New Zealand Home & Building, October-November 1998
Meet Me at the Club — With sleight of hand, designer Liz Mark has breathed fresh life into a traditional gentlemen's domain
Meet Me at the Club
With sleight of hand, designer Liz Mark has breathed fresh life into a traditional gentlemen's domain.
A Wellington southerly is gusting through the streets while inside the handsome brick walls of the Wellesley Club, it's all warmth and old-world charm. Passing through the mosaic-tiled lobby, you could be back in 1927, when the doors of the club first opened. In those days, this was the domain of gentlemen seeking "private social intercourse, convenience, and comfort". Little has changed, save the fact that it is now open to the general public - women included.
In the foyer, oak panelled walls, frosted pendant lamps, oil paintings and wing chairs lend a classic air, as does the original wall clock that still keeps time today. But only a few years ago, just over a century after the club was founded on a different site, membership was ailing and the grandeur fading fast.
"It was barely alive," says Liz Mark, the interior designer behind the refurbishment. "It was as if it were asleep, waiting for someone passionate to revive it."
[This section cannot be correctly rendered as it contains complex formatting. See the image of the page for a more accurate rendering.]flooring and carpets that would inject the rich, traditional feel she had in mind. It was, she says, an exciting task - made even more so by discovering a treasure trove of furniture, crested china and silverware in the basement.
Some of the furniture was restored to its original position in the five-storey clubhouse, using old records as a guide. But, for the most part, Liz has brought a fresh vision to the interior. "It was a case of marrying old and new, while retaining its charm."
Leading off the foyer is the former members' bar, now a smart café where the public can dine and enjoy the club's old-world atmosphere. The vast dining room is now used for wedding receptions and conferences, while three full-size tables fill the equally enormous upstairs billiard room. In the adjacent room there's a latter-day flourish: a golf driving range.
Next on Liz Mark's agenda are the top floor bedrooms, set to become luxurious ensuite accommodation. As befits their location, they will doubtless be among Wellington's finest.
The Wellesley Club is at 2-8 Maginnity St, Wellington, phone 04-474 1308. HB