The New Media Room
Home theaters were all the rage 10 years ago. These rooms were designed for passively watching television and movies and were acoustically separated from the rest of the house. While some homeowners still want home theaters, most now opt for a media room that doubles as a game room. Getting the most from these spaces requires careful planning.
Where to put it
Location is the most important question, and the answer depends on how TV watching and game playing blends with the family’s other activities. Some homeowners want the floor plan to naturally flow from the kitchen or living area to the media/game room, which lets parents keep an eye on kids and makes it easy for guests to get drinks and snacks during a Super Bowl party. Such rooms typically have sliding doors so that they can be isolated when needed. Other homeowners want the room in a space that’s completely separate from the rest of the house.
The room can be acoustically isolated with products that dampen sound transmission through the walls, floors and ceilings. Cost-effective solutions include framing techniques that separate one side of the wall from the other (so it doesn’t vibrate like a speaker) to special membranes, insulation, acoustic tiles and sound-deadening drywall products.
Natural light is great for that Saturday afternoon card game; but when it’s movie time, most people want darkness. Options include motorized screens and draperies that smoothly draw across the windows and are controlled by remote devices or wall-mounted panels. For tighter budgets, consider hand-operated blackout shades.
A media/game room needs a floor plan and a wiring infrastructure to accommodate consumer electronics and their data feeds. People who love movies may want a 6- to 10-foot-wide screen and a 7.1 surround-sound system. Others may want several video displays fed by multiple signals — satellite, cable, Wi-Fi. Regardless of design, essential touches include flexible task lighting (tracks are good for this), as well as more electrical outlets than you think you will need.
Seating, storage, and snacks
In many media/game rooms, it’s not unusual for family members and their friends to be engaged in multiple simultaneous activities. Consider including different seating zones, as well as built-in cabinet storage for Xboxes, Wiis and other tech gadgetry. Small kitchen setups, complete with sink, microwave, mini-fridge and counter workspace provide additional convenience in this self-contained haven.
649 Valley Ave., Suite A
Solana Beach, CA 92075