In the basement of this Los Angeles home, designer Marla Sher has created a theater that completely immerses you in Art Deco style from the moment you pass through the door—one of a set of two original, 1930s Edgar Brandt nickel doors from Paris—leading from the house’s ground level. Behind the door is a staircase made of backlit alabaster stone risers and polished black granite treads. Fiber-optic lights set within a polished Venetian plaster ceiling illuminate the staircase. At the bottom of the stairs, to the left, the other Brandt door conceals a storage area, and to the right, a pair of soundproof doors decorated with burled walnut and brass tracery open to the theater.
“When I first met with the homeowners to discuss designing their home theater, they said that they were ‘maybe thinking about something Art Deco,’ ” recounts Sher, who has offices in Los Angeles and in Salinas, Calif. “I could immediately tell what their tastes were in terms of color and design. So I read up on the era and studied the period well to make the room as true and authentic as possible.” To furnish the 400-square-foot space with accessories and hardware that would fit the Art Deco theme, Sher contacted antiques dealers throughout the United States and in Europe, and she frequently checked the sales at auction houses.
Sher divided the theater into two spaces: the stairwell and the viewing room. At the bottom of the stairs is a four-piece, book-matched red onyx floor, a stepped-burl ceiling, and a lighted niche that holds a statuette from the Art Deco period. The viewing room’s walls—made from burled walnut with ebony, nickel, gold leaf, and alabaster accents—are covered in part with lambskin in a diamond pattern. Sher designed the furniture, a recliner and a sofa, to resemble models from the 1930s.
“The biggest challenge was hiding all of the sound equipment,” explains Sher, who flanked the screen with two sets of burl baffles that conceal the speakers and placed a pair of subwoofers below the screen, behind a grille that she designed.
To prevent the room from becoming what she describes as “too Disneyland,” Sher says she limited the number of details in the design. “I didn’t want it to look artificial,” she explains. “I wanted it to reflect the craftsmanship and quality of the Deco era.”
Marla Sher Design