Mixing, matching, and rearranging furniture allows club and resort properties to reinvent outdoor venues and enhance the member and guest experience.
Outdoor dining and gathering spaces are amenities that members have come to expect, especially if they only have a few months of warm weather to enjoy.
|Summing It Up
• Replacing outdated outdoor furniture can be a cost-effective way to upgrade the look of a clubhouse’s exterior.
• Planters, hedges, and other strategically placed landscaping can help divide outdoor spaces into multiple intimate areas.
• Position patios and terraces around the club’s most attractive focal points, such as the golf course, to offer
While creating a welcoming outdoor environment takes more than placing 10-year-old patio furniture on a concrete slab, it often requires less time and money than many traditional renovations. Properties can ensure that these spaces generate plenty of traffic by keeping them up-to-date with attractive tables, seating, and accessories that blend in with and accentuate the facility’s established look.
At Gettysvue Polo, Golf and Country Club in Knoxville, Tenn., the main outdoor dining terrace is the property’s most popular spot. One challenge of that space’s popularity, says General Manager Bryan Stone, was handling the crossover between the club’s younger demographic of members and the “boisterous drinking crowd” of golfers.
Late last year, the club sought to alleviate this clash by “giving golfers a place to sit and heckle their friends,” Stone says. A new separate entrance for the men’s card room, which has been renamed The Stable, now leads out to a small patio that extends across a hedgerow to a terrace that’s above the 18th green. The initial patio space measures 325 sq. ft., and the terrace, which is elongated and narrower, is about half the patio’s size. Before the stamped concrete flooring was laid, the grassy area went unused, Stone says.
The patio and terrace feature matching furniture, with a total of six four-top round tables (three in each space), each with a base and umbrella. The furniture has a bronze aluminum base and metal features with fresco porcelain tabletops and dining armchairs. The umbrellas in both areas use the same neutral-colored linen and “come in immensely handy when it’s a million degrees outside,” Stone says.
Though the men’s card room is the only clubhouse-based access point for the space, any member is welcome to access the patio and terrace from the outside of the building, Stone explains. While the club does provide foodservice through the locker rooms, members typically stick to cocktails on the patio and terrace.
“It really translated nicely for tournaments, and has become kind of a gathering place to watch the finalists coming up to the 18th hole,” says Stone. “It’s a nice spectator area.”
Ensuring that the furniture and outdoor spaces themselves fit in with the property’s English Tudor-style clubhouse was “one of the most important things, both in color and style,” says Stone. Railing around the terrace portion matches the railing to the upper terrace of the clubhouse, creating a uniform look. The concrete flooring on both spaces also features the same finish as on the golf course’s cart paths, Stone says.
For upkeep, the clubhouse maintenance foreman powerwashes the patio areas and wipes down the furniture. While the cushions are made for outdoor use, Stone says the staff does bring them inside “to protect them a bit.”
|The Look of Things to Come
Each year brings new trends for how outdoor furniture looks and functions. For 2017, Castelle Luxury predicts these styles will infiltrate patios and decks:
In all, the project cost the club less than $50,000, and took about eight weeks to complete, opening in October 2015. “So many clubs are intimidated by the costs of a renovation, but we were able to provide great value at relatively minimal expense,” Stone says.
The Lime Kiln, one of 11 dining venues at Saucon Valley Country Club in Bethlehem, Pa., kicked off its season on Memorial Day weekend with upgraded furniture. The casual outdoor dining venue previously had metal chairs and standard patio tables with plexiglass that were “nice, but not new,” says Clubhouse Manager/Director of Food & Beverage Dean Will.
The 1,750-sq. ft. venue, which overlooks the 18th green of one of the club’s three golf courses, acts as a gathering area for golfing and non-golfing members, with a green vinyl tent set up overhead. In addition to the full bar area, The Lime Kiln now features 14 tables and five bar stools, all made of teak. The same blue flagstone flooring now provides a contrasting base for two 60-inch rounds, one large oval table, three four-top squares and seven tall pub tables. The update also includes five planter boxes that help to divide the space into smaller, more intimate areas.
After considering the options for maintenance of the furniture (teak naturally weathers from a golden color to a light-gray patina, but can maintain its original look by being treated), the club opted to “let them weather as they will,” Will says.
The club already had experience with the material—teak benches are placed throughout the golf courses, which can be purchased by members in someone’s name. “We’ve always found the product to be sustainable and long-lasting,” Will says.
“Some of the benches have been stained, but we left the furniture in the dining area in its natural state,” he adds. “We just wipe them down with a cloth overnight and use placemats on the tables. We have been happy with how they’ve held up this summer—it’s a six-day-a-week operation, so we’ve put them to the test.”
Paired with green seat cushions, the updated space blends in well with the rest of the property and the club’s overall style, which Will describes as “traditional—not too modern or too trendy.”
Keeping outdoor furniture in the rotation for years to come requires regular cleaning and care for every surface, and each material has its own unique needs. While manufacturer instructions should always be followed, a cleaning solution with 1/4-cup of mild liquid soap in a gallon of lukewarm water (100° F) can be used to clean painted finishes, fabric, faux leather, stainless steel, woven buckets, acrylic table tops, cast-aluminum table tops and aluminum frames, teak wood, and umbrellas. The furniture should then be rinsed with clear water and dried thoroughly.
Certain suntan and sunblock products contain “PABA,” which is harmful to fabric and can permanently discolor it. Contact should be avoided, but if contact is made, cleaning the fabric immediately with a non-abrasive, mild soap-and-water solution, followed by a fresh water rinse, may minimize the possibility of discoloration. Laying a beach towel over the cushions or slings of outdoor furniture when in use will prolong the fabric life.
Other tips for optimal furniture and furnishings preservation include:
Source: Tropitone Furniture Company
The plan to add teak furniture had been in the club’s budget for several years, Will says, and the members are enjoying the changes, using the space for lunch and dinner service as well as cocktails. “It’s kind of like ‘Cheers,’” he says, “where everyone can go.”
Appreciating the View
Earlier this year, Whirlwind Golf Club at Wild Horse Pass in Chandler, Ariz., completed an outdoor dining project as part of a clubhouse expansion that totaled $1.2 million. Though the rest of the project wasn’t complete until May, the outdoor space took about 90 days and opened for members in February.
Before the update, Whirlwind’s existing patio had room for about 20 members to take a seat, but demand was on the rise.
“With business growing in the winter, everyone wants to be outside,” says General Manager Marty Hoeffken. “Everyone wanted to sit there, so we wanted to expand and give them a view with the mountains in the background.”
Adding 3,000 sq. ft. of aggregate concrete, the new outdoor space is divided into three segments: a dining area around the property’s “tree of significance” (the club is built on tribal land in the Gila River Indian Community), a casual-seating area, and a covered patio. The dining section includes a mix of four- and eight-top square tables that give members the versatility to create a large communal table, 48 seats, and four large, wind-sail umbrellas that feature masts strong enough to be used for sailboats, Hoeffken says.
“When we get high winds out here in the desert, folks can still sit out there with the wind blowing,” he reports.
The lifestyle soft-seating area features waterproof couches and chairs with internal cushions that Hoeffken says are soft and easy to clean, and there are no cushions to remove nightly. The covered patio portion has room for 20 and includes a 60-inch TV, along with misters and heaters. Combined, the patio sections have room for 84, and all furniture is in an earth-tone brown, to blend in with the colors of the desert.
In addition to high winds, clubs in the desert must contend with other environmental challenges. “The desert can get dusty pretty quick, so the furniture has to stay clean,” Hoeffken says. “We have one employee whose dedicated morning ritual is wiping everything down, from top to bottom, and the servers help to keep the furniture clean throughout the day.”
Though the space just opened in February, Hoeffken says that by March, members were already using the patio all day long.
“In season, we had folks sitting at those tables out there from 11 a.m. to dark at 6 p.m.,” he reports.
The day after Labor Day in 2015, Glen Oak Country Club in Glen Ellyn, Ill., embarked on a project that would extend its outdoor season and more easily accommodate members and guests who want to soak up the sun.
“Before the renovation, we typically opened the outdoor spaces around Mother’s Day and closed around the end of September,” says Jim Cardamone, CCM, General Manager. “As long as the weather holds, we’ll be able to extend the season by a month or month-and-a-half, on both ends.”
The project, which was completed by Father’s Day weekend, saw the club’s pool deck and veranda dining space, which share a common gate, enlarged dramatically. “Seats were always at a premium,” Cardamone says. “We continue to get busier year to year, so it was more than time to update our facilities and make them more family-friendly.”
In the pool area, which has had the same footprint since 1937, the deck is lined with poured concrete. It previously accommodated 50 chaise lounges and six tables for dining, but now the deck has enough space for 85 chaise lounges and 22 tables. The tables include a mix of 36-inch rounds for dining and 20-inch rounds for cocktails, with all furniture featuring a graphite finish. Coal-colored umbrellas with silver poles and graphite stands provide protection from the sun.
Overlooking the pool, the veranda is about eight steps higher than the pool deck, and the seating looks out over the golf course’s 18th green. Before the renovation, the space was used primarily for events and banquets, with “outdated, heavy furniture,” Cardamone says. Now, with new furniture and 64 additional seats, the space is used as an additional casual dining outlet, to supplement another outdoor dining space Glen Oak built six years ago.
“One of our goals in designing the veranda was to have a similar look to our existing outdoor dining area,” Cardamone says. “We got the same tables, but in a different color and frame, and the chairs have a consistent look.”
The veranda, which is lined with brick pavers, features woven dining chairs with a graphite finish and faux granite tabletops. Three casual seating areas were added, two of which surround natural gas firepits with limestone caps, which Cardamone says have been the key element to extending the “hours of opportunity” for member use.
The overall project, which touched on nearly all areas of the club as part of a master plan, totaled $6.75 million, and Cardamone reports that members were “very understanding during construction—there were a lot of moving parts.” But Glen Oak is already seeing positive results from the updates.
“We have had higher pool usage this season than we’ve had in the last 15 years,” Cardamone says. “The veranda created a whole new space and experience for members.”