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  • Writer's pictureDann Foley

Living Well is Not a Spectator Sport

In keeping with the theme of our annual sports issue, I wanted to remind our readers that living well is not a spectator sport. It is a get in there, do the work, have fun and be your best kind of activity.

I have said many times here in these pages and to our clients, living well takes an effort. There is no such thing as effortless living. Now, before I scare you out of reading further, let me be very clear that the effort does not have to overwhelm you, or become obsessive. Like enjoying your favorite sporting pastime, there are many ways of engaging in the fun, enjoyment and satisfaction that you can derive from your effort.

To further the analogy, think of living well in terms of your favorite sport. Sometimes you want to get in there and get in the middle of the action, and other times you want to be a spectator, or sit back and watch on TV with a good snack and drink by your side. Well, creating a home that is your personal sanctuary and your space to share and enjoy with family and friends, is a worthwhile endeavor. And, just like being the best you can be at your chosen sport, your home takes initiative, practice and courage. So, get in there and show yourself (and those around you) what you are made of!

The easiest example I can offer this month is the ever-popular game room, man cave, or theater for watching your favorite pastime. The world of the mancave has become cliché and the games room, a tired brother of the family room. What I like to offer my clients is a fresh and personalized take on that room where you need comfort, a big TV, a great sound system and ample room for friends and family to join in. It is not a scrimmage; it is a team sport which is best shared!

For starters let’s talk about how to achieve the very best viewing experience.

  • High quality, Hi-Def televisions are abundant and affordable today. Buy the very best you can afford. There is nothing like the picture quality when viewing any sport. Feel like you are out on the field with your team.

  • Sound is everything. Again, theater or surround sound systems are easily sourced and affordable today. I got mine on The one thing to keep in mind is that you will still have to find a place for the subwoofer. It is still a component that needs to be properly placed for the best sound quality. I always keep that in mind when selecting the furniture piece/pieces that will inevitably be under and around the screen.

The final element to the picture “show” is to be sure that you place your big a screen at the optimum height and away from possible glare. There are a few things I like to keep in mind.

  • First, I have never found an appropriate height fireplace that you can mount your TV above. There are two issue with every fireplace installation. The first is the heat that rises from the firebox which can destroy your screen. The other issue is height. If you have to look up to see your screen when seated, then you know it is placed too high. This trend seems to have become somewhat of the norm but, that does not make it safe or comfortable for viewing.

  • Second is the issue of glare. Most of us have homes with ample, if not abundant light. it is the number one request in new homes and renovations. Let the light in! I agree and I love it but, it can wreak havoc on your viewing pleasure. When possible, choose an installation away from your windows. If you don’t have a choice, then be sure to have window treatments that will reduce or eliminate the glare on your screen. Draperies, shades or blinds will do the trick and if you really want some “cool” factor, make those treatments electric to open and close from your seat. In the past that option was a big and costly job. Today, manufacturers offer a myriad of options that are rechargeable motors. They are easy to install and each charge lasts a long time.

Now for the décor. If you have been a loyal reader, then you should already know that as a designer, I have never liked “kitsch” decorating. I want my clients to live in spaces that tell their story. I want them to have homes that are personal and speak to who they are and what they love. Even when creating a specific space like this, I still want you to think outside the box.

I love a framed jersey as much as the next guy. For me, I still want them personalized. Instead of the jersey from your favorite player, why not frame your kid’s jersey or alongside that legend you already have hanging. Go for matching frames and bold matt colors and hang them in a grid pattern on the wall to add more visual interest by creating a secondary pattern. Then, why not sacrifice hanging them over a sofa and instead, choose a wall where you can fill it with your memorabilia. Think baseboard to crown molding. It creates a much greater impact and creates conversation when you share it with your friends.

My opinion has always been that when you are designing or decorating with a theme in mind, like sports, you don’t have to be too obvious. Like any other room in your home, forget the easy choices and take a deeper more personal approach to your selections…and have some fun! For instance, indoor-outdoor turf is an amusing way to cover a floor or create an area rug. It has the added advantage of being easy to clean up when spills occur.

The goal is to be personal. Let your mind wander, be creative in your thinking. You will have a room that is fun, handsome/beautiful and a pleasure to use and share. Your home should reflect who you are and it doesn’t have to be cliché. You can’t get it wrong when you make choices that please you. Make it yours, choose what you love and, as always, Live Well!

Designer Dann

Designer Dann: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest.

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