On Friday, the Wall Street Journal’s “Homes” section led with a splashy layout about media rooms. real estate veterans would probably nod at the article’s historical account that “there was a time” when high-end homes demonstrated their media bona fides through well-appointed home theaters. Many did tend to be “found in the basement,” did often have fabric walls for soundproofing, and sometimes added a Godfather or Batman poster to burnish the experience. Some households even included popcorn 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.” Instead of the front-facing padded theater seats, today’s examples more often feature “cozy couches, table and chairs” arranged to facilitate TV and movie watching. 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. In fact, the article includes a shot of a flat-screen that’s clearly visible despite being adjacent to a sliding glass door in full daylight.
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 devices scattered about the grounds, most of the discussion is quite relatable to homeowners of more modest means. In fact, speaking for the majority of my home selling clients, it’s increasingly hard to find any today who haven’t succeeded in integrating a generous-sized flat-screen into their everyday household arrangement.
In fact, for most of non-billionaire homeowners, I think we could do better in naming today’s home theaters than the Journal’s “media room.” I’d call them something like “the living room.”
Today’s prospective homebuyers do increasingly think about media, wifi-readiness, cable availability, etc. Staying abreast of their shifting preferences is part of my job. Call me!