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Vintage beaded curtains for the Mahalo Lounge entry way — magical mystery beckons

You only get one chance to make a good first impression. So the entry way into the Mahalo Lounge has been draped in beaded curtains. Entry ways into the heart of tiki bars are important, too. You want to set the mood even before your visitors get inside.

What you see here: Vintage beaded shell curtains I found on ebay flanked by vintage plastic beaded curtains I scooped up at a local estate sale *for some project some time* golly, 10 years ago. Those blue-green beaded curtains had been taking up space in the basement all this time, hung on a steel beam, double-folded on heavy wood hangers — poking us with their hooks every time we tried to get into the games cabinet. Taunting me, and my ever-persevering husband, with the: ‘What in the heck are you going to to with these?’ taunt, year after year.

As usual: The Retro Decorating Gods had a plan in mind for them — a perfect plan. 

Above: The effect, so far, after several hours of work. YES: SEVERAL HOURS. Why:

  1. Put up the traverse rod. I had this left over from another project. I did not have to spray paint it. I had done that before. It will get covered by valances on both sides anyway. 
  2. I chose the traverse rod as a hanger so that I could easily remove each string of beads if we wanted to open the space when we didn’t have guests planned any time soon. Each string of beads goes onto the traverse rod slide with a hook. I wanted a doorway full o’ beads, so I removed all the traversing mechanism and roping; that is, the strings don’t move, although you can slide them manually.
  3. Hang the shell curtains. Buhahaha: Initially, I had actually thought the shell curtains would fill the doorway. I had not thought that through. I went to look for more on ebay and etsy, but alas, strings of shells like this — hard to find. I was ahead of my own curve in snapping these up when I did. 
  4. So then I went for the blue-green plastic beaded ones.
  5. The blue-green plastic ones were way longer. Would I/Could I “puddle” them? Nope. Just looks messy. So then I had to shorten each strand.
  6. Along the way, many of those blue-green babies fell apart — the waxed string had lost its strength on top. So I restrung some, at the top, as I went along.
  7. I also scurried around endlessly looking for the baubles that fell onto the ground. My dog doesn’t eat things, but just in case, I didn’t want him to ingest one — and cause a horrible medical emergency! Also, I didn’t want someone to slip on one! The tiki ancestors and I have a … history re slips and falls regarding orbital vintage decor.  
  8. I ran out of traverse rod slides (affiliate link) so I had to order more.
  9. I also cobbled a temporary way to pull them back so that we could walk through more easily on a daily basis. This also caused more strands to break from the pressure… rinse and repeat items above.

But — still not done. Need to:

  1. String and hang those additional strings of beads from all the broken sets.
  2. And: Create valances to cover the traverse rod, slides and hooks, from both sides

I took an initial run at a quick and easy idea for a valance, but it was hot mess. I now need to puzzle through a takes-forever and is really-a-pain idea. 

When people say: “Work smarter” or “Just…. [fill in the blank]” I just laugh and laugh and laugh while inside, I restrain myself. Getting ever-closer to my 60th birthday (how did THAT happen!) I am ever more of the mind: Nothing worth doing is easy. Okay: Giving hugs and kisses and smiles and encouragements to those you love. Just do those, those are easy, and come right back at you, usually, too.


Beaded curtains, I love you.

  1. Lisa Compo says:

    Looking so good and tropical, just in time for Summer. A perfect spot for a drink with an umbrella. ????

    Hmmm, I wonder how it would look with a tropical print barkcloth valance on both sides. Unfortunately, it would cover a few beads and shells, but if you have any fabric leftover from curtains it might be a nice tie it together look. I would have to flop over a piece of fabric for a few days, then decide if it was actually a good idea. Ha ha but it popped in my head so I thought I would share the idea. Aloha

  2. Joe says:

    Pam, if you’re interested in what I think is the perfect valance for your doorway to paradise, here goes: There’s a website called save-on-crafts.com. They sell Raffia Table Skirting (same material as on grass skirts). It is sold in 9 ft sections and the grass (30″ long) can be trimmed to any length you need for head clearance. It’s only $8.99! It think it would tie in beautifully with your island tiki theme, and the sound of the beads and grass moving would set the proper mood. Just stop at Walmart, Home Deport or Lowe’s to buy inexpensive tension curtain rods and you’re good to go!

    1. Pam Kueber says:

      Thanks, I’ll check it out. That said, I have a different idea in mind because… I do things the hard way. I’m eager to see the raffia table skirting in any case, I might find a use for it elsewhere! Thanks!

  3. Phyllis says:

    I.love.beaded.curtains……seriously Pam if you sold tickets to the Mahalo Lounge reveal?….sign me up!

  4. Amy says:

    I love beaded curtains, and finally got to cover a narrow doorway in my 1970-inspired TV room with a double-thickness (2 curtains) bamboo bead curtain from this company in Arizona, ShopWildThings.

  5. Cindy Bohli says:

    Love the beaded curtains, Pam!! I’m sitting here trying to figure out where I could hang some. 🙂

    I’ve been working on several mid-century touches in my living room. I love seeing yours AND mine come together, little-by-little!

  6. This is fabulous, Pam. Hope it holds up to use, and that you’re not constantly having to chase down beads and restring! I have a bamboo doorway curtain (not vintage), bought at a Galveston nursery/gift shop, that has a huge parrot design on it. But it’s really too delicate to hang in a doorway — barely survived the trip home and had to be mended with tiny pieces of clear tape — so I hung it on the wall at the end of my “tiki” hallway. Super cool.

  7. Melanie Plum says:

    I second the tiki barkcloth valance! When I read that, the first thing I thought was tiki barkcloth!!

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