Redesigning a kitchen, adding outdoor living space, crafting a mudroom/laundry room workspace, gutting bathrooms__ all the basics when upgrading a home. Even a fitness room, steam/massage room and extended master suites are becoming standard upgrades. But then there’s that area, that unique space, for your passion, your dreams: your fantasy room that you always wanted but never had the space to build. For some, it’s a place for the kids to feel like the house is truly their own play land. For others, it’s a sanctuary for relaxation and rejuvenation__ perhaps a place that reminds them of somewhere they once visited. And for many, it’s a place for entertaining and bringing close friends and family into something beautiful created specifically for that purpose.
Johnson Design: Theater room, Play house
The movie theater room is just part of a 4,000-square foot dream finish that could be called an escape from reality. Complete with a poker room, wine room, and “club area,” the movie room is the masterpiece in this substantial home. When the Town and Country home was built years ago, the lower level foundation was poured with the intention, and even the descent that would eventually be finished as the movie theater stairs.
Kelly Johnson of Johnson Design says, “The blue theme started when I designed the lower level so I carried that into the theater and felt like the theater should really be an experience, it’s a special time to go in there, so when you walk into the top of the room, there is basically a butler’s kitchen at the back of the space that has everything but an oven for entertaining and serving and then there’s a big bar at the back of the room.”
She adds, “We had the chairs custom made with a commercial grade velvet that’s a little more user friendly, there’s a lounging sofa. We did this gold plaster type of treatment in the ceiling and then covered it with this mahogany honeycomb paneling that was custom designed, and then that same theme was repeated in honeycomb sconces on the walls around the room, there are hidden closets inside the upholstered wall panels which are made of a metallic linen.”
Johnson also created custom walls in a playroom she crafted for a Frontenac home. Only these were made from magnetic chalk, cork board and shelving, designed with NewSpace, to specifically hold chalk bins and clips for pictures painted by the homeowners’ grandchildren. Glen Alspaugh Kitchen & Bath helped build a freestanding craft table on casters so it could swing out into the room for more workers.
“We put a cork floor in there because it’s warm and insulated and things aren’t going to drop and break and it absorbs the noise and it’s comfortable enough for the children to sit on, and added a little TV area with chairs and built-in cubbies and bins for LEGO bricks and toys,” Johnson says.
MMB Studio: Bowling Alley
“We decided we were going to use the entire lower level so we ended up putting in the bowling alley,” says Matthew Boland of MMB Studio in Scottsdale, Arizona, about a project that he calls an entertainment world. At this Clayton home, the bowling alley sits below the gym and exercise area, and right beside the outdoor pool. Nearby, there’s also a bar and a gaming area, and a music room that has a drum set and guitars.
Boland adds, “Upstairs there’s a full indoor basketball court that also has an indoor batting cage__ it’s a very interesting home. [The homeowners] wanted to make sure it reflected their lifestyle and also have the ability to entertain on a larger scale and to entertain for the age group of their family.”
Despite being based in Scottsdale, Boland was working on several projects in St. Louis at the time. He says his clients come by word of mouth, and about 90% of his projects are actually outside of Arizona.
Mitchell Wall Architecture & Design: Bowling Alley and Indoor Pool
Susan Bower, an architect of Mitchell Wall Architecture & Design, says, “Most often the bowling alley is in the lower level of a house without windows so you can create a theater with all sorts of lighting effects. When it’s storming outside you can escape the weather and create a little thunder of your own.”
She adds, “Architecturally we designed a big corridor. The equipment goes under the lanes and behind the pins. The pin setter is a big and heavy piece of equipment that needs a pit and a solid foundation. So if you’re planning a long garage, gym or batting cage, placing a bowling alley on the level below works well.”
In Creve Coeur, Mitchell Wall designed a high-end pool with the intention of bringing the outdoors in while maintaining a living room look as opposed to the stereotypical enclosed pool that many basements or lower levels might allow. Dealing with the humidity and condensation and potential for pool chemicals within that air to affect materials over time were some of the biggest challenges when choosing finishes.
Thomas Wall says, “You treat the floor a lot like you would an outside deck… a drip zone.” He adds, “It’s tiled, it’s grouted, it’s a lot like a bathroom, as far as maintaining the humidity a lot of that is handled by the HVAC more than anything else but then you also have to be cognitive of the materials that you are using. You don’t want anything that’s going to patina accidentally I mean if you’re going for a copper look or things like that you need to be wary that one day it could eventually turn blue on you.”
Wall was able to create a living space and comfortable room to go with the pool. The combination of lots of glass, double wide open doors that allow several feet of open space for every open door and then living plants inside the room helped create the seamless flow to outside.
“You could swim the length of the pool, get your exercise and then if you just wanted to kind of sit in the pool to the right there’s an area there for just wading and then there’s a hot tub in the far back looking out to those double doors that open up to the outside,” Wall says.
Ken Stuckenschneider Decoration and Design: Texas Ranch Bunk Room
It would be safe to say this bunk room isn’t just a dream room; it’s in what would be a dream house for any equestrian lover. Situated just outside Dallas, Texas, Ken Stuckenschneider of Ken Stuckenschneider Decoration and Design in St. Louis managed to create a home that flows brilliantly into a stable for a family’s cherished horses. The horses can be seen in the riding ring from the bunk room window.
“The millwork is all white oak with a natural stain to keep the oak as light as possible so it would blend with the outdoor Texas landscape, and then the colors are taken from the purple and the lavender from traditional women’s equestrian attire,” says Stuckenschneider. “In the beds, you’ll also see quilting which comes from equestrian horse blankets.”
The millwork is designed to replicate a Pullman train sleeping car, creating six bunk beds so the family’s three children could each have a friend join them. Stuckenschneider worked with award-winning Texas Hull Historical Millwork to custom build his design.
He says, “Every single cornice, door, all the wall paneling, it was all custom milled, which means that none of it is standard off the shelf: it was designed specifically for that space and appropriate for the period that we were going for including the door hardware which was made by a specialty company in Pennsylvania.”
The ladder to the beds slides along brass rails. The light fixtures are an antique vintage. Stuckenschneider added a Platner chair he says “for a bit of modernity.”