State-of-the-art technology and imaginative design are transforming our homes into entertainment zones.
Celebrities may party at chic clubs, restaurants and premieres but, increasingly, the hottest entertainment destination for the rest of us is our own home. Cinemas, party rooms, bars and games rooms are now considered must-haves in high-end homes. But while most people don't have the budget for such lavish spaces, it doesn't stop us embracing the philosophy that ‘staying in is the new going out' — and looking for kit to make it possible.
“The world has moved on in terms of the way people use their homes,” says designer Tara Bernerd of Tara Bernerd & Partners.
“Of course, those who can afford luxury want entertainment areas — a cinema room, a games room with a pool table and a party ‘nightclub' zone so they can effortlessly and instantly enjoy their often limited leisure time.
“Most people now regard their homes as little kingdoms, where they can demonstrate their taste, be cocooned and amused when they're alone or with family, or entertain in style when the mood takes them.”
Home bars have shed their naff reputation. A built-in bar was a famous and much mocked fixture in the Trotters' lounge in TV's Only Fools And Horses, but now high-street giants Marks & Spencer and John Lewis both have sophisticated ranges of drinks cabinets and trolleys.
Socialising indoors means you can tailor an occasion exactly to suit you and your guests. This could potentially save you money, not to mention freeing hosts from concerns over drinking and driving.
“Men may be more interested in gadgets, gizmos and toys for a games room, while women are keen to have areas where they can relax and entertain, such as cinema rooms and bar areas,” says Bernerd.
Convenience and privacy are motivating factors for those who already have the luxury gyms, pools and spas, and see separate entertainment zones as complementary to those facilities. But she points out many people want their homes to have multi-functional spaces.
“One of our aims is to ensure these rooms are versatile and have just as much atmosphere and appeal when they are used as intimate, relaxing spaces as when they're used for entertaining groups of friends or for parties,” she says.
So, if you're a dedicated party-giver, movie buff, or just want to kit out a room to give teenagers some space (and you some privacy), check out entertaining ideas from the experts.
“Games rooms are now essential ‘play spaces' in homes,” says Henrietta Perry, director of interior design specialists Callister Russell.
“One of the most important things for our clients is creating that ‘wow factor'.
“We source bespoke details, whether it's a vintage arcade game or one of our most recent acquisitions — a pool table that once belonged to Eric Clapton.
“It's all part of ensuring a games room provides everything to create the right mood with a touch of the individual's character.
“They can be equipped with everything from pool tables and pinball machines, to table football, memorabilia or art.”
SPEND For fans of the beautiful game, The Games Room Company's football tables start from £1,500 and include a bespoke luxury table, from £19,000, on which family, team-mates or even pets' faces can be replicated on hand-painted cast metal figures.
Change the pace with a sleek Vortex Air Hockey table, £599 from The Conran Shop. Or play the machines with an Arcade table in a coffee table design with 60 vintage games including Space Invaders and Pac-Man, £2,500, and limited edition Juke Britannia juke box, £6,500. Both from The Games Room Company.
SAVE A Champions League Football Table, £129.95, has UEFA Champions League stadium graphics and a grass-effect pitch. Or go for an Arcade Mania Upright Machine, £1,399, which features 150 games. Both from
SHAKEN, NOT STIRRED
“Home bars are enjoying a huge revival and can be positioned discreetly in the corner of a living room or act as a focal point in a party area,” says interior designer Joanna Wood.
“Clients can enjoy using them as an intimate space for evening drinks or cocktails or as a convenient serving and preparation area during the day for non-alcoholic drinks such as smoothies.”
The demise of the dining room is allowing people to use that space for entertaining, says John Stephens, managing director of Rencraft, specialists in bespoke kitchens and furniture.
“We are certainly noticing an increase in demand for home-entertainment zones from sociable bar areas through to home cinema rooms,” he says.
“People now prefer larger open-plan kitchens, with an area at one end for socialising. It particularly suits those with children who don't want the bother and expense of finding babysitters and so can easily party at home.”
SPEND A bespoke home bar crafted in oak, hand-painted and lit starts from around £5,000 from Rencraft and a curved bar in walnut with nickel detailing, and sides in metallic plum-coloured vinyl, starts from around £4,000. Both available from Joanna Trading on request.
SAVE A Mayfair Drinks Cabinet crafted from American ash wood, £599, and a Conran Cayley Drinks Trolley, £399, with wooden wheels. Both from Marks & Spencer.
Alternatively, John Lewis's range includes an Ellis Drinks Cabinet, £299, with a walnut finish only available online and a gilded Biggins Drinks Trolley, £599, available in March.
LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION
“Cinema rooms are outstripping pools in popularity in luxury homes,” says Matt Wayne, consultant designer at Finite Solutions.
“Cinema-size screens that magically appear or disappear when not in use are enormously popular, so we can conceal them in walls behind panels or pictures.
“For one client we created a private ‘multiplex' with a lit pathway to leather seats, a 100-inch screen, integrated acoustic panels whose fronts displayed family photos, and a library of 6,000 films arranged into themed programmes.”
Lighting is key to the right atmosphere in entertainment areas or cinema rooms, points out Sally Storey, design director at John Cullen Lighting.
“It's essential to have lighting effects which are dimmable so that one can immediately change the environment of a room from a brightly-lit area to a moody, dramatic party space or viewing area at the touch of a button.
“Consider adding uplights at low level at either side of a fireplace or around the corners of a room, which can be very dramatic.”
SPEND A cinema room with luxurious red carpeting, red silk drapes, leather seating and touch-pad control, from £10,000 upwards for the audio visual equipment and installation from Finite Solutions. More information available on request.
SAVE Set up a screen in any room you like by using a projector and screen. Amazon has a wide range of screens including a Duronic FPS100/43 Floor 100-inch projector screen, currently reduced from £169.99 to £129.99, and an Aiptek PocketCinema V50 — DLP projector, currently reduced from £299.99 to £239.99.
Recline in comfort on a Home Cinema Chair, £1,119.99, and complete the experience with popcorn made by a Movie Popcorn Machine, £349.99. Both available from Drinkstuff.