Whole Home Entertainment

The desire for a more spacious, inclusive hub is driving a new trend in home entertaining

With everyone off running in different directions, or spending increasing time snuggled up with our electronic devices, creating a welcoming and emotionally nourishing space for relaxing at home is more important than ever before. As a result, room design is evolving to reflect modern family life by incorporating, rather than fighting, our beloved gizmos and gadgets.

“These are the rooms people really live in,” says Denise Quade, of Denise Quade Designs. “It’s very important that they are durable, comfortable, functional and really personalized.”

Quade, a certified master kitchen and bath designer, says people are seeking larger areas to allow for more gathering space. They’re looking to create complete, all-in-one areas with everything one might need, such as a bar or kitchenette with raised seating, refrigerator, sink, microwave, large TV area or theater room, exercise area, bathroom and sleeping area for guests. The end result encourages friends and loved ones to stop by and stay a while.

One key element of an inclusive space with a smooth flow is to hide much of the technology.

“Large televisions…need balance from a soft seating area,” says Quade. “Hidden under-counter refrigerators and built-in microwaves that can also be disguised make these spaces feel less cluttered, as do remote doors, [which can] camouflage large TVs. Wireless stereo surround-sound, like the Sonos system, makes adding sound a breeze.”

Quade notes the rustic look—such as barn doors hung from exposed hardware and tracking—is growing in popularity for barrooms and entertainment spaces, accented by stone or masonry, Quartz countertops, and gray tones with earthy finishes for cabinetry and furniture. LED lighting has also revolutionized these areas, especially with tape lighting along toe-kicks, snack bar undersides and bookcase shelving.

“The website HOUZZ is a great place to gather ideas that suit you and assemble your ‘want list,’” says Quade. “Then get yourself a professional. Many times designers can help ease the pain of the overwhelming volume of decisions and also help you save money and time by avoiding classic mistakes.”

As for the digital age, it’s really being used now to streamline the entire home experience.

“We’re seeing a trend in whole room entertainment systems,” says Chuck Bergen, vice president of appliances at American TV. “From SmartTV to Control4 to seamlessly integrated appliances, it’s all about whole home automation today.”

With systems such as SmartTV or Apple TV, viewers can customize their entertainment experience with instant access to movie rentals, services such as Netflix, Hulu and Redbox, and Internet TV and radio. Beyond that, systems such as Control4 allow homeowners to manage refrigerators, lighting, heating and cooling systems, security, and more, all from one spot. There’s no need to be an expert, however—American TV offers full expert AV installation with its appliance and furniture installation and delivery services.

Theater seating remains a popular creature comfort for entertainment spaces. AmericanTV offers modular theater seating that allows customers to add seats one piece at a time, or to special-order sizing suited to the space.

“Integrated appliances are another increasingly popular choice for these types of spaces,” says Bergen. “SubZero here in Madison does a phenomenal job, and they’re coming out with a lot of new, refreshed product this fall with their refrigeration.”

Bergen describes refrigerated drawers and under-counter beverage centers built into islands, capitalizing on space in creative ways. Column refrigeration also blends seamlessly into cabinetry.

“The refrigerator no longer has to be the piece that stands out in the room,” says Bergen. “Now it’s the piece that disappears in the room, in a sense.”

Wine rooms are more popular than ever, whether it’s a dedicated 144-bottle wine storage system for hobbyists or an easy-access, under-counter wine storage appliance for streamlined entertaining.

Finally, smaller cook-spaces are a newer trend for turning entertaining and barroom spaces up a notch. Small induction cooktops can be built right into countertops to provide a heating surface that takes up very little space. Built-in speed ovens also make for quick and easy cooking away from the kitchen.

“All of this technology really gives homeowners the ability to broaden their horizons,” says Bergen. “There are more options than ever before.”

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