It’s in his genes.

If Gregory got a DNA test, his results would likely indicate a 99.9% propensity related to developing an obsession for tiki.

He gets this genetic trait honest from his Mom. When Gregory was a kid, his mother was known for over-the-top escapism décor. His bedroom would change every couple of years. Greg lived his toddler years in Jurrassic park. In the early grades, Greg slept under the sea with fish nets on the ceiling and exotic fish swimming around him. By middle school, Greg was marooned in deep space with a view of planets, the Death Star, and toothbrush-flecked painted stars that would glow at night. His sister was also fortunate – she lived deep in a tropical jungle. Every room his Mom created was over the top. She set the bar quite high. Of course, eventually Gregory grew up and moved out. I suspect that most adults would accept living in cookie-cutter beige world as they transitioned from home.

Not Greg.

Gregory recently created the Sunken Schooner, a sublime home tiki bar that is “sunken” in the basement of his home in Benton Harbor on the shores of Lake Michigan. As you descend the stairs, the walls have been painted to give the impression that you are sinking underwater. The entire room is a deep aquamarine. As you dive down into the shipwreck, you’ll notice a impressive collection of nautical items. He has a large Japanese glass float that was found on the shores of Lake Michigan. There are lamps, tiki carvings, vintage movie posters, and a well-designed and fully stocked bar. The bar’s design is still a family affair. Kathleen, Gregory’s wife, picked the color with consultation from his mom.

The Sunken Schooner isn’t Greg’s first over-the-top creation. By age twenty-one, he had created the Halloween party to attend. He rented a 20×40 tent, made it into a haunted house, and the Midnight Inferno was an instant hit. When his wife decided to take him to Three Dots and a Dash in Chicago, he was convinced that a home tiki bar was the goal for his basement. After installing key fundamentals like a insulated floor (those lake winters make a basement cold and damp but not with this floor!), he was ready to dive in. Since he and his wife live on the shore, he knew it had to be nautical. He wanted something rugged with reference to a boat, and the Sunken Schooner name was perfect to organize his design and approach.

Today, the Sunken Schooner is truly an escape. Kathleen and Greg use the space as a respite at night after their one year old goes to bed. With the baby monitor set up to listen in, they now spend almost every night relaxing in a tiki bar.

There’s no need for genetic counseling at the Sunken Schooner. Gregory has embraced his disposition, and we are all the better for it.

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