Tip and Trends for Home Theaters

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What started as a 24” x 36” wood cabinet with a 18” x 18” inch glass screen insert, i.e.the TV, has now grown into a design event. Rooms created just for its sole purpose, the "Home Theater.” Although movie viewing has always been a social event shared with family and friends, movie viewing today has moved from simple and understated to elaborate and theatrical. 

There are several important design elements one should consider upon designing their home theater -- what I refer to as the "Fabulous Five."

1. How and Whom

Once one has decided how they want to use their media room it will become clear how they want to approach the design. Private screening for two or an elaborate second living room for the extended family? Furnishings can range from luxe Italian leather recliners to oversized sectionals with children and pet-friendly fabrics.

2. Shape and Size

Once one knows their viewing needs, the space can then be defined. A rectangular deep space is preferred for sound distribution, but if you are looking to incorporate large plush sofas and a bar area, a square space would be more workable. Screen sizes can vary, but we like seating to be a minimum of 9 feet from the big screen, with the center of the screen at eye level while sitting.

3. Lighting

Lighting sets the stage for the home theater. It can create a grand entrance or a quiet walkway. We like to address a home theater space with multiple lighting levels -- one level that provides general lighting through the application of concealed light sources in the ceiling and a secondary level introducing low-wall lights for pathways. No big screen star wants competition with eye level lighting. Incorporating a bar in the media room also provides an excellent lighting opportunity.

4. Acoustics

Sound is everything! If you can’t hear it, you can’t get the story. Having a A/V specialist on your team is a must. They will specify the appropriate equipment and speakers based upon the design of the media room. We like to provide the A/V specialist with a solid base to build upon -- we design the floors, walls and ceilings to have acoustical properties included in the finishes. Introducing various levels to the ceiling helps trap and bounce sound waves. Upholstered walls provide sound absorption as well as creating a luxurious feel. High bounce wool carpet also provides sound absorption and provides soft comfort for floor lounging.

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5. Color

Last but not least, color. Medium to dark colors work best. Neutral, gray and earth tones work nicely and do not interfere with the colors being projected from the big screen. Warm amber glows make for a soft transition to the eyes, when the lights go back up.

In the end, fun is the bottom line for a media room. Whether it is simple and understand, or over-the-top, the room  should be a place for fun, laughter, screams, and tears -- just like the movies.

June Color of the Month: Sherwin-Williams Arugula (#SW6446)

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Arugula: uh-roo-guh-luh. According to Mr. Webster, this fancy lettuce is: “A Mediterranean plant of the mustard family, having pungent leaves used in salad.”

From a designer’s perspective,  the bold Arugula (#SW6446, picked as Sherwin Williams June’s color of the Month) exemplifies how adventurous one can go with color in their living spaces.  

A bright, audacious splash of color can be welcome stimulus to the eye, especially when interior/architectural detailing is minimal.  Stunning color can dress up a simple drywall surface and offer the attention an interior space may need — these colors can be expressive and fun, especially for playful and active rooms. 

Arugula #SW6446 may not be a  “go-to” color for everyone, but it serves as a brilliant reminder that being a bit daring with color can bring life and interest to interior spaces.

The American Barn

On my daily drive to my office in downtown Jackson, I pass the beautiful Lockhart Cattle Ranch barn located on South Highway 89 – large, red and white in all its glory. Then it occurred to me I really don’t know the history of the barn.

So, where did I go but to Google and found a lovely article via The Old Farmer's Almanac on “The Evolution of the American Barn.”

The first thing the author talked about was why barns had to be built wisely – because they held the farmer’s, rancher’s or homesteader’s “greatest assets.”  Much like our homes do today.

Our families are our greatest asset so we, too, design our homes to be safe, comfortable and filled with light and spaces that introduce stimuli as well as calm. These design elements are addressed through natural light orientation, views and circulation. The author talked about how the original barn design started with a central hall that provided space to process work and activities, with storage space to the sides – sounds a lot like our great room and sleep quarters. They used large doors to let in natural light, but fortunately today we have access to superior large window manufactures to accommodate modern-day designs.  

Next, verticality was introduced (the second level) and the “drive through” (translating to the present-day garage.) With more refinement and the need for efficiency, the barn design introduced ramps, chutes and sliding doors.

Finally, the article lists the design materials of choice – logs, stone, brick, clapboard and paint. The preferred paint color for barns was red. Why? The article explained that red iron oxide was used as it was plentiful and protective. 

It's so interesting how the design developments performed by the early rancher influenced the design profession and some of the concepts I work with every day.  (FYI - if you also love the classic American barn color, Sherwin Williams has a beautiful Red Barn paint.)

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