Colleton River Club New Bar Makeover

Before + After: Colleton River refresh

Go inside J. Banks Design Group’s transformation of Colleton River Clubhouse, and see how the most subtle changes can make all the difference.

Story Barry Kaufman + Photos by Lyndi Leary

There aren’t too many projects that the team at J. Banks Design haven’t tackled, whether adding their style and sophistication to some of the most celebrated hotels in the world or simply giving a Hilton Head Island home a fresh look. Others, like this refresh of Colleton River Club, require a little more precision. 

“They have multiple projects going on at the time, and they just wanted us to do a light refresh,” said Laura Bischofberger with J. Banks. “There was no construction, no tearing down walls… it was basically paint, flooring, lighting and furniture, but it made a big impact.”

The pictures you see here certainly back up that assertion. With just a few subtle changes, lighting updates and a splash of color, what had already been a gorgeous hub for Colleton River’s social scene was given a fabulous upgrade.

Raising the bar 

Possibly the most dramatic change happened in the bar, which was stripped of its dark stained aura and washed in an eye-catching subdued blue. Of course, that wasn’t the original plan. The first draft of the bar renovation called for a sanding and re-staining, which proved to be a non-starter when the original finish turned out to be a veneer.

“If you suggest painting, some people resist,” said Janet Perry with a laugh. “But it turned out 10 times better than what we were originally going to do.”

The blue, incidentally, speaks to a hallmark of J. Banks Designs’ philosophy, chosen to complement the broad vistas of sky seen through the windows just beyond the bar. “That view is what it’s all about,” added Perry. “When you have a mural like that, you don’t need much.”

Colleton River Clubhouse Bar before renovation
Colleton River Clubhouse Bar - After Renovation

Lounge act

If you’re looking at the before picture and thinking that the plaid carpet had to be the first thing to go, you’re not wrong.

“I mean, sometimes it’s tried and true,” said Bischofberger, diplomatically.

Sometimes, yes. But not in the men’s lounge, where a sharp-looking honeycomb carpet contrasts intricate designs against the long lines of the woodwork. Recasting that woodwork in a shade called Amazing Gray and getting rid of the heavy wooden shutters on the windows brightened the entire space up tremendously.

“They would have the ability to pull shades down if they wanted to, but it’s still very private,” added Perry.

Colleton River Clubhouse - Men's Lounge - Before Renovation
Colleton River Clubhouse - Men's Lounge - After Renovation

Setting the scene

One key difference in reimagining a space like Colleton River Club is that there you’re not just creating something new for one client. You’re doing it for dozens of members, who can sometimes be resistant to change. 

“Any time you can mix a little bit of the old with the new, they appreciate the familiarity,” said Bischoberger. 

 As a nod to that resourcefulness, the metal sculpture that had previously decorated this space was moved elsewhere, replaced by a papered mural whose monochromatic tones add drama to a space that was overall lightened up to become much more inviting.

Colleton River Clubhouse - Before Renovation
Colleton River Clubhouse - After Renovation

A grand entrance

That continuity continues in the main foyer with a dazzling Lowcountry painting greeting members today just as it did before the club was refreshed. Surrounding it, however, is a room that has been remarkably brightened from the ground up, quite literally, with a custom-made Patrick James rug adding a pop of color to the subdued tones of the Baker furniture seating.

“It’s a classic style of furniture that is very transitional and has a clean edge to it,” said Perry.

Colleton River Clubhouse Entrance - After Renovation

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