How to Build an Apartment-Sized Beach
If Canadian entrepreneur Eric Pflanzer of Soleira Sun gets his way, small-scale indoor beaches could become mainstream in apartment buildings and other locations. He's already proven it by installing a virtual beach inside an empty apartment in a senior housing facility in Montreal. (Oh, those lucky old-timers!)
And we're talking all the elements, too: sand, beach chairs, palm trees, and a bar. Up to five senior-aged beach visitors can enjoy the virtual beach and it's panoramic views of either Greece or Thailand. Yes, the faux beach even includes the sounds of surf and seagulls, too.
However, the true centerpiece of the beach-like installation is the high-tech lighting. It was originally developed to test the effects of sun on Saab cars. But, it's been adapted to provide warmth that mimics the real thing, minus the damaging UVA/UVB rays. All the baking glory, none of the sagging, leathery effects.
Here's how you can accomplish nearly the same thing, minus the $64,000 (minimum) installation fee and automotive lights...
Obtain an Empty Room
Time to have that serious talk with your housemate. "Listen, dude. It's been great. But I'll need you out of the room by the end of the month so I can install a fake beach."
Don't skimp here. You'll need something sturdy to protect the floor or carpet before you haul in sand. Try finding appropriately sized, heavy-duty tarp or canvas that you can maneuver after installing the sand (remember, sand gets heavy). Check your local Army-Navy surplus outlet, parent's garage, or Craigslist.
Haul in Sand
You can buy bags of sand at any home improvement or landscaping store. Aim for enough to give yourself a few inches to really sink your toes into - even if it means restricting the sand area of your beach to a small segment of the room. (Ideally, away from the door's swing.) Borrow a dolly to haul the heavy bags of sand... you won't want to spend your first day at your fake beach with a back ache.
Light it Up
Of course, we're referring to the lighting here. Source the biggest, meanest, energy-sucking lighting available (ok, ok - seeing as how April is Earth month, have a look at LED light option, too). Look for "full spectrum" light bulbs. If you're super-handy, AOL-search the instructions necessary to build a giant light box.
Heat it Up
Bring in the space heaters, too. (Did we fail to mention a virtual beach will probably raise your electric bill? Counteract by keeping your beach door closed.)
Pipe in Sound
Set up your stereo so that you have music in the room. Sound will help convey the illusion. Obtain a beach-flavored meditation cd from someone who is sick of it.
However you define "beach", bring in the cabana-ready furniture to make it work. Source the furniture second-hand for your cheapest option. Some ideas: a kiddie pool, a hammock, and a surface for drinks and food. Artsy people can paint a fake beach scene. Less arty people can simply hang posters. Plants are nice, too.
If you're still on speaking terms with your former housemate, invite them over again to enjoy your apartment's new fake beach with you.
When you move out, simply shovel out the sand, roll up the floorcovering, and vacuum up any leftover traces of your beach.