Are you sitting comfortably?

The right furniture is crucial to an appealing interior design

A bar interior with stools and seating
• A mix of high stools and lower seating can give an outlet ‘visual texture’, say firms.

WHEN it comes to attracting custom in the on-trade, first impressions matter.

With the average person said to take just seven seconds to form an initial impression of a person or place, it is crucial to set the right tone from the get-go.

And a well-designed interior, paired with quality furniture, can make all the difference.

So as the festive season approaches, typically the busiest time of year for the on-trade, operators must ensure their venue is up to code.

That was the message from furniture suppliers and designers, who said licensees cannot afford to let quality slip.

Norman Laidlaw of Laidlaw Contracts said: “The festive season means many people from around the world will be visiting; tired and worn interiors will give a bad image of the brand and name of the outlet.”

He added that venues with sub-standard tables and chairs run the risk of customers taking their grievances to social media, where potentially “thousands of people” may see it.

Echoing this view, Suzy Kingswood of 3 Design said that while it is a busy time of year, operators who opt to overlook furniture that is past its best “run the risk of customers choosing the new sparklier/contemporary venue if things are looking really worn”.

For those seeking to acquire new furniture to coincide with a design revamp, Laidlaw of Laidlaw Contracts said both comfort and choice are key considerations.

“High stools can be beautiful and can give your floorplan visual texture – but make sure your guests have options,” he said. “Include low seating, chairs with backs and cushioned options if possible.

“Change the colours of the venue; dark colours tend to make rooms appear smaller, so if you only have a ‘hole in the wall’ space, you need to be thinking about how you could enhance the atmosphere with decorative features.”

For operators who need to keep a closer eye on the budget, there’s still steps that can be taken to spruce things up ahead of the peak Christmas season, according to Kingswood of 3 Design.

“A quick refresh of upholstery fabrics by a local upholstery firm or a change of lighting can add a fresh facelift,” she explained. “While you may spend a little more on the furniture than you had imagined… quality prevails [and] in some cases, buying cheap means ultimately buying twice.”

Once furniture has been replaced, proper maintenance is key in order to gain the maximum return on the investment, said Laidlaw of Laidlaw Contracts; who advised that upholstery is regularly vacuumed, that furniture is kept out of the sun, that leather couches are regularly conditioned, and that loose cushions are turned periodically to try and ensure uniform wear.

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What’s ‘in’?



“We’re still seeing a lot of geometric patterns in fabrics, ceramics and wall coverings. Crushed velvets, heavily patterned and coloured  upholstery.”


– Scott McIntyre
Nicoll Russell Studios


“A Scottish theme is quite prevalent, even if only in splashes, within a scheme and we regularly include the use of tartan, herringbone and houndstooth elements.”


– Jeff Taylor
Select Contract Furniture