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Media rooms have their own recipe. Like nightclubs and theatres, their enjoyments are savoured in dim light, and must facilitate coziness without putting you to sleep. One we designed in Vancouver recently turns this trick well.

Our task: to transform a large room on the lowest floor of a three-storey home into a space where a family could hang out and watch movies, have friends over for the game, drink wine, and casually entertain.

Here are a catch of the questions we resolved along the way.

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Why the dark colour scheme?

The upper floors of this home sport white walls and layers of dove-grey finishes. They create a bright and buoyant atmosphere for the home's main traffic areas, where the family spends its days.

The media room is a move in the other direction. It's less for concourse than cocooning, a space to while away overcast afternoons, insular evenings. The room must have weight and warmth. As every theatregoer knows, deep colours and textures are the way to achieve it.

To this end, we chose furnishings and finishes in a near ebony, anthracite hue. It's warmer than black and less harsh. The result? A sensuous space that asks you to settle into the sofa for an evening of mindless pleasure.

Why the white ceiling?

We were looking to design a cocoon, not a sensory deprivation chamber. A black ceiling absorbs all the light in a room; walking into it, your overwhelming sense is of zero gravity, dark space. It can be done, but without adding a lot of detail and specialized lighting, it's impossible to pull off a dark ceiling.

Without budget for such elements, we went the easy route and painted it a tinted white.

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This uses the ceiling as a photographer's bounce – reflecting light around the room, giving it dimension. A trick to remember: when contrast between ceiling and wall is high, use the room's decorations to reiterate the value of the ceiling colour.

That's the reason we deployed big hits of white throughout the room: in the huge painting on the back wall, the white mats around the photographs by the television, the subtle prints on the bench, even the accents. In the opposition of thesis (black) and antithesis (white), such punctuation pulls everything together, creating synthesis.

Why the exposed TV?

It's no secret I prefer to hide televisions in cabinetry rather than having them sit, yawning and vulgar, in the open, the room's inevitable and unfortunate focal point. The exception is in a media room, whose purpose is not to facilitate Person to Person, but Person to Thing.

I still want it to look pretty, though. Here, we designed a floor-to-ceiling millwork unit for the television and AV equipment. We made it ceiling height to give it theatrical appeal, cladding the back wall of the cabinet in a textured tile.

The idea of keeping the cabinetry simple, with no millwork towers or a really tailored opening, was to allow for flexibility with the size of the television over time. We've installed a 60-inch monitor, but the clients can later go bigger if they need to.

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Why the tile on the back of the cabinet?

The key to a monochromatic scheme is layering. Different textures reflect light differently, giving a uniform colour scheme depth.

The tile on the cabinet, for example, is a stacking porcelain from Japan. Its intriguing angular details reflect light beautifully and give the wall dimension, subtly drawing the eye in.

Throughout the room we used the same technique – velvet sofa next to heathered linen chairs next to velvet sofa, striated rug atop ebony floor – articulating subtle variations by our choices in textures, textiles, cushions, and prints.

Why the wine room?

Let's be honest, this wine room is more fun than function. Traditional wine rooms have elaborate racking systems; their function is storage and temperature control. In this case, the client's interest was to showcase a few nice bottles and provide a space for sampling with friends. Accordingly, this is more wine display space than cellar.

But it still had to feel as though it extended of the total experience of the space. To achieve this, we clad the exterior with wood details that echoed those in the media room, and used lots of glass. Illuminated, the little room warms the rest of the space, light bouncing off bottles and wood, a perfect complement of sparkle and ambience.


Wall & Trim Colour : CL3237N Black Top, General Paint,

Ceiling Colour: CLW 1047W Deer Feather, General Paint,

Millwork: Rift Cut Oak Custom Dark Brown Stain, Modular Creations Inc.,

Wall Tile: Inax Rhythmic Series Colour: Black Matte, Pacific Stone Tile Ltd.,

Pulls: F503 Series, Orion, Bradford Decorative Hardware Studio,

Area Carpet: Abrash II, (colour: Cavier), 20th Century Rugs/Burrit Brothers,

Side Tables: Hara 1 Drawer Side Table in Dark Walnut, Country Furniture,

Drapery: Kravet KFBAS:074430, colour 21, Window Works,

Arm Chairs: Charcoal Queen Armchair, Once A Tree Furniture,

Sofa : Van Gogh,

Coffee Table: Nuevo,

Side Table Lamps: Gordon Short FLR Black White, Sandy's Furniture,

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About the Author

Kelly Deck has been advocating for West Coast design since 2002, when she 
 opened an interior decor boutique on Vancouver's Main Street. Since then, 
 Kelly has immersed herself in the lifestyle and community that makes West 
 Coast design unique. More

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