But that was just part of the galactic extravaganza. With the help of Orren Pickell Designers & Builders, of Lake Bluff, Ill., the Howatts created a one-of-a-kind room modeled after Darth Vader’s Star Destroyer vessel, with angled walls, spaceship-like details on the ceiling, stadium seating for 12 and hand-painted murals of ships and planets.
It’s the ideal space for the couple’s “Star Wars” parties, which start with breakfast followed by a marathon of all six movies.
“There is nothing quite like being able to stay home and have a movie experience that is far better than going to the theater,” says Kim Howatt, a computer programmer like her husband.
“You can show up late, you can hit ‘pause,’ you can serve adult beverages. The only thing that would get us out to a public movie theater now would be a seventh ‘Star Wars’ movie.”
The Howatts aren’t the only ones cocooning in a specialty room at home. Such personalized spaces go beyond the typical private gym, home office, indoor pool, wine cellar or billiard room.
There’s a laundry area turned into a dedicated puzzle room, for instance, a wall rejiggered into a climbing wall, and tasting rooms for sushi or tequila.
Here are a few more signature rooms that raise the bar for personal space:
There’s no waiting for lanes if you can spare around $100,000 – the average price for two lanes of a regulation-length bowling alley, including setup, from United Bowling Worldwide in Yulee, Fla.
For $30,000, you’ll get all used equipment; for $175,000 or more you’ll get the most lavish.
Setup can include everything “right down to the bowling shoes, just like a regular bowling alley would have,” says Matthew Claxton, the company’s vice president.
Why would homeowners knock down walls when there’s a bowling alley a mere car ride away?
“Because they like to go bowling but don’t want to deal with the hassles of going out in public,” says Claxton. “Because it looks classy and adds to the home value. Or maybe because they are big socialites and like to entertain guests.”
Room to meditate
Time was when someone might create a place to meditate with some floor cushions, a CD player and fragrant candles.
Lori Dennis, a Los Angeles interior designer, said she frequently gets asked to design something quite different: chic, very expensive meditation rooms. Ones with “expensive luxuries like $200 per yard fabric, custom meditation benches, custom wall murals in gold leaf paint, cashmere hand-knit throws and accessory art in the $10,000s.”
She has designed a shower with a view of the Pacific Ocean, exotic veneers and a Venetian glass vessel bowl.
“This is because meditation and chanting is a big deal in Hollywood,” Dennis says. “The most sought-after chant and meditation leaders, like Deepak (Chopra), are invited to head up small parties of important people in these spaces. It’s a new way to hold an exclusive power meeting.”
On their farm in Grundy County, Ill., Ernie Lindsay, a retired automotive components engineer, and his wife Nancy, a homemaker, enjoy collecting vintage diner and gas station memorabilia – so much that they spruced up an unused area over their garage and turned it into a 1950s diner.
The diner also functions as a “lobby” where guests can congregate at a mini-bar and watch on a flat-screen monitor the same movie playing in the Lindsays’ adjacent home theater.
With its 1954 Seeburg jukebox, transistor radio, neon signs and old-time black-and-white tiled floor, the diner, completed by Barrett’s Technology Solutions in Naperville, Ill., fairly recalls the set of “Happy Days” or “Grease.”
Pull up to the dinette table, and you’re back in the day of the drugstore soda fountain.
“There is no better experience than a banana split served in a ’50s-era glass boat,” says Lindsay.
Let the good times roll.