This project has been a long time coming! I’ve been working on the bar on and off for 6 months and it’s almost completely done! The only thing left is a custom sign with our tiki bar name, The Coconut Kiln, and it will look perfect.
When I first discussed the idea of making our bar more tiki, Ryan had some reservations. We really didn’t use our bar that much, and most of our tiki drinks were enjoyed at actual tiki bars and not at home. Determined to make the tiki transformation actually worthwhile, I set a goal at the beginning of 2020 to start making at-home tiki drinks. Well…if you follow either Ryan or myself on Instagram, you know that has been a huge success! Lol. We make tiki drinks every week and our bar/barware is now used all the time!
I considered buying or making a whole new bar set up, but I knew it could get expensive. I liked the storage our existing bar provides, I just didn’t like the style for the new style direction I was taking. We don’t use our bar for actual drink-making (we don’t have the space for that in the dining room), so its used for storage for our tiki mugs, liquor and other barware. The existing bar has good counter space, hidden storage, and open shelves for wine and rum bottles. I came up with new design scheme for the little area and got to work! I wanted it to be tiki, but not too kitsch. It needed to go with the rest of our dining room, which is not tropical. My color scheme, red, yellow, and aqua, stemmed from the existing colors of the dining room and kitchen, which brings some cohesion.
The first order of business was finding my dream rattan shelf. They became SUPER popular this year, so they were getting snapped up fast and were usually out of my budget. One day though, after many failed days of searching antique stores and FB Marketplace, I extended my search perimeters beyond the Cincinnati area and found an affordable one in Lexington. That 1.5 hour long drive there was so worth it! I love my rounded rattan shelf. It adds that island vibe and adds lots of extra open storage.
Next up was a new paint job on my campaign cabinet. I used some leftover paint from our bedroom trim, since I knew it would go well with our Amalfi walls. I skipped primer on the cabinet (and I really shouldn’t have), but I wanted a quick makeover before moving on to the bar.
If you are confused why I’m talking about this cabinet, let me explain. This cabinet sits across the dining room and is our storage of party supplies and serving trays. It also became our extra storage spot for our rums and cocktail mixes. Eventually we want to add wood cubbies above for more tiki mug display, but for now the “Bonjour Y’all” art is staying.
After completing the campaign cabinet, I moved on to painting the bar. The bar is a slick-coated wood veneer, so I knew I needed a good coat of primer to make the paint stick and not chip away. The paint is the same color as the cabinet, I love it’s fresh sea blue look.
Even with the primer, I was worried the high traffic areas (The cabinet storage and the top) might still scratch or chip over time. To avoid that, and add an extra tropical element, I used burlap to cover those areas. While burlap is usually considered a “country,” burlap is also used to island style. I used Mod Podge to attach and seal the burlap to the shelves and bar top, to add some water proofing in case of spills. I also added trim (painted in the same blue) to finish off the rough edges of the burlap on the bar top. It definitely gave it a more finished, custom look.
After the burlap, I moved on to the cabinet doors. I bought some caning to add an additional tropical element. Caned furniture is super trendy right now, so I was able to follow along with some caning DIYs, to cane my cabinet doors. Ryan used the jig saw to cut our the middle of the doors, and I used finishing nails to nail the caning onto the backs of the doors. It’s not perfectly tight, so there is some waviness, but its not bad for my first time doing this kind of project. I considered keeping the caning bare, but in the end I didn’t like the contrast so I painted it blue.
The final touches on the bar were changing out the hardware for more modern brass knobs and handles and the bar itself was done!
Next up was the space above the bar. I knew I wanted to paint a rainbow, for a fun, colorful addition to the tiki look. That design detail would be easy to execute, but my vision for a half-round floating shelf felt out of my wheelhouse. Since I wasn’t confident in making it myself, I had our friend Tanner from Coda.Co make it for me! He’s is an amazing wood-worker and he did a great job in creating my vision.
The rainbow took some time, and it doesn’t look perfect…but it’s whimsical and fun and I love it! I got sample sizes of house paint from Lowe’s in my preferred colors, so I’d have enough for several coats, but I wouldn’t have to pay a bunch for a quart of paint for each color. I measured and taped off the bottom, straight edges of the rainbow, but the curved part I kind of just went for it. To be honest, I got lucky that it turned out fairly proportional. Any wobbly edges I just fixed with paint.
My last design detail was the light switch. The dining room dimmer switch was right in the middle of my painted rainbow. Instead of trying to hide it within the rainbow, I emphasized it and made it another fun feature! I bought a laser-cut star from Etsy, and drilled a hole in the middle for the light switch to fit in. I cut out little wood triangles to glue on since my star didn’t completely cover the wiring and plate beneath. The triangles are where I also have my screw holes to attach the star to the light plate. Once assembled, I painted the star gold and the triangles in blue and red to disappear into the rainbow behind.
I can’t wait for the bar sign to go up and really finish off the bar! It’s been a fun project, and collecting new tiki mugs to display will only make the bar even more awesome! I hope you liked this design reveal 🙂