home entertainment
Multipurpose entertainment space/game room with lots of pizzazz. (Courtesy Mary Middelemiss/Twice As Nice Interiors)

It’s tinsel time once again. This year, let’s make it extra special. 

Whether your holiday colors are red and green or blue and silver, celebrate this season of joy in style. Take a cue from these savvy design pros and transform ordinary living areas into amazing and welcoming entertainment spaces – on a budget. 

Sometimes it’s as simple as adding an eye-catching bar cart. Claudia Grunberger of Grunberger Interiors in Great Neck conjured up a retro-glam vignette for a project in Roslyn that features a swanky, gold-toned beauty, filled with a dazzling assortment of cocktail accessories. Above it hangs a stylish black and white vintage photo of James Bond star Roger Moore, sipping wine and holding a cigarette; a quirky lamp completes this fun yet sophisticated look.

BTW: Serving carts are versatile and can also be used for tea/coffee time, or for storing small appliances.

“First impressions count. When it comes to creating beautiful entertaining spaces, for me, there are always two factors that determine the overall design scheme and layout of a room,” Grunberger offers.

Add a glam bar cart to create a stylish entertainment space for guests — without breaking the bank. (Courtesy Claudia Grunberger/Grunberger Interiors)

The first is function

“How many people need to be accommodated? I love to incorporate flexible seating and dining arrangements that can function for smaller or larger gatherings: dining tables with extension leaves, additional chairs and benches in a corner of the dining room or in front of a window,” she explains. “These are never matchy-matchy pieces because it’s all about adding visual interest. I prefer to opt for a different silhouette and choose upholstery material in a contrasting fabric. It’s an opportunity to introduce a touch of the unexpected.”

Create welcoming conversation areas with your furniture layout 

“Ottomans not only add comfort, but can do double duty as additional seating, be part of a cocktail table arrangement, or tucked away under a console table,” Grunberger adds. “How about a pair of slipper chairs in a corner of the room which can be pulled up and added to your seating group?” 

Look to the past for inspiration: Bar cabinets are popular again 

“Today’s tall, freestanding cabinets are designed to look like jewelry in the room. When you open them up, the interior is illuminated, mirrored, and has gorgeous storage compartments and racks for suspending glassware. They make a stunning addition to your living room and are a must-have for people who like to entertain in style,” she says.

The second factor: Your style determines that design scheme 

How do you want the room to feel? Amazing entertainment spaces have one thing in common: They are skillfully layered. According to Grunberger: “From a gorgeous area rug, rich woods and metal accents, luxurious fabrics, statement lighting fixtures and lamps, bespoke window treatments, wallcoverings, pillows, and curated accessories. All add richness to a space and make it feel inviting and comfortable, no matter what design style you favor.” 

On a tight budget? Here are her top tips. 

  • Color is crucial in conveying a rich aesthetic

  • Go bold – opt for deep, saturated tones on walls 

  • Add colorful accents throughout 

  • With rugs, bigger is always better

  • Lots of lamps for mood (overhead lighting isn’t enough)

  • Oversized artwork creates a focal point 

Cozy living/family rooms are the go-to spots where folks gather for the holidays. Sandra Asdourian of Sandra Asdourian Interiors in Babylon says the key ingredients for a great design on a budget are:

  • Comfortable seating: oversized sofas/sectionals with built-in lounge seating 

  • Room-darkening window treatments

  • Deep, non reflective wall/ceiling colors (like moody blues)

  • Rugs/carpets to minimize sounds

Then, add some festive accessories

“I find the best way to transform a room in time for the holidays – in a cost-effective way – is to change the paint color,” adds Mary Middlemiss of Twice As Nice Interiors in East Islip. And who wouldn’t love her swell multipurpose game room, showcasing a fancy billiard table? On the flip side, a small game table, where the fam and guests can play cards or do puzzles, also creates a fun vibe, she says. And how about enhancing that bland sofa with some faux fur (or sequin) pillows and a plush animal print throw, to make it more inviting? 

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