On February 15, the Wall Street Journal’s “Homes” section led with a splashy layout about media rooms. I’m sure that Greenwich real estate veterans would agree that back in the ’80s and ’90s, a wow factor in home amenities was the home theaters. Often located in the basement (or lower level as I like to refer to them), they had fabric walls for soundproofing, surround sound, cushy custom lounge chairs and a Godfather or Batman poster to burnish the experience. Some Greenwich households even included popcorn and vending machines.
The balance of the piece (“The New Mansion Must: A Media Room”) dealt with today’s version of the home theater: “the media room.” In place of the front-facing padded theater seats, what I am seeing in Greenwich tasteful, high end homes are custom, extra deep sectionals, walls covered with men’s flannel suit fabric, and cashmere throws. The room is handsome, comfortable and cocoon-like. The Journal contrasted yesterday’s setup—which frequently had home theatergoers immersed in a dark room on a level away from the rest of the household—with today’s more convenient version, situated at the center of home life.
The shift has been made possible by more compact technology. Instead of having to rely on a big screen projector or one of the gargantuan rear-projection TVs, we have our ubiquitous flat-screen TVs. If you’ve seen any of the newer ones, the image quality can be breath-taking. Almost 3-D-looking. And somehow the engineers have devised ways to manufacture screens that show in regular room light.
Although the thrust of the piece deals with how today’s millionaire mansion owners divide their time between 103-inch TV screens recessed into the wall and as many as 30 other digital display spread throughout the home, most of the discussion is quite relatable to Greenwich homeowners of more modest means. In fact, speaking for the majority of my sellers, it’s increasingly hard to find any today who haven’t succeeded in integrating a generous-sized flat-screen into their house. It’s become an integral part of everyday life.