Salvaged Outdoor Bar: Shopping Odyssey
Sep 8
My friend Kristin is interested in making an outdoor bar from salvage. That's so cool. Even cooler? She wanted to go shopping to spark some good ideas for her creation. That's pretty much my idea of heaven.

Kristin has a couple of limitations: First, she has a baby, so her shopping time is limited. Second, she lives in a house with a homeowner's association, so any permanent outdoor anything has to be approved. Therefore, she's looking for a salvaged bar she can assemble and disassemble as needed. Friends coming over? Pull out the bar. It's about to pour? Put the bar away.

Due to our time crunch, we decided to hit stores in close proximity to each other. First was Union on Canyon Road. Union has beautiful bits and pieces (some of them quite large) of industrial salvage resting in their parking lot and inside the shop. There are gym lockers, pieces of machinery, school first aid boxes, signage, railroad spikes. Kristin had already seen a ladder used for storage like this, and liked the idea of stacking the metal drawers in Pic 1 on a ladder or ladders.

The drawer idea has many benefits. First, you can organize them. Soft drinks in the drawers on the left, mixers in the middle, alcohol on the right. Also, these drawers are metal, and they're already perforated. They can be filled with ice, and will drain on their own. (Super cool feature!) The ladder idea can be modified as well to give more space, like this. By using two ladders you create a middle space, infinitely helpful for an outdoor bar. Why? Well, because it creates a buffet area. Or a prep space. Room for snacks. For whatever you want.

(We also found the filing cabinet in Pic 2. Wouldn't this make a fabulous indoor bar for bottle and glass storage? Of course, it would also be good outside with holes drilled in the drawers for draining ice. If you added casters, it would even be mobile.)

Next we went to the Beaverton Habitat for Humanity Restore. The Restore is a blast. If you're going in to brainstorm, get ready to have a good time. There's so much random stuff in a Restore that creative juices always start to boil. First we came across all these desks (see Pic 3), generally priced at $5 or $10 a desk. We noted how they could be used similarly to the ladders, with boards connecting two of them at the writing surface, at the chair, and at the basket under the desk. While we were thinking this through, an employee came over and told us that all desks were half off - $2.50 or $5 each! It was hard to restrain ourselves from filling the car. Next we checked out the sink situation, as Kristin has not ruled out some type of small cabinet that could be retrofitted to hold a sink. And guess what! The sink in Pic 4 was only $5. Small victories!

My bottom line recommendation? Go shopping for your salvaged bar with a friend who has more willpower than I do. There are so many salvage options out there that the end product combos are endless. If you don't have willpower, you'll end up with enough inventory to open a store (which could be fun, too). Kristin has willpower. First she's going to go raid her mom's garage. She believes there are ladders hiding in there. Maybe even vintage ladders. What she finds will determine her next purchases. What a great plan!


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