Updated: Jul 19
Want to know how to build your own tiki bar? Well we've got all the details and before you know it, you'll be serving your favorite cocktails with a real Aloha Vibe.
Ever since our first trip to the Big Island of Hawaii, where we fell in love with the whole Aloha vibe, we dreamed of having our very own tiki bar and this year we turned that dream into reality. On an extremely limited budget and only a handful of basic tools, we set our minds on the goal of creating our perfect tiki bar.
The whole concept came about because we had honeymooned on the Big Island, celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary on Maui and this year we had wanted to visit O’ahu for our 15th wedding anniversary. Unfortunately, for various reasons, we can’t go. So, we decided on the next best thing, we would bring Hawaii to us. Luckily, because we live in the sunshine state of Florida, we had already started turning our courtyard into a tropical paradise, now we wanted to take it to whole new level and The Hula Lounge was born.
Why the Hula Lounge I hear you ask, well that’s because Laurie was a professional hula dancer in her younger years and toured all over New England performing with a Polynesian dance group.
Before we even began the construction Laurie wanted a logo, after lots of idea’s we were inspired by a hula girl and some cool cocktail glasses. I did the initial painting and Laurie put the finishing touches by distressing and shellacking (Laurie’s favorite word on the moment!) the wood. We made a sign for our breezeway, a tabletop, and even pieces of art to adorn the bar, now all we needed was the bar itself!
"Why the Hula Lounge", I hear you ask, well that’s because Laurie was a professional hula
On an extremely limited budget, only a handful of basic tools, no workbench and really no experience of construction work, except for watching back-to-back episodes of Hometown, we set our minds on the goal of creating our dream tiki bar. First thing was to contrive a design and work out what material’s we needed, I sketched out a rough idea, then together we worked out what wood we needed to frame up the bar. After measuring up the area we wanted the bar to fit in, we decided on a maximum size of 8’ by 4’.
Armed with our plan and list, we headed to our local DIY store, because we only have a small hatchback, we had to make many, many trips. We loaded up the cart with 8’ and 10’ lengths of 2” x 4” timber and made use of the free cutting facilities, this way could fit the pieces in our car, along with screws, hinges, wood glue, tape, rope, rolls of reed and roofing materials.
Using step stools and odd garden chairs to make up for a bench, we were able to cut additional pieces of wood to the right size as we need them. We were so pleased with ourselves when we stood the frame up and it actually looked like the beginning of a bar, we could almost taste the cocktails already. It felt rock solid too, which was particularly important knowing the extreme weather it will have to endure in the months and years to come.
Having moved the bar into position it was the exciting moment for us to put the bar top on. One thing we both knew we wanted was a nice piece of wood to make the shinning bar top, we chose pine. Now what we had to do was work out how to cut out pieces to fit the bar top around the upright posts without the right saw. I came up with the idea of using a large drill piece to make multiple holes and it worked, we slipped the bar top over the posts and it fit perfectly! Now Laurie was in her element as this meant LOTS of shellacking.
We were extremely fortunate that one of our neighbors had given us an abundance of bamboo which gave the tiki bar the perfect authentic finish. After wrapping the bar with a roll of reed we edged it with the thick bamboo, as well as looking great, it provided additional strength.
The hardest part of making the bar was the roof. We had shored two pieces of roofing board together, wrapped them with rolls of waterproof sheeting and reeds. While Laurie sweated over attaching more than 70 pieces of bamboo, I attached hinges to the other side of the roof. This was a big moment; the tiki bar roof was ready to attach. The plan was to secure the roof to the 2” x 4” x 8’ we had already screwed to the house, along the line of our house soffit. The idea was to hinge the bar roof so we could make it align perfectly, it was a great idea if only we could lift the damn thing!
Laurie Takes The Roof To A Whole New Level
THE ROOF! Let’s just say, I was determined to get the f***ing thing up! After basking in the hot sun for the past 6 hours, my “garden” bra had been ripped off at this point and a large blister formed in the palm of my hand from screwing most of the day. No-one knows me better than Caroline, and by the look I must have had on my face, she knew we were not going to bed until the tiki bar had a roof. The things we thought of AFTER we decided to lift a roof over our heads, how the hell are we going to drill it in place with all hands occupied? Me and my bright ideas! I have had a few doozies over the years, but this was a brilliant plan (SO I THOUGHT) would help. I suggested to Caroline that she could use my shoulder bag, and drape it crossways, it would be ideal to hold the drill until needed. With the plan set in motion, we both climbed up the step stool on opposite ends and once again tried to lift the roof. STILL too heavy! At this point aggravation was winning. We were tired, thirsty and combating mosquitoes, as it was nearing 10pm. With me bearing most of the weight of the roof, Caroline was balancing the roof on her head, she decided to make a quick maneuver and pulled the drill our of the bag. I wish I had a camera, because at that very moment, she reminded me of “Where’s Waldo”, her glasses bridged lower on her nose, hair in a ponytail, and bag draped cross like a DIY superhero. I found this extremely hysterical and could not stop laughing. I explained my vision and we both started laughing. Somehow our laughter and determination gave us the strength and the roof was up!
With the roof finally on we stood back and admired our handiwork, it was looking fantastic, now all it needed was the finishing touches and some alcohol. While Laurie wrapped the upright posts with more reeds and rope, I painted a long plank of wood to bridge between gap between the house and bar roofs. One last thing we added was a hinged bar flap, it really completed the look of the bar and it gave Laurie the chance of more shellacking.
It took us a full week of work, going late into the night and getting bitten by mosquitoes and jumped on by over friendly tree frogs, to finish the tiki bar. Now to complete the Hula Lounge, Laurie’s favorite part, reorganizing the furniture for the perfect look, add colorful cushions, decorate behind the bar, add pretty lights and of course BOOZE.
With drinks finally in hand we felt very accomplished, it was hard work, but we enjoyed being so absorbed by it, and it made us realize we can be creative in an entirely different way than we had previously ever thought of. We also saved a heap of money doing it all ourselves, just two women with a Hawaiian dream and a ton determination.
Now it's time for Laurie to get her poi balls out and put on the much anticipated Hula Lounge Show of the night!
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