Cre­at­ing a me­dia room

Country Life Every Week - - Ask The Expert -

What are the most im­por­tant things to con­sider when you’re plan­ning a me­dia room?

You have to work out how it’s go­ing to be used and by whom. This is fairly straight­for­ward if it’s go­ing to be a cin­ema for adults, in which case, the chal­lenges are mood, acous­tics and com­fort. How­ever, more of­ten than not, the so-called me­dia room also func­tions as a play­room for chil­dren, some­where for the teenagers to play video games and the fam­ily to get to­gether to watch a film as well as a party room.

In Lon­don, it’s more com­mon for me­dia rooms to be built in base­ments that are pretty con­fined spaces, but where it’s pos­si­ble to have fun decorating in an amus­ing or rather kitsch way. We did a room re­cently for teenage sis­ters that had hot-pink suede fab­ric on the walls, for ex­am­ple, but, usu­ally, we’re decorating them to amuse the men of the house: huge com­fort­able so­fas, bars, pop­corn ma­chines, leg rests that kick up, drinks hold­ers and all the boys’ toys!

Me­dia rooms in the coun­try are usu­ally very dif­fer­ent—less con­fined and with more fo­cus on cre­at­ing the ul­ti­mate party barn.

Do you have any ad­vice on tech­nol­ogy?

A me­dia or party room is prob­a­bly the most com­pli­cated room in the house as far as tech­nol­ogy is con­cerned, so the next de­ci­sion I’d have to make would be to part­ner up with an au­dio­vi­sual con­sul­tant. Their role has changed of late—it’s no longer just about de­sign­ing the TV and the sur­round sound: it’s re­ally more about de­sign­ing an in­tel­li­gent sys­tem to con­trol ev­ery­thing in the house from the light­ing, heat­ing and air-con­di­tion­ing to se­cu­rity and door en­try.

It sounds a bit scary, but it means that you don’t have six re­mote con­trols on your cof­fee ta­ble—ev­ery­thing can be quite sim­ply con­trolled from an ipad or tablet.

Work with a con­sul­tant who speaks a lan­guage that ev­ery­one can un­der­stand—the likes of Luke New­land (http://new­land. so­lu­tions), Robert Taus­sig (www.robert­taus­sig.co.uk) or An­gus Gib­son (http://la­m­ont­con­sul­tants.co.uk) are all bril­liant.

How do you dec­o­rate a multi-pur­pose me­dia room?

The type of floor­ing you choose is very im­por­tant as it needs to be hard-wear­ing enough for a party, but can’t be too noisy. A tim­ber floor works well. We some­times spec­ify light­weight rugs so that they can be rolled up and stored when clients are in party mode.

Even if you’re not in Lon­don and don’t have any close neigh­bours, acous­tics are still vi­tally im­por­tant. Fab­ric walling is very good for this. It looks fan­tas­tic, but it’s ex­pen­sive, so you wouldn’t want to run the risk of teenagers spilling drinks on it. Padded leather or leather-look walls are more durable. Bill Am­berg (www.bil­lam­berg.com) does some great walling that’s wi­peable and ab­sorbs sound bril­liantly.

It also helps if there’s flex­i­bil­ity—we’ve made some huge mod­u­lar L-shaped and U-shaped so­fas that can be taken apart and pushed to the side of the room or stored. In any event, the so­fas have to be re­ally com­fort­able and made in hard-wear­ing fab­rics so that they don’t get ru­ined when there’s a party. Top right: Hot Pa­prika, Du­lux (0333 222 7171; www.du­lux.co.uk). Above right: Brin­jal, Far­row & Ball (01202 876141; www.far­row­ball.com). Right: Isis cof­fee ta­ble, Soane (020–7730 6400; www.soane.co.uk). Below: Sofa, Law­son Wood (020–7228 9812; www.law­son-wood.com) The in­stinct, whether the room is in Lon­don or the coun­try, is to go for dark colours be­cause it’s per­ceived as more of a night­time room. Dark red and aubergine work well in a womb-like way. How­ever, that doesn’t al­ways work in the coun­try. If the room re­lates strongly to the gar­den, then it might be a bet­ter idea to go for dark greys and greens. In a city house, you can throw in a big sense of hu­mour and go to town with the colours.

And any light­ing tips?

Again, this is an­other com­pletely crit­i­cal area. Light­ing will set the mood of the room and will be fun­da­men­tal in chang­ing it from a cosy fam­ily space to a glitzy party venue. Even after years of de­sign­ing these spaces, I still like to work with light­ing de­sign­ers, par­tic­u­larly when it comes to these mul­ti­pur­pose rooms. The likes of Sally Storey (http://john­cul­len­light­ing.co.uk) are so up to speed with what’s avail­able and it’s an in­dus­try that’s con­stantly evolv­ing. Tod­hunter Earle (020–7349 9999; http:// tod­hunterearle.com)

What about colour schemes?

Emily Tod­hunter sug­gests ways to cre­ate a space for re­lax­ing and en­ter­tain­ing

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