When you think of tiki, many things come to mind: beach parties, crimson-lit bars filled with smoke, grass skirts, dapper gents, and pinup girls from another time. But . . . Berwyn? The western suburb certainly isn't a place I associated with anything tropical—that is, until I met David and Lorie Krys.
Five years ago, the Kryses had their hearts set on bungalow life, and while Berwyn might not be the heart of Chicago, it's rich with charming bungalows and is fast becoming a diverse community of young professionals and artists. David, a design engineer and craftsman, and Lori, an optician, are both big fans of midcentury style, 50s collectibles, and all things kitsch, so when they settled into their new home, they had ideas brewing from the get-go.
David has been a picker for over 25 years, and the couple frequents flea markets, thrift shops, antique malls, Etsy, eBay, collectibles shows, garage sales, and anywhere else they have a feeling they might happen upon tiki treasures. Many of the items in their vintage vault have been refreshed and repurposed by David, such as the mirrored shadow box in the bathroom, which displays a portion of their 50s sci-fi robot collection and is illuminated by a reproduction Sputnik light fixture.
Everywhere you look, there are echoes of the past brought to life with a modern touch. Carefully poised drink stirrers are framed and hung down the hallway, Shriners hats sit atop bookshelves, and kitschy caricatures are arranged behind the bar—the bar that David scored for a song ($200) at a resale shop, only to later find a set of complementary stools for $150 at a garage sale. He has plans to reupholster the lot in a matching fabric and relaminate the surface of the bar in that classic-diner boomerang Formica. The rad light fixture that hangs next to the bar belonged to David's grandmother, and most of the art was traded for or bartered.
The enclosed back porch is one of my favorite spaces in the Kryses' home. David and Lorie have created a mini theme park dedicated to the thrill of tiki. Every nook and cranny is styled with shells, skulls, and gyrating plastic hips. They extended their interior decor into the backyard with an authentic tiki bar. In the summer, the bar is packed with friends who also share their love of atomic style.
Next up: a plan to revamp the finished attic to create a huge tiki lounge.
"I like to think of our house as a growing, changing project that really has no goal or end," David says. "It always stays interesting."