The New Media Room: The Relic Becomes the Respite

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media room
Lisa Stapp’s media room.

Look at blueprints for any luxury construction today. You’ll see plans for a media room. What?

Hasn’t the media room been all but abandoned? You used it maybe when the kids had a sleepover or when family descended from out of town and you ran out of things to do. But, media rooms have not been a hot commodity or selling feature for years. Until now.

Now it’s the hottest room in the house.

In 1974, the first media room was designed by Steve J. LaFontaine in Louisiana. Fast foward to the 1982 Consumer Electronics Show in Chicago, and the concept took hold. These were the days of Lucasfilm and Dolby Labs. Having the sound and look of a commercial movie theater set consumer hearts racing.

By the late 1990s, these dedicated theater rooms were in all the high-end houses. We can still see the results in older luxury homes. I’ve come across more than a few over-the-top home theaters, resembling everything from a European opera house to the bridge of The Starship Enterprise. Those that championed the concept added full-on concession stands just outside their media rooms. Champs d’Or, in Denton, is a great example.

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Champ d’Or has possibly the most lavish home theater in America.

The trickle-down began to the general population but the design became secondary and predictable. We saw a lot of tiered levels, red-curtained monstrosities, with hideous oversized chairs sporting embedded drink-holders.

What happened?

Laptops, iPads, and mobile phones captured a generation. Instant gratification and the grab-and-go mentality took over. We could stream that series on our phones, or watch it in bed with headphones on. Entertainment became more about ease of use than an immersive experience.

Then we all had to stay home—for a long time.

Suddenly the media room was no longer a relic, but a respite. It also began to serve multiple purposes as a home office, a school room and a place to make those family and friends Zoom calls so we could stay connected.

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4012 Starling Drive, staged by George Bass Stage & Design

Fortunately, over the past few years, builders have started to integrate many media rooms into the main living space, separated only by pocket or barn doors. That alone created easy access and made the room more usable.

media room
media room
2012 Starling Drive showcases integration to the media room

Stagers and interior designers have always set the pace and treated these spaces as an extended living area.

“Today’s media room decor is less popcorn and movie reels but instead blends with the aesthetics of the rest of the home, providing the owner with another comforting living area,” ML Interiors Group owner Michelle Lynne said. “The furniture is designed for comfort, but the cup holders are now side tables, and the recliners are chaise lounges.”

media room
ML Interiors Group
ML Interiors Group

A few years ago, Dallas stager Lisa Stapp, who is the owner of Staged by Stapp, wanted a designated media room in her home, but the family did not watch that much TV.

“We wanted a place for friends to come and watch football, Stapp said. “It had to be multi-functional with a great vibe, so you instantly know you are going to have fun here.”

Stapp wanted it to feel masculine, but not old school. She painted the walls Sherwin Williams Cyberspace, added in an arcade game and a Foosball table. With a bar on one side, it’s the ultimate entertainment room. An existing chandelier was powder coated in candy apple red, and it adds just the right dash of whimsy.

Lisa Stapp’s Media Room

The new media room is not only about style. Substance is critical. Fantastic audio and a big TV are essential.

“Bigger is the key word when it comes to TVs,” said Vice President of Sales at Ed Kellum and Starpower Craig Brown. “The projector and screen are selling very strong in a larger environment. We just installed a 120-inch screen. Sony has a 100-inch screen, and Samsung has a 98-inch one. They run about $59,000 and are selling well. Our luxury customer has a renewed enthusiasm for good audio as well.”

Just imagine family Zoom calls on a 100-inch screen!

Large screens with projectors are extremely popular in larger media rooms.

It’s clear the media room has had a rebirth. With so many new uses, it has again become aa significant selling feature for homes today. If you still have one tucked away in a dark corner of the second floor, don’t despair. Between our talented interior design community and companies like Starpower, you can be updated and multi-tasking in no time!

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Karen Eubank

Karen is the owner of Eubank Staging and Design. She has been an award-winning professional home stager for more than 25 years and a professional writer for over 20 years. Karen is the mother of a son who’s studying for his masters at The New England Conservatory of Music. An ardent animal lover, she doesn’t mind one bit if your fur baby jumps right into her lap.

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