Tiki Hut, given that HE found it at Wolf's Flea Market in Rosemont.) Here's a close-up of part of him... thankfully, this was fron before Orchids started using the REALLY garish neon colors on their Tikis.

All-in-all, we're REALLY glad with how it's coming together. Over the next few days, I'll be hanging some fish floats and other assorted flotsam and jetsam from the hallway ceiling. I already started with a bunch of shrunken heads at the bottom of the stairs just before entering the bar (these will tie in with a joke... the joke part just isn't there yet.) Sorry for the flash - too dark to get a photo on my crappy phone (or crappy digital camera) The matting is some seagrass beach mats from Walgreens that we cut up - they were $2.99 each, 6ft long. We bought a bunch and will be using more in the bar, for sure. It looks great...

Then, this weekend, we start hanging masks, weapons, etc on the walls and I'd say this part is actually done!

The bar, on the other hand...

Here's some "pre" photos...

The current view at the bottom of the stairs:

An old view of one of the sitting areas we staged, temporarily:

Another old view of a different sitting area, also staged temporarily:

Our phenomenal Witco bar we picked up for a (mostly) song at an antique furniture auction in Oak Park, IL... it has three awesome bar stools, too, cheetah fabric and all:

A shot of the barback... we found the lower shelves and the upper bamboo shelves in two different parts of Wisconsin. Both were dirt cheap Craigslist finds... luck would have it, they fit together exactly right!

You can see from the terrible harsh fluorescent basement lighting that that will be the most crucial part of putting this whole damn thing together:

Excited for the progress so far... I'll have more soon-ish!



Pretty awesome entry way Ragbag, can't wait to see more progress here!

You have a lot of good material to work with. I'm looking forward to what you do next.

Lookin good
Makin me wish I had another room to "Tiki Up"
Thanks for the pics
Keep iit up and cheers to you

Open those storage boxes and let those tiki items go free! So we can see more of them in their new home - your basement. I and others have those boxes waiting for the right time and place for a tiki hatching. Keep up the awesome work! A Black Lagoon creature/tiki mix would be great! Remember under the creature suit is a tall Tahitian the late Benny Chapman. He was into his tiki heritage.

CN, that is an awesome post.

Thanks all!

MaukaHale - indeed! We've been collecting for a dozen years at least. Considering we aren't in a position to shell out top buck, we've been VERY fortunate in the stuff we've found during that time. Everything we've picked up has been because (a.) we love it, and (b.) knowing we'd have a bar to put together some day. Quality stuff, properly assembled, makes a quality bar. Go for the cheapy stuff and it's gonna reflect in the overall feel of the space and the experience of being there. There's a LOT of Tiki stuff out there I wouldn't want, not because it doesn't have its merits, but because I've seen it SO MANY TIMES in antique stores or on eBay searches. Better to wait for the true gem you never tire of looking at!

CreativeNative - You are totally correct! Benny Chapman was the "land" creature... fun fact, the underwater creature was Ricou Browning, whose ties to Florida roadside history run deep... working at Weeki Wachee, Wakulla Springs and other natural tourist areas in the state training swimmers and performing for many years before becoming the creature. Kind of a loose Tiki connection, but a connection to be sure. Fun side fact: he also directed the underwater sequences in Thunderball!

More incentive to get to work on that "365 Days of Creature from the Black Lagoon Facts" calendar I've been kicking around...


OUTSTANDING first topic in the home bar forum! I have to say, I'm seriously envious of your Orchids of Hawaii shell light. That thing's gorgeous. I very much look forward to seeing more of your progress!

[ Edited by: Prikli Pear 2017-01-25 12:32 ]

Got around to hanging up a couple things on the ceiling and we filled up the walls in the entryway to the Black Lagoon Room.

It was not easy to decide what to hang up... Collecting stuff for 10+ years makes this kind of thing a lot of fun! There's a fair amount of vintage Oceanic Arts pieces in this photo we've been lucky to pick up, and lots of authentic PNG pieces (plus some other African pieces, tourist pieces and other stuff we've seen, liked, and brought home...)

...whatever didn't make the cut will go into the bar itself. It's a really narrow hallway (...uhh...a lot narrower now!) so there were only certain things that would work with our set-up.

The first real Tiki bar my wife and I ever set foot in was the Trader Vic's at the Palmer House in Chicago... I've always absolutely, deeply LOVED the authentic artifacts and museum-like quality to older Trader Vic's locations. The "wall of masks" is a staple of those vintage locations... we wanted to do something similar...

Left wall:

Right wall:

...and a MUCH better shot of those hanging shrunken heads just above the entry to the bar...

A few more small steps starting up in the bar this weekend - more soon!


Looks great

Hey Ragtag, The Blacklagoon Room has a great start to it. Real nice work too. It looks real authentic and your collection look awesome. Glad you've managed to save a few old relics from Tiki places too. I love Lake Surfer's style too. He's done some great stuff.

It's cool when you see it all laid out and then you get to see what you have plan it out and figure on where and how stuff gets displayed.
Looks like it's gonna be a killer space.
Great job so far. Looking forward to seeing updates.

Mahalo TabooDan


Decorating to me is the best part. Best of luck and keep us posted.

that fiberglass tiki you got there - its mate is at hollywood mirror in chicago. same colors and all. saw it in their window display last summer or two- i recall they wanted more than i was willing to pay but it may still be in their inventory. ill keep an eye out - then you could have one flanking either side of the stairwell down.

Hey all-

Thanks for the nice compliments! Glad you're enjoying the progress so far... we're certainly enjoying making that progress!

Tipsy - thanks for the tip! This one actually came from Hollywood Mirror, but probably 5 years ago. He'd been sitting on it for awhile and was ready to make a deal so we swooped in... it was in a window display there that summer. Maybe our timelines are crossed? We had it in Chicago for at least 2-3 years before schlepping him up here. Maybe he had another one at home, or a line to another? Regardless, it's a really cool piece!

We made a wee bit of progress over the weekend, nothing too dramatic. We were going to wait for the electrician and to put in a new ceiling but decided perhaps, with the proper plug-in and battery-powered lights, we can get the effect we want NOW and do the heavy stuff later on if we decide it's necessary. Once ya get on a roll, ya know...

So... I'm in the process of re-wiring some lamps, turning some other things into lamps that never WERE lamps, and some other fun stuff. But in the meantime, we opted to get some things up on the wall in the first corner you approach as you come down the stairs.

Some people are less likely to come down those stairs than others...

We started by putting up some burlap, matting, and bark cloth on the first two walls as you enter...

The gorgeously painted Abelam mask is from Dave Hansen at Lake Tiki. We had him make it for us a YEAR ago! Now it has a home.

We made these window screens out of a big pile jade green Chinese tiles we scored on Craigslist a year or so ago:

They're wired to the bamboo, with the rope tied over that. Turned out pretty good, I think. We'll be making two more of these screens for the other two windows. I also plan to buy window tint for the three windows, and may put some small, low-wattage lights in there. Contemplating the possibility of hanging some piranhas and other taxidermied tropical fish, but I fear that may be corny.

The war club I found online years ago... it's vintage Oceanic Arts. Based on the story I heard from the guy I bought it from, it MAY have come from the Cincinnati Kon Tiki Ports. He lived there, and got this from an auction from a "restaurant that closed in the 80's." We also spotted the SAME war club on a postcard from there. The staining and wear on ours is oddly identical to where the club is placed on the far back wall in this image:

A close-up:

Maybe just a coincidence, but it's fun to think about!

Here's a shot of this corner altogether... the mugs and stuff were just random ones we pulled out of the back room. They'll be in desperate need of reorganization soon.

Next step is to get the hanging lamps rewired for this corner, finish the window screens, add some more bamboo trim along the ceiling, and just generally get this area in order.

The lighting is the biggest issue right now, but I hope to rectify soon.

Lights on:

Lights off:

We'll get there...

Then there's a LOT of work to do behind the bar, we have to build mug shelves on the main wall, and we need to build some kind of wall bump-out to conceal our electrical boxes (nothing quite takes you out of your little slice o' tropical paradise like a big ol' circuit breaker.)

More soon!


This is looking fantastic!! And I too love Universal Monster movies, so I'm excited to see how you're going to incorporate the Black Lagoon theme!

Hearn posted on Wed, Feb 1, 2017 10:33 AM

Looking REALLY good! Keep the updates flowing!

Thanks folks!

Did a bunch of stuff this weekend that isn't terribly interesting to look at yet... Mostly, I rewired about six lamps, turned a couple other things INTO lamps... Fun, but 'til they're positioned and lit, not overly photogenic. We also blocked out the windows with a roll of black Contact paper, and I made two more jade tile window screens to cover the openings. I'll have some close-ups of those soonish. We also framed out one of the walls with a bit more bamboo, just to give it more of a finished look.

We DID start playing around with the back bar lighting, and I think we've got a winner!

These stick-on LED light strips do the job just fine:

They look WAY brighter in this photo than they are in person. We'd wanted to light them from the bottom, front, but they were WAY too bright then... we tried blocking them out with some bamboo and other things, and it still didn't look right. Lighting them from the top-front, it looked like a store display or something (and was still way too bright) Back-lit gives it a nice, creepy glow when you're sitting in front of it. There will be a small light on the ceiling to balance it out a bit.

We want the lighting traditional Tiki bar- super dark, takes your eyes awhile to adjust... you know the drill!

EnchantedTikiGoth - thanks for the nice words! Our Creature theme, most likely, will be kinda subtle... we want some subtle cues and little references, but not have it be overt, like, "here's a shelf full of Creature From the Black Lagoon stuff." I have plenty of stuff, but we're debating what to include and what not to. Mostly it will be some little references to the Amazon - I got a box of taxidermied red bellied Piranhas we're going to put around - I have a 1930's map of South America, and a couple old small "Tour the Amazon" brochures that will be framed and hung up. There'll be some more direct references, too...the old life preserver ring I found I'll be adding letters that say "Rita" (the name of the boat in the movie..) You can see in the bar back photo, I have a resin reproduction of the prop fossil hand from the movie we'll have amongst the flotsam and jetsam... Debating a couple other more overt things. One thing we're doing for sure (I'm printing them now, actually) is in place of a "Wall of Stars" like you'd see at an old nightclub, there will be a wall of framed "Sea Monsters Threatening Bikini Ladies" pictures, which I think is kinda funny. Obviously, we'll have some Creature-themed Tiki mugs and other stuff around, just debating what those will be.

Moreover we just want it to feel like a creepy dark nautical bar (all things the Creature calls home!) along with the Tiki stuff.

More pictures, coming soon!


Hey folks -

Got a little more done in the ol' Black Lagoon Room this weekend. We bought an alarming amount of wood to start building the main wall of shelves and the bump out to cover the electrical boxes, but haven't begun the actual construction of those yet. Likely, that'll be this weekend.

In the meantime, we're still trying to get our lighting right and I think we're moving in the right direction. In the first little sitting area you approach at the bottom of the stairs, I hung these super cool Japanese-style lanterns we found on eBay a few years ago...

Also, you can see we added some fake foliage in that corner. The big Tiki there has some tropical plants and such around his base now, which was fun to put together. Thankful for that 50% off sale at the craft store:

We sorted out one wall of mugs as well... a few bunches of location-specific mugs (this shelf has a lot from Frankies, some from Bahooka, a few Disney pieces, Hala Kahiki, Kon Tiki, etc) The main wall of the bar will feature 8ft of floor to ceiling shelving... We plan to house the vast majority of our mugs in the basement bar, but I think there are currently Tiki mugs in every room of the house (except the bathroom)...! Last count on Ooga Mooga was about 350 or so. I have some little selected displays of stuff from the Mai Kai, Aku Aku, Kon Tiki Ports, and Trader Vic's in our dining room on a shelf (though we have a lot more Trader Vic's stuff than would fit in this little space...)

There are monster-themed mugs in the Mid-Century Monster Room:

There are some Witco-inspired mugs on the shadow box WAY down on the far wall in our TV room (which we refer to as the Jungle Room... lots of Witco, lots of 70's wall paper and wood paneling... it made sense.)

...a few Asian-inspired mugs in the Living room, and some Hula girl mugs in the bedroom that I don't have pictures of at the moment. All the shrunken head mugs will be behind the bar...Regardless... lots of mugs!

But this one wall in the basement is looking pretty good now:

The lights are just little fiber optic LEDs on a copper wire... they were REALLY on sale on Amazon. Four 30-ft rolls for $20. They work great, and run on a USB. We have a power strip with USB ports build in that this plugs into. I'm thinking I'll probably wrap the lights around some rope just to make it look a little more nautical and in keeping with the theme of the rest of the bar. Parts of the shelf will be wrapped in rope eventually, and we plan to frame out part of the wall with rope.

Speaking of walls, we added a bunch of old 50's monster movie photos to the hallway. Kind of an homage to when restaurants would have autographed pictures of famous people who'd eaten there in the entryway - since it's the Black Lagoon Room, we went with a monster theme. Apologies these pictures suck. The bar is DARK! I lightened these as much as I could in photoshop... but you'll see stills from all three Creature movies (duh), Horror at Party Beach, the Hideous Sun Demon, Ro-Man from Robot Monster, Creature from the Haunted Sea, Alligator People, Beach Girls and the Monster, etc etc... These are just at the bottom of the stairs as you enter the bar, shrunken heads above you (dangling over your full-sized head)

We wanted kind of an old, ethnographic Ripley's Believe it Or Not feel to parts of the bar. Hence, I printed out and hung some framed old images from textbooks and other sources of old Polynesian weapons, maps, etc. Here's a few hanging just over that mug shelf a few images back...

A photo of one of the seating areas; We found the table on Craigslist for $100! It's nearly identical to some of the low cocktail tables Trader Vic's has used over the years, and to Elvis' coffee table in the Jungle Room. We have a much bigger burl table in our living room that is similar to this one as well.

I added a light to the diving helmet... it's a Toscano cast-resin piece, but looks just like a real helmet. We found that on Cragislist as well. The Dodge hula girl lamp we've had for years (it still "dances!") and there's some other stuff thrown in there. That creature Halloween motion figure probably won't stay, but he photobombed this one anyway...

I'll post some photos later today, too, of our little Mermaid cove seating area which is fairly well together at this point.

We've been busy bees over here!

More soon!



You have done a great job decorating your place with tiki mugs, I like all the other tiki items that are displayed also, nice job.

Thanks hiltiki!

Here's a few pictures of the far corner of the bar we're calling (at least for now) the Mermaid's Cove... less due to a burst of creative inspiration, and mostly due to the big mermaid.

We'll be adding some other random flotsam and jetsam to the ceiling here - probably a puffer lamp and some smaller hanging floats. The ceiling over the door is REALLY low (like, I hit my head on it every time I go back there low) so there's not a ton of leeway with what can hang there (much like the rest of the basement.) The lamp that IS there is one of those shell thingies you see in Chinese restaurants pretty often, just with a light in it.

The whole basement is traditional Wisconsin knotty pine paneling... it was DEFINITELY something we didn't want to cover up entirely. We opted to keep this side of the bar (and the area behind the bar and the mug shelves) as-is. We thought it felt like you're on a boat, which seems appropriate...

Here's an overall view with the overhead lights on:

We had to do that for the photo, cuz this is what it looks like with that main light off:

With some small ancillary lights around the shell one, and a few strategically placed accents, I think it should lighten up just enough to see where you're going!

We wanted to go with a nautical look over here, but also bring in some of that enthnographic stuff... so I found some old Ripley's photos and pictures of old timey guys playing with shrunken heads that sorta carry that through:

I plan to add stick-on letters for the ship from Creature from the Black Lagoon (the "Rita" to the bottom of our life preserver. In this picture, too, you can see an ear trophy thing I put together. Someone was selling something VERY similar on Etsy, which was really, really cool... but at $115 shipped, I couldn't really justify the price. I found a quality halloween prop ear necklace online for $10 (thanks, Walking Dead, for creating a market for such a thing) and with some burlap and a $10 shadowbox from Michael's, we have something similar. Someday we'll probably spring for the "real" one, but for now I feel like this looks just fine:

All the lamps are re-wired, and the ceiling is painted. This weekend we attempt to build the main wall of mug shelves as well as the bump-out to cover up the electrical panels.

Wish us luck - we are not craftsmen, by a longshot!


Wish us luck - we are not craftsmen, by a longshot!

You're selling yourself far short, Pete! That work is fantastic. Just because you're self-taught doesn't mean you don't have a good eye and design ethic. Because clearly you do. Please keep sharing photos of your effort!

Fugu posted on Fri, Feb 17, 2017 5:19 PM

This all looks fantastic! Very nice touches all around.

Hey again folks -

Thanks Fugu and Prikli Pear for the kind words!

Been a wee bit slow going on the bar these last couple weeks... we were out of town a bit, had some other projects pop up here and there, but we've been slowly pluggin' away.

Not a lot new that is overly "show-able..." We finished painting the ceiling, which was a big step in the right direction.

Had a freakish 70 degree Sunday a few weeks back, and we were able to start building the shelving and staining crates for the back bar outside... in Wisconsin... in February... ahem...

The base for the shelf wall is lookin' good and sturdy, and will house all the stereo components, LPs, and other stuff. We plan to have some probably magnetic tapa curtain-type coverings over the compartments that house the electronics...

We've rewired a whole menagerie of lamps. Many still need to be hung up, but they're plugged in so we can at least get a feel for what the final lighting will look like (and so far, so good...)

Same goes for all the fish floats that need to be hung (as well as netting, cork and foam float ropes, buoys, etc.)

Excitingly, we were able to rewire this absolutely gorgeous Orchids of Hawaii beast of a seahorse lamp that we're currently using as an end table. We bought it from some friends of ours years ago because we just couldn't NOT buy it... it came from one of the now-defunct Tong's Tiki Hut locations in the Western Chicago burbs (there's still one kicking in Villa Park.) It's a shame to not see this lit up from the bottom - all individual bamboo cross sections but this is the only spot it fits right now. Still pretty damn cool:

We've rearranged a few things to make room for a couple of extremely cool recent purchases (one of them is very obviously spot-able in this photo, and gives an idea of the lighting... it's grainy due to the low light and brightening it up a bit in Photoshop)

Hoping to make some more headway in the coming weeks with the shelving, covering the electric panels and patching some holes in the ceiling so we can hang more stuff.

Now, at least, when you're in the room you can get a feel for what the final product will feel like. We've already watched a movie and had a cocktail down there a couple times, and it's starting to feel GREAT.

More soon!


Just catching up with this thread now... I love the wall of monster photos, and that resin fossil hand is FANTASTIC! That could go in a spot of honour just on its own! Great work!

Whulp, been up to my eyeballs this last month or so makin' stuff to sell at the Lowbrow Aloha art show at Hala Kahiki at the end of the month, so advancements on the Black Lagoon Room have been on a brief hiatus...


We found an excellent solution to our shelving needs that we won't have to make and can pickup for almost the same price as wood to build shelves ourselves, SO after we nab that this weekend, things should start chugging right along again (thanks Craigslist!)

We've hung up some more floats, a couple more lamps, but I'll wait for the photo evidence 'til there's a bit more to show.

So far, we've watched movies down there a few times with a cocktail already, and even with the space only 60 or 70% finished we are REALLY liking the results.

More soon!


Hey all -

We've been busy beavers the last few weeks, and finally got our main wall of shelving up and some other key things in the Black Lagoon Room.

Will have some photos up soon. Really coming along! Ideally, I'm hoping I can get it more or less "done" (at least in as far as we're able to have it "done" and in as far as how "done" is a Tiki bar ever? There's a couple big things to do yet we have to wait on)

Here's at least one teaser picture of the corner of the main wall of shelving...

Our pal is an architectural photographer, and he wants to take some proper photos with a good camera and proper exposure. When we have THOSE that will really be something. Right now it's tough to photograph due to the (appropriate) lighting, but ain't that always the problem in (good) Tiki bars?

More soon!


Well folks... it's been awhile, but we FINALLY have some decent pictures of The Black Lagoon Room.

First off, our friend Dave Erickson is an incredibly talented architectural photographer and he came by on Sunday to take some professional photos. There are more comin', but he sent us a couple teasers right away... Hope you enjoy 'em - of course we'll post the others when we get 'em...

The hallway entrance....

....A shot looking from the base of the stairs, just as you enter the room, looking toward the main wall of mugs and main seating area....

And a gorgeous one of the whole panoramic scene. If you're looking in this direction, the Mermaid's Cove seating area are behind you. Dave is a photographic wizard... I don't know how he made our tiny little hideaway look so spacious!

Here's that same photo, blown up into two sections so you can see the nooks n' crannies a little better...

Side one, with the main seating area, creature "taxidermy" mount, Orchids of Hawaii seahorse lamp (repurposed as an end table), a big United Airlines Tiki, and the main wall of mugs...

Side two, with the bar area, seating area, diving helmet lamp, big PNG shield, and another mug shelf...

A close-up of our creature mount... we actually had a little plaque made to make it look more like a trophy mount (than the Halloween decoration that it is...)

All was actually "done" enough with the bar that we officially broke it in with a proper shindig with friends on the 4th of July... Photo credits to a bunch of our pals. Hopefully they don't mind being on TC! If anybody recognizes themselves (or wants me to take something down) just holler...

Some great shots from our pal Ben...

Main mug wall:

Bar Back:

Puffers n' piranhas n' mermaids in Mermaid Cove:

A few shots, with a flash, to capture some of the details in the nooks and crannies (and a few pals...)

My wife made us awesome aloha outfits to match the wallpaper in the hallway - an awesome Michael Uhlenkott design...

I spent a bunch of the party tending bar, but I love doin' it...

...I also love savoring the final product!

We'll have more photos in the future from other parties 'cuz... there will be more parties!

Hope ya dig it!



Freakin' Awesome! Great Work!


You've got so much going on that its just amazing!


Congrats on a great space, and much respect for all the work you put into it!


That's an awesome space! Great job. Very envious of your mug collection too :)

Thanks for all the kind words - hope folks are enjoying the updates!

Had some more friends stop by Sunday and gathered a few more shots of the bar, picking up some more details... Those new I-Phone cameras really do a heckuva job in low lighting...

A shot of the main bar seating area with a little better view of the main wall of mugs...

A shot of the bar area - we lined the entire back wall with old menus, stickers, old postcards and photos, etc... we wanted the place to feel like it's been there forever. That's always a really important thing to me when I enter a Tiki bar (especially a new one) is that there's that feeling of layers and time passing... so I spent the better part of a day hanging cork and hundreds of little pieces of ephemera behind the bar. You can KINDA see that here... We also found an awesome vintage gong to hang behind the bar.

The bright yellow piece sticking out is actually a vintage Tiki torch, and the Tikis on the tops of them (there are two, flanking the bar back) actually look like the old Zombie Village logo Tiki! Our friend found them at an estate sale and we couldn't pass them up... I velcro'ed little tea candles to the tops to "simulate" flames (even though it really looks nothing like a flame... kind of a fun touch.)

The wooden alligator hanging over the bar is from PNG... we tied him to a couple little bamboo poles and hung some shrunken heads from either end, because why the hell not? It helps hide the little piece of track lighting that shines on the bar back.

The main seating area, featuring my wife Katie and our dog Wilma and our friend Erin...The big green lamp on the floor fell down over the weekend (!!) and needs to be hung up again. The ceiling is just fiberboard, so some ceiling hooks stay in better than others... unfortunately it's almost impossible to tell where the joists are underneath to screw into. The basket lamps aren't heavy, so we figured it was fine, but evidently not. Thankfully nothing broke!

...and finally, a shot of our official Black Lagoon Room glassware in action!

I'll have some of these up in my Etsy shop soon (Store, and my Instagram handle, are both crap_with_a_star) for anyone interested.

More stuff soon - thanks again for all the kind words!


Looks great! You have some cool pieces and ideas.

Hey all -

The Black Lagoon Room has been gettin' plenty o' visitors lately... unfortunately not a ton of great photos!

BUT, we did have a nice little write up/interview at the Tiki With Ray blog today... check it out for some new(er) pics and some other info on our little slice o' paradise....


...Also on a side note (if anybody has any interest) I have a bunch of Tiki art up for sale on Etsy now, including the Black Lagoon Room Old Fashioned glasses I designed earlier this year and the "Donn is My Co-Pilot" Don the Beachcomber tribute stickers/prints that have been selling pretty well - check 'er out!


More fun stuff comin' soon...!


Great interview! And fitting for the season too! :)

Creature is KILLER

Hamo posted on Thu, Nov 2, 2017 9:07 PM

I really love that lighted side table. Was it originally made as a table, or is it a ceiling lamp that you’ve “repurposed?”

Thanks folks!

Hamo - That table is indeed a repurposed ceiling fixture. We would LOVE to hang it, but it's massive, weighs a ton, and we have super low ceilings. There was some talk about hanging it in the stairway down to the bar, but honestly it's too big for that space, too (and the Orchids shell lamp we have there currently fits pretty perfectly.)

The side table/fixture is also Orchids of Hawaii - their large seahorse lamp. The bottom of it is circles of bamboo that glow when it's turned on... It's quite cool from the bottom. This one came from the "Chief's hut" at the now-defunct Tong's Tiki Hut in Bolingbrook, IL that a pal of ours managed to snag when it closed maybe 8 or 9 years ago (there is still a Tong's going strong in Villa Park.)

Someday maybe we'll have an appropriate place to hang it, but for now it works A-OK as a table and helps add a little glow to that otherwise dark part of the room.


Your home bar is INCREDIBLE! I didn't think there were any rad home tiki bars in the Milwaukee area.

I've been trying to convince my wife to let me make over our basement but she isn't having it. I got really into tiki and making drinks at home last Fall.

I'm in Wauwatosa and frequent Foundation. Keep posting photos! :)

I'm late to the party here, but I just wanted to say I loved reading your build-out thread, and the end result looks fantastic.

I'm in the MKE metro area too, and slowly tikifying our lower level bar. Although it will be a loooong time before I hit your level of TIPSI.

Pages: 1 39 replies