Elvis' Fabulous Upholstered Pool Room - Threads

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Elvis' Fabulous Upholstered Pool Room

Elvis Presley decorated the Billiard Room in 1974. More than 300 yards of fabric were pleated on the walls and ceiling.
It took three men 10 days to staple and hang the fabric that lines Elvis billiard room, in the basement of Graceland mansion.
Close up of the pleated fabric on the ceiling and walls.
Elvis Presley decorated the Billiard Room in 1974. More than 300 yards of fabric were pleated on the walls and ceiling.

Elvis Presley decorated the Billiard Room in 1974. More than 300 yards of fabric were pleated on the walls and ceiling.

Photo: Elvis Presley Enterprises

Years ago I visited Memphis, Tennessee, and I couldn't miss a trip to Graceland. Elvis Presley's former home is still, to me, one of the most poignant and memorable attractions I've ever visited. I say poignant because I remember the model of the shotgun shack where he was born. I think he must have been a kind person because of the all-pink bedroom and bathroom he had put in for his grandmother on the first floor. I also believe he stayed something of a country boy even at the height of his celebrity - one of the garages was riddled with holes where he and his buddies practiced shooting into the back wall.

But there was one room in Graceland that was an amazing novelty - the basement Billiards Room. It is completely lined with pleated fabric in an elaborate print. The pleats telescope to the ceiling's center, where the raw edges are covered by a fabric-covered medallian. Ever since I saw it, I wondered what inspired Elvis, and how this one-of-a-kind room decor came to be. Elvis Presley Enterprises was kind enough to share photos and the story.

Elvis bought Graceland in 1957. Over the years, he put a lot of time, money and effort into decorating it with the best. He added a pool table to a basement room in 1960, and in 1974 decided to decorate the room around it. He enjoyed researching his own decorating, and got the idea for the fabric-covered walls from a picture of a 18th-century billiards room. He shared the concept with the interior designer he was working with, Bill Eubanks. (William R. Eubanks is still a busy and very successful interior designer - today his eponymous company has offices in Palm Beach, Memphis, and New York.)

Bill purchased the 100-percent cotton material at a local store which specialized in custom furniture. It took three men 10 days to cut, pleat and hang the nearly 350 yards of fabric.

It is hung by tension rods along the walls and stapled in various places to the ceiling. There was enough left to upholster the room's two sofas.

Eclectic may be a mild term for the room's overall affect! The billiard lamps above the table were custom-made by Laukhuff Stained Glass in Memphis. There are three Louis XV style chairs in one corner, an Asian-style brass-over-wood campaign trunk on a rattan stand, a Toulouse-Lautrec poster of a can-can girl, Indian accent pillows, and  two chairs in 1970's gold wide-wale corduroy. Whew! But clearly, the most distinctive effect is the fabric treatment. 

Elvis was an able pool player, but he was known to move a ball to his favor from time to time, probably as a joke or to see who in his entourage might challenge him about it. His favorite games were 8-ball and rotation. To this day, a corner tear remains in the pool table's felt top, reportedly from a friend’s attempt at a trick shot.

I love seeing how people - especially those with great resources - interpret fashion and interior design. Whose home or closet would you find it fascinating to know more about - and why?

 

smcfarland

Comments (6)

lvislief lvislief writes: I have seen this room and it was sooo hard not to touch the fabric or duck under the ropes to get a closer look at the far side of the room.

The closets I would like to look in are Elton John's, I think for obvious reasons, though he has been selling off parts of it for his EJAF charity, so it would not be what it used to be.
Another one would be Michael Jackson's. He had some great costumes and hats!
Posted: 5:14 pm on December 16th

bakertoo bakertoo writes: Wow, thanks for posting those photos. That must have been a fabric lovers dream come true to design that fun room. I can imagine playing billiards in that room could have been pretty great, because the fabric, as opposed to heavy wood paneling, would help to dull the sound of the loud cracking of the balls as they hit each other. It must be even more impressive to see it in person.
I live in a house that was built in 1907, and this house only has two very small closets, and a hall/linen closet. So I am always wondering about the women who lived here, and other homes of the same era, and how they stored their garments, and how many garments they might have had in their wardrobes. So, I would like to see inside the closets, and the various storage systems, of ordinary women, in that period, as well as different time periods too. Just like I can't wait to go to the Smithsonian, and see Julia Childs kitchen!
Posted: 4:18 pm on December 14th

DeniseASeamstress DeniseASeamstress writes: This room stuck in my mind when I visited Graceland. I thought it strange to have so much fabric and that it must have taken forever to pleat like that. I am glad someone did a back story in this article. The whole house really had a 70's flair for oddness, texture and color wise. He had money, he probably would have redecorated like the millions of other people that picked out weird 70's decor.
There are lots of people that I would be fascinated in seeing their decor. Elvis's house is a museum, though so it is "stuck" in time. I imagine most people who have the means to decorate fabulously are going to have current trends, and not be stuck in one era, so Graceland is one of a kind. What does Paul McCartney's place look like or Oprah's? I am sure they are not still the same they were decades ago. They might have pictures of what it looked like before, though. At least Oprah would.
Posted: 3:54 pm on December 13th

Kittiecat412 Kittiecat412 writes: All I can think about looking at this room is DUST. What a nightmare to keep clean! And when you think about how many people still smoked when this room was designed and created, that makes it even more difficult. His poor staff.
Posted: 2:02 pm on December 13th

iceni iceni writes: I love, love Elvis, and have all his recordings, but that room is horrid. Sorry to say he had hideous taste, if any, but he was adorable, and he was happy with it. that's all that mattered.
Posted: 12:27 pm on December 13th

LindaKaren LindaKaren writes: Very interesting article. I do want to see Graceland one day -- it is on my list of things to do. My son was there and bought me a book from the gift shop; don't remember seeing this room in the book?
Posted: 7:55 am on December 13th

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