Brian's Photo Blog — Article 693
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Home Bar Home Decorating
Sunday 15 October 2017   —   Category: Miscellaneous
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When we moved into our two-​story house about eight years ago, it turned out that my home office was next to the upstairs laundry room. Only a wall separated my desk from the washer and dryer. As the years went by it became more and more irritating when my wife would do a load of laundry because it sounded (and felt) like there was a helicopter in the next room!
Rather than continue in marital conflict, I finally decided to move the washer and dryer to the garage. Considering that my grandfather and uncle were both pipe fitters, I thought I would try the plumbing part of the installation myself.

As you can see in the photo to the right, I tapped into the pipes for the sink next to the new washer location to run hot and cold water to the washer. I was quite proud of myself that it all worked!

I had figured that the electricity part would be even easier be­cause there was a 240V outlet right there on the wall. I called in an electrician and he said that the circuit was already being used by the air conditioner, so we had to pay $650 for a new 240V circuit to be installed by the dryer. That was in addition to the $160 I had already paid for the plumbing and other parts.
Despite the project costing a lot more than I had imagined, it was still worth it. Everyone was happy: my wife could do laundry in peace, and I could work on my computer in peace.

Of course, with the washer and dryer now in the garage, the upstair laundry room was pretty empty and useless. It continued to lie fallow for about two years until Christmas 2015 when I be-​gan getting ideas for transforming it into a small home bar.
One of the first decorating im­prove­ments I made was in my bathroom and not the laundry room. I had previously pho­to­graphed objects at one end of the sink counter. Now it was time for the other end to get some attention.

I bought a Beer Tasting Wood Plank 4 Glass Set and put it right by the sink to hold some of my bathroom items, as you can see in this photo. Nearly two years later I’m still using and enjoying it.
Now for the laundry room. It was a step by step, on and off process which ended up taking a whole month.

I had already had a mini fridge in the laundry room ever since I had lost my job in 2009 and brought home the one I had bought to use in my office at work.

It is very convenient to have upstairs, just steps from my home office, cold water, sodas, milk for my black tea, frosted glasses, beer and hard cider.

When that original mini fridge died after about six years, in 2014, I replaced it with one from Home Depot. The current contents are shown in the photo to the right.

The fridge was a good start for a small bar, but I also wanted to show off my growing beer bottle collection, and add some other beer-​related décor.
I had a picture in my mind of what I wanted for the beer bottle collection, but I wasn’t sure about how to bring it into being.

Eventually I went down to the local glass shop and after some consultation I ended up ordering two pieces of quarter-​inch glass, four feet wide by three inches deep, with seamed edges, for $16.70 apiece.

I didn’t want to spend the extra time and money for specialty edge finishing. And contrary to what glass shops may say, the seamed edges look great.

After looking around at Home Depot I found the perfect brack­ets for securely mounting these glass shelves onto the wall. Not only did they look awesome (see photo to the right), attach easily to both the wall and the shelves, and function great, but they were only about $4 per bracket. I was so pleased!
I worked carefully and methodically to mount the two shelves so that I wouldn’t mess anything up. Everything turned out wonderful.

After moving my bottle col­lec­tion out of my home office and arranging them on the shelves, I found that they were al­ready full. The overall look met and even exceeded my expectations.
I quickly realized that I needed an ad­di­tion­al shelf if I was to have room to add more bottles to my collection. For­tu­nate­ly the placement of the two shelves al­lowed room for a third shelf above them.

After two more trips to the glass shop and one to Home Depot, I mounted three more brack­ets and installed the last glass shelf snuggly between their clamping mechanism. Slowly but surely my vision for this room was starting to take shape. But there was still a lot to do.
Part of that vision was to illuminate the shelves. I thought long and hard about how to achieve this, with quite a bit of research. In the end I settled upon a lighting kit with three strips of metal half an inch wide, each of which contains 42 tiny LED bulbs. The strip’s 16.75-​inch length was exactly the right size to fit between two shelf brackets.
It also took a lot of imagination and trial and error to figure out how to mount the lights. They could not be attached directly to the wall nor to the shelves because the strips had to be under the shelves and pointing up towards them.

Finally I discovered the perfect solution: 1/2" black plastic clamps. One clamp at each end of the light strips, screwed into the wall, held them securely and unobtrusively. I mounted them on both sides of the center bracket under each shelf, and positioned the light strips to point straight up through the bottom of each shelf. Finding that the light was too bright, I rotated the strips to a 45° angle between the shelves and the wall. That did the trick, but there were still two more issues.

The metal strips were painted white, which did not look good with my setup. So I cut some strips of black construction paper and glued them onto the back of each strip. And even though the LED bulbs were described as “warm white,” the light they emitted was still quite white, which was not aesthetically pleasing. So I went down to Hobby Lobby and took a look at their cloth ribbon section. After some consideration I bought a half-​inch wide roll of ribbon in a shade of orange. Back home, I cut pieces to length and taped them over the LED bulbs, which fortunately don’t get hot. That gave the light an appealing orangish glow which was just what I wanted.
The two photos I have included on this page showing the illuminated shelves just don’t do the actual appearance jus­tice. It is much more beautiful and cap­ti­vat­ing in person, almost to the point of being awe-​inspiring ... really!

As you can see in this photo, there are a number of other decorating elements to tell you about. Let us move on to my growler lamp project....
I don’t know how I got the idea to make a lamp out of a glass growler bottle, but there it was in my head so I had to do something about it.

Compared to over 100 breweries within the Portland city limits, the beer scene in little old Albany is quite pitiful. I think a couple have opened within the last year, but prior to that it seemed like Calapooia Brewing was the only one. On a previous visit I had noticed that they sold their own growlers, so I went back and bought one for only $5.

Perusing Home Depot once again, I bought a lamp socket and related hardware plus a replacement electrical cord with an inline on / off switch.
I drilled two holes in the metal growler lid: a larger one in the center for the lamp socket and a smaller one near the edge for the electrical cord to exit the bottle.

For the actual light source I chose a 40W old-​fashioned Edison light bulb since I was not going to use a lamp shade. I think these bulbs look awesome! I got a low-wattage bulb so it wouldn’t be too bright. And it has an amber-​colored light similar to the transformed LED strips under the glass shelves.

It wasn’t too hard to assemble all the parts, and once I plugged it in, the lamp worked perfectly and looked great. But I wasn’t done yet — the harder part was yet to come.
Not only did I want a light bulb shining on top of the growler, I also wanted a light bulb glowing inside it. As big of a bulb as would fit. Seeing that the inner diameter of the growler’s open­ing is only one inch, most of the light bulbs out there were automatically disqualified.

It was going to have to be long and thin. After much research on the Web I eventually chose a 40 watt T6.5 appliance / exit sign bulb, which is about 13/16 inch in diameter and 5¼ inches long. I got a small socket to screw the bulb into, and then spliced the socket wires into the electrical cord I had already wired to the upper bulb.

After carefully inserting this bulb assembly into the growler, I reattached the upper bulb, plugged it in and turned it on. As you can see from the photo to the right, this bulb looked great inside the growler. Be sure to click on the photo to see a larger version.
Unfortunately, I soon became aware of a major problem. I should have anticipated it, but I didn’t. The 40 watt bulb, enclosed inside the growler with the lid on, gave off a lot of heat. So much so that I was afraid the lamp might catch on fire, melt, and / or explode.

So with great sorrow I removed the inner bulb and went back to the Web to find another solution. There are hardly any LED bulbs the size and shape I wanted, but I finally came across one on Amazon.

It’s not as good looking as the incandescent bulb, and the part that actually lights up is quite a bit smaller, but at least it stays cool and gets the job done.

The photo to the right shows the new LED bulb illuminating the growler logo. The look of the entire lamp is pretty close to what I was hoping for.
With the three glass shelves mounted and full of bottles, and with the shelves illuminated and the growler lamp glow­ing, it was time to turn to the next phase of my project: decorating the walls with bar / beer-​themed artwork.

As this photo to the right illustrates, I took a two-​pronged approach by using my own photos for some of the hangings and buying selected artwork for the rest.
I looked through all my photos and picked the best six. I could not find inexpensive frames locally nor on Amazon, but I did find a set of three 12 x 18 inch black plastic frames for around $12. Can’t beat that! They also use clear plastic sheets instead of glass, which makes them way less heavy. These frames were perfect for my needs, so I bought another set.

In addition to my six framed photos, I purchased these wall hangings from various sources: I have found that my taste in beer has changed since January 2016 — mostly because of all the McMenamins beers I have been trying on my McMenamins Passport adventure. I never thought I would say this, but Moose Drool is no longer one of my favorite beers. But that’s a whole nother story I’ll be cov­er­ing at another time. I do still like the metal bar sign.

I also bought a large (36 x 24") and very unique poster: a Periodic Table of Beer Styles. It quite cleverly mimics the fa­mous periodic table of elements.

To me it seems to cover European beers way more than American beers, but still, it’s fun to look at and a great addition to my bar. Be sure to click on the preview to the right to see all the detail of a larger sample.

During 2017 I have collected quite a number of trinkets, souvenirs and prizes during my above-​mentioned Mc­Men­a­mins Passport ad­ven­ture. Most of them are on display in the bar, sitting on top of the fridge and on the countertop. But it’s going to be way down the road until I get around to telling you about them because of the huge backlog of photos I need to process and accompanying articles to write.

My bar is also where I keep my stock of beer and wine. Some of it I buy 75 miles north in Portland. Some of it I find on sale. I hate to go shopping. For all of these rea­sons, I try to stock up when I am shopping, so I tend to have a pretty good supply at any point in time.

Writing this long article has made me thirsty. Maybe it’s time to stop typing, walk to my home bar in the next room, and pour myself an ice-​cold brew in a frosted glass. Ahhhhhh!

Larger versions of 14 of the photos on this page, as well as 6 other shots from my bar, are now available for viewing in the new Home Bar 2016 album.
UPDATE: A week after I posted this article I was in Walmart and I noticed an LED tube bulb with a similar look to and effective wattage as the first tube bulb I mentioned above. It was only $3.67 so I decided to give it a try. It looks much better inside the growler than the LED bulb I’ve been using for the past 21 months. Although it does give off a bit of heat, it seems to be a small enough amount that it shouldn’t be a problem. I like it!
Brian's Photo Blog — Article 693
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