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Playtime for grown-ups

Celebrities may party at chic clubs, restaurants and premieres but, increasingly, the hottest entertainment destination for the rest of us is our own home...

Cinemas, party rooms, bars and games rooms are now considered must-haves in high-end homes. But while most people don’t have the budget for such lavish spaces, it doesn’t stop us embracing the philosophy that ‘staying in’ is the new ‘going out’ - and looking for kit to make it possible. “The world has moved on in terms of the way people use their homes,” says designer Tara Bernerd of Tara Bernerd & Partners. “Of course, those who can afford luxury want entertainment areas - a cinema room, a games room with a pool table and a party ‘night club’ zone so they can effortlessly and instantly enjoy their often limited leisure time. Most people now regard their homes as little kingdoms, where they can demonstrate their taste, be cocooned and amused when they’re alone or with family, or entertain in style when the mood takes them.”

Home bars have shed their naff reputation. A built-in bar was a famous and much mocked fixture in the Trotters’ lounge in TV’s Only Fools And Horses, but now high street giants Marks & Spencer and John Lewis both have sophisticated ranges of drinks cabinets and trolleys. Socialising indoors means you can tailor an occasion exactly to suit you and your guests. This could potentially save you money, not to mention freeing hosts from concerns over drinking and driving. “Men may be more interested in gadgets, gizmos and toys for a games room, while women are keen to have areas where they can relax and entertain such as cinema rooms, bar areas and spas,” says Bernerd.

Convenience and privacy are motivating factors for those who already have the luxury gyms, pools and spas, and see separate entertainment zones as complementary to those facilities. But she points out many people want their homes to have multi-functional spaces.

So, if you’re a dedicated party-giver, movie buff, or just want to utilise the space in your home now the kids have grown up and left home, read on and check out entertaining ideas from the experts.

Get set and play For fans of the beautiful game, The Games Room Company’s football tables start from £1,500 and include a bespoke luxury table, from £19,000, on which family, team-mates or even pets’ faces can be replicated on hand-painted cast metal figures.

Change the pace with a sleek Vortex Air Hockey table, £599 (pictured right) from The Conran Shop. Or play the machines with an Arcade table in a coffee table design with 60 vintage games including Space Invaders and Pac-Man, £2,500.

If your budget is a little more modest, a Champions League Football Table at only £129.95, has UEFA Champions League stadium graphics and a grass-effect pitch. Or go for an Arcade Mania Upright Machine, £1,399, which features 150 games - both from John Lewis.

32 Life Begins

Cinema rooms are outstripping swimming pools in terms of popularity in luxury homes. Cinema-size screens which magically appear or disappear when not in use are enormously popular. “For one client we created a private ‘multiplex’ with a lit pathway to leather seats, a 100-inch screen, integrated acoustic panels and a library of 6,000 films arranged into themed programmes.” says Matt Wayne, consultant designer at Finite Solutions

Vortex Air Hockey table, £599 Game on!

“Games rooms are now essential ‘play spaces’ in some homes,” says Henrietta Perry, director of interior design specialists Callister Russell. “One of the most important things for our clients is creating that ‘wow factor’. We source bespoke details whether it’s a vintage arcade game or one of our most recent acquisitions - a pool table which once belonged to musician Eric Clapton. “It’s all part of ensuring a games room provides everything to create the right mood with a touch of the individual’s character. They can be equipped with everything from pool tables and pinball machines, to table football, memorabilia or art.”

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