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We show you how to turn your games room into a place to party by adding a few key electronic additions.

There are many exciting options for smartening up your home: plasma TVs, “invisible” speakers, security cameras that plug into the Internet and touchscreens that operate everything including the kitchen sink are just a few of the cool products that can easily capture a homeowner’s fancy. But the key is to select items that will suit your lifestyle and fit into your family’s routines. Remember, as long as the electronics you choose enhance the comfort, convenience and enjoyment of your home, you can’t go wrong.

THE GAMES ROOM


Make your games room the place to party by having music, movies and more.

Your social calendar is full, and when you do have a free moment, you’d really rather spend it at home than go out. With a lifestyle like this, you could benefit tremendously from a games room. Maybe you have already finished the basement to serve as your games area, or perhaps you’re planning on building a games room in your new house. In either case, you’ll get more enjoyment out of the space by adding a few key electronic systems to it. A lighting system, music and video systems and a cool touchpad to control it all can liven up a party, focus the attention on a pool table or bar and create an atmosphere where everybody is sure to relax and have fun.

Movie Night
Movies (as well as video games) are always more engaging and exciting when they’re presented on a big screen. However, depending on the design of your house, you may not want a huge display intruding on the decor of your family room or living room. If that’s the case, the games room may be the perfect spot for a giant TV. Because games rooms are typically located away from the main living areas of a house, like a basement or bonus room, you’ll never have to see the TV unless you really want to. You won’t have to hear the video action, either. You can crank up the volume without disturbing the activities taking place in other rooms of the house.

If your games room is large, you’ll probably want to dedicate a section of it to movie viewing and video game playing. In addition to the TV, the area will need at least five speakers and a subwoofer as well as a surround-sound processor, DVD player and other components. For top-notch audio reproduction, it’s usually best to use freestanding floor- and bookshelf-style speakers. However, a custom audiovisual installer can recommend some great-sounding in-wall speakers if you want to keep your speakers completely out of the way. If there is no back wall to your movie area (a common design), your installer may need to set the rear speakers into the ceiling.

The DVD player, pay TV receiver and other components can join the TV out in the room, or you can tuck them into a nearby closet. Either approach is fine; where you choose to put the equipment is simply a matter of personal preference. On the one hand, having the equipment out in the open may be most convenient for loading movies and can lend a high-tech look to the room. On the other, putting the components in a closet frees up space, preserves the room decor and keeps the gear out of harm’s way.

For serious movie viewing, you may want the lights off. Be sure to place the lights in the theater area on their own circuit so you can darken that space without affecting the rest of the room. If there are other people in the games room, they may want the lights over the pool table and bar to stay on, for example. A lighting control system offers an effective and elegant way to arrange the lighting to suit the activities that may take place in your games room.

Bar up
A bar is another common amenity for a games room. You can keep the bar area simple with just a liquor cabinet and a couple of pub chairs, or you can go all out with a refrigerator, wine cooler, dishwasher and other appliances. Unless you plan on throwing huge parties, pint-sized appliances will probably suffice. For example, you could choose a dish-drawer instead of a full-sized dishwasher or a mini fridge instead of a standard-sized refrigerator.

A television is also a great addition to a bar. Just like the appliances, the bar-based TV doesn’t have to be big. To keep the bar surface clear, consider placing the set on a wall or ceiling mount. Alternatively, you could mount a flat-panel LCD or plasma TV to the back wall of the bar. Although most TVs have speakers built in, spring for external speakers to ensure that everyone who’s seated at the bar can hear the action. Like the TV, the speakers can be mounted to the ceiling or floor.

It’s important to decide while your bar is being built what kinds of programs you will be watching in that space. For example, you might want the bar TV to be able to show something completely different from what’s on the big-screen. If so, you may want to give the bar TV its own DVD player, digital receiver or other components. However, if you envision the bar TV as an extension of the big- screen, where both TVs are tuned into the same ball game, for example, your home systems installer can set up a system that allows a single set of components to be shared. If you like the idea of both, you can have that, too.

The style of your bar is totally up to you. No matter what theme you prefer, you can use lighting to create the vibe. A lighting control system can adjust the intensity of the lights to suit any occasion. For example, the system could keep the surface of the bar well lit so your guests can easily find the snacks while the area behind the bar stays dim so it’s easy to focus on the TV image. These lighting scenes can be engaged by pressing a button on the keypad that comes with the lighting control system.

Playing Games
Good lighting is also important if there will be a pool or other games tables in your games room. Fixtures should be placed directly above each table to adequately illuminate the surface. Table lamps, wall sconces and other fixtures should be considered as well to make the area look warm and inviting. Again, a lighting control system is a helpful tool. You can use a keypad to focus the lights on the game table. The rest of the lights can stay dim so that there are no distractions. Of course, you can change the lighting scene on the fly: Just press another button, and the bar and home theater areas spring to life. Your home systems installer or lighting designer should be able to set up the lighting scenes however you like.

Rock ‘n’ Roll
And don’t forget about music. Have your home systems installer position speakers throughout the entire room and a volume control at the bar, pool table and any other distinct area. Parties usually grow increasingly louder as the night wears on; the volume controls will give you a quick and easy way to adjust the volume of the music accordingly.[endlogo]

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