The Inside Man: Jarrett's Bungalow Bar

The Inside Man: Jarrett's Bungalow Bar

Maxwell Ryan
Jun 24, 2010
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Name: Jarrett
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Style: Mid-Century Bungalow Bar

With the help of Valspar Paint, I'm helping five guys across the country re-do a room in their home. My second meeting was with Jarrett — a great guy, who lives with his wife, Catherine, in a bungalow near Oak Park.

The job here involves Jarrett's man-cave, or basement, which is a symphony of dark wood paneling. Built out by the previous owners, Jarrett is eager to reclaim the room and put it back into use, but with a style that is much more in line with his. The room is big, a bit dirty and dark, but it has some fantastic elements in the homemade bar and bright orange stools, and Jarrett has a regular poker game that's in need of a home, so I've got some great elements to play with. Rather than try to erase the room, we're going to use paint and furnishings to update the original inspiration for this Bungalow Bar.

I came to Jarrett's prepared to work with the wood paneling by doing a Paul Smith-like stripe treatment using the bright, fun colors on the pillars in the middle of the room. The more time I spent in the room, however, I felt that too much color would overwhelm it and Jarrett agreed. So, instead of thinking multi-color, we looked at a few color palettes that were made up of different shades of the same color.

By painting stripes the width of the faux wood strips in the paneling, but doing it in a more muted buff, I got excited that we'd get a really cool subtle variation of tone, still brighten the room, but not make it seem like an amusement park. Holding up the chips, we settled on two palettes, one of which we both liked; the other which we sorta liked and I felt was a good control for the other.

We did, however, also develop a simple multi-color palette of blue, orange and yellow to try using just in the bar area. I'm not sure how it will work out, until I see how the paint dries, but I think it could be a real cool accent near the bar or, at least, beneath the bar.

Bright Stripes
Summer Splash 5002-9C (blue)
Orange Fruit 2011-1 (orange)
Soft Duckling 3001-2A (yellow)

Warm Buff Stripes
Tagsale Linen 3001-10C
Milk Toast 3001-10B
La Fonda Boulder 3001-10A

Yellow Brown Stripes
French Pastry 3002-6C
Amber Waves 3002-6B
Fragrant Coriander 3002-6A

We also spent some time figuring out how to repeat the pattern of the color stripes on the walls. We decided to do a slightly off-set repeat so that the color stripes are not the same width all around the room.

First step? I'm going to send Jarrett sample pots of those we chose, and he's going to get them up in a few places in the basement and try out the repeating pattern we came up with. Once the paint has dried and he's spent some time with it, he's going to send me a photo and we're going to pick the one that looks best.

This basement hasn't been touched in years. I was told that massive parties had been held down there back in the day, but now it's empty and in need of new purpose. I steered our conversation to which activities Jarrett could imagine for himself in this room and things started to take shape. He has a regular poker game with some friends, and having a comfortable space for that would be nice. Having a place to sit, besides the bar, and hang out with friends would be good. Being able to watch a film — like in a theater — would be a treat. I pushed for an activity — pool or ping pong? Jarrett liked the idea, but foosball and shuffleboard were more his speed.

After defining four activity areas: bar, lounge, game room and poker area, we had a road map for the room. It's a lot of activities, but it's a lot of room. I also uncovered an inspirational space (a fave of Jarrett's), a bar called The Hideout, which we are going to use to dictate some of the interior decor. He's going to take pics and send them to me.

The solution to this room is simply to start using it and that's not going to happen until it gets brightened up and furnished. To brighten it up we're going to scrub the floor and paint all of the faux wood paneling, while keeping the striping already in the panels. We're also going to add some light fixtures to the bar, lounge and poker area. Beyond that we're going to fill in the floor plan with as much nice, comfortable furniture as we can fit into our budget. We need quite a bit and we're on the lookout for a shuffleboard table, so it's going to be a tight squeeze!

Some of the fun details have to do with the what we've inherited. For example, there's what looks like a trophy cabinet right as you come into the room. Instead of removing it, we're going to fill it with as many trophies as we can find. Why not? Jarrett and Catherine say they already have friends who want to donate.

There's also a large antique chest that looks like it was used to hold glasses. We're going to paint it a bright glossy Chinese Red and move it over to a wall that will really show it off. I'm looking to create some real moments of drama in this room so that it's fun and social.

And finally, I'm excited to design a sign to be hung over the front door, and thinking that "The Hideout" couldn't be more perfect. Wouldn't you agree?

• Barware, drink bottles and a real beer tap for the bar area
• Two small, bright lamps for either end of the bar
• Sofa and two ottomans for the lounge
• Two floor lamps that can wrap over the sofa
• Colorful FLOR tile for under the lounge area
• Foosball or shuffleboard table
• Cushions & pillows for poker seating on banquet
• Poker table and three more chairs
• New pendant lamp for over poker table
• Lamp and trophies for trophy cabinet
• "Hideout" sign for front door

This is Jarrett and Catherine's lovely bungalow from the front. They have a totally separate garage in back!

As we wrapped up our meeting, I left Jarrett with some things to consider over the next couple weeks:

  • Which color combo works best of the two tan/buffs
  • If the patterning we worked out looks right when painted
  • If there's a way he can experiment with scrubbing the floor to get the linoleum brighter (we did a little test with Softscrub and it seemed to work)
  • Snap some pics of the Hideout and send them to me so I can think of some good additional touches, artwork, and accessories for the room

While he does this, I'm going to do some research into what great furniture will fit the room and the budget. We're going to check back in next week, and then get painting. The redesign has begun...keep an eye out.

Here we are standing in front of a very impressive portrait at the Capital Grille, where we went for a very fancy lunch afterward.

We've teamed up with Valspar Paint to create The Inside Man, a special feature dedicated to daily (Monday – Friday) posts from Apartment Therapy and GQ about men’s color conundrums and style questions. From sofas with cup holders to brilliant bachelor pads, we’re focusing on the décor dilemmas men often bring to us.

• See my introduction to Jarrett here.
• Read more about guy style at
• Check out GQ's guide to guy style at

Photos: Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan
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