For club and resort properties that want to create a warm atmosphere conducive to socializing, interior furnishings aren’t just pretty to look at—they’re a must for doing business
Step inside any club or resort, and you are bound to find an inviting space that begs members and guests to sit down, have a drink or snack, and chat with friends. Whether renovating a bar and dining area to provide more space for mingling, or updating a lobby and living room to reflect a traditional design, properties benefit from a refreshed style that pairs fun with function.
Dining for All
At Parkersburg Country Club in Vienna, W. Va., members take pride in the facility’s historical roots, which date back to 1902. But as membership expanded over time, the club found itself outgrowing its bar and formal dining areas and was in dire need of an updated look. While a renovation had been in discussion for several years, it wasn’t until last April that the project began to take shape.
Summing It Up
• Selecting comfortable but durable furnishings is essential to creating a people-friendly atmosphere.
• Tapping a club’s historical roots when choosing décor personalizes the member experience.
• Neutral color furnishings can achieve a balance with contrasting tones and patterns in other décor.
“When you have a Board of Directors willing to focus on the big picture and make the collective decision to cater to changing demographics and attract new members, it’s a no-brainer,” says General Manager Kate Swisher of the decision to upgrade. With the support of its member community, the renovation got underway and the club proudly unveiled its new bar and dining spaces in July 2015.
The plan for Parkersburg CC’s renovation was devised with a tangible mission: Maximize space and improve guests’ experience, but maintain the beautiful views. Design themes for each space were created to play off one another: a classic family atmosphere for casual dining, and an elegant, intimate setting for the formal dining room. In all cases, the completed designs were achieved by maintaining a sense of the club’s rich history while fashioning a more updated, efficient space.
A solid maple bar that seats up to 21 people now serves as the focal point of Parkersburg CC’s casual-dining area. New chairs and bar stools upholstered with a rich, sienna-brown faux leather offer buttery-soft seating. Thanks to an open floor plan, patrons can easily view any of the eleven television screens from any seat.
Behind the bar, vintage beer and wine giclee prints adorn one wall, while another boasts enlarged copies of original Parkersburg Country Club postcards that date back to the early 1900s. The cards showcase how the club looked prior to a 1936 fire that destroyed the original clubhouse (it was rebuilt three years later). Fittingly, one of the postcards, found in Canada, has a postmark of 1915—exactly 100 years before the renovation.
The bar’s warm-brown color palette is carried into the casual dining area, which is framed by large windows and features soft, gold-textured cornices with contrasting black-tapestry fabric overlays. Black solar shades are hidden underneath the cornices and can be used during sunnier days.
Selecting the right interior designer is essential to ensuring a well-executed renovation—and one that meets management’s expectations.
“We wanted someone who would be able to re-create what we had in mind as to what was a more timeless look and feel for the club,” explains Russell Kingsland, General Manager of Sunset Country Club in St. Louis, Mo.
While some clubs look outside their circle for prospective designers, others can tap inside sources to handle their design needs. For Parkersburg Country Club in Vienna, W. Va., this meant looking no further than two of its own club members, Barbara LeMaster and Kathe Deitzler, who are also interior designers and were selected for their skill sets and years of experience.
“It was especially nice to undergo such a big transition with people you feel comfortable with and know from day-to-day activities—and to have the chance to get to know them even better on a professional level,” says Parkersburg CC’s General Manager, Kate Swisher.
In the formal dining area, a soft copper wall captures the room’s ambiance. Large windows overlooking the golf course are enhanced by caramel-color jacquard fabric cornices, with faux silk, pleated overlays trimmed in caramel tassel fringe. Cream-colored sheers temper sunlight to create just enough natural illumination. Impressionist-style paintings round out the wall décor, filling the room with color and warmth.
So far, the response to the newly renovated space has been tremendous. As a testament to its success, the club held its first Super Bowl party last month in its new bar area, and the event was completely sold out.
“It was great to see the camaraderie and fun in the room,” says Swisher. “We can now be the venue that caters to all sporting events and make the flow more manageable for member events, which was always an issue in the past.”
Returning to its Roots
For Sunset Country Club in St. Louis, Mo., an upgrade to its clubhouse interior wasn’t a matter of keeping up with changing times, but rather a decision to revert to classic styling. Founded in 1910, the club tore down its original Bavarian lodge building and replaced it with a more modern clubhouse in 1954.
“We felt it was necessary to get back to our roots as an old-line, traditional country club,” says General Manager Russell Kingsland.
A major renovation initiative first began with a complete refurbishment of the club’s parking lots, followed by a remodeling of the porte cocheres, updated landscaping, and staining the clubhouse exterior a light gray. With so many outside updates, revamping the club’s lobby and main living room last May was a natural extension.
When the project got underway, a design theme was put into place: create a warm, welcoming environment immediately upon entering the club.
To accomplish this, an emphasis was placed on keeping a tailored foyer, a comfortable, home-like living room and a notable library, to create a transitional, rather than traditional, design. A fresh color palette of light golds and whites was used to keep the L-shaped living room light and airy, with pops of jewel tones in the upholstery. Various scaled patterns were incorporated throughout the space—ranging from carpet, furniture and wall covering—to create a lively and appealing décor.
When selecting appropriate furniture, Sunset CC’s committee opted for a style that was durable and comfortable, yet tailored. A conscious effort was made to avoid choosing furniture and décor that would seem pretentious or untouchable; a primary goal was to encourage members to actively use and live in the updated spaces.
Scarlet and gold-textured upholstered furnishings were selected to complement the maize, diamond-patterned carpet. The color scheme is carried all the way through the living room, from the foyer’s bronze chandelier to bronze nail heads on the club chairs. Framed historic artwork, specific to the St. Louis region, rounds out the look and feel of the historically inspired space.
While Sunset CC’s new living room evokes an old-world charm, it can be reconfigured to serve as multi-use space for functions of any size. The addition of a glass partition wall creates a distinct, yet transitional segue from the living room to the newly added Alcove Dining Room, which can be closed off to accommodate private affairs.
“It has enhanced our ability to offer the space for small social gatherings, lunch and dinner parties,” says Kings-land. “The living room now rivals the library, which in the past was the most popular room in the clubhouse. We also see many more members spending time either at lunch or prior to dinner, enjoying themselves in the new living-room space.”
Thanks to these interior changes, Sunset CC now embodies a classic style reminiscent of days gone by. “The new furnishings and the overall look and feel of the club turned out better than we could have hoped,” Kingsland says. “We have had many comments from our membership about how proud they are of their club and what the renovation did for the overall brand.”
Fit for Royalty
In November 2015, ViVA Restaurants & Catering Group opened ViVA Castle Pub, its renovated dining venue inside Reading (Pa.) Country Club, after signing a 15-year lease with Exeter Township, which owns the building.
Open daily to the public, the venue features furnishings that are entirely custom-designed by local and regional suppliers, says Rachael Romig, ViVa’s Marketing Director.
When designing the 1,600-sq. ft. space, ViVa wanted to preserve the authentic look of an English Tudor castle. The Castle Pub is made up of the Four Seasons Room, main dining room, and Knights Room, each blending a contemporary feel within an old-world castle in warm earth tones, including gold, brown, rust, and orange, and all using slate flooring, Romig explains.
All rooms have a mix of free-standing tables (rounds, squares and rectangles), private booths and banquettes, for optimal seating flexibility with the ability to accommodate large parties. Walls are done in a rich, yellow-gold stucco with dark mahogany woods, and the stone from the original castle walls are exposed in the main dining room. The Four Seasons Room has window-walls that completely open up to the outside seasonally with views onto the golf course, Romig says. “The stained-glass windows show the original castle’s turret entrance, which has also been preserved,” she notes.
The sports bar features a granite bar with black, gray, brown, orange and yellow swirled throughout, surrounded by 30 seats and high-tops to accommodate an additional 36 guests.
The Grand Ballroom, which opened in December, features rich taupe walls and 30-foot-high ceilings with a stage and a large wooden dance floor, surrounded by a dark-brown, neutral-patterned carpet (see photo, above right). Taupe Chiavari chairs, rich gold drapes, and balconies with sheer curtains and plants add to the space’s grandeur. The ballroom can accommodate up to 300 guests and features an outside deck that opens out to the golf course, in addition to a rear patio overlooking a green and a pergola archway designed for wedding ceremonies.
A New Lease
At the beginning of 2015, James Lunsford bought Olive Branch (Miss.) Country Club and immediately embarked on a renovation that would assist in transforming the club into a destination for the whole family.
“When my dad retired, he was looking for a new project, and he bought the club on the basis that we could change it from a men’s golf course and bar into a family-friendly club, with a place for women and kids,” says General Manager Trey Lunsford, James’ son.
James Lunsford died in September 2015, but his family has continued to cultivate the atmosphere he imagined. The $916,500 renovation touched on most of the property, adding two tennis courts, an outdoor pavilion with full bar and grill, new TifEagle greens, and the Card Shack (a venue for card games). At the same time, the interior of the clubhouse was updated from the front entry to the Executive Lounge, including the dining room, Player’s Bar and ladies locker room, with all spaces completed in May.
The 7,000-sq. ft. clubhouse now features dark hardwood flooring throughout and an overall color scheme of dark green, “stormy weather” gray, and quill (off-white). The Lunsford family worked together to create the design by visiting a furniture show and hand-selecting pieces they liked, then fitting them together.
In the foyer, visitors are greeted by two large off-white monk chairs. Heading into the Executive Lounge, which Lunsford describes as “upscale, for the after-work business crowd,” a large accent wall features photos taken at the club in the 1960s that were blown up on canvas and framed. Three gray leather benches, accent chairs and tables are positioned in front of the wall (see photo above). Two eight-foot-long farm tables with leather counter stools are set up in front of large windows overlooking the golf course.
The lounge also features a 24-foot wooden bar with a copper top and overhead copper pendant lights. The fireplace was also renovated, using the same rock that trims the front exterior of the building, with two leather lounge chairs in front. Dark-brown high leather bar stools, accent tables and high-back burlap chairs fill out the space.
In the dining room, Olive Branch CC repurposed dining chairs that Lunsford describes as “‘70s red” by using tan chair covers with a black sash. Tables are topped with white linen tablecloths and black napkins. The chair covers offer versatility for events, with the option of changing colors as needed.
“We included the membership in a lot of the decisions,” Lunsford says. “We were trying to change the atmosphere and culture, so we sort of knew what we were going after, but we always invited suggestions.” The executive board met monthly to discuss the design decisions, he adds.
Since the redesign, Olive Branch CC has seen its membership rebound from 236 members to 298, Lunsford says, even while the golf course was closed. “Now there is a place for everyone at the club—a ‘rowdy’ place, an executive place and a formal place,” he says.
The Right Sit
Chairs in club dining rooms, function spaces and grill rooms require a multi-faceted selection process. While it may be tempting to select only the most attractive and comfortable chairs, clubs need to consider more than just aesthetics. An industry leader shared the five most important characteristics of chair selection:
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