The Great British pub, simply put, is an institution, a pillar of local community, business and key to our collective unwinding, the chosen pub décor is much more important than a first glance may have you believe. The humble pub is social relaxation and celebration manifest in four walls and a garden. It has been this way for literal centuries, a place to meet friends and family, to indulge in food, laughter and of course enjoy a refreshing drink. Sitting at the very centre of this, pulling the whole affair together, is the physical space of the public house, its accommodating interior and exterior. Yes, as you may be able to tell we have previously visited one or two in our time and in our opinion is there are keg loads of home décor and garden inspiration to pull from the modest pub. It is a rife picking ground for home furniture and garden furniture inspiration.
Personality, the pubs we love ooze distinct personality. Our favourites offer an ambience suited for complimenting pretty much any social occasion, a space filled with light, style and interesting curiosities. The art, oddities and trinkets that a good pub has hung or placed around should allow visual intrigue but don’t take away from the main event; the social space that create a sense of ease. The direct social areas such as tables sets and the bar are key, they need to invite, delight and offer unrivalled comfort. Sometimes our most cherished indoor and outdoor ideas stem from a visit to a really nice local pub. Today, we’re going to take peek through the looking glass, or rather the drinks glass, and see what noteworthy décor ingredients help make a great pub.
Use of Wood
Wood is an essential material in pub décor, it has a naturally calming appearance. We love pubs that harness the unique earthy characteristics of wood for the visual texture it gives. Our pub décor inspiration so often stems from a space with this material at its core. It is perhaps the most prime example of bringing the outside inside, to fantastic effect. So, pull up your bar stool and get further acquainted.
Pine, Oak, Mahogany or teak, they’re all popular wood types in interior pub furnishing. It’s an exceptionally versatile material that always tends to work particularly well as the initial building block for pub décor. Light and textured, or dark and polished it’s easy to cast eyes on. The beauty of wood means that the shaping and building options are boundless. Treat it, leave it untreated, layer it, keep it super simple or in its original shape – it all works to different effects. A focal point of many pubs is arguably the bar, which in all likeliness is constructed from wood. Our favourite bar tops are made from sturdy-majestic oak, smooth to the touch and an almost-grey grained finish. The beautiful pub table dining sets we’ve noticed on our travels have also always kept our pub décor inspiration flowing, helping inform pickings such as our gorgeous Modern Farmhouse range. In this range there’s much wood detailing to fawn over, with focus on a use of reclaimed pine and rustic painted aspects.
Use of Plants
Pub décor owes a debt of gratitude to the garden in this example. Plant life and florals make for an undeniably interesting addition to many interior spaces, the use of greenery within the pub is not a new practice but perhaps wasn’t as commonplace as it is in today’s pubs and wine bars. We’re big fans of the injection of natural chlorophyll green into indoor spaces, and there’s so many examples of it done well, it serves as a perfect element for our pub décor inspiration.
That simple splash of green can effortlessly break up the monotony of similar shades and acts as the antidote to man-made public space that's suffering from over pruning or guilty of being too design heavy. The addition of some well-placed, say, pot plants or creepers we think bring vital natural elements indoors, retaining an allure and atmosphere. Pub décor inspiration doesn’t always exclusively come from indoors, some of our favourite uses of greenery are where the outdoors blends with the indoors; open plan patios that adjoin to conservatories where the plant life continues into the indoor space are some of the best executed examples. It’s a winner for a businesses such as hospitality as the addition of succulents, real or faux, is proven to have a calming effect on the mind, mixed with great lighting (see our next pick) it works some kind of natural holistic magic on our moods, ah go on then we’ll stay for another glass of wine.
Lighting is Everything
A tastefully lit pub paves the way for a great experience. It’s the basis of establishing a large part of the ambience on offer, it’s an aid in complimenting the pub décor. With so many great lighting options now available, the use of light has become a key feature for businesses. We can’t get enough of the sparkling illuminations used in the bars we love.
We can’t stress enough how important this ingredient is in pub décor. Team InsideOut Living all agree that we are most attracted to light and inviting spaces in the spring and summer, open plan is a bonus, natural light streaming in where it can. This isn’t necessarily the case come the winter, we’re happy with a more subdued cubby, somewhere to preferably cosy up to a comforting fireplace and sup a mulled cider. Smaller flickering lights are preferable for a true atmosphere. We’ve drawn inspiration from an array of light sources we’ve come across, it’s truly a testament to publicans, they’re clearly people of vision. Whether it’s transforming their spaces with repurposed bottles and glassware or be it a peculiar use of Edison bulbs. We’ve noticed elegant modern lamps, fixtures and fittings with muted underlighting or stimulating options in the humble candle holder. If it fits or even grasps the attention, it is likely to help the general ambience and help patrons stay in their seats longer. The better quality lit the establishment is the more we enjoy our time spent there. Is it last orders already!?
Whether the furnishings are luxuriously lavish or modestly comforting, the humble pub can offer unrivalled pub décor inspiration in the furniture choices made. Some of the most unique pieces we’ve taken stock of have been nestled in unassuming nooks. It’s essential to delve into the possibilities and idea pickings of pub furniture.
A great pub has great indoor furniture, which means it’s absolutely an essential inclusion into our pub décor consciousness. Similar to home furniture, it must convey the visual message – ‘recline on this soft accommodating plush surface.’ Without a shred of doubt our favourite pubs have wide and luxurious spongey sofas, comfortable outdoor furniture too is a huge plus to us, naturally. Our pub garden visits have definitely opened our eyes to more options for our own garden and what we can bring to our customers. Gardens by nature offer more room so furniture can certainly be more stately in size, there can be impressive additional add ons too such as parasols and drink cooler tables. We also have a slight penchant for the classic, thematic styled furnishings such as Art Deco pieces, these are a perfect setting for a cocktail.
As if we could ever overlook the majestic and traditional fireplace. It’s so often the flaming centrepiece of the pub, its character distilled. It billows heat and personality and that’s why the fireplace will always feature in our pub décor fascinations.
Pub décor inspiration doesn’t come more time honoured. It’s just so quintessentially country Inn isn’t it? One for those chillier winter months when, if you’re like us, all you crave is a warm comforting space to huddle down into. We’ve also noticed creative fireplace transformations in summer months too, using the space to showcase a specific ornament or a wreath of dried summer flowers. Whether the room centres around the fireplace, or it’s a glowing beacon in the corner there is something very reassuring and homely about its presence, a refuge from the elements. With a well placed chaise lounge or sofa set at a nice distance from the crackling blaze, it’s easy to become very very comfortable, the older the pub the warmer the feeling, in our estimation.
Refuge, it’s a strongly symbolic word that applies 100% to this category of pub décor, these are places that specialise in that warming allure, welcoming customers in from the elements. These pubs specialise in that homely feeling of warmth and home away from home.
Brrrr, it’s mid January and we haven’t quite reared our heads above the wintery parapet, best to quickly find afternoon refuge in comforting settings, somewhere that serves a warming soup or stew preferably. The type of pub that invites us in during those winter months, for us, typically has a mixture of amber lighting, rich wooden furnishings and not too much space. An expanse of space tends to look airy and cold respectively in home and hospitality décor. Carpet/rug finishes and dimmer lights are key features that encourage the cosy feelings, as are comofrting furnishings layered with throws, it all draws us in to hunker down for hours at a time. The use of both candle light and wall art/ornaments are also key to developing a sense of warmth and familiarity. The next below zero weekend, you’ll know where to find us!
The Importance of the Garden
We’re always wanting to show some love for both outside and inside, it’s in our very nature. Outdoor space informs our pub décor inspiration in the form of the wonderful sun drenched pub garden. A bustling hive of sunny day activity, a place for all to convene over a refreshing beverage. Pub décor doesn’t begin and end in the confines of four walls, no no.
We’re of the mindset that a pub garden is really a home from home. Our favourite outdoor spaces tend to include plenty of floral pickings, green space but most importantly comfortable garden furniture is a must. There are so many inspiring and beautiful pub garden spaces in existence, the UK really excels in this regard. From elegant and bustling urban patios to traditional lazy country gardens and canal-side benches. There's the beach front pub gardens where sand is trodden through the front door and the roof top glitz of high rise cityscapes, we’re constantly taking stock of ideas. We think that a well lit garden space that caters into the evening always stands above, tasteful tealight ornaments or fairy lights are generally little effort to implement but go very far to create that special ambience.
Curiosities, Art and Decorative Trinkets
Details, it’s in the details. Pub décor, as with any interior design, is so often a details game. The efforts made to really stamp a badge of character on a pub or business so often boils down to the small unique decorative features, we love spotting the small quirks and finds amongst our favourite places.
The story of the establishment must be told through the choice of art, ornaments and trinkets that are placed around or hung on walls. We’re always inspired and drawn to the places with unusual but not obscene pieces. Objects that intrigue but don’t take away from the general experience are the key pub décor inspiration in this instance, they should catch your eye but not be overbearing. Simply tasteful is not always the best fit, outside of the ordinary is what spurs our interests, that doesn’t mean unsightly. The best quirks we always recall are a mix of design meets utility, whether that’s an unusual method to store wine/liquor or a handy coat rack, if it still functions well and looks great, then great!
Themes and ErasSome of our favourite memorable visits have been to pubs that retain one central theme, or rather are literally from that era. From these selections we can pluck raw and unfiltered pub décor inspiration. Original and traditional styling has so much to offer, still.
If we find ourselves in the big bustle of the city it is always a welcome visit paid to a sleek Art Deco bar. Art Deco as an architectural style is really showcased in its best light in pub décor form, we think. Surely nothing allows more precedence to enjoy a cocktail than the luxe stylings and furnishings of a high ceiling art adorned airy 1920's styled saloon. Similarly we’re always enthralled to stumble upon hideaway speakeasy pubs, atmosphere steeped in secrecy, it’s a safe sanctuary away from the busy city streets. There is of course also the Victorian pubs that exist in so many towns and cities, we love their rich old polished bars, patterned carpets and bizarre internal construction traits; cubbies and booths.
Favouritism Isn't a Bad Thing
Our favourite pub décor pick by a country mile, (pun very much intended) is the rural pub. It is the perfect end to a day walking the dog or an amble with family or friends. It serves as an accommodating refuge, whether an olde times barely changed building or a handsomely renovated light filled affair, the traditional country pub welcomes all and many, it operates as a social point for communities. Next time you find yourself in a favourite pub of yours, take a moment to take stock and a pinch of inspiration from your surroundings.