A Movie under the Stars in Your Own Backyard

Is there anything more lovely than a warm summer night?

Actually, yes – enjoying an outdoor movie in your DIY backyard theater on a warm summer night.

If you think that building a backyard theater is expensive or exceedingly difficult, you my friend are in for an excellent surprise.

Setting up an outdoor home theater isn’t just easy; it’s fun (and pretty cheap)!  Here’s what you need: a DVD/Blu-Ray player, a projector, speakers and a thin, light colored material with a large surface (I find a white sheet works well).

Oh and I suppose you’ll also need somewhere the put that light colored material with a large surface.

The first thing you’ll need to do is pick a space with adequate room and a nearby power supply. Remember that in addition to your screen and your audience, you’ll need
room for tables to hold the DVD player, the speakers and the projector.

Next thing you’ll need to do is figure out how you want to hang your screen.  One easy way is to place it up against a wall and attach with tape or any other adhesive material.  Or if you’ve got a decent abundance of trees or poles in the backyard, put your old boy scout knot skills to use and suspend it (just make sure to tie down the bottom too so it doesn’t start rolling with the breeze).

Once the screen is up, set up your A/V equipment.  This part should be simple enough provided you know your equipment.  Just make sure to keep all your cables in order.

Once you’ve got everything set up, just set your projector to a point where it properly fits your screen of choice, cook up some popcorn, then lie back and enjoy a great film.

Photo Credit: Jason Gessner

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Tourist Appreciation Day

Sunday May 6 is tourist appreciation day!  Considering New York is one of the greatest tourism hubs in the U.S., let’s have a look at some great buildings every architecture lover should see while passing through the big apple.  While it’s impossible to compile a comprehensive list of all the architectural marvels in Manhattan, this list can help you get started.

The Empire State Building

What trip to Manhattan would be complete without the majestic view from atop the iconic Empire State Building?

Empire State Building

Photo Credit: Jiuguang Wang

The Chrysler Building

Built in 1930, the Chrysler building enjoyed the status of world’s tallest building until 1931 when it relinquished that title to the aforementioned Empire State Building.

Chrysler Building

Photo Credit: David Shankbone

8 Spruce St.

Formerly known as the Beekman Tower, this Gehry piece brings a post-modern flair to the New York Skyline.

8 Spruce St.

Photo Credit: Emmett Hume

The Dakota Building

Completed in 1884, this beautiful Renaissance apartment building on Central Park West is now unfortunately known best as the site of John Lennon’s murder in December of 1980.

The Dakota Building

Photo Credit: David Shankbone

The Guggenheim Museum

This Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece houses a rotating collection of inspiring contemporary artwork.

The Guggenheim Museum

Photo Credit: blink+

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Built in 1878, St. Patrick’s Cathedral is one of the most famous cathedrals world-over.

St. Patrick's Cathedral

The New York Public Library

The flagship building of the New York Public Library system is a gorgeous Beaux Arts style landmark, whose majesty is only matched by the remarkable bounty of knowledge and history residing in its halls.

New York Public Library

What are your favorite architectural landmarks in NYC?  Leave a comment and let us know!

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Can’t Miss Action Movies Summer 2012

Summer is action movie season and it all starts tomorrow with Marvel’s The Avengers.  Read on to learn more about a few more great action movies that will be packing theaters this summer.

Marvel’s The Avengers

Coming to theaters tomorrow, May 4, this super film packs in all your favorite Marvel Super Heroes, including Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Capt. America (Chris Evans) and more.  The gang unites under the leadership of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to take on the Norse God Loki and thwart his plans to dominate all humanity.

Men in Black III

Coming nearly ten years after the release of Men in Black II, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are back with co-stars Josh Brolin, Emma Thompson and Jermaine Clement.  This time around, Agent J (Smith) must travel back in time to save the life of his partner, Agent K (Jones), and the fate of the Earth.  Men in Black III will be released on May 25.

The Amazing Spider-Man

Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is back in a new Hollywood reboot of the successful comic book franchise.  Andrew Garfield will don the tights and swing through the Manhattan skyline accompanied by Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, Spider-Man’s love interest, and Rhys Ifans as Dr. Curt Connors, the villainous mutant lizard.  The Amazing Spider-Man will be released in theaters July 3.

The Dark Knight Rises

Easily the most anticipated film of the summer, The Dark Knight Rises promises to complete Christopher Nolan’s Batman-saga.  Set eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) returns to combat a slew of new villains including Bane (Tom Hardy) and Cat Woman (Anne Hathaway).  Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Marion Cotillard, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt co-star in this A-list feature, hitting theaters July 20.

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Cinco de Mayo Fiesta Tips

Cinco de MayoCinco de Mayo is this Saturday.  Do you have any plans to celebrate?  We certainly do, and we’re happy to share a few tips to help make your Cinco de Mayo celebration the toast of the neighborhood.

But first, let’s learn a little bit about the origins of Cinco de Mayo.

Cinco de Mayo means “fifth of May” in English.  Many Americans erroneously believe that the holiday celebrates Mexico’s independence from Spain; however that holiday is actually on Sept. 16.  Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican victory at the Battle of Puebla, where a small, poorly armed Mexican militia of about 4,500 defeated a well-equipped French army numbering near 8,000.

In the U.S. the holiday is primarily a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage.

Ok, enough learning.  Let’s move on to the fun stuff:

Keep the colors bright (like the above dancer)

Cinco de Mayo is a joyful celebration, so try to use light, jubilant colors.  If you really feel like sticking to a strict theme, try using the colors of the Mexican Flag – green, white and red.

Make Guacamole

There are two reasons why you should serve fresh guacamole at a Cinco de Mayo Party.  1.) It is delicious and 2.) It is very easy to prepare.

Simply take a bunch of avocados, mash them up (without the skin or seeds included, please), and mix in onion, tomato, hot peppers or whatever else you might enjoy.  Serve with corn chips.

Make Maracas

If you’ve got small children or just feel like getting into the arts & crafts spirit, set up a Make-Your-Own-Maracas table.  Just get some paper cups, dried beans, glue, masking tape, and decorative options such as paints, buttons, pom poms, stickers and more.

Put the beans (or any other little noise maker) in a cup, glue another cup on top, tape it up for added support, and decorate however you like.

Make a Piñata

Do you want to get really crafty this year?  Try making your own piñata.  You can find great instructions here on wikihow.

Photo Credit: dbking

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Freedom Tower: A New Giant in the Sky

Freedom TowerYesterday afternoon, One World Trade Center, also known as the Freedom Tower, became the tallest skyscraper in the Manhattan skyline.  Currently standing at 1,250 feet and growing, the tower is set to grow to a height of 1,776 feet before its completion (1776…get it?).

Upon its completion, One World Trade Center will be the tallest building in the U.S….sort of.  408 feet of the building will be tacked on by a giant needle that will rest atop the building’s roof.  If the needle is not accounted for in the skyscraper’s total height, the building cedes the title of tallest U.S. building to Chicago’s 1,451-foot tall Willis Tower, formerly known as Sears Tower.

(Fun fact: the tallest building in the world is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai standing at 2,717 feet tall).

Nonetheless, the modern tower, designed by David Childs and developed by the Port Authority of NY & NJ, still represents a new hallmark of American design and engineering, a symbolic achievement in a symbolic place at a symbolic time in our nation’s history.

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Where Will Entertainment Take You?

Where will entertainment take you?Movies and TV can take you to marvelous places.  From the tops of the Himalayas to the deepest depths of the ocean and even into outer space, entertainment has taken us to places we could only fathom in our wildest dreams.

But you know what’s just as important as a journey – how you get there.  With a Contempo Wall Entertainment Center Wall Unit, traverse the world of entertainment in style.  See pirate ships and space shuttles, rain forests and deserts, grand cities and quiet prairies all from the comfort of your own living room.

Entertainment will take you to breathtaking places. Our wall units will help you get there in style.

Photo Credit: Ambro

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All the Entertainment You Need for Friday Night

The Sawyer Entertainment Center Wall UnitFriday is a great day, isn’t it?  The work week is over and we can all look forward to two days of relaxation.

We all love to relax and recharge the batteries on Friday night, and what better way to do that than with a great movie on an awesome home entertainment center?

At Contempo Wall, we’re big fans of Friday night and we want to make sure everyone can enjoy a night of rest and relaxation in the best way possible.  A sleek, modern home entertainment center will make your TV look great, and we’ve got all the space you could ever need for a Blu-Ray player, videogame system, or sound-system.

Check out our line of entertainment center wall units and TV stands to find the perfect piece for your Friday night.

Pictured Above: The Sawyer Entertainment Center Wall Unit

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Choosing the Right Color

So many choices of colors!Colors set the mood for a room and ultimately decide what that space is really all about.  But when faced with so many choices how can you narrow down your options?  Well, I’m glad you asked.

Create continuity.  Use only a few primary colors throughout the house, but give each room a unique personality with a different accent color.

Speaking of accents, use bold colors primarily for accents.  While they can be
alluring at first, bold colors become tiresome quickly if overused.

Think about lighting in your home.  If you can, try to take swatches home from the store and test out each color in your home during different times of the day.  The colors might not look the same when the sun is shining bright at mid-day as they would when the light slowly fades during twilight.

Ultimately, though follow your gut.  If you know that a color is for you, then it’s for you.  Don’t let picking a color stress you out or intimidate you.  This is your home and your life.  You have to take the reins.

In the meantime, check out Contempo Wall’s selection of colors and finishes.  With all these options, you’re bound to find the perfect color for your home entertainment center.

Photo Credit: Africa

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The Man Cave

A Man Cave for motorcycle loversA fun word has been creeping into the modern vocabulary recently.  The term “man cave” is being thrown around all over the place, and rightfully so.  I mean, if you’ve got the extra room who wouldn’t want a man cave?

Wait, you don’t know what a man cave is?

Ok, well basically, a man cave is a space that a guy makes his and his alone for solitary relaxation or to spend time with his buddies.  Typically man caves feature big couches, pool tables, bars, dart boards, big screen TVs, and more guy things, but really it depends on the man.  For some guys, a work-out room is their man-cave or a little woodshop or (as seen above) a garage filled with motorcycles.

Just think of it as a no-girls-allowed type of club for adults.

Writer and handyman Sam Martin proposes that the man cave is an expression of male identity.  In June 2007, he told the Chicago Tribune the following:

“Men have had an identity problem since the women’s movement. They have tried to figure out who they’re supposed to be. For a while women wanted them to be more sensitive, so they were more sensitive. Then women wanted them to be more manly. One of the things I discovered is when men have their own manspace, what they put inside of it is really an expression of who they are. Manspace is about establishing an identity for a man.”

You know what we bet would look great in any man-cave?  A Contempo Wall Modern Entertainment Center Wall Unit.  Display the big screen TV in style, and with custom storage options ranging as far as the eye can see, we might even be able to make a place to stash a few beers.

What’s in your man cave?

Photo Credit: Jeffrey M. Dean

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We Solve Problems: Modern Home Entertainment Solutions

Modern Home Entertainment SolutionsAccording to Herald-Leader columnist Tom Eblen, “interior design is largely about problem solving.”  Interior designers sculpt spaces in ways that make them more “comfortable, efficient, functional, healthy and safe.”

As furniture manufacturers, we play a big role in that equation, and we try to remain cognizant of it.  Our products aren’t just jewelry for your interiors – they’re more like tools than decorations.  They serve a purpose, and as manufacturers and designers, it’s our duty to make sure that they serve their purpose well.

There is no such thing as design without a purpose, because anything that is well-designed will make some aspect of your life better, no matter how small.  Whether that purpose is to enhance efficiency or simply to create beauty in a place where there once was none, all design has a function.

We know our purpose.  We’re here to solve storage problems and create beautiful spaces for your home entertainment system.

What else do you need?

Pictured Above: The Marco Home Entertainment Center Wall Unit

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