Billiards has been enjoyed for centuries, and craftsmen have been applying their artistic expressions to it since the game’s inception. Catering to luxury homeowners are elite manufacturers who can customize tables to suit any architectural style and transform a game table into a world-class piece of décor.
Brian Maier, owner of Lincoln, Nebraska’s Generation Billiards, reports luxury buyers frequently look for tables that reflect their homes’ architecture. A timbered villa in Park City or Aspen, for instance, is a good candidate for a rustic log table, while sleek glass tables suit modernist homes with expansive windows. “When people spend $10 million or more for a home, they want a pool table that’s just as distinctive,” states Maier, whose company can customize any feature of the table. For example, a client may request that the sights (those small inlaid markers along the side rails that are typically made of bone or mother-of-pearl) be replaced with 24-carat gold or diamonds.
Blatt Billiards co-owner Steve Roeder, whose family has operated the venerable New York firm for 70 years, reports that transitional and modern tables now dominate the market, but there is always demand for restorations of antique tables and re-creations of ornately designed vintage pieces. “We’re one of the few places that still makes tables old world-style, entirely handcrafted and hand-carved,” says Roeder, who reports selling a restored antique pool table for more than $400,000. A traditionally inspired, gold leaf-embellished model is priced at $125,000, and by partnering with marble carvers in Italy —the stone reportedly comes from the same quarries Michelangelo favored —Blatt produces marble tables priced from $50,000.
At Elevate Customs, a Southern California producer of sleek contemporary pool, table tennis and shuffleboard tables, products are customized to clients’ whims. Co-owners Lorraine Spektor and Marianna Lummer, sisters with a background in interior design, were convinced of an untapped niche market for luxury game tables. “We wanted to take the industry to the next level, so that the work of high-end interior designers would not be compromised by standard issue tables,” explains Spektor, who reports every product is made to order. “Besides our styles and craftsmanship, what sets us apart are the relationships we build, which are personalized at every level,” adds Lummer, noting Elevate Customs works closely with customers and designers to achieve the right aesthetics.
Currently, the firm is finishing a $68,000 pool table from its Luge series, customized with red suede legs, carbon fiber inlays and discretely placed LED lighting that illuminates both the playing surface and pockets.
Florida’s Hurricane Custom Billiards is a high-end manufacturer that creates unique contemporary tables —all built to order, no two are exactly alike —that exhibit a masculine industrial aesthetic and keen attention to detail. Owner Lee Benson, a former architect and furniture designer, states, “A pool table is a gigantic piece of furniture sitting in your room, so it should be a conversation piece as well as a game piece.” The ultimate addition to any man cave is Hurricane’s audacious Force 12 model (base price $42,650), inspired by the engineering found in suspension bridges.
From Australia’s Elite Innovations, a leader in sleek all-glass tables, is the X-1 Everesttable, an ultra-modern showpiece priced at $97,000. With its transparent playing surface (a material that replicates the dynamics of traditional felt) and glass supports, it appears to be floating in air and is therefore an ideal complement to contemporary glass-ensconced homes or high-rise penthouses. While the clear surface is stunning without adornment, a luxury dealer like Generation Billiards can customize these tables with family crests, team logos or even photographs.
Wisconsin-based McDermott Cue, which manufactures handcrafted cues featuring intricate inlays of tropical woods, abalone or brass, once produced a hand-engraved, precious metal-and gem-embellished fantasy cue that sold for an astonishing $150,000. More representative of the company’s high-end sticks is its Enhanced 2018 Cue of the Year ($1,999) whose handle includes ornate detailing of maple, abalone, turquoise, and pewter. “Our products stand out because of our materials, the designs we’re able to achieve and our manufacturing capabilities,” says owner Greg Knight.
You can’t shoot pool in the dark, and a contemporary table demands a statement piece to illuminate the playing surface. Designer Kevin Kolanowski of Los Angeles-based Fuse Lighting uses semiprecious stones to give his lighting fixtures extra aesthetic wattage. His Cambridge chandelier (starting at $10,000) is designed specifically for pool tables, with five glass shades offered in a wide range of colors.
Article by Roger Grody. This story first appeared in Homes & Estates 2017 Edition 4, the flagship publication of Coldwell Banker Global Luxury.