Before and After: A Plain Spare Room Transforms into a “Disco Cocoon” Media Lounge
Most people fantasize about their dream home as a child. The ideal address would have a giant pool, of course, and a slide that could swirl down from a story in the sky. A kitchen would have a freezer full of ice cream, and a living room would hold the world’s comfiest couch. And maybe, just maybe, there would be a game room that resembled a curfew-free arcade … with loud music included. As adulthood comes into view, though, those fantasies are often modified to fit real-world budgets. More often than not, practicality overpowers imagination.
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But when it came to this renovation, which focused on turning a bonus space into a game room, Arlene Lord of Lord Interior Design wanted to lean less into practicality and a little more into fantasy escape. In fact, Lord’s client gave her clear instructions to create a hangout with a “secret clubhouse” feel (and I’m betting the password is something like “fun”).
“This wasn’t a budget-conscious type of project — this was a dream-coming-true kind of project,” Lord says. “Our client came to us looking for a unique space where she could hang out for hours playing video games by herself or with friends.”
The owner lives in a new-build that was finished in 2019 to resemble a modern farmhouse, complete with tall windows, white walls, and clean lines. It’s perfectly fine for the rest of the home, which she shares with a roommate, and Lord already made sure that its largest common area suited their needs.
“We decorated the main living room a couple of years ago, and it has a much more ‘adult’ look that is light and bright,” she says. “They played video games in that room originally, but she hated that the controllers were out a lot. And because it’s a great room, the sound really carried.”
There was an empty room in the home that a trio of rescue cats mostly used, and the owner had the idea to turn it into what Lord calls a “disco cocoon.” It would not only be a place where video games and music could be played at any time of day — after all, that’s what closed doors are for — but it would also be designed in an entirely distinct aesthetic. “She wanted a dark, velvety, disco kind of vibe,” Lord continues. “Super comfy furniture was paramount, and layers of lighting were important, too.”
Lord partnered with Opus Vitae Construction for the job, which started with replacing the gray carpet with hardwood flooring to make it easier for the owner to keep clean (the cats were still VIPs in the disco cocoon). They built custom color-changing LED lighting into the baseboards, so that the owner could choose shades to suit her mood, and wallpapered the ceiling in a trippy floral pattern from Tamara Design.
“The wallpaper is from Australia, and was selected so we could do something interesting with that big white ceiling,” Lord says.
For the walls, Lord chose Benjamin Moore’s Dark Harbor, a midnight blue shade that complements the greenery in the patterned ceiling. She went bold with color choices in the rest of the space, too: two sofas positioned in an L-shape were upholstered locally in red velvet. An 86-inch smart TV sits in front of one sofa, as the other overlooks a custom-built record display that’s just large enough to hold LPs.
“The windows don’t look out on any great views, and the house next door is white,” Lord says. “The glare off it on sunny days was really hard on the eyes.” So she had one-of-a-kind window treatments made to block out the sights but not the sunlight, and commissioned Manhattan Neons to make a “One More Game” sign to capitalize on the room’s perpetual shade. Patterned pillows, Etsy posters, and mid-century-inspired consoles round out the details — and there’s a bookcase in the corner if ever that’s of interest, too.
“Additionally, we installed a ventilation system that brings in fresh air to keep the cat smell down,” Lord says. “This room also has custom storage for the cats’ litter boxes. They are very important to her!”
As soon as Lord’s client saw the finished space, she fired up the video games and blissfully lost track of time. It turns out that some grown-ups do get parts of their childhood dream homes, including an asterisk appreciated by kids and grown-ups alike: the available option of a do-over.
“We also kept in mind that she will sell the house someday, so we designed the room so that when she packs up her things, the new owners can paint and wallpaper and have a brand new space that reflects them,” Lord says. So it turns out this fantasy space actually does have a little bit of practicality baked in, too.
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