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It began in Japan in the early 1970s: groups of people in bars would gather around a new kind of machine that played pre-recorded backing tracks. A microphone was included in the set-up, giving singers the chance to be a “star” for a few minutes. The machine, called the Juke 8, was pretty crude, using eight-track cartridges and a coin-operated timer, but after a slow start its popularity rocketed in bars in cities such as Osaka. Karaoke (which means “empty orchestra”) was born. Soon, soundproofed “karaoke boxes” were emerging, private rooms where people could sing their hearts out without disturbing others – or embarrassing themselves.

The man who invented the Juke 8, Daisuke Inoue, never patented his invention and missed out on a fortune. Soon there were many rival machines on the market. Before long, TV screens showing song lyrics were part of the package, and the number of songs available expanded into the thousands. The karaoke boom spread across Asia, and it became hugely popular in the Philippines (of which more later). By the 1990s it had spread worldwide and the karaoke night had become a fixture in British pubs.

 

Karaoke takes bottle

Karaoke comes in many varieties, but there is usually one common denominator: drink. Karaoke is a social event, a chance for people to let their hair down and unleash their inner divas and rock stars. Alcohol helps people to shed their inhibitions. All of which makes it an ideal form of entertainment for pubs and bars, where it has been shown to increase takings and customer numbers. Singing has also been shown to improve people’s sense of wellbeing. It fosters a sense of togetherness among disparate groups of people. In short, karaoke makes you feel good, and that feelgood factor will rub off on your pub or bar.

The popularity of karaoke has fluctuated over the years, but it seems to have undergone a resurgence in the past decade, perhaps thanks to TV shows such as The X Factor and The Voice. Developments in technology have brought digital karaoke systems on to the market, streamlining the process of song selection and vastly expanding the number of songs available.

 

Getting pubs and bars kitted out for karaoke

So, what does a pub or bar need for a karaoke night? First: a room of a reasonable size, ideally with a raised, well-lit area that can be used as a stage for the singers. Your pub furniture will need to be flexible so that it can be moved away or re-arranged to accommodate the equipment, the screens, and the singers and spectators. Give customers the option to stand or sit, depending on their preferences.

Licensing for any kind of musical performance in pubs and bars has become much simpler since the Music Act of 2012 was introduced (and updated in 2015). The Act states that any premises can host live music (which includes karaoke) as long as the audience is under 500 people and it takes place between 8am and 11pm; the premises must also be alcohol-licensed. Be sure that your event does not create a noise nuisance as this could risk your premises licence. A PRS PPL licence is required for any kind of musical performance, including karaoke – this collects royalties on behalf of songwriters and performers.

Hiring equipment for a karaoke night is straightforward: there are dozens of hire companies across the country that hire out the gear – microphones, mixing board, screens to display song lyrics, lighting, and the software and playlists. If your pub has a good, powerful PA system, this can be used – otherwise, speakers can be rented. You can present the event yourself, or hire in a karaoke DJ.

Karaoke room with leather pub seating and wooden pub tables

 

Karaoke for private functions and private parties

Increasingly, pubs and bars are creating specialist rooms for karaoke. These can be hired for the evening by groups of customers celebrating birthdays, hen nights, work outings, and so on. Drinks can be brought to the room by pub staff to order. Karaoke rooms are also a popular option in some Chinese and Japanese restaurants, where food, drink and singing come together to create a memorable experience.

If you choose to create a specialist karaoke room, it’s worth investigating other examples to see what kind of ambience they create: mostly these rooms try to create an atmosphere of cushioned seclusion, with low lighting, warm colours and soft furniture such as padded benches. The Old Queens Head in north London has opted for a tropical vibe for its karaoke room, with long soft benches, low tables and palm-tree friezes. One possible model to follow is that of successful karaoke chains such as Lucky Voice, where benches, disco-style lights and pink décor create a party atmosphere (props such as hats and plastic inflatable guitars are also provided).

The advantage of specialist karaoke rooms is that customers will feel less inhibited in a private space with only their friends and colleagues witnessing their performances. It also leaves the rest of the pub or bar free to carry on as normal. Revenues from hires and from increased drinks sales should soon repay any investment in equipment, furnishing and fitting out.

If space permits, you could even consider hosting a “live band” karaoke night. Bands such as Rockaoke can be hired, who come with a repertoire of hundreds of songs, giving customers the rare chance to sing in front of an actual band (lyrics are displayed on a monitor on the stage). Specialist karaoke nights are popular, too: hip-hop karaoke has even made it as far as London’s Tate Modern art gallery, where it is a regular part of the entertainment schedules.

Karaoke nights will of course need to be promoted and advertised: social media is an effective method – your pub or bar’s Facebook page can feature photos and musical highlights from recent karaoke nights and the dates of forthcoming events.

 

What are the most popular karaoke songs?

There are no official charts, but Lucky Voice says that Let It Go from the Disney musical Frozen is currently its most requested song. Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody is also a favourite, a kind of vocal obstacle course that only the most able singers are able to successfully negotiate.

Frank Sinatra’s My Way, too, is a stalwart of the karaoke circuit – though the song has a dark history. Karaoke is hugely popular in the Philippines, where it has become part of a macho culture in which singing “properly” is of paramount importance. Frank Sinatra’s My Way has unfortunately been associated with several murders, reportedly because the singers were singing out of key – though it’s possible that the killings simply took place in the feverish atmosphere of karaoke bars with My Way coincidentally playing in the background.

Thankfully British karaoke culture is generally inclusive, welcoming and forgiving: it takes a brave person to get up and have a go in front of a room full of people, and the joy of karaoke in our pubs and bars is that such bravery is usually rewarded with praise and applause, whether the performance is good or terrible. Anyone who has taken part will confirm that nothing brings people together quite like karaoke.

In modern times, the term refectory furniture tends to be used to describe traditional wooden pub or restaurant furniture. Often in hardwood and either simple or ornate in design, these pieces are a sturdy, solid addition to any hospitality establishment.

The roots of refectory furniture

A refectory is a dining room, commonly found in monasteries, boarding schools and other academic establishments. Although it has its strongest ties to the medieval times, in the modern day it is often used to refer to a café open to the public that is attached to a cathedral or abbey. Some universities in the UK will refer to their dining halls as the refectory. So, what does this mean when it comes to furniture? Essentially refectory furniture is that which is used in these spaces, with long tables and classic solid wood pieces featuring most frequently.

Refectory tables

A refectory table is an elongated table which is based on a trestle style. This means they often feature multiple trestle supports with the tabletop placed over them. Originally refectory tables were used for dining in monasteries, before becoming popular as banqueting tables in castles and noble residences in the late middle ages.

Refectory tables can vary from nothing more than planks of wood places over trestles to ornate pieces made in solid oak or walnut. Throughout history the design of these pieces has varied depending on the styles of the time, however they have always remained a solid and durable piece due to the amount of use and wear they can receive.

The traditional pub table

The most common place you will see a traditional refectory table is in a pub or restaurant. The inset positioning of the table ends create little obstruction to diners, making them a comfortable and space efficient option. The refectory build style also means that are also stable and sturdy – perfect for seating larger groups.

Trent Furniture’s refectory tables

Trent Furniture offers a very traditional solid wood refectory style table in a range of finishes; walnut, dark oak and light oak. Coming in both rectangular and square options, it can seat different sizes of party and be used in different combinations to fit your space. We also offer traditional solid wood seating that matches our refectory tables beautifully, create a consistent style throughout your pub or restaurant. You can view our range of refectory furniture here or get in touch if you have any questions about our products and furnishing your space.

The pub furniture of today reflects many centuries of history. The British pub has origins that go back to Roman times, when people would drop into tabernae for rest, food and drink – usually in the form of wine. These evolved into ale-houses, reflecting the appetites of native Britons, and the pub was born (though it didn’t acquire that title until the 19th century, when “public house” was shortened to “pub”).

Over the centuries the pub has acquired the characteristics that have come to define this uniquely British institution: it is homely, comfortable and welcoming. Twinkling racks of glasses and bottles, glowing fireplaces, colourful beer taps and soft lighting contribute to the atmosphere: this is a place to escape the tribulations of the world outside.

When it comes to furniture, most pubs today echo and channel history in some way; it’s rare to find a pub that is furnished and decorated in an entirely contemporary style. The widespread use of old-world furnishings and fixtures, such as wood panelling and ornate mirrors, adds to the impression that the pub is a world-within-a-world. So what are the historical influences on today’s pub furniture?

 

1: Medieval

The reality for most medieval drinkers was hard and uncomfortable: rough benches, crude tables, or perhaps just barrel tops. Individual chairs were a luxury reserved only for the very wealthy. If a pub were to try to replicate this kind of environment, it would soon go out of business. But the simplicity of medieval furniture is still present in the solid benches and simple wooden tables widely used in pubs. Early pub tables were either boards placed across two barrels, or trestle tables that could be cleared away – a design that is still widely used today.

 

2: Tudor

The Tudor era saw the rise of more decorative furniture, and individual chairs became more widely used, often with ornate carvings; these elements can be seen in some pub furniture today. There was a flurry of pub-building across the UK in the 1920s and 30s, and many of these new pubs echoed the Tudor era with mock-Tudor exteriors and leaded lights. One piece of Tudor-era furniture has influenced today’s pub furniture perhaps more than any other: the settle. This wooden bench is normally placed up against a wall; sometimes it has a high wooden back. In Tudor times, the area beneath the seats might have been used as cupboard space. Trent Furniture’s Killarney settle (pictured below) echoes the classic settle and has the advantage of being moveable.

Pub furniture example in the Tudor style as shown by Trent Furniture's Killarney settle

3: Rustic furniture

Many pubs aim to recreate the atmosphere and ambience of the countryside, with prints of hunting scenes, stuffed animals or specimens of fish in glass cases. Hunting horns and copper pans might be hung from the ceiling or walls. Simple wooden tables and perhaps buttoned leather chairs or deep sofas will add to this rustic scene. It’s seductive, but often entirely fake: most real country pubs will have few of these accoutrements, instead being simple places with an eclectic mix of old and new furniture, plain low ceilings whitewashed walls. Trent Furniture’s Farmhouse table would sit very comfortably here, as would the Windsor chair (see below).

 

4: The Windsor chair

Often found in rural or country-style pubs, these chairs are another classic English design, with origins going back more than 300 years. In the early 18th century, itinerant furniture makers would set up camp near towns and make the chairs from local wood. Developments in wood-bending facilitated design features such as the curved back. Today the Windsor chair is a familiar sight in English pubs: it’s solid and comfortable, especially with the addition of a cushion or two.

 

5: The bistro chair

This design classic dates back to France in the 19th century and the rising popularity of bistro dining among the lower classes. Chairs and tables were often placed outside, leading to demand for chairs that were sturdy but portable. A German-Austrian furniture maker, Michael Thonet, was working on new ways of making bentwood furniture, and created what became the bistro chair, with its curved back and slightly splayed legs. Mass production techniques made these chairs cheap and easy to assemble. Millions are still produced today, and they are widely used in cafés, restaurants and pubs around the world.

Pub furniture and decor in a Victorian pub

6: Victorian

Walk into any pub today, and the chances are that it will be heavily influenced by the Victorian era; many of today’s pubs were built in the 19th century and share similar characteristics: high, moulded ceilings and frosted glass. The furniture often matches this look: cast-iron chairs and tables, heavy wooden stools and dark polished wooden (or marble) table tops have their origins in the 18th and 19th centuries and are still made today. Cast iron furniture was first made in the early 18th century but it became hugely popular in the 19th century thanks to new developments in casting. Towns such as Coalbrookdale became centres of the iron casting industry, and the decorative, scrolled embellishments and lionpaw feet are typical of the era. Trent Furniture’s cast iron Girlshead table is a classic of its kind, based on original Victorian designs, and would look entirely at home in a Dickensian pub.

 

7: Art deco

Pubs that hope to create a cleaner, more modern look might look to the art deco designs of the 1920s and 30s for inspiration: curved steel, leather, chrome, glass and curved wood are typical deco materials. Poseur tables and bar stools in particular can carry strong echoes of the art deco era, with silver or black metallic legs and lacquered table tops, and leather or faux-leather seats. Some pubs built in the 1930s such as The Duke in London’s Bloomsbury (pictured below) have preserved their original interiors almost intact.

8: Midcentury

The period from the 1930s to the 1950s is increasingly seen as a golden age of furniture design, when British-based companies such as Ercol and Scandinavian designers such as Arne Jacobsen used elegant shapes and often natural materials such as blond wood to create furniture that was seen as accessible and democratic. It has perhaps influenced restaurant and café furniture more than pub furniture, but midcentury design can be seen in some bar stools and chairs.

 

9: The picnic table

And finally, this ubiquitous design – which can be found in almost every pub garden in the country – has fascinating origins. It started life as a portable, collapsible table designed in the early 19th century in the US. Americans were becoming increasingly mobile and they wanted to camp and picnic in the newly popular national parks: this table was ideal, being stable when erected but also portable. Unfortunately, as they moved around, the newly mobile park-lovers caused damage to trees and shrubs, and fire was also a risk. So it was proposed that heavier, anchored picnic tables would be provided at picnicking and camping sites along designated trails, encouraging campers and picnickers to stay within certain areas. And so, in America in the 1930s, the picnic table as we now know it was born – a design classic that most people wouldn’t give a second thought to when sitting at it.

 

If you would like to give your pub a traditional look your customers will love, check out our latest range of quality pub furniture.

 

For that all-important first impression, attractive table tops are a vital asset. No matter how good the food is at your restaurant, pub or café, customers can easily be put off by old, worn down tables that don’t reflect the overall aesthetic of the establishment. After a long summer that no doubt saw you bustling with customers, now is the perfect time to refresh these tables to ensure business stays booming well into the autumn and winter.

However, this doesn’t mean that you need to buy all-new expensive tables; at Trent Furniture, our range of table tops offer a cost-effective solution to easily update your existing dining furniture. Designed specifically for contract use, our table tops meet all the necessary requirements for use within business premises, while our wide selection of styles, colours, and sizes means we can cater to all kinds of specific needs.

What to consider before buying your new table tops

As with most elements of your business, when choosing your new table tops it is important to not only think about how they will look but also how they will be used.

What size table tops do you need? Think about how many tables you want to fit into the intended space, and how many people you want to be able to seat. Depending on the size of your business, you may wish to have either a larger quantity of smaller tables or a small quantity of larger tables.

Who will be using your tables? Think about how your tables can be best suited to their intended users. For example, if your business caters largely to children and families, you may want to choose a table top more resistant to wear and tear, such as one with reinforced or rounded edges.

Our range of table tops

There's a wealth of choice available in our range of table tops. In this section, we look at the benefits of each table top on offer.

Solid wood table tops

Our solid wood table tops are made of durable, solid hardwood, with 28mm thickness and a large range of square, rectangular, and circular sizes. We have light oak, dark oak, and walnut finishes available, each with a clear acid-catalysed lacquer coating. These table tops are perfect for both modern and classic styles, providing a neutral base for any décor.

Veneer table tops

Our veneer table tops consist of 18mm thick particleboard with real oak veneer and hardwood edges, providing additional protection and blending seamlessly into the table’s surface. These tops are also veneered on the underside to avoid warping. With a range of sizes available, we supply veneer tops in dark oak, light oak, and walnut finishes, with a clear polyurethane lacquer coating.

The design of veneer table tops means they are a lightweight option, making them ideal for spaces where you may often be rearranging your furniture to adapt to different needs.

Laminate table tops

Our laminate table tops are made of a 27mm thick particleboard core, with a high-pressure laminate finish and black ABS plastic edging. These table tops are incredibly hard-wearing and reversible, making them long-lasting and great value for money, starting at just £26.90. Our laminate table tops are available in mahogany, walnut, light oak, and black, and are particularly suited for use in more contemporary spaces.

Melamine table tops

With a 21mm thick MDF centre covered with a melamine surface, melamine table tops are our most affordable option, starting at only £18.90 each. While cheaper than the other table tops, these are still extremely durable and attractive, available in both light and dark oak.

If you are planning on replacing your chairs as well as your tables, our light oak melamine table tops are an exact colour match to some of our wooden dining chairs, including the Remo and the Roma.

Solid oak table tops

Our solid oak table tops offer a more premium quality product than others in our collection, with a thickness of 38mm making these table tops incredibly durable and strong. These eco-friendly tops are available with either an unstained, raw finish or a light oak, dark oak, or walnut stain.

While these are the most expensive of our table tops, Trent Furniture are proud to offer the lowest UK price for solid oak tops.

American diner table tops

Our American diner table tops consist of a hard-wearing laminate surface with ribbed metal edging, available in both black and red, and a range of either square, circular, or rectangular sizes. These table tops match perfectly with our full American diner range, including booths, benches, and barstools, allowing you to create a fully authentic-looking American diner style restaurant.

 

With almost 60 years of experience, here at Trent Furniture we are committed to providing the best quality products possible, meaning our table tops are all made to the highest standard. Take a look at our full range of table tops here, and place your order today. To find out more about how we can help you update your table tops, give us a call on 01162 864911 or email sales@pubfurnitureuk.co.uk.

Cast iron has been used in pubs, restaurants and other hospitality businesses for centuries and there’s good reason for it. From being incredibly hard wearing to eco-friendly and surprisingly affordable, we’ve put together some of the top reasons to consider using cast iron table bases in your establishment.

Cast iron tables are hard-wearing and easily maintained

Cast iron table bases last a very, very long time, in fact there are still perfectly good examples of original Victorian castings being used in pubs and restaurants today! This long-wearing nature makes them ideal as a bar or restaurant table base as they can withstand lots of foot traffic and being moved around for functions and layout changes. They can even be used outside, with their weight making them ideal for use in windy conditions.

Maintaining and cleaning cast iron furniture is very simple, in fact you should only need to dust and wipe down your table bases with a damp cloth to keep them looking great.

Iron is a great eco material

Because of the longevity of a cast iron table base, many owners keep theirs for many years, meaning less waste is generated. When it does finally come time to replace these bases, iron is easy to recycle and can be melted down and made into new products.

They are the ideal table base for heavy tops

Cast iron table bases are naturally heavy and give great stability, making them the perfect choice if you need to support a heavy tabletop. These heavier tabletops often come in materials like granite, marble or metal and need something to support their weight effectively. If you’re unsure if a table base is suitable for a heavy top, get in touch with the experts at Trent Furniture who will be happy to help advise on the right base.

They are easily customisable

With such a long lifespan it’s good to know that cast iron table bases are easy to customise to fit in with any change in décor or purpose. The easiest and most cost-effective way to update them is by switching the top. You can even paint them to make a change from the traditional black to fit with the colour scheme of your space.

Metal table bases are surprisingly affordable

Despite having the features of an investment piece of furniture, cast iron bases area budget-friendly option, with simple pedestal designs complete with tabletop, starting at as little as around £40. If you have a tabletop already, Trent Furniture sells table bases separately too so you can reduce the cost even further.

Cast iron table bases look fantastic

We couldn’t end this article without mentioning one of the biggest selling points for cast iron table bases; how good they look!

Round pub table with cast iron table base

Cast iron has a certain elegance and traditional feel to it, no matter how much or little decoration features in the design. Even better, these bases look great paired with almost any style of chair whether wood, metal or plastic.

There is a lot of choice available when it comes to matching your table base to the style and décor of your establishment. Trent Furniture offers a range of intricate and decorative bases inspired by Victorian and Art Deco design, as well as a selection of more modern styles. We also offer a large range of different sizes – including coffee, dining, poseur and pedestal table bases.

You can view our full range of cast iron table bases here or get in touch to discuss how Trent Furniture can help you outfit your business.

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