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April 2021 / Homes & Interiors / by Ali Howard

Interiors: That’s Entertainment

Whether you have designs on a dedicated media room or a flexible home cinema set-up in the lounge, make sure it’s Oscar-worthy.

A home cinema has always been a desirable commodity but the pandemic has pushed the concept from luxury into the realms of necessity. Our lockdown weeks have been punctuated with at-home movie nights complete with drinks and popcorn, and in an otherwise stark social calendar, they’ve proved a sanity-saver. It’s little wonder, then, that media rooms are having a moment – and according to those in the know, from interior design to tech, they’re here to stay. “Home cinema rooms are incredibly popular at the moment – we’re all looking for some escapism,” says Helen Westlake, creative director at Marylebone-based architecture and interiors studio, Millier. “A dedicated entertainment room for movies and games, fully kitted out with sumptuous furnishings, low lighting and seamlessly integrated technology and acoustics offers a cocoon from the world. They’re also a truly flexible space for multi-generational family living and entertainment, which I think adds to their enduring desirability.” millierlondon.com

Space is naturally a concern if you’re looking to incorporate a big screen into your home, but you don’t necessarily need a spare room to achieve a cinematic experience. The beauty of a home cinema set-up is that it can be as simple, or as elaborate, as your floorplan dictates. Just as we’ve turned our bedroom into a home gym and flipped our kitchen into a classroom over the past year, our living space can transform into a makeshift movie theatre in an instant with the addition of a projector, a pull down screen and a few cosy beanbags to sink ourselves into – cocktail in hand. BenQ have recently launched two UHD ultra-short throw 3,000 lumen laser projectors with high-tech features to create the perfect home cinema in the living room – and beyond. V6050 and V6000, from £3,999 (benq.co.uk)

But of course, a separate, large-scale media room is the ultimate indulgence for dedicated film buffs. From an interior design perspective, form and function must go hand in hand, and that very much starts at the planning stage. “Main considerations when designing such a space include acoustic separation from adjacent spaces, plenty of soft furnishings to absorb sounds, and the careful setting out of speakers and seating for the optimum viewing experience,” says Helen. “Loose furnishings such as movable side tables are key for snacks and drinks, as is a well-appointed refreshments area for popcorn and drinks top-ups. Comfort is hugely important, too. Think about using lots of throws and blankets. And it’s worth investing in reclining chairs with extra-deep seating”.

When it comes to furniture choices in a home cinema room, comfort and glamour top our list of priorities. Here, modular seating comes into its own, especially if you have a large family to entertain (or, indeed, when the time comes for inviting friends over). German brand AMBIVALENZ’s Curt sofa system (above: £4,780, bombinate.com), with its 12 interlocking pouffe modules, makes ideal seating for a flexible media room: create a cosy settee with spare modules to put your feet up, or build a sprawling corner unit to spread out on in style. Alternatively, take a design cue from some of the Capital’s best indie picture houses and mix vintage armchairs with velvet loveseats and battered leather sofas to recreate that bespoke, laid-back look.

“You’d be forgiven for thinking home cinemas can look rather standard from a design perspective,” says Massimiliano Gritti, co-founder of fashion and interiors destination, Bombinate. “They are, after all, attempting to emulate the real thing: dark, velvety spaces where we can enjoy the best cinema has to offer. It’s important to remember though, when recreating a cinema at home, that you can stray from tradition. This is an opportunity to explore the dark side of design – colours you might not feel brave enough to commit to in other parts of the house: think deep Bordeaux, inky blacks and midnight purples.”

Interior designer Fiona Barratt-Campbell headed up the ambitious residential project on the opening pages of this feature, which saw a utilitarian cellar transformed into a sumptuous home cinema room, and it recalls the best of old Hollywood glamour. “Our brief on this project was to create a comfortable family home with a more traditional aesthetic,” she explains. “We converted the cellar into a cinema, adding wooden panelling to the walls and linen to the beautiful arched ceiling. The small windows, originally used to keep sunlight out to protect the food and wine stored there, are now an advantage in a room used to watch movies and spend time together as a family.” Avoiding mid-movie trips to the kitchen, Fiona also incorporated a bespoke drinks cabinet from her sister company, FBC London. fionabarrattinteriors.com

Entertainment room Fabric

A successful media room doesn’t allow technology to upset the aesthetic – and that goes for a home cinema set-up of any shape or size. The best designers will go above and beyond in finding nifty solutions to disguise big screens and incorporate cutting edge surround sound. Philip Dowds, managing director at OKTO Technologies says “Our high net worth clients approach purchasing a screen in the same way they would a piece of furniture or artwork, it needs to fit in with their often professionally designed homes. Popular products at the moment include TVs that look like a piece of artwork when not in use, rollable screens, and bespoke technology that’s been designed with luxurious fabrics in a wide range of colours and textures, all tailored to go hand in hand with the client’s surroundings.” oktotechnologies.co.uk

So dim the lights, sink into your sumptuous velvety seat and enjoy the thrill of that 20th Century Fox intro – all from the comfort of your own, tastefully designed, home cinema.