A room with a sofa, a few chairs and possibly a television that kept the late 20th century family happy must now include all the latest electronic devices, including a flat-screen or 3-D TV with the latest built-in speakers that re-create the original recorded tones. To complete the package, wet bars, kitchenettes and conversation areas dominate.
Friends gather to watch sporting events, movies and catch up on each other’s lives. Often, food and beverages become staples that foster a cohesive atmosphere. The kitchen historically has been the favorite gathering place during food and beverage preparation, but entertainment areas now must assume many of those duties to relieve the hosts from continually traveling to the main kitchen to refresh drinks and bring more snacks to the party.
Bars and entertainment spaces will vary in size and scope. Look to your first client interview to gain an in-depth understanding of the homeowners’ concept. I suggest you start with the National Kitchen and Bath Association “Kitchen Design Survey” form and modify it to suit the entertaining space. Most of the sections will be applicable to the more sophisticated wet bar and entertainment spaces you will encounter.
The initial interview also should include a discussion of the cost factors for all the clients’ desires. It is difficult and embarrassing to miss budget expectations by a large amount because we did not properly conduct the initial interview. We need their investment target and their prioritization of the desired features for the space.
Rarely do wet bars include a cooktop, but many might include a dishwasher, microwave, sink and some type of refrigeration. Planning for each of these items will require knowledge of how the owners intend to use this space, as well as the amount of dishes, glassware and flatware they intend to store there.
When starting the design process, keep in mind the spacing of appliances, countertop area and walkways should mimic a well-designed kitchen. Consider enlarging the landing space for a microwave from the recommended 15-inches wide by 16-inches deep to 24-inches wide times the entire depth of the countertop. This additional surface area will help tremendously when preparing hors d’oeuvres and snacks for a gathering.
When planning for seating and conversation areas, assume audio and video will probably be playing in the background. Traffic from the conversation area to the bar or other conveniences should not cross paths with the seating for TV viewing. This presupposes the space available is adequate for such a design.
Lighting is an important consideration and requires the attention of a lighting professional. Providing proper direct and indirect light levels with appropriate switching and dimming is vital to a successful space plan. Many well-designed projects fail because of poor lighting. Nowhere in the home is this more true than in the rooms most often remodeled—kitchens, baths and entertainment areas.
Keep in mind the three-legged stool test for excellent design. First, develop an efficient layout—one that accomplishes the “needs” first and as many of the “wants” as the budget permits. Here is where options can help the prospects increase their budget to capture their dream project. Second, be sure the décor is aesthetically pleasing. Third, the lighting should be designed to accentuate, enhance, and provide the moods desired at various times and in various areas of the room.
Following these guidelines will help to create a well-designed and enjoyable entertainment space.
Les Petrie is NKBA past president and currently legislative vice president of the Treasure Coast chapter in central Florida. Petrie provides sales training for design professionals on an individual basis or through NKBA chapters. He and his wife reside in Cocoa Beach, Fla.