The New Pool Tables Take Their Cues From Fine Furniture

Styles, colors and finishes increase
12:00 AM CDT on Friday, September 23, 2005
By LISA MARTIN / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

The new generation of pool tables has never looked better, thanks to an evolved attitude among makers: Realizing that an 8-foot-by-4-foot billiard table is among the largest pieces of furniture in the house, designers have upped the style quotient accordingly.
"Pool tables have come out of the smoky bar and into the home as a place for families to gather around," says Mary Pettersen, a spokeswoman for Brunswick, a manufacturer of game tables and accessories. "What people want right now is a billiard table as a great piece of furniture, like an antique armoire or a wonderful leather chair."
Pool tables are available in a host of looks, from ultra-sleek and contemporary to traditional stylings that recall an old English pub. Brunswick's models in the Contender collection, which sell from $1,699 to $3,849, include laminate and brushed-metal tables that come in a choice of modern-day cloth colors such as black, red and olive.
Traditionalists tend to gravitate to dark green or burgundy cloth, along with dark woods that can be carved in ornate reliefs.
"The ball-and-claw leg style is very, very popular, as are French Provincial and Queen Anne-style legs," says Patrick Hammontree, regional manager of Billiards & Barstools, which has six stores around the Dallas-Fort Worth area. "People are also really into the dark finishes that aren't shiny; matte is becoming really big."
As for color of the cloth that lines the inside of the table, Mr. Hammontree notes that saturated shades of gold, camel and olive are in growing demand. If you own a pool table, you'll one day need to replace the cloth, which can stretch or tear with wear. (Most home pool tables need new cloth every five to seven years; busy pool hall tables, meanwhile, often need the fabric replaced every six months or so.) According to Refugio Aguilar, longtime owner of Billiard & Game Co. in Dallas, new varieties and blends of fabric are beginning to rival traditional worsted wool as popular choices.
"The Teflon-coated fabrics are getting better," he says. Teflon has the advantage of repelling liquid, so a kid could dump a Coke on the cloth and it would bead up for wiping purposes. "Still, wool is the standard, and whereas you used to be able to get it in around 16 colors, today you have 40 to 50 different options."
For many, the pool table itself is only the beginning. The related furniture and accessories provide a real opportunity to shape the look of the room. At Universal Billiards in Frisco and Farmers Branch, where pool table prices range from $895 to $7,995, best-selling d├ęcor includes pub tables and chairs with an altitude appropriate for viewing the action.
Lisa Martin is an Arlington free-lance writer.

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