Feature Article - May 2011
Find a printable version here

Suit Yourself

Locker Rooms to Fit Your Facility

By Jessica Royer Ocken

Extra Embellishments

You've met code requirements, listened to the needs and requests of your potential users, and considered the special demands of the activities your facility will offer. What's left now is all bonus—little ways you can add oomph to your locker rooms and make them something special.

If your locker room will be home to an athletic team, here's your chance to help them succeed, Houston said. Boost team spirit by integrating their colors, logo and mascot into the décor that surrounds them as they prep for practice and to take on opponents.

The pros also report that a notable trend in locker rooms these days is that they're just nicer. "We've invited cameras into pro sports locker rooms, so people see that clubhouse environment," Hayes said. If it's good enough for those guys, why not all of us?

Hotels and restaurants are also an inspiration, he noted. From them have come trends like hexagon tiles and wooden doors, as well as in-counter tissue dispensers and complimentary toiletries, Houston added. Obviously these sorts of high-end finishes and freebies won't be the best for a general-purpose public locker room, but perhaps some clients would pay a bit extra for these amenities? (See sidebar for the way University of Missouri has made this work.)

You might also consider services as a way to bump up the luxury. Include a sauna or steam room among the lockers for a little extra relaxation, if space permits. Perhaps hot towels or manicures or massages (for a fee, of course) would make your locker room stand out. Why not offer snack service or a juice bar in a lounge area so users can socialize a bit? Country clubs and private facilities have been moving this direction for some time now, reported Rollhaus and Houston. And the private sector is "a vanguard, so [these things are] probably coming soon to public projects," Springs said.

The Payoff

When you have great locker rooms, those using your facility will be impressed. They might even tell their friends. And if you've gathered information and planned in advance, your final product will likely save you time and money on maintenance, as well as perhaps even generating a little revenue—either via services you offer or indirectly by keeping business coming through your doors.

But whatever you do, don't get stars in your eyes and forget the basics. No matter how fabulous your finishes are, if they're scratched, perpetually soaking wet, or slightly stinky, the glamour will be lost. "It all goes back to cleanliness," Hayes said. "That can make or break an experience."