This article was originally published on Christie’s International Real Estate’s blog Luxury Defined.
We asked designers to share the top requests from their clients in light of the pandemic, and the consensus was clear: people are searching for a space to retreat to—a home sanctuary. “We’re all looking for some escapism, and a room dedicated to this purpose offers a cocoon from the world,” says Helen Westlake, creative director of international design consultancy Millier.
“Clients are putting more emphasis on intimate spaces and are investing more money in making them luxurious,” agrees Gary Singer, founder and creative director of Eggersmann Design. And according to New York and Miami-based designer Adam Meshberg, there’s one often-overlooked room at the center of this trend: the basement. “As we’re spending more time than ever at home, we want to make the space we have work harder for us,” he explains.
Creating a sanctuary offers exciting possibilities. Think: a home movie theater boasting the top integrated technology; a dedicated space in which to curl up with a good book; or a wine cellar perfectly set up to savor your collection. Feeling inspired? Read on for our experts’ tips on turning any room—from your basement and beyond—into a space that can enrich your life.
According to Pinterest, searches for home movie theaters increased by 368 percent within the last year. This creation by Millier combines the best in integrated technology with comfortable seating, for the ultimate space to unwind.
Professional-quality equipment is bringing cinema home, says Meshberg: “A wide-screen television and state-of-the-art sound system can make you feel like you’re at the movies,” he says. “All you need to do is bring in the popcorn maker and make yourself comfortable.” Comfort, he stresses, is key. He favors two-person sofas or oversized lounge chairs with footstools—and he points out that the upholstery you choose shouldn’t stop at seating. “I like fabric walls for their soundproofing quality, and they also give the room a warm, welcoming feel.”
For the full art-house theater experience, Mike Fisher, creative director of Studio Indigo—which specializes in creating bespoke screening rooms—recommends tiered seating, curtained screens, and “scalloped Art Deco-style panels recalling the golden age of cinema.”
Westlake’s advice is to consider the practicalities. “Remember to add a refreshment area for popcorn and drinks top-ups, as well as movable side tables on which to serve drinks and snacks,” she says.
Spiral Cellars designed this bespoke wine aquarium for a client who wanted the impact and theatricality of dining among their wine collection, without the cold and humid conditions of a cellar.
Eat-in Wine Cellars
Once the exclusive preserve of a handful of Michelin-starred restaurants, eat-in wine cellars are on the rise—literally. New technology means that wine can now be stored above ground in optimum conditions, and makes it possible to dine next to your finest labels or open a special bottle in a secret snug in the heart of your collection.
“We’re increasingly being approached to create ‘wine aquariums,’” says Mark Dickens of Spiral Cellars, a U.K.-based wine storage specialist that has designed visible solutions for clients all over the world. These ‘aquariums,’ he explains, “seal the bottles behind glass, and keep them at the right temperature and humidity. It allows diners to eat in comfort, given that drinking wine in cool, humid cellar conditions is only sustainable for about half an hour.”
However, he’s quick to point out that installing a tasting table in an existing cellar can create an equally exciting and theatrical prelude to a meal. “Collectors are increasingly keen to share a special bottle within their cellar, serving charcuterie or other nibbles before going upstairs to dine,” he says. &ldquonatively, you might go down into the cellar after dinner to choose a cigar, as these require similar storage conditions to wine. So, the cellars we design often incorporate a humidor.”
In this private library, Studio Indigo chose to complement the orange spines of thousands of Penguin classics with a ladder in charcoal gray and rows of floor-to-ceiling matching shelving. Image: James Balston
With less time spent commuting, book lovers are embracing the chance to enjoy their treasured titles and demand has grown for formal libraries, says Fisher. He recommends looking to the books themselves for inspiration, singling out a space he created for a prized collection of distinctively orange-banded Penguin classics, which “created their own color scheme.” He also suggests punctuating shelves with small sculptures or other objets d’art to create a relaxing backdrop to a room.
For the perfect reading seat, Meshberg opts for a classic Eames chair and matching footstool, placed close to bookshelves. To finish off the space, he adds a desk, which can facilitate thumbing through large, heavy art books or reference volumes in comfort. “And lighting to read by, either a desk or floor lamp or a floor lamp directed towards your page, is essential,” he adds.