HOME — 11 May 2012
Design: Turning on a media room

Some of us are counting on our media rooms this summer to catch the NBA playoffs, the Olympics or The Big Game, whatever it may be, coming up next. Others are quick to switch to movies, cooking shows or Mad Men the moment the remote changes hands.

South Florida interior designers are prepared to keep the peace – from creating a sports-centric “Man Cave” in a large closet to designing an elaborate home theater perfect for watching anything but The Big Game.

Whatever our tastes, we want our media rooms to be comfortable and designed so we can enjoy the experience to the max. On this point, at least, we can all keep our
media-room cool.



Dramatic design

Arnold Schulman, Arnold Schulman Design Group

Photography by Robert Brantley

When Miami designer Arnold Schulman walked through his clients’ 8,500-square-foot home in Long Lake Estates, west of Boca Raton, he told the new owners their four-year-old home needed a lot of work – and, without doubt, a home theater in a windowless interior room.

Schulman researched about 100 websites, bought several books on home theaters and came to a conclusion: “A home theater should be a super comfortable place,” he told them. “Even if you are not watching a movie, you should be able to relax in the room.”

The result was dramatic enough to look like the screening room of a Hollywood movie mogul.

The effect starts at the door, which was inspired by the tufted leather doors in old-time movie theaters. The floor is carpeted and the walls are covered in acoustical sound proofing topped with a fabric to allow the sound to be absorbed.

“You don’t want hard surfaces in a home theater,” he says. “You want a dead room with properly sound-proofed walls. You don’t want to hear the sound upstairs or in the kitchen.”

On the ceiling, Ken Salowe of Wonderfaux in Plantation created a celestial-themed display, also an old movie-house feature and based on real constellations and illuminated with fiber-optic lighting twinkling on a dark blue background. Along the crown molding, there are zodiac signs.

On either side of the 123-inch projection TV screen are two subwoofers that needed to be minimized. Schulman asked Salowe to create and top them with a pair of 6-foot-tall Styrofoam Oscars painted gold.

The theater has room for 10 people in gold leather metallic seats that recline automatically when someone sits down. The lights go down, the curtain goes up at the touch of a button – and it’s show time.

The Man Cave

Katia Bates, Innovative Creations

Photography by Craig Denis

Katia Bates was frustrated with her husband, Tom’s, choices in TV viewing. She knew she had to find a solution to keep the peace.

“My husband loves to watch TV [but] he always loves weird shows – fishing shows and people who look for gold in Alaska,” says Bates, who was born in Venice. “I could never watch anything I wanted to watch.”

They were renovating their waterfront home in Fort Lauderdale, a perfect time to transform a home gym into Tom’s private Man Cave with comfortable seating and a 58-inch flat-screen TV. The 18-by-18-foot room does double duty, with an additional 8-by-12 foot closet to store ski clothes and winter wear for the avid skiers. Off the room is Tom’s 9-by-12-foot private bathroom.

“Now he can watch all those weird shows that nobody in the family wants to see,” she says. “He also has a spectacular large terrace with a view of the New River. At the same time, I thought it was a great designing concept for me to apply to other clients.”

The space resembles a living room – with a 9 ½-by-12 ½ Oriental rug, a coffee table and a 74-inch long leather sofa Tom selected so he could stretch out his almost 6-foot tall frame. Bates added solid cherry cabinets with a dark stain for a more masculine feel. She designed a coffered ceiling with leather panels accented with a hand-blown Venetian glass chandelier.

Her husband fought the idea and thought it was crazy … until he saw the result.

“He loved it and was speechless,” she says. “It’s great. He has his privacy. We can still watch TV together, but at least I don’t have to watch someone looking for gold in Alaska.”

Aloha at home

Joe Fava, Fava Design Group

Photography by Kim Sargent

A married couple with four of their seven children living at home needed a quiet retreat.

Their solution? They hired Joe Fava to create a private media room as part of the renovation of their 20,000-square-foot house at the Bear’s Club in Jupiter.

They really do get away – riding a private elevator from the master suite to their new haven, reminiscent of a hotel suite they stayed in on a trip to Hawaii. Fava split the 40-by-40 room into spaces for TV watching and playing ping pong. Off the room is a private Jacuzzi.

“They showed me a picture of the suite they stayed in,” Fava says. “One of the must-haves was the wood treatment on the ceiling. We carried the idea through with dark wood molding, floors and doors.”

The couple wanted a chocolate-and-brown color scheme and Fava, who prefers working from the ground up, was inspired by a 12-by-16 rug he found in New York City. He designed a console with horizontal lines for under the 60-inch flat-screen TV and echoed the horizontal theme on the window treatment and hammered-silver lamps.

“A lot of people do a built-in attached to the wall and something that looks very heavy,” he says. “We created a lighter, built-in look with one console below the TV and two open shelves on either end. The idea was to create an all-in-one look with three pieces of furniture. Since we did have a dark floor and dark ceiling, we wanted to make sure the look wasn’t too confining or claustrophobic.”

Another key in the design was how to deal with the surround sound from a sophisticated sound system.

“You have to take into consideration how many pieces of upholstery you have and what is on the floor,” he says. “Sometimes we upholster the walls as well to make it cozy so sound isn’t bouncing off a lot of hard surfaces.”

Contemporary comfort

Mayda Zayas-Bazan, ZB Interiors

Photography by John Stillman

 Mayda Zayas-Bazan’s clients, snowbirds in their 50s, wanted a comfortable media room with contemporary design so they would have a place to gather, watch television and play pool as well as enjoy the ocean view from their 7,400-square-foot condominium in Boca Raton.

She divided the room into three areas – one featuring a custom-made suede sofa with a pair of chaises and an ottoman for watching television; one for relaxing, with a lounge chair facing the window to enjoy the view; and one for games, complete with a pool table.

Zayas-Bazan’s design is a study in how to create excitement in a room with white walls and a white porcelain floor. Gray porcelain tile in two textures behind the television breaks up the white and provides a focal point.

“It’s such a big room that it could look like a white elephant,” she says.

The red oak unit beneath the television is topped with non-porous quartz so it can be cleaned easily if the grandchildren make a mess. She didn’t want a seam on the quartz so she added a wooden extension on the right. The audio equipment is hidden inside the cabinets.

“I told myself I am not going to have anything with a seam. I have to come up with a design.”

The ceiling was dropped 5 ½ inches so she could hide the speakers and add energy-saving LED lighting. Base molding was eliminated to make the walls look higher. The single piece of art is a 57-by-67-inch painting the clients found in Greece.


Elaine Aitcheson  4700 Riverside Drive, No. 100,
Palm Beach Gardens, 33410, 561-625-3000,

Katia Bates Innovative Creations,
1437 NE Fourth Ave., Fort Lauderdale, 33304,
954-565-4333, www.InnovativeCreationsusa.com.

Joe Fava Fava Design Group, 3556 NE 12th Ave.,
Fort Lauderdale, 33334, 954-568-3732,

Arnold Schulman Arnold Schulman Design Group, 20880 W. Dixie Highway, Miami, 33181,
305-405-4500, www.asdesigngroup.com.

Mayda Zayas-Bazan   ZB Interiors,
1254 NW 102nd Way, Coral Springs, 33071,
954-464-8628, www.zbinteriors.net.

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