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Illuminating Your Games Room

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Shed some light. You don’t want your games room to be lit up like a movie set, but you don’t want it too dark to see what you’re doing either. Especially if your games room is in the basement or somewhere else in your home with little natural light or even no windows at all, lighting will play an important role in your game room design. The trick to proper lighting in a games room is balance. You don’t want your games room to be lit up like a movie set, but you don’t want it too dark to see what you’re doing either.

Trademark Nine Ball Stained Glass Lighting Fixture

Games Room Location and Purpose

When considering what type of lighting would be best for your games room, take into account its location and purpose. A basement games room will most likely need more light fixtures than one in the corner of a family room. If your new pool table has pride of place in the middle of the room, then you’re sure to want a game table light centered directly above it.

The Different Types of Lighting

Because the games room will be used for a variety of activities, the light fixtures you choose should accommodate these different lighting needs. A multipurpose room like a games room should include two or more of the different kinds of light fixtures available.

Reversible Top Poker Table

Task lighting is generally bright and used to put the spotlight on your game table, pool, poker or otherwise. It is also a great way to light your home bar. Track lighting is a type of task lighting that popular in games room.

General or ambient lighting is some type of overhead light, like a flush mounted fixture centered in the rooms ceiling. It fills the space with a medium to bright light that softens shadows and creates a warm and welcoming atmosphere.

Tiffany pendant lighting is particularly popular for a traditional style games room that features a pool or billiards table.

Recessed lighting with a dimmer switch would be ideal for a games room that has a video gaming or home theater area.

Stained Glass Lighting Fixture

Customizing your lighting needs to the various activities in your games room, is not only practical but it adds warmth and appeal to room’s décor.

Decorating Tips for a Games Room

Friday, March 25th, 2011

Games rooms are supposed to be fun places to hang out – the perfect room in your home for a wild and crazy theme. Have fun decorating the space; since it’s going to be shared by several people, involve as many interested parties as possible. Get feedback from those who will be using the room the most. Most likely you will want to start with a theme that centers around the game room’s main focus or purpose. Ideas for themes are endless and as individual are you are, commonly based on a favorite sport, sport team, beach getaway or popular vacation spot.

Flip Top Game Table

Divide and Conquer

Divide your game room design project into stages. Trying to do it all at once can be overwhelming especially if it’s going to be used for more than one kind of game. Assign priorities. When assigning priorities, a good decorating rule to keep in mind is what is important to you? The dart board and home bar might be the first thing you work on. Then again if you want friends over to test out your new pool table to see if it works, setting it up to your satisfaction will your main concern.

Accessorizing Your Games Room

If the room is designed to house a regulation-size pool table, then two or three billiards-theme spectator height bar stools would fit right in. Or if it’s setup for gamers, don’t forget to include a couple of high-tech game chairs. Select game room accessories, such as lamps, neon clocks, signs or framed posters that reflect your décor theme, if you have chosen one.

bar stool

Popular game room accessories can include:

  • Juke box
  • Neon clocks
  • Neon signs
  • Framed posters
  • Themed floor and ceiling lights
  • Popcorn machine
  • Gum ball machine
  • Vintage coke machine
  • Pool cue racks

Other Things to Consider when Decorating a Games Room

Do a reconnaissance of the room’s power sources. These will come in handy if your home bar has a fridge, you want all the gadgets in your video games area to work and any other electronic games like arcade and pinball games.

If your dartboard is of the standard variety, place it in a cabinet. This will protect your walls and save you from have to repair and repaint them on a regular basis. Keep in mind, however, that it will take up more room than just hanging the dart board by itself.

Add a magnetic white board as an easy way to keep score, leave messages, etc.

Carpet is ideal for absorbing sound but if you’re concerned about potential spills maybe tile or hardwood’s better.

Especially if you will not be including a home bar, consider what appliances, if any, you would like in the games room. A bar fridge or mini fridge, coffee maker, water cooler or microwave will save you and your guests a few trips to the kitchen.

dartboard cabinet

Come back next Friday for the last part of this series, “Designing a Games Room”.

Planning a Games Room

Friday, March 18th, 2011

A games room isn’t just a place to play games; it’s where family and friends can unwind after a stressful week and spend some quality time together. It’s a place where a younger sibling finds out who’s the real champ. It’s a place where memories are made. It’s important to have somewhere in your home that is solely dedicated to having fun. But how do you go about planning a games room in such a way that it will be functional, practical and stylish? It’s not hard. In this 3-part series, we will discuss how you can design a games room that will be a gathering place for both your friends and your kids’ friends that everyone will want to brag about.

game table and chairs

Step 1 – Purpose

Decide what the main purpose of the room is going to be. Is the room going to be used for one type of game, such as pool, foosball, shuffleboard or poker? Or do you want a space that, while the billiards table will be the centerpiece of the room, you would like to include a darts board and someplace to play chess for those that don’t?

Step 2 – Space & Location

Roughly determine how much space you will need and where the games room is to be located. A pool table or billiards table is going to take up more room than an arcade cabinet. It’s not just size and dimensions you have to worry about; don’t forget to make allowances for people playing the games and moving around the room. Before ordering the pool table of your dreams (and any other large pieces of furniture you plan buying for your game room), make sure that it will fit through doorways and be able to maneuver down or up stairs.

Step 3 – Game Room Furniture

Would you like to include a home bar, someplace for spectators to sit while they watch the players or a video games area complete with game chairs and an entertainment center? Make a list of all the furniture pieces you would like in the room. Some popular game room furniture pieces are:

  • Pool table
  • Arcade games
  • Dart board
  • Foosball table
  • Poker table
  • Home bar – including a pub table, bar stools and/or spectator stools

foosball table pool table

Step 4 – It’s all about the Money

Make a budget. Knowing how much you have and/or are prepared to spend will help you focus on priorities. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have everything on your games room furniture list, but it might inspire you to look for bargains in order to tailor what you want to what you have to spend.

Step 5 – Should You or Shouldn’t You?

DIY or should you hire someone to do the work for you? If you want the trendy pendant ceiling light with stained glass shade to be perfectly centered over your pool table but you’re not quite sure how to do that, then it’s best to plan on hiring someone who does. Ditto for plumbing your home bar sink or mounting your flat screen TV complete with sound system. Do the walls have to be insulated or the floor reinforced to bear the weight of the pool table? Include the expense of a contractor or trades person in your budget.

home bar

A games room is a multifunctional space that will prove hours of fun and quality time, if it is designed with a little something for everyone in mind. Come back next Friday for Designing a Games Room pt. 2.

From the Design Files of Heather B – Room Colors

Monday, March 7th, 2011

Design Question

Hi, My husband and I just bought our second house and we really want to make sure that this one is done right. We have dark hardwood floors and dark wood end tables and entertainment center. We were thinking of a grey blue colour for the walls? And maybe a red for our drapes? Would those colours go together and if not what would you suggest? For paint and drapes and area rug and throws?

Design Answer

Congratulations on your new home! The dark hardwood floors sound lovely.

Grey blue walls and red drapes certainly do go together. A colour might look just fine in the room but, especially if it’s a “focal point” colour (wall, drapes, sofa), you will want to “connect” it to other elements in the room. You can do this by choosing an area rug, throws and accent cushions that incorporate the red of the window treatments.

You didn’t mention which room this was so I’m assuming that it is the living room or the living space where plan relax and entertain the most. Cool colours like blue and neutrals such as grey can make a room appear larger. Red is a warm colour, so you are creating “balance” by pairing it with a cool shade (grey blue walls). Whether the dark hardwood floors and dark wood end tables have more black or brown in them, the cool blue wall colour will be a good “foil” while the red will work well with either black (a neutral shade) or brown (a complementary color of red).

Thanks for writing in. I hope this has been helpful. Let me know how it turns out. Next week I will be answering another design question – please keep writing in!

From the design files of Heather B – Paint Color for Hallway

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Design Question

The front entry to my home has four doorways off of it. The large dark wooden front door (no window on door, just three above), one door to the master bedroom (room is painted Beautitone Heavenly Sky blue with white ceiling and doors and windows), the door to the upstairs (which the stairwell is painted Beautitone Cumberland Fog), and the doorway to the living room (which is painted Tea White Alluring)….which room affects the colour choice of the entry or is there a colour that compliments all of these?

Design Answer

Thanks for writing in! The room which affects the colour choice of the entryway would be the one that you can see first and/or most. Aside from the front door, which of course will be closed most of the time, take into account which of the other doors will be open on a regular basis.

If the doorway to the living room is open, one option would be to paint the whole hallway Tea White Alluring. Another option is to choose a shade that would complement the three colours that you have chosen for your living space. To pick a colour that complements all of the others, since blue is a cool colour, choose a cool neutral with a blue hue. Let me know how it turns out.

Come back next week when I will answer another one of your design questions. Don’t forget to keep sending them to. I don’t have a one-question rule; you can ask as many design question as you want; just remember to send one per email.

From the Design Files of Heather B – Oak Furniture Help

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Design Question

Our oak furniture is too large for our bedroom but I have no choice but to keep it. So I would like to at least make it look different. My original plan was to paint the bedroom furniture black and distress it; paint the walls a steel bluish color; and use white bedding. I am now rethinking that design because I am scared that the black of the furniture will just make it pop and be that much more noticeable that the scale is too large. Any suggestions on paint color for the furniture, paint for the walls both bedroom and bedding? My trim is white and I really would like to keep it because it would be a lot to paint. I also have an attached master bath that I would repaint as well to match or blend with the bedroom. Thanks for your help!

Design Answer

You have good instincts – the original plan you describe sounds simple yet sophisticated. By using neutral (black bedroom furniture, white bedding) and cool (steel blue walls) colors and tying the white already in the room to the bed through white bedding, you are essentially diminishing the effect of the oversized furniture in your bedroom. Cool or neutral paint colors move the walls away from you, creating the illusion of a larger space.

You might have no choice but to keep your bedroom furniture, but does it all have to be in the same room? For example, can you manage with a single nightstand or can the nightstands be replaced by glass side tables that will add yet another “neutral” element to the room? Are there other small changes you can make that will “open” up the room?

Thanks for writing in. I hope this has been helpful. Let me know how it turns out. Return next Monday when I reply to another design question.

Designing a Home Gym

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

Since January is typically the month of New Year fitness resolutions in some form or other – whether it’s to have the physique of a bodybuilder or just feel a little healthier – maybe a fitness room or exercise space will provide just the motivation you need to help keep you on track. Especially if you’re not within walking distance of a gym or you know you’ll never make that commute, a home workout area will give you the room you need to exercise while keeping all of your fitness equipment in one convenient place.

Fitness Room Location and Purpose

Will your home gym have its own room or is it going to be part of the rec room in the basement or the family room off the kitchen? The location and size of your fitness room might dictate the number of pieces of fitness equipment you end up buying.

Who will be using the home gym? If it’s just you and all you want is somewhere to workout with weights and then jump on the exercise bike or the treadmill for 15 to 30 minutes, then perhaps a corner of the basement room will work for you. However, if your exercise regime is intended for the whole family and will be centered around fitness games and a game system, perhaps all you will need to do is ensure that you have enough free floor space in your family room.

Prepping your Home Gym

Whether it’s in a dedicated room or part of another room, you will want your home gym space to be as conducive to your workout regime as possible.

The floor will play an important role in your fitness room. Since most basement floors are made of concrete and a not especially kind to joints, when the home gym is located in the basement, consider ways to lessen the impact. Adding a layer of rubber matting or extra padding to area carpet is one way or you can select products like cork flooring which acts as a natural “shock absorber.”

Especially if you will using the television as part of your workout, you don’t want the lighting to be so bright that it causes glare. On the other hand, you don’t want it too dark that you can’t see easily what you are doing. The ideal type of lighting in your exercise room is a balanced mix of overhead (general) and task (specific) lighting fixtures.

If you’re working with free weights, a mirror would come in handy for helping you see if you’re doing the proper technique.

Choosing the Right Exercise Equipment

Once you know where your fitness room is going to go and who will predominately be using it, it’s time to take inventory of what you currently have, what new pieces of exercise equipment you will need and which ones, if any, you’ve outgrown or can’t be repaired.

If you don’t have much room for your home gym, don’t despair; most types of exercise equipment are available in space-saver models.

Getting your Home Bar Ready for New Year’s Eve

Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

If you enjoy entertaining at home, whether it is occasionally or often, then your home bar is probably already well stocked. But as we make our way toward New Year’s Eve, particularly if you’re having an open house or expecting a number of guests you don’t normally entertain all at once, you’ll want to be certain that you will have everything you might need, including those little extras that help you deal with the unexpected.


Will the main gathering area be in the same room as your home bar? If not and you need to move it; get help if it doesn’t have casters. Place it somewhere it’s not going to interrupt traffic flow but at the same time will still be the life of the party. Decide if you want the front of the bar free of bar stools or if you would like to add more so that guests can cozy up to the bar.

Stocking the Bar

Especially at this time of year, make sure that you have all of the usual suspects like gin, rum, vodka, whiskey and tequila. If you know that you’ll be making more cocktails than serving straight libations, you can buy economical brands for mixing and purchase one bottle of each of the higher-end spirits for those who prefer on the rocks.

You’ll want a few bottles of red wine on hand. White too, but it is usually stored in the fridge. If there is one as part of your home bar setup, remember to add a couple of bottles of white wine on the day of the party.

Stock up on other types of liquor like champagne and liqueurs, particularly the ones you know your friends and family enjoy. You will also need non-alcoholic beverages, both for mixing drinks and for the non-drinkers in the crowd.

Those Little Extras

Get cutting – on the day of your party or festive gathering, prepare vegetables and fruits such as celery, asparagus, lemons, limes, oranges and mint for garnishes ahead of time (about four hours before should do the trick).

Make a list of condiments and other garnishes like olives, pearl onions, maraschino cherries, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, etc. that you will need to buy.

Have plenty of ice on hand. And don’t forget to include those little cocktail umbrellas.

Happy New Year from Furniture and Design Ideas!

From the Design Files of Heather B – Wallpaper or Paint?

Monday, December 27th, 2010

Design Question

I have really bad wall paper in the kitchen of the house I live in. Should I change it to a new wallpaper or should I paint? It is an old kitchen. I would like to update it in expensively. It has a border I really really don’t like. The main wallpaper is a red check. It is ok but the “chicken and egg theme” border is bad! Is wall paper still “in”?

Design Answer

One of the cheapest ways in terms of renovating is to repaint or repaper the walls. Yes, wallpaper is still definitely “in. While some design professionals insist that wallpaper never fell out of favor in the first place, it has been making a comeback in interior design for several reasons:

  • there are an endless variety of patterns and colors to choose from; while there are an endless number of paint colors, they don’t come in different designs
  • because of the different designs and patterns, wallpaper adds “texture” to the room, in this case, your kitchen; adding texture to a room’s décor makes the space visually interesting
  • wallpaper has entered the 21st century, so to speak – since it is no longer thick, requires paste to install and the patterns have become more stylish and sophisticated, wallpaper or wall covering, as it is also known as, has become more and more appealing to homeowners

If you are not happy with the wallpaper, you should change it. Paint or wallpaper can be inexpensive if you look for bargains. Paint/hardware stores often sell “mistakes” (paint that was improperly mixed, but still looks fine; it’s just not the color on the paint chip) at a fraction of the cost of a regular can of paint. You can sometimes get good deals on wallpaper “ends” or patterns that have been discontinued.

Why not do both – paint and wallpaper? Paint three walls, and wallpaper an accent wall. You mentioned that your kitchen is older; you’ll have to do a little investigating; if the current wallpaper is the older kind it’s going to take some effort to get the paper off the walls, and depending on what you find, it might take some work to prime the walls for whatever you want to do with them – painting or wallpapering.

While wallpaper is making a bit of a comeback, the same cannot be said for borders. Manufacturers make them available because people like what is familiar, but for the most part, they are keeping a low profile in spaces designed by decorating specialists. Especially if you don’t like it, I suggest that you dispose of the border and plan not to replace it.

Thanks for writing in. Let me know how it turns out. I hope all of you have a safe and happy New Year’s Eve. Don’t forget to join me in the New Year for more design questions and answers.

Wake up your Bedroom

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

The bedroom is the one room of our homes that should be warm, inviting and comfortable. It can creep up on us slowly, but one day our attention is drawn to the frayed edge of the bed skirt; the collection of miscellaneous stuff scattered across the surface of the dresser; or the hand-me-down chair that should have been removed and replaced a long time ago. When areas of your bedroom have become tired and worn or you want to give it makeover without having to spend much money, there are ways to breathe new life the place that should be a soothing and refreshing sanctuary.

Focal Point

The focal point of any bedroom is naturally the bed. Especially if the bed was second-hand, is past its prime or was never quite right for the space (it was too big or too small), you can revitalize the room simply by replacing it. If the bed happens to be the right size for the space, you can give the bedroom a whole new vibe by simply removing the headboard. This will make the bed (and the room too) appear larger. Before removing the headboard, ensure that you can do this with your bed’s frame.

If the bed hasn’t had any new bedding in past three to five years, perhaps now is the time. One of the easiest ways to “renovate” your bedroom is to choose a new bedding set with a fresher or brighter palette than the ones you have had in the past. Whether you replace the bed or not, new bedding will help transform the bed into the focal pint it’s meant to be.

Spring Clean (early or not)

It’s one of those things that can creep up on us – clothes we have no intention of wearing again pushed to the back of the closet taking up space; bits and pieces left discarded in nightstand drawers; or toiletries and beauty products left out on top of the chest of drawers or the dresser. Clear away unnecessary clutter, including areas of your bedroom that you have overenthusiastically accessorized. Limiting the number of pictures or the cluster of ornaments set out on the dresser is another way to de-clutter.

Find creative ways to store things out of sight such as under-bed storage boxes, closet organizers and decorative baskets. Consider some bedroom furniture ideas such as a bed bench with hidden or cubby storage; a small armoire or replacing the bed with one that includes storage options. Having a place for everything in a bedroom environment is a good way to get a good night’s rest.

To Paint or Not to Paint

If the walls aren’t damaged or marked, sometimes thoroughly washing the walls can make the room seem fresher. But if you are getting tired of the color or it’s been awhile since the bedroom has been painted, maybe now is the time; nothing wakes up a bedroom like a new color palette.