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The Media Room

Inner Peace, Precious Pursuits

September 26, 1999|BARBARA THORNBURG

Los Angeles designer Brad Blair was asked by his clients, a Dana Point couple, to design a high-tech media room as tranquil-looking as a Zen garden. "We wanted a place to watch sports with friends, listen to music, dance a little and, for me, play the guitar," says the husband, the former CEO of a medical manufacturing firm and a music aficionado. Blair obliged with a welcoming, yet functional, Asian decor. He covered a 24-foot-long wall with vintage Japanese screens, behind which are three vertical bays containing audiovisual equipment. "The screens keep stuff out of sight, so I don't feel like I'm sitting in some space center," says the husband. The amplifier on the left bay allows him to plug in one of his 11 vintage guitars and jam day or night. Well-insulated walls and a double-hung ceiling layered with rubber protect neighbors from noise. The couple and their friends can watch three college football games simultaneously on the multiple TVs in the middle bay and listen to music from the state-of-the-art sound system in the right bay. Custom-built drawers in the room's former walk-in closet hold their 10,000 vinyl records, CDs and tapes. For meditative moments, Blair reserved a corner for a small Japanese garden of hand-selected stones. "It adds so much to the room's overall serenity," says the designer. "My clients have spent so many pleasant hours there, they've dubbed it their 'happy room.' "


I wanted my house to feel as if I were on a relaxing journey," says Perry Farrell, who travels frequently as the lead singer for Jane's Addiction and Porno for Pyros. Feeling that his postwar bungalow in Venice didn't suit his needs, he called on Culver City architect Steven Ehrlich for help. Ehrlich stripped the house down to its foundation and built a cubistic, two-story modern home of stucco, wood and glass anchored by a common living-dining-media room. The space, crowned by a barrel-vaulted ceiling of maple veneer, is where Farrell sometimes plays his guitar and composes. "The curved ceiling creates wonderful acoustics," says Farrell, also the founder of the Lollapalooza music festivals. Strategically placed studio-quality speakers provide surround sound and a custom maple cabinet at the end of the room contains state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment. A cherry valance conceals a motorized film screen and a blue screen for making videos. At the opposite end of the room, a low fixed table with a built-in projector doubles as a coffee table and bench. Now when the rock star is between engagements, he has everything he needs, including a receptive audience in his 1-year-old son Yobel. Says Farrell, "He's partial to drums and bass."

Favorite L.A. haunts:

The Viper Room in West Hollywood on Tuesday nights;

Vidiots in Santa Monica.

best CD ever: "Around the House," by Herbert.

can't record without: Raw almonds and water.


Art consultant Hyang Ro and her husband, investor Choong Park, borrowed a page from a book on Japanese interiors when they customized the media room in their remodeled 1939 Georgian-style home in Beverly Hills. The look they were after was sleek and modern yet in tune with nature, achieved by opening up the far end of the former family room with low windows. "Now instead of having a boring, solid white wall, the windows frame the garden like a painting," says Ro. Dark hardwood floors were bleached a light golden hue, white paint replaced Art Nouveau-patterned wallpaper and comfortable modern furnishings decorate the pared-down space. A wide-screen TV tops a new bird's-eye maple shelf on one wall, but all wiring is hidden. Entertainment systems designer Christopher Hansen of Cello Technologies in West Hollywood placed the Sony sound system and 200-disc CD player in a nearby wine closet, ran wires inside the walls and mounted speakers flush with the ceiling. "Everything is accessed by 1629516911and 5-year-old daughter Elizabeth are what she calls media "maniacs," Ro does not watch much television. "I prefer listening to jazz."

Ro's favorite CD: "Blue Train," by John Coltrane.

Contemporary artist of choice: Video artist Nam June Paik.

All-time greatest artists: Willem de Kooning, Frank Stella, Edward Weston,

Yves Klein.

Daughter Elizabeth's favorite TV snacks: Fresh-squeezed orange juice and popcorn.


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