Royal Automobile Club overhaul’s members’ lounges

Private members’ organisation the Royal Automobile Club is overhauling the main lounge areas of its two premises, in London’s Pall Mall and Epsom in Surrey.

In Pall Mall, Felbrigg Design will refurbish the smoking room, while in the country, at Woodcote Park in Epsom, interior designer Edward Bulmer will revamp the lounge. The current, English Palladian-style interior at the Pall Mall lounge, created by architect Mewes and Davis, will remain, but lighting, furniture and colours will be transformed. The new design aims to be sympathetic to the original architectural features and the club’s heritage, ‘while improving lighting and practical use of the room’. It is hoped the room will be more comfortable with better facilities, but won’t look substan tially different, to retain the appeal for traditionalist members.

Colours will be a mixture of deep purple, green, silver, beige and chocolate, while the new carpet will incorporate the motifs of the original club. New furniture will include sofas, arm – chairs, coffee tables, bar tables, chess and backgammon tables. The leather chairs will be refurbished, while the antique furniture will remain.

‘The old smoking room was dark and in need of refurbishment, but the new room will be lighter, supremely comfortable and flexible. The aim was to refresh and update one of the club’s most striking rooms, while keeping the elegant features and character intact,’ says an RAC spokeswoman. According to Robert Carter, interior decorator at Felbrigg Design, the greatest challenge of working at the London-based club is the ‘ownership’ which members feel for their clubhouse. ‘They recall their parents and grandparents using the various rooms and have their own favourites, so when the time comes to refurbish, members are rightly protective.

We take on this challenge with the confidence that we will decorate the room in an appropriate manner and in a style which members will admire,’ he says.

Meanwhile, at Woodcote Park, the ‘refresh’ will be in an Art Deco-style echoing the 1930s, when the club was built. The look will aim to be more stylised rather than country house, and will feature an oak par quet floor, with a handknotted wool rug, using design adapted from 1920s Parisian designer Ivan da Silva Bruhns. ‘It needed a new direction and a bolder feel, as the interior had evolved with no real design input some years back,’ the spokeswoman adds. ‘As with Pall Mall, the room is a focal point and is used by a wide range of members for a wide range of activities. All must still feel comfortable while enjoying the updated and more elegant surroundings.’

The work at Pall Mall is expected to be completed by mid-February, while 10 March is the date for the launch at Epsom.


• The Royal Automobile Club is a private members’ club, and last year celebrated 100 years of holding its Royal title

• The two clubhouses provide banqueting, dining, accommodation, golf and other sporting facilities

• The club has links with other clubs around the world, which members can visit on a reciprocal basis

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