Designing at home entertainment spaces that serve the entire family can be tricky, but luckily, custom building is about catering to your family’s unique needs.
For some of us, a state-of-the-art home theater is the stuff family night dreams are made of. For others, tabletop games are more our speed. Here are some tips and ideas for creating fantastic rec spaces and play areas for kids and adults, to make your home more delightful.
Watch a Blockbuster or Hollywood Classic In Your Basement Theater
Basements already get less light, so they’re a great place to put a home theater. And basements are “bonus” footage in the South Bay, meaning they don’t count in towards square footage limits. An ADU is also a great place to put a home theater, if you want to keep it separate from your regular TV area and make family movie night more of an “event.”
If you need your basement to double as a theater and another space, such as a home office or playroom, try a ceiling-suspended projector/screen combo, both of which disappear into hidden compartments, when not in-use. If you’d like a large TV, but don’t want it to be the constant focus of a room, a rotating built-in media center can flip to show art or bookshelves when not in use. A home theater is also a great place for gaming consoles, especially if the entire family likes to play together.
Dark walls help preserve picture quality and make the room feel more like a multiplex cinema. Backlit art along the non-screen walls and a corner bar, low-lit and stocked with typical theater concessions alongside adult beverages, will elevate the space beyond merely a nice “TV” room.
If you have kiddos, mod seating that can be reconfigured as needed transforms your basement from a theater to a play area.
Does Your Family Love to Read?
Libraries aren’t often considered home-entertainment spaces, but for some families, cozy evenings reading together are a favorite activity. All you need is an intimate room lined with built-in bookshelves (or acquired, mix-and-match shelves, as long as they compliment each other), end tables, non-overhead lighting, and comfy seating/lounge areas. Oversized window nooks are an attractive addition and fireplaces can really notch up the warm, fuzzy feelings. If the space is big enough, you may want to include desks or a small stage for hosting literary events.
Get Creative, Collaborative and (a Tad!) Competitive in a Craft/ Board Game Room
If your family loves board games or jigsaw puzzles, it’s nice to have a space where in-progress projects can be left for days, without visually cluttering a dining or coffee table. These types of spaces also work well for crafting. If the space is primarily used for crafting, consider useful extras, such as sinks, easy-to-clean tile flooring, and built-in drying racks.
Up your Lego game (quite literally!) by installing Lego baseplates over an entire wall, so kids can build vertically. Put in a rolling ladder, if necessary, to build near the ceiling.
Try low seating and around a central table with neutral colors, and a fun, oversized hanging light fixture to liven things up. And make sure to add plenty of built-in storage, for all those games and craft supplies. Custom furniture, such as a hollow playing table, is also a good way to get the storage you need.
Make a DIY Bar Games Room
Turn your basement into a rec space with upscale billiards and foosball tables, dartboards, and vintage arcade games. If climbing is your thing, add a bouldering wall.
Kid-First Home Entertainment Spaces
Create kid-friendly spaces by adding chalkboard wall-paper to a room that’s otherwise furnished with “grown-up” staples.
Consider furniture that can be easily configured in different ways, to be forts, game tables, or day beds.
Make a small play area with only a kid-sized door or a separate kid-sized entrance, and scale art and furniture to kids. If an adult has to crawl to enter, it makes the space seem extra magical when mom or dad joins the fun. Some of our clients transformed their ADU into a kids’ getaway where parents are also welcome and comfortable.
Indoor “treehouses,” hammocks, lofts, swings, slides, conversation pits, and anything multi-level offers interesting spaces for the whole family to do their own thing collectively.
Outdoor Home Entertainment Spaces
Landscape with edible gardens. Kids love growing their own food, and gardening boosts mental health. Add a tall bean teepee to the mix, and kids have an instant fort.
Create an outdoor theater space, where you can project or screen movies on breezy evenings.
Surround hot tubs with walls of climbing plants for added greenery and privacy. An in-set hot tub surrounded by painted tiles is a nice way to ensure that everything merges with your overall aesthetic.
Sand, gravel or mud pits nestled into the landscape or built directly into the patio can make your outside space kid-friendly, without sacrificing grown-up aesthetics. And when the kids outgrow the pit, it can be used as a raised bed.
Consider an in-ground trampoline rather than a portable trampoline, for both safety and aesthetics. If your yard is long and skinny, pave half of it in large-tiles, surrounded by seating, to conserve water and give the kiddos a place to roller-skate and ride wheeled toys.
Hide outdoor toys in hollows built into seating. And up your seating game, with swinging pods, cabanas, and double-chaired hammocks. Or add an indoor-outdoor bar, with seating in both areas.
General Tips for Home Entertainment Spaces
- Dark walls and bright furnishings make a space feel intimate and cozy, which is great for libraries and media rooms.
- Use floating furniture to distinguish areas, if you’re asking a space to do double duty.
- Layer materials and textures for interest, and add a visually surprising touch, such as an accent wall or wall-papered ceiling.
These are just a few of our ideas. We’d love to hear yours too!
Please get in touch if you’re thinking of custom building in southern California. We’d love to learn more about the types of spaces that encourage your family to play and relax.
Thanks for reading,
Hawlie Ohe heads White Sands Interiors, and she and her husband are raising two boys along the South Bay coast. Hawlie brings the curiosity that fueled her first career, as a journalist, to her interior design approach: Who are you, who do want to be, and how can this space get you there? Great design makes you feel present and engaged, and Hawlie is here for it. Because she wants to help you be “here” (in this space, in this moment), too.