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Tiki Central Forums » » Home Tiki Bars » » Prettyman's Atoll - planning a complete rebuild
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Prettyman's Atoll - planning a complete rebuild
Prettyman's Atoll
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jan 14, 2016
Posts: 13
From: Pinole, California
Posted: 2018-01-22 8:09 pm   Permalink

Hello, fellow tiki lovers!

I posted this yesterday in the Facebook group "Home Tiki Bar Builds," and they recommended I start a topic here to share my plans and progress. Apologies if you've already seen this on Facebook.

[TLDR—Unwittingly fell into my tiki destiny a few years ago and now find I need to recreate a 50-year-old the tiki bar/room from the ground up. Am looking forward to sharing my experiences with this group.]

I'm an unwitting lifelong fan of tiki. I really didn't start to realize that until about five years ago, when I started visiting local tiki bars (I'm in the SF Bay Area, so Smuggler's Cove, Forbidden Island, Trader Vic's, Tonga Room and the like).

I can't describe how I felt, other than that I felt completely at home. That's when I realized that my grandfather (William Prettyman) exposed me to tiki from my earliest days in the mid-1960s. He served in WWII in the Naval Air Services, based out of Alameda Air Station. Among the many places he spent time in WWII was Kwajalein Atoll. When he eventually settled down in North Hollywood, he and his wife converted their backyard into a tropical escape for family and friends. He never called it tiki, but it was tiki.

Fast forward to about three years ago. My wife and I and our 6-month old were looking for a place big enough for her to have the sort of childhood experiences we wanted for her. That's when we found our forever home. Built in 1959–1960 by a man who appreciated entertaining and tiki—so much so that he built a 20 x 25 foot tiki room onto his house in the early 1960s. He lived there until he died in 2013. The house was then bought by people who thought tiki=={Miami Vice, Florida and Jimmy Buffet}, and their "improvements" came close to ruining this long-surviving tiki oasis.

We bought the house in Summer 2015 and ripped out the neon parrots and day-glo margarita accessories and found a 50-55-year-old tiki bar underneath it all. We spend most of our adult quality time in the tiki bar and we were looking forward to restoring it to its former glory. We've named it "Prettyman's Atoll" after my grandfather and his time in the South Pacific during WWII, and we've created a 4-page menu of offerings.

It was paradise until last year's rains came. While the original owner knew tiki, he knew bupkis about structural engineering. The roof is sagging and threatening to collapse (we've shored it up with timber and jacks), so we know that has to be replaced ASAP. We've held off on that so far because the walls that the roof rest on are rotted, and the footings under those walls are cracked and buckled. Finally, the concrete pad that serves as the floor of the room suffers from slab heave.

So to restore/recreate our beloved tiki oasis, we have to rebuild it from the ground up. I've done a good amount of maybe-not-quite-up-to-code construction in the past, so I feel close to being up to the task, but I'm determined to do this tiki bar by the book. I've set a two-year deadline for planning, funding, and starting the remodel and a three-year deadline for finishing. I'm teaching myself AutoCAD and we're scouring the internet and thrift shops for inspiration. I'll share photos, plans, and dreams for the completely rebuilt Prettyman's Atoll, as well as photos of it as we progress towards our dream. In the meantime, here are a couple of dated photos from right after we moved in.




The tiki room is currently full of boxes of Christmas decor, but I promise I'll submit a better set of photos soon.


[ This Message was edited by: Prettyman's Atoll 2018-01-23 12:23 ]

[ This Message was edited by: Prettyman's Atoll 2018-01-23 12:26 ]

[ This Message was edited by: Prettyman's Atoll 2018-02-13 21:48 ]


 
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Prikli Pear
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 04, 2017
Posts: 498
From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted: 2018-01-22 9:10 pm   Permalink

Welcome! Glad you could make it over here. I think TC is a more permanent archive than FB is. There are some great bar builds here and I look forward to yours joining them.

 
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Hamo
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Aug 22, 2016
Posts: 497
From: Colorado (via Iowa)
Posted: 2018-01-22 9:22 pm   Permalink

I second everything Prikli Pear said, especially, “Welcome.” You’ve come to the right place; TC is a wealth of inspiration.

I love the history of your home bar, your determination, and that tiki connects you with your grandfather,. Lots of us here will be anxiously waiting to see and hear more.


 
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Prettyman's Atoll
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jan 14, 2016
Posts: 13
From: Pinole, California
Posted: 2018-01-28 5:17 pm   Permalink

Hello again, fellow tiki lovers!

Part II--The "before" photos: Prettyman's Atoll as it looks today (literally three hours ago).

A brief history of Prettyman's Atoll: (skip this paragraph if you don't want construction details) From what I can tell, the tiki room began as a central portion of the backyard in 1960. At some point, the owner poured a cement pad roughly the size of today's tiki room. A little later, he put up a lightweight roof structure of 2x6 beams on 24-inch centers, capped with corrugated aluminum. The structure was just strong enough to hold up the lightweight aluminum sheets. A little later, he added non-structural side walls that served primarily as a means to install a pair of sliding glass doors on each wall. He then built the bar you'll see shortly, and ran cold water to the sink and a gas line to a heater (the drain for the sink is just a pipe that sticks though the wall and waters our mint bush). Finally, he decided to put a much beefier asphalt and gravel roof on 3/4-inch plywood that he threw on top of the existing aluminum panels. The increased weight of the new roof was vastly more than the flimsy, knotty 2x6 beams could handle, and over the years they've sagged and even failed at knots (structural select lumber this ain't). When we bought the place two years ago, we quickly discovered that the weight of pooled rainwater on the sagging roof was threatening to collapse the compromised roof. The roof needs to be completely replaced, but so too do the walls and the bucking slab and cracked footings.

In essence, we've got to completely rebuild the tiki room to save it. We're seeing this as a design opportunity--to make the tiki room into the tiki room of our dreams (or at least to the extent that we can afford on our non-profit worker bee salaries). Here's what we're working with:

The entrance to the tiki room:

One of the design principles I adhere to is that there should be a clear division between the tiki world and the real world. It doesn't have to be as extreme as at Smuggler's Cove (although well done, guys!), but there should be some dividing line or threshold; something to keep the real world hidden from folks in the tiki room, and vice versa.

Right now, the tiki room is too much a part of our 'regular' house. There's a 6-foot-wide sliding glass door entrance as you can see above (as well as a 6-foot-wide window between the living room and the tiki room, as you'll see in a moment).

I'd like to see this replaced with a 36-inch-wide heavy wooden door that looks like it came off a 17th-century English ship. And even after opening the door, visitors would first have to pass through a dark anteroom before emerging into the tiki room. This might be as simple as a heavy black curtain a few feet inside the door, or it might be something constructed of dark wood with a second door at the end--like a very short passageway.

Another important detail--when I replace the 2x6 beams on 24-inch centers with 2x12 beams on 12-inch-centers, we'll lose precious headroom. My wife and I are both six-foot-plus, and we'd be close to scraping our heads on the ceiling if we left the floor where it is. Since we can't raise the roof (the ledger board is as high as it can go and we're not keen to re-engineer the roof of the main house), we'll be lowering the tiki room floor by 16 inches. It's not much, but it'll give us a bit of room to hang nets and whatnot from the ceiling. I haven't given up on finding a way to (also) raise the roof, but that looks like it's going to add considerable complexity and cost to the project. Right now, there's one step down from the house to the tiki room, but after the remodel, there will be three steps down (further accentuating the divide, and evoking a feeling of going below deck on an old sailing ship.

Inside the tiki room, looking back at the entrance:

Again, note the lack of separation between tiki and normal worlds. The chair is a hand-carved chair I purchased from a bar in the Afar region of Ethiopia when I worked there in the early 1990s. In a former life, I spent a lot of time working in remote places in Africa and the Near East, and I've love a chance to show off some of the more exotic things I brought back. Right now, there's just no wall or shelf space to do so. Also, pardon the parrot and toucan. We're still trying to educate the in-laws on what tiki is and what it isn't. We ask them not to get us things for the tiki room, but there you go.

Panning to the left a bit:

Yeah, that's the beginnings of a model train layout. No one can accuse me of having too few hobbies. For now, the train table will stay in the tiki room (we have nowhere else to put it), but I'm hoping to have it hinge up out of the way when not in use (to where that metal-framed window is now). We're going to get rid of the window and make it into a solid wall to gain more wall space and to have more of a separation between our living space and the tiki room.

Looking to the east:


The tiki room sits between our two (!) backyards. This photo shows the view to the east onto our main back yard with pool and (someday soon) tropical plantings. The pool deck and coping also needs to be completely redone, but that will come after the tiki room. Someday we hope to have the tiki motif spill into this yard, with a fire feature, waterfall(s), large tikis, fun lighting, outdoor speakers, torches, and perhaps even a moai. The yard was barren clay when we bought the house (the previous owners had every living thing in the backyard removed), so you're seeing the result of two years of my wife coaxing life back into the yard.

While it's nice having the pool right there, and we certainly want to encourage people to move freely from tiki room to pool, we want to make this into a solid wall and have another heavy wooden door and an enclosed dark wooden staircase to transition from tiki room to pool area.

Looking to the west:


This is looking towards our daughter's yard (she's 3 years old). We'll also be making this into a solid wall with a solid wooden door exiting to a stairway to her yard. We have plans to turn the nearer half of this yard into a two-story addition to the house once our daughter is too old to appreciate having her own play yard. That won't impact things too much in the near term, but I will be designing this end of the tiki room to eventually support a second story (plus we'll want to use the roof as a place to go to watch the stars (yes, another hobby) and see the bay (it's the only place in our house with a view of the bay).

The bar, from the entrance to the tiki room:

Finally, what you came here for. I removed the bar stools for this shot, as they're seriously out of character (picture chrome legs and red and black leather seats).
The whole room (and the entire pool deck!) used to be carpeted in AstroTurf, but now the foot rest is the only remnant of that artificial green glory. The thatching is old and brittle and needs to be replaced. The bar is nice and long (8 feet), but I'd like to make it even longer (probably about 10 feet). This would mean losing the 1960s-laminate bar surface and moving to something like a dark mahogany bar surface. I really like what the original owner did with the bamboo edges, and I'd like to replicate that.

The top shelves:

One thing that a couple of years collecting rums has shown us is that we need A LOT more shelf space for liquor. The top shelf is a heavy-duty 12-inch-deep, 8-foot-wide red oak shelf I installed last summer to get extra space, but we filled it almost immediately. The black-and-white-checked shelves are light-duty 8- and 10-inch-deep shelves that came with the house. These latter shelves are thin, the supports are weak, and a lot of space is lost to a mini-fridge at the bottom left. I want to move the fridge to under the side leg of the bar, in large part to free up a lot more space for shelves. Another problem I've got is that folks can't see the tasty rums I've got in the second and third rows of the 12-inch-deep shelf.

The bottom shelves (back stock, bitters, and whatnot):

I have a liquor storage problem, and I'm not sure what to do about it. Part of me dreams of putting in a sub-floor storage area for back stock, and other part of me sees heavy-duty drawers as the answer. I have no experience as a bartender, so I'll have to see how other folks solve this problem before committing to a solution.

The Prettyman's Atoll sign:

This was my first attempt at a sign for our bar, but I'm thinking that the new Prettyman's Atoll will need something bigger, heavier, and less two-dimensional. And probably a lot less blue, too.

The side leg of the bar:

This is where I keep my swizzle sticks, stirrers, straws, and various tchotchke. Under the bar is where I keep all my mixing equipment, umbrellas, plastic monkeys, electric ice cubes, mixer, skewers, and whatnot. Originally, 2-3 people could actually sit on that side of the bar and be served, but due to a lack of storage and display space, the bar surface currently serves that purpose.

My naval bell and bos'n's whistle:

I use these to signal when a drink is ready (folks may go to the pool, backyard, kitchen, or wherever after they order their drinks, but I've instilled a Pavlovian response that gets them running back to the bar when they hear either of these).

My glassware, vintage liquor, and board game storage/display cabinets:


These cabinets would do a good job of displaying the more interesting and lightly used glassware, but they're really bothersome for the heavily used glassware (all my glassware is stored here). I have to leave the bar back every time I make a drink, as there is zero glassware storage behind the bar. I'd like to have a place to keep the most heavily used glassware behind the bar, but out of sight. I also have a small but growing collection of vintage tiki-relevant bottles that I store in these cabinets.


This is one of my favorite vintage finds (still mostly full)--Korean-War-era bottle (I think) of Beachcomber Scorpion mix, with a "U.S. Navy Mess" sticker.

This is Stanley and a disassembled WWII-era bomb:

I'd really like to find a way to incorporate Stanley and the bomb into the redesigned/rebuilt bar.

Well, that's it for today. In my next post, I'll talk more about ideas and dreams for the rebuilt tiki room. I'm teaching myself Revit now, so hopefully soon I'll be able to share some 3D renderings of ideas for the tiki room.

[ This Message was edited by: Prettyman's Atoll 2018-01-28 18:11 ]

[ This Message was edited by: Prettyman's Atoll 2018-01-28 18:27 ]

[ This Message was edited by: Prettyman's Atoll 2018-01-28 22:11 ]


 
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Prikli Pear
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 04, 2017
Posts: 498
From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted: 2018-01-28 8:19 pm   Permalink

Wow. This is going to be something to watch unfold! I do not, however, envy you with the concrete removal that lies at the core of this project. Since you're lowering the room, I'd say to pay very close attention to drainage, but I'm guessing you already know that.

I like what you've already accumulated. Them's the makings of a great tiki bar. I'm not clear on how much yard space you actually have to landscape, but Mediterranean fan palms are compact and cold-tolerant. Pindo palm get a bit bigger, but I think should be able to handle Bay Area climate. Hardy hibiscus should also be worth a look. When you mentioned your idea for a dark anteroom at the entrance, I immediately thought of The Alibi in Portland. That place has a barrel-shaped foyer covered with seagrass matting that is pretty darn cool. I'm not saying this is what you should do (because man, that'd be an insane amount of work) but it's a data point on what's possible:



Keep the posts coming!


 
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Prikli Pear
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 04, 2017
Posts: 498
From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted: 2018-01-28 8:23 pm   Permalink

Oh, and I forgot to make the obvious statement of tikifying your train layout and having Ixtahuele's "Curitiba Train" playing in the background.

 
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Prettyman's Atoll
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jan 14, 2016
Posts: 13
From: Pinole, California
Posted: 2018-01-28 9:05 pm   Permalink

Thank you, Prikli Pear, for your kind words! I really like the Alibi entrance you showed. Very creative. Thanks also for the plant ideas. We've tried hibiscus, but have been underwhelmed so far (4 inches in 2.5 years), but probably because it's in the shade most of the day. Will have to check out the palms you mentioned. We've got lots of land (well, for the Bay Area), as our lot was actually zoned for two houses but the second house was never built. We're trying to be cautious with the non-peripheral plantings until we've figured out a long-term plan. We jumped right in on the periphery, though, as we need some privacy for our tiki oasis!

Thanks also for turning me on to Ìxtahuele and Curitiba Train. I had never heard it, and really like. The train layout is going to have to pay some sort of tiki toll for taking up space in the tiki room. Not sure what that toll is going to look like. The trains are N-scale—far too small to haul a tiki drink—so I think we'll end up having an exotic tiki corner of the layout.

As for the drainage, that is indeed going to play a major role in the design of the room and the surrounding yard areas. Thankfully, the tiki room sits on the highest part of the property, so even with a floor that is 16 inches lower, we'll be able to put a drain system 16 inches below that and still have more than enough elevation above the planned outlet 100 feet away to have the water drain nicely without having to deal with a pump. Still, though, that's going be a lot of trenching.


 
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frolic838
Member

Joined: Jan 23, 2015
Posts: 1
Posted: 2018-01-30 07:57 am   Permalink

Totally love this project! I am especially fond of the combination tiki / board game hobbies I see since those are two of my loves. I am still trying to figure out where to put my tiki bar since I agree with the idea of teleporting to a different world when you enter the tiki oasis. It will take some doing to find a place for that in our house right now, but I will find it eventually.

 
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Prettyman's Atoll
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jan 14, 2016
Posts: 13
From: Pinole, California
Posted: 2018-02-10 1:53 pm   Permalink

A progress report on the redesign/rebuild of Prettyman's Atoll.

First, a few disclaimers:
• I'm teaching myself architectural modeling with Revit, so much about these early models will be unorthodox, clunky, silly, or just plain wrong. Feel free to point any such errors out to me, as I may not even know I've erred at this point.
• The neoclassical bust on a marble column will *not* be part of the room décor. That's a temporary stand-in for a standing tiki until such time that I figure out how to model a tiki in this software.
• The non-tiki bar stools are just place-holders. I'll be going with something more tiki-themed for the real deal.
• These early models are focusing on the overall structure, layout, and flow of the room, rather than than on the tiki and poly pop décor that will hopefully cover nearly every surface in the tiki room, so apologies if it looks tiki-sterile at this point.
• Last, with only a few exceptions, I haven't yet layered in mechanical, electrical, plumbing, or structural details. In this first round of planning, I'm focusing on the architectural aspects of the project.

Second, I'm hoping that folks with a better eye for design, architecture, history, entertaining, and the like may have feedback on this initial design. What would you change? What would you add? What would you lose? What do you think I'll regret if I follow through with it? What do you think I'll regret if I don't do it? What am I not even thinking about at this point?

Here's a 3D overview of the redesign so far:


Some of the main changes:
• The floor level is 16 inches lower than existing, so there will be steps down into the room from the main house and steps up to the areas on either side of the tiki room.
• I lengthened the bar by two feet, so the main surface of the bar is now 10 feet long.
• I added a hinged counter over the entry to the bar, bringing the length of the main surface of the bar to nearly 12 feet.
• I sketched in 5 shelves for bottle display and storage. Four of these are 9' 9" and one is 12 feet long. All are 16 inches from each other vertically.
• I added in a huge over-bar cabinet that will store my most commonly used glassware, mugs, and bowls, as well as audio equipment and speakers, and probably the electronics and switches for lights, sound and lighting effects, and other special effects. I may also install a touchscreen to access a database of less frequently made drink recipes .
• I've sketched in a generously sized booth (table is 3 x 6 feet) with under-seat storage that should handle much of our board game collection.
• The mini-fridge now fits neatly under the bar.


Here's a section looking from the wall behind the bar (first a thin section, then a full-depth section):




Here's a section looking from the house towards the bar (first a thin section, then a full-depth section):




Here's a section looking from the pool-side wall towards the room (first a thin section, then a full-depth section):




I still have no idea how I'll handle ice (a problem with my existing bar)--at the very least, I'd like a place where I can leave an amount of ice and not have it mostly melted when I need it 15 minutes later.

I'm not sure what back story I'll need to create to make it fit into a tiki bar, but I inherited an industrial fog machine that I'd love to hide under the front center of the bar (under the foot rest and hidden behind opaque fabric) and include among my bar's special effects (perhaps when a fog cutter is ordered?).

Let me know what you think, fellow Tiki-Centralers!

[ This Message was edited by: Prettyman's Atoll 2018-02-11 17:23 ]


 
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Prikli Pear
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 04, 2017
Posts: 498
From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted: 2018-02-10 9:15 pm   Permalink

Okay, wow. That's some exceptional planning there. It's going to be fantastic. Get a liquor license and you'll be able to make it pay for itself!

And I wouldn't give up on the neoclassical bust so quickly. A likeness of Trader Vic or Don the Beachcomber would fit in quite nicely.


 
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Prettyman's Atoll
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jan 14, 2016
Posts: 13
From: Pinole, California
Posted: 2018-02-11 11:01 am   Permalink

Thanks, Prikli! Serving paying customers in the bar is actually a retirement dream of mine, although as we're in a quiet residential neighborhood currently full of non-drinkers, it may remain just a dream. A boy can hope, though.

 
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Prikli Pear
Tiki Socialite

Joined: Jan 04, 2017
Posts: 498
From: New Braunfels, Texas
Posted: 2018-02-11 9:33 pm   Permalink

Quote:

On 2018-02-11 11:01, Prettyman's Atoll wrote:
Thanks, Prikli! Serving paying customers in the bar is actually a retirement dream of mine, although as we're in a quiet residential neighborhood currently full of non-drinkers, it may remain just a dream. A boy can hope, though.


Two words: Speak Easy.


 
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Maddmax
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jan 30, 2018
Posts: 18
Posted: 2018-02-13 4:04 pm   Permalink

Great beginnings and it sounds like you have a solid plan in place! I'll be keeping an eye on this thread!
_________________
MaddMax

Also on Ooga-Mooga and Critiki


 
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Prettyman's Atoll
Tiki Centralite

Joined: Jan 14, 2016
Posts: 13
From: Pinole, California
Posted: 2018-02-13 7:50 pm   Permalink

Prikli, I like the way you think. We might indeed just become the suspiciously popular neighbors if the legal and appropriate means fail us.

 
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Hamo
Grand Member (first year)  

Joined: Aug 22, 2016
Posts: 497
From: Colorado (via Iowa)
Posted: 2018-02-13 9:20 pm   Permalink

I’ve had a few ideas rolling around in my brain since seeing your big January 28 post, and a few others thoughts since you put up your renderings. I’ll share them soon, but in the meantime, I’ll say that I’m also jealous that you'll have a model train layout in your tiki space....

 
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