THE BLOG
01/21/2011 05:52 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Hot in 2011: Media Rooms

After a couple of years of not talking about high end renovations, Americans are once again talking about it. A lot. And how can it really be avoided? The advances in technology and availability of apps for just about everything make so many luxurious add-ons in the home more accessible. Nowadays, anyone with an iPhone or an iPad can have a full blown "smart home" tricked out with up to the minute technology previously only available to homeowners you might see on MTV's show Cribs. Well, times are a changin'. Specifically, media room are coming to the forefront of home remodeling once again.

I got to thinking, are people really creating media rooms in their homes or is this all just buzz? So I called up my buddy, Stephen Fanuka aka "Contractor To The Stars", as he's known around NY. Stephen is a high end contractor with a client list that reads like a Hollywood awards show guest list. I figured, if anyone could tell me if this was a load of crap, he could.

Without blinking, Stephen told me the number one request these days is for media rooms. Shocker, I know. He also confirmed something I have been thinking for the past couple of years. "Whenever the economy gets bad, people feel the need to stay home with their families. They especially do more remodeling around kitchens and media rooms." Clearly, Stephen is not working with folks who are experiencing crippling job losses or foreclosures. We know that. But, Americans are still doing high end renovations. They're just doing them smarter and in areas of the home they really love.

Stephen Fanuka and I are both regular faces on NBC's "Open House NYC". He's a high end contractor, I'm a designer. The format of the show spends the majority of it's 30 minutes talking about estates in Greenwich and sprawling penthouses on Park Avenue. It's one of the highest rated shows on NBC local media in the country. We-yes, you too-like to watch shows like that. We like big, fancy homes and sky high apartments. So when people (um, losers!) write me nasty emails telling me I'm an a-hole or insensitive when I talk about this, I just have to laugh. Americans, good economy or not, like luxurious living. Now more than ever, we like to have the latest gadgetry and technology. That said, the resurgence of the media room is here to stay.

According to Fanuka and some other industry friends I spoke with, there are a few things you can do that do not require extensive wiring and costs, but merely the cost of an IPad. Between Sonos, Apple, Logitech and Google TV, where do you begin? That's what we're going to find out.

In the coming weeks, I'll be taking a closer look at several options at different price points for media rooms. I'm not a super techy person, just somebody who likes cool gadgetry, stylish design and pretty spaces. But, as a designer and someone pretty plugged in to the latest trends and media, I have a good idea of what people like and want in their homes. In the meantime, I've created a list of tips on getting started on creating a media room.

Before You Embark on Your Dream Media Room...

1. Call a professional who has experience in this area. Generally, most high end contractors will know how to do this or have the manpower on hand. This is key. Don't hire a handyman.

2. Make a list of your "most wanted". For example, do you love movies, music, sports or more entertaining for kids/families? You should have a very clear idea of what you want so you can convey that to your contractor. Mistakes here can be costly.

3. Don't get too out of reach with your technology. Nowadays, so many people are caught up in keeping up with The Jones' on the latest technology, but they don't understand it. I've gone into many homes where people show me all their gadgetry and then admit they have no idea how to use it. Um yeah, that's smart.

4. Decide on a budget and allow for 20 percent wiggle room. You'll go over budget. I guarantee that.

5. If you want to buy something today that gets you on the way to Media Room Heaven for a small cash outlay, you can purchase something called a sling box. A sling box will set you back under $200. You hook it up to your TV and it allows you to watch television programs on your iPad, iPhone, computer, etc. I can do it, which means you can do it.

I have a room full of electronics that I'm going to take a look at and let you know which ones are worth the Benjamins and which ones are not. FYI, I'm starting with apps.

Check your local TV listings for more of Courtney Cachet's style and design ideas. You can catch her frequent appearances on NBC nationwide where she dishes out all the latest in home and lifestyle! Keep up with her online at http://www.facebook.com/TheCourtneyCachetPage