Photography: Lydia Cutter

Audio/Video + Lighting: Case Study

Lounge Act: Vicky Lal takes inspiration from a resort vacation in designing a chic lower-level entertainment center

A vacation in St. Tropez inspired Vicky Lal’s fun and glitzy basement entertainment center. “We went to a lounge and I fell in love with the look,” she recalls. So she came home and embarked on an elaborate project to renovate the lower level of her Potomac house.

With the help of architect Nate Penati, Lal conceived a series of spaces that would include a home theater, bar, dance floor, wine cellar and billiards area. “We wanted a place to hang out and entertain family and friends,” Lal says. “I talked to my kids and husband about what they wanted and we started from there.”

In the home theater, a 7.2 surround- sound system with a 120-inch projection screen is backlit by LED lights. Gaming systems are embedded under the screen, and club-grade, in-ceiling speakers are faux-painted to blend with the ceiling. The audio and lighting systems are controlled with a hand-held remote as well as an iPad mini that hangs on one wall.

The semi-circular bar is fully stocked; it pairs glass tile and quartz countertops for a sleek, contemporary look. A wine cellar includes a comfortable tasting area. Custom banquettes scattered about the basement provide extra seating and stools at the bar beckon. A plush carpet unifies the space. Illuminating the bar, home theater and dance floor are neon lights that can be changed out, with “a rainbow of colors to choose from,” Lal says.

RENOVATION ARCHITECTURE: Nate Penati, AIA, LEED AP, Studio 76 LLC, Oakton, Virginia. INTERIOR DESIGN: Vicky LaI, Vicky Lal Design LLC, Potomac, Maryland. CONTRACTOR: Edgar Gonzales Remodels LLC, Frederick, Maryland. AUDIO/VIDEO SYSTEM: National Technology Integrators, Rockville, Maryland. PHOTOGRAPHY: Lydia Cutter.


  • When undertaking a substantial basement renovation, hiring an architect and interior designer will yield the best results.
  • Careful space planning is crucial to make the most of your renovation.
  • Have something you’re inspired by to help bring a mood to the space. In my basement, the carpet was a crucial design element; fun yet sophisticated, it set the tone for the design. We also added to the mood with controllable colored lights embedded within and around the ceiling.
  • When choosing a projector for a home theater, go with something that comes from a reputable source.
  • If possible, install an audio and light system that is controllable through a hand-held remote—the ultimate in convenience and luxury.