Home Entertainment


Happy Days

April 1, 2003 By Brooke Lange

In the Land of Home Theaters, carefully crafted movie-watching spaces satisfy a wealth of psychological needs. Some people build them to ensure quality family time—a plush place where they can plop down with the kids, watch the latest DVD release and bond (it’s a sneaky, somewhat selfish tactic, but it guarantees parents will see their offspring at least one night a week).

Many incorporate private theaters into their building blueprints to boost their social quotient among friends—becoming Party Central, so to speak, by hosting full-blown events that center around a sentimental flick (Barefoot in the Park or The Way We Were) or a fun celebration (the Oscars, Wimbledon, college basketball’s Final Four).

Others who are the nesting type prefer the creature comforts of their own private movie enclave instead of braving opening-night movie crowds and sticky theater chairs. And a handful of homeowners have their theaters decked out with the expensive work of super high-end interior designers and top-of-the-line equipment because, well, they can.

And some do it for love.

“[The homeowners] are childhood sweethearts,” says Sam Maxted, the interior designer who orchestrated the aesthetics of the space and whose firm, MCM Interiors, designed personal spaces for two of the husband’s business colleagues. “And they’re still on their first date.”

Happy DaysColorful throw pillows and piping on the theater chairs are a nod to the playful 50s-themed bar and lounge in the next room. (Click image to enlarge)

The theater of the 11,000-square-foot house, and adjoining bar/lounge area, literally step right out of the ’50s—the era when the couple were falling for each other. So it’s not surprising that whenever they spend time there, they are taking a walk down memory lane—and all the nostalgia comes flooding back just like it was yesterday when he draped his football sweater around her shoulders (coincidentally, that very sweater, his football pin and other sentimental items are displayed on the “memorabilia wall” in the lounge area).

The subtly retro theater, with burgundy velvet curtains and matching chairs in a corduroy-like fabric with teal and pink piping, sets the mood for every rendezvous. Vancouver’s Durante Development customized the furniture, including the oversized theater chairs with extra-high backs to accommodate the husband’s six-foot-five-inch frame. “We wanted the decadent look of ’50s chairs, but more comfortable. These seats recline,” Maxted says, adding that the homeowners “test sat” each chair design.

Each chair is accessorized with a jelly bean-shaped side table and chenille throw pillows. Walls are bathed in a soothing, silky metallic charcoal fabric that shimmers ever so slightly. Lighting, both overhead and to the side in the form of retro-styled sconces, is understated and minimalist; the hand-punched fiber-optic star sky adds a delicate twinkle.

Happy DaysCustom neon signs light the way to the theater. (Click image to enlarge)

To add whimsy to the 16-foot-by-25-foot space that seats six—a triple date, if you will—the interior designer added black-and-white checked carpeting, a nod to the black-and-white tile floor in the entertainment room, and cube- and cylinder-shaped ottomans in a gray-pink pattern with teal and red piping for the kids; the throw pillows reflect the playful teals and oranges sprinkled throughout the lounge. “They did so much theming in the other space, so we wanted to create a comfy, calm movie cave for private time,” Maxted says.

To avoid detracting from the theater’s subtle demeanor, the surround-sound speakers are concealed within the framed pillars that are imbedded in the walls; the subwoofer is tucked below the 110-inch screen.

And just as they did in their dating days, the couple and any invited guests head for the Happy Days soda counter after the movie, complete with a reproduction milkshake machine. An antique Wurlitzer jukebox reproduction awaits, adding life to any formal or informal gathering; not only can it play 100 different CDs, but the jukebox is wired into the home’s distributed audio system, thanks to the expertise of La Scala Integrated Media of Vancouver. The 1956 Wurlitzer coin-operated wall jukeboxes in each booth are working antiques. A pressed-tin ceiling and two custom-made neon signs overlook the hardwood dance floor where many feet have jitterbugged, including those of an entire wedding party.

Guests can relax in the orange-yellow-teal geometric-patterned vinyl booths or in the lounge area on the opposite side of the 30-foot-by-45-foot space, complete with a comfy seating area comprised of classic ’50s chairs. The space overlooks the expansive rural landscape of the 25-acre estate outside Vancouver. A fireplace adds warmth and a relaxing element to the room when the dance floor shuts down.

“I’m not a huge fan of ’50s-style design, but it became a really fun project because of the great motivation of why the homeowners wanted to do it,” Maxted says. “They were the sweetest clients to work for … and they wanted to give back to their friends and family and celebrate.”



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