To set an exciting new tone for your property, make sure your furniture is up to the task.
While everything from fixtures and finishes to window treatments and flooring will give a clubhouse its own singular style, furniture is what sets the tone of the space. Providing a double dose of comfort and style, furniture can have a major impact on club usage. Consider dining rooms, for example: Uncomfortable chairs will make diners want to eat and go as quickly as possible, while a well-made, supportive seat will encourage them to sit back, relax and treat their meal as an experience.
“Furniture sets the mood for each room,” says David Bachman, General Manager of Spring Brook Country Club in Morristown, N.J. Choosing the right furnishings and setting them up in unique and attractive ways can help properties update their style, while also increasing member and guest satisfaction.
SUMMING IT UP
- Furniture should be both attractive and practical.Don’t settle on a piece unless it suits both purposes.
- Dining chairs are the most used pieces of furniture in a clubhouse.
- There are cost-effective ways to update “traditional” furniture to make it more modern.
Making an Entrance
The goal for the clubhouse renovation at Sedgefield Country Club in Greensboro, N.C., was to give this landmark club a facelift. The interiors of the Tudor clubhouse were dated and stale, with dark colors and worn furnishings.
A newly renovated lobby immediately sets the tone for a revamped, more modern clubhouse. The original lobby was a vast space with seating areas that all ran together. The goal for the new lobby was to break up the space and establish a warmer, more intimate area. To bring this vision to life, floating glass panels hang from the beamed ceiling to create lines that break up the lobby into several conversation groupings. Sconces on the panels provide light without cluttering tabletops with lamps.
Sedgefield Country Club
Stone walls were added to an unused alcove off the kitchen, and a French, industrial-style bookcase became a quaint wine niche, to create a wine-cellar feeling (right). The dining chairs are made of lime vinyl, with silver nailhead studs. The chair has a “sweeping arm” (as described by the designer), which provides an armchair effect without having an arm get in the way.
“The glass panels provide an open way to define the space and give it more intimacy,” says Beverly Marler, Club Manager.
Gathering areas with plush, lipstick-red and camel-toned loveseats and hide-covered ottomans are set up throughout the room. The main conversation area faces a limestone fireplace. Additionally, the lobby has a piano sitting under three chandeliers. The club also replaced dated oriental rugs with carpet that features large-scale patterns in complementary neutral tones.
“It is a much more modern look,” says Marler (view additional photos at clubandresortbusiness.com.) “It is still an English Tudor-style clubhouse built in 1926, but now it has a more modern feel when you walk in the front door, and it is very inviting.”
Take a Seat
The dining experience at a club or resort is just as important as the recreational activities. Designing these spaces involves choosing pieces that are attractive and comfortable for members and guests, while also being functional and user-friendly for staff.
At Spring Brook Country Club, the dining chairs are versatile enough to handle casual a la carte lunches and dinners and formal wedding receptions in the main dining room, as well as private dining functions in the Travis Room, a living room that can accommodate up to 30 guests. The hardwood chairs are resilient, while the cutout design on their backs also makes them aesthetically interesting.
The chairs are also stackable, which provides the club with a more elegant alternative to a standard steel stacking chair. “We move furniture in and out of rooms almost daily for different functions, and we move them between floors,” says General Manager Bachman. “They have been very durable.”
Taking good care of the chairs helps to increase their longevity. “We clean the chairs daily and polish the wood as needed,” says Bachman. “We inspect the furniture every time we move it in or out of a room. Annually, we thoroughly go over each piece of furniture and have any necessary repairs completed.”
The club also purchased chair caddies to reduce damage to the chairs when furniture is moved around. “Having a great staff that understands the life expectancy of the furniture is helpful, but having the proper equipment to move the chairs around is key to keeping them in top condition,” says Bachman.
Furniture and Design Trends
- Color blocking—In the past, the color palate for a room was often dictated by colors found in a pattern on a couch or chair. The colors would then be used on the walls, flooring and window treatments. While this creates a consistent look, the “matchy-matchy” color scheme can become tired. Color blocking is an alternative that can give an updated look to clubs. This trend can be seen in the dining room at Sedgefield Country Club, Greensboro, N.C., which has a blue ceiling, lime-green shades and rust- and gold-toned carpet. “All of the colors aren’t in everything, which is more pleasing to the eye,” says the designer.
- Combine styles—Mixing a classic design with contemporary details helps pieces stay relevant. For example, the wing chairs in the clubhouse at Sedgefield CC were updated with a squared, straight shape. “Is it contemporary, or more like old wing chairs? Well, it is a mix,” says the designer. “When you can pull off that mix, your pieces will not get dated.”
- Casual drama—While the hospitality industry has largely shifted to a more casual style, it is possible to spice up informal pieces with classically elegant features. For example, rather than using a crystal chandelier that is too ostentatious or a brass chandelier that is too basic, a modern design solution could be a wrought-iron chandelier embellished with subtle crystals. The iron provides a casual foundation, while the crystals add some drama.
Spring Brook Country Club
The dining chairs are versatile enough to handle casual a la carte lunches and dinners and formal wedding receptionsin the main dining room as well as private dining functions in the Travis Room, a living room that can accommodate up to 30 guests.
Raising the Bar
The former Red Fox bar at Sedgefield CC lacked contrast with wood-paneled walls, floors and a bar that were all the same wood and stain color. The designer updated the space by using a darker wood on the walls (see photo, pg. 20). The bar was given new life by adding an upholstered cream vinyl material, with silver nail heads, to the front of the bar. The bar stools match the bar with the same combination of cream vinyl, nail heads and wood. A sheet-copper ceiling above the bar reflects light and provides a lively feeling to the space.
New bar chairs custom-made with the same cream vinyl material and a dark wood base provide a simple, yet elegant background for the now-dynamic bar. Despite all of the modern updates, the bar honors the tradition of the club with a red fox that sits atop the mantle, as a reminder of the club’s founding days as a hunt club.
Utopia (Texas) Golf recently built a new 4,000-sq. ft. clubhouse for guests and members to enjoy before and after a round. Inside the clubhouse is a large, all-purpose room with a vaulted ceiling and oversized windows that reveal sweeping views of the course, grounds and lake (see photo, below left). The room is set up with a pro shop on one side and a social and gathering area on the other. This all-purpose room was designed as the architectural and social center of the club. “We wanted it to be beautiful and functional,” says Wanda Waters, Owner. “We wanted [members and guests] to be comfortable and feel like they were in their own home.”
Waters envisioned this as a warm, inviting space with a timeless style. “I didn’t want anything too trendy,” she says. “I wanted real solid wood furniture—no veneer, plastic or vinyl. With the high-beamed ceilings, I also knew I needed the furniture to be proportional to the space.”
Waters purchased four- and eight-top custom-made, solid oak tables and matching chairs with leather seats. While the pieces are solid wood, they are also easy to move and configure in a number of ways. “We needed to be able to move the furniture for meetings or for people playing cards,” she explains.
To warm up the space, a sitting area comprised of a soft beige sofa and patterned armchairs faces a large television. Patterned throw pillows provide contrast to the earth-toned couch, while woven wall hangings and area rugs add texture to large space.
“The fabrics are very soft to the touch,” says Waters. “I am into textures and that whole tactile experience. We also added fabrics that help with the acoustics, because it can be loud with glass and rock walls.”
The large patio across the back of the building is set up with high-quality outdoor furniture. Combined, the round tables can accommodate up to 30 people.
While all furniture in the clubhouse is important, chairs are undoubtedly the pieces that get the most use, especially those used in dining venues. Choosing chairs that can withstand the inevitable wear and tear they’ll get in club settings should be a thoughtful and calculated process. Here are some key considerations for making the right selections:
- An elegant, traditional chair can augment the feel of an “ordinary” space.
- Contemporary chairs can tone down traditional décor.
- An ordinary chair can detract from a fine dining setting.
- Taller chairs make a strong design statement.
- Wood chairs are typically more elegant than steel. But they are more expensive, and a little less durable.
- Comfort is key. Test out chairs before buying.
- If a seat is comfortable when it is brand new, consider what it will be like a few years later.
- A firm seat may not feel as luxurious, but it will likely age more comfortably.
- Consider how chairs will be used. People tend to sit straight up in dining chairs, while they prefer a more relaxed posture in a pub or lounge.
Fit and Finish
- Try not to pick the chair with the fabric or color you like the most; all chairs are available with multiple fabrics, and most chairs are available in custom colors.
- On wood chairs, consider if the finish hides the wood, or brings out its natural beauty. Finishes can also be customized.
Construction and Durability
- Ask about country of origin; U.S.-made chairs are generally stronger than those made in Asia or in Eastern Europe.
- Most chair failures are in the joints, not in the wood; ask about the chair joinery and how the chair is made.
- Different hardwood species have different strengths. Ask about available hardwood species, and which might be better for the current application.
- Mortise-and-tenon construction is generally considered stronger than dowel construction.
- Mortise-and-tenon construction with locking dowels in the tenons is generally considered stronger than without locking dowels.
- Ask about a manufacturer’s warranty before selecting chairs. You should expect to pay more for a chair with a 10-year warranty than for one with a 1- or 2-year warranty.
- Read the warranty. Most companies warranty against defects in material and workmanship. Look to see if the warranty goes beyond this, to also address the function or use of the chair.