Most households have a room where the main activity is watching television. We're well beyond needing simply an electrical outlet and a pair of rabbit ears to entertain ourselves at home -- now, game consoles, cables, satellites, computer networks, streaming systems and stereo components can all communicate with your television. Be prepared for new devices incorporating cable management and methods of communication that will become "standard" in the future. Whether you're renovating your media space, building a new one or considering a quick upgrade, here are the elements to consider so you can make the most of your media room.
The more invisible the technology, the more able you are to immerse yourself in the media experience, but the beauty of a media room is that you don't have to hide the TV. So, splurge on the screen that suits your fancy and feel free to make it the centerpiece of the room in this case. On the other hand, if you would like to create a space that's a little more understated, yet visually dramatic when viewing media, consider a projector with a retractable screen. The screen hardware mounts to the ceiling, and the screen rolls up when you're not watching. Be sure to get a TV system that will handle all your media interests--Internet access, gaming, DVD or Blu-ray, and the components of your particular home theater set-up.
Sounding It Out
Most of our clients who build media rooms enjoy their screen time so much that we recommend they invest in audio equipment that's on par with their video equipment. Technology has thankfully advanced enough that you don't have to fill the room with tiny speakers for a surround sound effect. Install them flush to the ceiling or walls so you can keep your attention focused where you want it. If you want speakers to be truly invisible, you can go wireless or actually install completely invisible speakers. The working parts of the speaker are attached to a panel that looks like drywall, and is installed directly into the wall and painted over to match the rest of the space. The speaker elements simply vibrate against the panel to create sound.
Finally, you need to create a space where you can house all of the electronic components of your new media center. Hard drives, DVR and cable equipment, gaming consoles and stereo equipment need a space to live that won't clutter up the room. The best solution for cable management is to have a small cabinet installed in the most convenient space to your equipment, yet is easily accessible. You'll need ventilation, but can easily install a media cabinet with a panel door that's ventilated.
Bringing It All Together
Now that you've got all your technology worked out, it's time to bring in your people! Consider the other functions the room will serve. If the room will function as more than a media room, break up the space to accommodate your other pastimes. Will you need a simple game table with seating for four, or a pool table that converts to a ping pong table and crafting station? Create those spaces behind the seating in your home theater so the whole family can spend time together without everyone having to watch "Rambo" again or rock out to some "Guitar Hero."
A sectional sofa is a versatile choice for a multipurpose space. They seat a lot of people comfortably, or just a few when folks want to sack out or snuggle up. If, however, your home theater is going to be dedicated solely to showing your favorite films, individual seating can really up the experience. Consider something that reclines -- recliners have come a long way in terms of attractive design. You can even get them with wireless speakers built into the headrest, which makes for an unforgettable cinematic or gaming experience.
Color and Texture
For designers, this really is a case of saving the best for last. This space is your retreat from the world, and an indulgence you've earned. Make sure you love the way it looks. In terms of color, go deep and bold for the best cinematic effect. If you can't handle deep navy on all four walls, consider adding it as an accent color on the wall behind the screen for maximum viewing effect. Add some texture and theatrical flair with draperies that block the light and add to that sense of indulgence. If soundproofing is an issue, make those draperies wall to wall, and have some fun with the fabric. Remember, more than any other room in the house, this is room where you should feel free to make it your own.
Now, hit the lights and pass that popcorn!
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