Retro Decorating Ideas: Tiki Design Revival

Retro Staff |  2 Comments

Retro Tiki Bar Decor

Tiki décor is experiencing yet another revival. Its popularity has been renewed throughout the U.S. as people discover retro decorating. From Hawaii’s 50th state celebration to destination events, Tiki has returned as a favored design scheme, as it seems to do every decade or so.

Classic Tiki Mugs

Classic decor includes tiki mugs and hula dolls.

The Tiki design trend, as it has become known in the U.S., is a romanticized version of the Polynesian island culture. Travel by servicemen during WWII resulted in many exotic items being brought back to the U.S. Some of these were used in restaurants and bars (many of them located at the beaches, but also many were not). It is in these locations where the notion of Tiki design was developed. It also explains the Tiki association with restaurants, bars and the beach. Popular culture, including music and movies, only served to increase the popularity of the Tiki trend.

Luau PuPu Platter

Common serving dishes include a Luau PuPu Platter.


Tiki is a unique style, so decorating with these theme requires attention to all the little details. Other styles of decor will stick out, so you’ll want to start with a blank canvas. In our examples, we emptied a room and started with a fresh coat of paint to design a permanent tiki area. Then we hung Tike Bar letters to help isolate the area, but you could also opt for a single-piece metal sign.

Tiki Bar Signs

Tiki Bar signage helps isolate the area.


We purchased an inexpensive bamboo bar set at  The Christmas Tree Shops. Sets like these are also available online and at seasonal retailers. Once you have your bar established, you can have a great time decorating it with anything that you feel gives it that exotic Polynesian look.

Tiki Signs Polynesian Decor

Use tin signs, ukeleles and other wall decor to create a Polynesian style collage.


Chief among the Tiki items we used, is of course, the Tiki god himself. These carvings were the inspiration behind the Tiki design movement and make a striking addition to your Tiki bar setting, with their mythical, yet whimsical appearance. A beautifully carved wooden palm tree lamp gives off a soft, ambient light that enhances the exotic mood.

Tiki mugs and drinkware

Use tiki-style drinkware to further enhance the mood.


Just add some colorful Tiki drinkware, a Pu Pu platter stacked with tasty food and some awesome music. Bring in your friends and you’ve got a luau atmosphere in which to entertain.

>> Tike Drink Recipes

It doesn’t matter what the weather is like outside when you decorate your den, basement or gameroom with a Tiki theme.

Tiki Bar Theme Decorating Ideas

Completed Tiki Bar in the home.


Do have a Tiki Bar in your home (or on the patio)? We’d love to see your design inspirations. Thinking about decorating in tiki style? Share your ideas below.

Last updated: Oct 26, 2009
Filed under: Design Gallery, Retro Decorating Ideas Tagged with: Tiki, Tiki decor