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(Barry Calhoun)
(Barry Calhoun)

A sexy media room: How to build the anti man cave Add to ...

Few things are better than being tucked away in a cozy nook on a blustery autumn Sunday, watching movies. In one of our recently completed homes, a four-bedroom walkout on a wide lot, the clients had exactly this recreation in mind. All they needed was a spot for it.

Unlike other homes we’ve designed, this house had no cinema room, as the large lower-floor space was given over to a bar and pool table. The room they chose could be forgiven for being confused about its identity. Tucked into the rear, it was 12 by 12 feet, and appeared to have been meant for storage. Our orders: to remake it into a sexy media room. Here’s how we approached the task.

The big idea

Our big idea here was to design large in a small space, without making the room feel like an exercise in Napoleonic overcompensation. If a room so far from the home’s centre doesn’t assert its own gravitational pull, people won’t feel comfortable, and they won’t use it.

Our goal was to create a space as stylish as the lounge of a boutique hotel. There would be no man-cave clichés involving reclining chairs or ornamental oars. We chose boxy, tailored furniture with fine details – the chrome tacking on the club chairs, for example – to add sparkle to a dark space.

Though we avoided overstuffing, we didn’t sacrifice comfort. The furnishings are upholstered in sumptuous fabrics, with extra-deep cushions whose down filling issues a pleasing whump when you sit down.

The colour scheme is moody: smoky brown paint on the walls and layers of warm black and grey in the furnishings. But the burnt orange of the ottoman glows like a cinder, adding drama and sophistication to the room.

The big save

We’d intended to kit out the entire television wall with floor-to-ceiling millwork, incorporating display space – until we received a quote of $10,000.

Working with the client, we took a more pared-down approach, installing one long run of cabinets to house media equipment, books and blankets. The television is mounted above the shelf, the speakers recessed neatly into the wall.

The simpler cabinets acquit themselves elegantly, for about a third of the cost of the original plan.

The spirit of pragmatism extended to the equipment. Where many clients get swept up in drop-down screens and projectors, these kept it simple with a large TV and simple stereo system appropriate to the needs of the room.

The twist

To offset the dark scheme we needed effective artwork, but we rejected photographs as too pedestrian. We wanted something inexpensive, colourful and unusual, so we turned to the artisan website etsy.com.

At the shop page of one of our favourites, United Thread, we found prints illustrating an odd collection of feathers, birds and nests. With the client’s home located in the grasslands of B.C.’s Interior, a habitat for wild birds, the subject matter was perfect.

In large frames with white mats, they perforate the darkness of the space, while tying the white ceiling into the room, and drawing the eye from the entrance. And the rich colours are a welcome, warming contrast to the grey.


Wall colour: Worldly Gray, Sherwin Williams

Upholstered furniture: Custom KDD

Millwork: Westwood Fine Cabinetry, Kelowna, B.C.

Wallpaper: Linen & Tweed 5457, Phillip Jeffries, phillipjeffries.com

Area rug: Salari, salari.com

Plate: Martha Sturdy, Provide Home, providehome.com

Artwork: Etsy prints, www.etsy.com

Floor lamp: Robert Abbey, robertabbey.biz

Wooden pigs: Roost, roostco.com

Kelly Deck is a principal designer in R. Kelly Deck Design in Vancouver.

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Follow on Twitter: @kellydeckdesign

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