St Matthews Sports and Social Club
A sport and social club in Belfast is bucking the trend after a major overhaul of its upper floor function space. For a number of years St Matthews Sports and Social Club has been at the heart of its community and its new look is set to increase its appeal.
In contrast to a traditional club interior, the new look is more akin to that of an upmarket pub or hotel. Using rich, warm timbers and bespoke light fittings, the 285 square metre space was transformed by Chris McCreedy and his dedicated team at Chris McCreedy Design. Having previously worked on the club a number of years ago, Chris had a good understanding of what was needed as he explained to Premier Hospitality:
“I actually worked with the client about four years ago when I redesigned their ground floor bar. They came back to me at the end of last year to discuss revamping the first floor function room. Being a sport and social club, the brief was to change the ethos and create something different to the standard fit out. They wanted to draw in more weddings and functions from the local area. The brief was to create a warm, multifunctional space that could be used for a variety of events.
“The previous look was very basic as per most social clubs. The walls were plain and the ceiling was like something you would find in an office. There was no real design and the layout wasn’t great with the bar in a raised location that caused congestion.”
In addition to attracting a wider audience, the space also had to be versatile to accommodate long standing events such as boxing and darts tournaments. The introduction of bespoke bi folding and pocket doors also means the space can be divided to accommodate smaller parties and events.
“One of the main features is the new ceiling. It was a simple office style but we ripped it out to create a feature ceiling with curves, coffers, pop ups and large chandeliers. There is also extensive LED lighting so the option is there to change the mood for a wedding or a sporting event. Five chandeliers mix with the traditional wall lights.
“We used warm timbers with a different stain to highlight the grain. The idea was to appeal to a wide range of people so the colours are subdued; the wallpaper ties in with the panels and antique mirrors give a nice effect.
“I think the main challenge was the attitude towards social clubs to being with. In your mind they are slightly dingy places so we had to convince the client to go for a higher spec. Once they saw the final result they were very happy. The other challenge was fitting in all the elements required. It’s a multifunctional room so we had to fit everything in and make sure it didn’t have a negative impact.”
The move in this new direction has been warmly received by regulars and a number of weddings are already in the diary. Chris added:
“The client was over the moon with the finished result. The opening night was a big success and the punters can’t believe the transformation of the space. There is no throwback to what it was; it feels like a completely new space. Nothing is in the same place and it now has a completely different feel.
“It was also a great project from a personal point of view. I mostly work on bars, nightclubs and restaurants and I haven’t done many function rooms. It’s another string to my bow and it’s good to have something a bit different in the portfolio.”
Based in Castlecomer, Co. Kilkenny, Nirvana Lighting is a lighting consultancy, specialising in the supply of decorative, architectural and commercial light fittings for the hospitality sector. The company has been in operation for eight years and within this time has been involved with an array of projects, including Tayto Park in Meath and various works for O’ Sullivan’s pub group in France.
Most recently, Nirvana Lighting has been involved with the St Matthews Sports Hall project. Working on this scheme, Nirvana Lighting supplied lighting for the new social club’s lounge.
Sarah O’Hara, Nirvana Lighting, said:
“Working on St Matthews was important to us as it gave us a chance to showcase our lighting products on such a beautifully designed project.”
“At Nirvana Lighting, we pride ourselves on our ability to deliver high quality services & fittings on jobs that have tight schedules.”