How to give your pub a traditional British makeover

It’s the pinnacle of UK culture, with any excuse to take a trip down to the pub. But what makes a British pub so British?

Invest in high-quality furniture

In the Victorian era, interior for an establishment was everything, with no cost spared to demonstrate the 

prosperity of the landlords. This meant that for a lot of pubs, they chose to display an impressive furniture collection of banquette seating — either velvet or leather — which was mainly placed around the edges of the pub to make more room for tables and standing folk. Barstools were likely to match the upholstered banquettes with the occasional Chesterfield present to fill out any empty spaces and cater for a higher capacity. Investing in any of the above will make a massive impact, with furniture being a central focus for many pub-goers.

Deck it out in wood

Any traditional pub will showcase the same basic décor of wood panelling on doors, walls and windows, and of course for the bar. It was even used to partition off the tables — think the Rovers Return from Coronation Street — giving pub-goers a bit of privacy. 

When transforming your pub to be classically British, woodwork will give it all of the atmosphere it needs, to bring immediate associations with tradition. Most landlords would have worked with darker wood due to its ability to camouflage damage and stains easier — hardwood is perfect for this due to its durable nature and would be waxed to perfection to help maintain a sense of cleanliness and high-quality. Wooden flooring would have also been a main feature for traditional pubs, with the area around the bars being tiled for easy maintenance — so there’s no need to worry about that local that may have had a few too many!

Get the details right

Stained-glass windows were often present to tie in with the idea of prosperity and have the benefit of standing out both indoors and outside. If your pub doesn’t have this original feature, you can always use window decals to emulate the look.

Lighting in pubs was traditionally dim, so using deep-coloured lampshades or low-hanging ceiling lights will help create the illusion of antique lighting usually found in Victorian-era pubs.

Also invest in the right signage and door hardware, which will closely mirror the traditional pub’s way of creating an attractive juxtaposition against the harsh wood. If you’re wanting to inject even more variety among the wood, try adding panels of wallpaper with intricate flocked designs.

Rounding your pub décor off with a large framed mirror will add the illusion of space, while oil paintings of historical figures will instantly transport your customers back in time.


Brits have always loved a good game, and central to many pubs is the provision of dart boards and pool tables. Having a space for your customers to engage in a little friendly competition will help to bring out the sense of community spirit in your local. In the past, it wouldn’t have been unusual to see punters hanging around these games having a cigar in one hand and a drink in the other.

By Matt Deighton, the managing director at British furniture makers, Timeless Chesterfields

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