How to Create a Game Room That Scores Big

A game room is a great addition to any home – especially during this time of sheltering in place. Most people are looking for diversions and entertainment in their own space, and creating a retreat to enjoy your family’s favorite games is the perfect antidote. Whether you are interested in spending game time with your family or enjoying a little solo play, it’s important to do it right. Here are some great tips to make sure your game room has a winning design. 

Pick the Right Room

Ideally, you should have a dedicated space for your game room. You need somewhere with enough room for all your gaming equipment and accessories along with whatever extras you may want to add – such as appliances, for example. Of course, make sure your space is large enough to accommodate your family and – once social distancing has ended – friends. Basements and garages are ideal spaces. However, they may need a “new look” to fit the part of your ultimate game room. 

Renovate & Decorate 

First things first… Clean your space from top to bottom. This is a crucial step if you are renovating a basement or garage. Next, choose your color palette. Decide whether you want a bright and airy space or something more dramatic. You might even consider adding paneling or a wood plank accent wall – a perfect spot for a dart board. If you are passionate about a certain sports team, incorporate the team’s colors and memorabilia throughout the game room. For a more understated space, choose neutral colors and make your room pop with gaming-inspired decor such as posters of your favorite arcade or video games. And, don’t forget about lighting. Choose an inviting mix of different lights to set the perfect ambiance for your room. 

Consider Going Retro

What’s your theme? No doubt, one of the most popular themes for a game room is retro. From old-school arcade games, like Mr. Pac-Man, to vintage signage and posters, to retro appliances, this theme is by far the most fun and nostalgic. And, what better way to enhance your retro theme than to add a Northstar Keg Fridge to your game room? The Keg Fridge is the pinnacle of coolness that will have friends and neighbors flocking to your home to enjoy their favorite beer on tap. Models are uniquely appointed with smooth lines and chrome accents that have given the Northstar line its reputation for being a cut above the rest. Six models are available in nine standard colors. Or, you can match your favorite team’s colors with an almost unlimited selection of custom colors. 

Turn up the Volume (Quietly) 

Soundproofing is a must to get the full experience of a gaming room – not only to avoid disturbing others in your household, but also to improve the sound quality inside the room. Audio enhances the overall gaming experience and soundproofing helps to enhance the quality and clarity. That means more thrills and excitement! Luckily, common household materials such as thick carpets and wall-mounted acoustic panels make for excellent, affordable soundproofing.

Bring in the Gaming Equipment 

Once your room is set up with the perfect decor, it’s time to bring in the gaming equipment. Make sure you take the time to prepare the proper layout to optimize your space and create good flow. From where you place furniture and equipment, to where the cables for your electronics pass through, everything should be in just the right spot to bring out the best in the room’s setting. 

Design Tip: Don’t be afraid to get creative! This is your personalized space where you can enjoy all your favorite games and create new memories with your family. After all, an evening full of ‘fun and games’ is not just meant for kids, and – with your ultimate game room – everyone will be entertained in style. 

Looking for the perfect fridge for your game room or man cave? Check out the Northstar Keg Fridge!

An Island Retreat With a Penchant for Nostalgia

When former CPAs Ben ten Haaf and his wife Keren relocated from Toledo, Ohio to Anna Maria Island, Florida, they set their sights on creating a boutique vacation rental company. Since 1985, the ten Haaf family has had ties to Manatee County (where Anna Maria Island is located), beginning when their grandmother moved to the area, and followed by the arrival of Ben’s parents in 2006. The first cottage, “Flip Flop” was created as a place for family to stay when visiting, and was their first experience with the retro style.

During the economic downturn of 2008, the couple took advantage of the opportunity to buy a group of seven duplex properties located near the Gulf of Mexico. It was the purchase of these properties that resulted in the establishment of their rental company – named Lizzie Lu’s Island Retreat after their first daughter – which they’ve owned for the past seven years.

Says ten Haaf, “We were a young family at the time, with one child, and renovating and renting beach cottages gave us the time we needed to create a better-balanced life.”

Among the available rentals at Lizzie Lu’s are several sets of duplex cottages, which the couple has extensively overhauled, or constructed.

“Our family started 10 years ago with the Flip Flop cottage, and we have continued to try to maintain the ‘Old Florida’ feel that Anna Maria Island is known for. Many of the homes had a very retro, 1970s look – like you were at the beach but stepping back in time. So we decided to keep a nostalgic vintage theme, but refresh it.”

As part of that refresh, the ten Haafs updated the kitchens in each of the cottages. After considering other brands of retro appliances, the couple selected Northstar appliances from Elmira Stove Works.

Limbo Cottage

Added ten Haaf, “We really liked the Northstar line because you could get the whole coordinating suite. We were impressed with the way the line tied together all of the appliances very nicely.”

The couple also appreciated that Elmira offered refrigerators in different styles and sizes, along with all-electric ranges, since they don’t have gas on the island.

Each cottage features a different color theme and is adorned in a mix of soft pastels and sunny hues. Boasting names such as Flip Flop, Gumbo, Limbo, Lemon and Lime, the cottages include appliances ranging in color from Robin’s Egg Blue to Buttercup Yellow to Mint Green, and even Flamingo Pink.

Lemon Cottage

“We enjoy the modern features and functionality of the Northstar appliances. But, most of all, we love the variety of colors and the distinctive styling, including the chrome accents and rounded edges,” noted ten Haaf. “The appliances add a new flavor to a kitchen and create a distinctive focal point.”

Many of the guests who stay at Lizzie Lu’s are drawn to the sense of nostalgia they get when they walk through the doors of the cottages. Not only do the cottages feature retro appliances, but they also include special touches such as 50s style barstools and booths.

“A lot of people come back to stay again and again. Our guests really like the kitchens, which complete the retro look and add to the overall nostalgic experience. The appliances make a statement and help our properties stand out from the other homes in the area.”

Gumbo Cottage

The ten Haafs are in the process of building four additional two-bedroom cottages – Salt and Sand, and two yet-to-be-named properties – each of which will include a full suite of Northstar appliances.

“The design inspiration for the new additions is Key West style, which will be nicely complemented by the retro style appliances,” said ten Haaf.

Offering the perfect mix of modern conveniences and old world charm, Lizzie Lu’s Island Retreat promises a truly unique vacation experience. Who’s ready to pack their bags!  

Learn more about Northstar retro appliances.

On Valentine’s Day, Think Red…and Pink

Red is such an eye-catching color – imagine red stop signs and exit signs, red fire trucks, and even red appliances. They all make you take a second look. This vibrant hue is most often associated with love (heart) and survival (the Red Cross), and symbolizes strength and power. However, it can also be extremely vulnerable.

There is no other time of the year during which red makes as many appearances as on Valentine’s day. From red roses to ruby-hued boxes of chocolate, red captures the day.

Now you might wonder, why would I want to have this color in my kitchen? Aside from the beautiful bold look, red is also known to stimulate the appetite. Think about how many foods we love to eat that are red – apples, tomatoes, peppers, berries, watermelon, and too many others to mention.

Whether you gravitate toward modern, retro, farmhouse, rustic or eclectic style, red appliances complement a wide variety of aesthetics and kitchen designs. You can spice up your space with an Elmira Northstar appliance (or two) in Candy Red or an Antique range in Cayenne Red, which will add the perfect pop of color and bring your kitchen to life. This energizing hue could be just the recipe you’ve been looking for, especially if you use your kitchen to host and entertain.

If red isn’t quite your style, consider red’s softer cousin – pink. This inviting hue is romantic and nurturing without being over the top. There is nothing better than enjoying a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner with that special someone in your kitchen adorned with touches of pink. How about in the winter, walking in the house from the cold weather feeling the warmth from the pink in your kitchen, and making yourself a nice cup of hot chocolate? Pink is soothing and replenishing, and makes a great accent color for any kitchen.

Both red and pink work with a wide range of finishes and colors, allowing you to express your personal style in the kitchen while enjoying a splash of color that will not only brighten your mood but transform your space.

Like colorful appliances, but not a fan of red or pink? In addition to Candy Red, the Northstar line is offered in eight other “not so standard” colors, including Robin’s Egg Blue, Mint Green, Buttercup Yellow, Tropical Blue, Black, White, Bisque and Quicksilver – along with more than 1,000 custom colors. Check out all of our inspiring appliance options.

Taking Cues from a Classic Hue

The Pantone Color Institute has announced its 2020 Color of the Year – Classic Blue, which is described by Pantone as “a timeless and enduring hue elegant in its simplicity. Suggestive of the sky at dusk, the reassuring qualities of Classic Blue highlight our desire for a dependable and stable foundation from which to build as we cross the threshold into a new era.”


A Solid Foundation

In contrast to Living Coral, the 2019 Color of the Year, Classic Blue is at once calming and understated, inviting deeper reflection and opening up to new possibilities. This elegant hue can be incorporated in the home in a number of ways – from subtle accents such as pillows, throws and wall art to more adventurous expressions such as furniture and statement walls.

Cooking up Style

The trend of using color in kitchen design will continue into 2020 and beyond. And, what better way to inject a pop of color into a kitchen space than with a splash of Classic Blue? This evocative shade of blue can be paired with a spectrum of warm and cool hues to create unique color combinations and tonal statements that catch the eye without being too bold.

Adding a range or fridge – or entire suite of appliances – in Classic Blue can transform an ordinary kitchen into a space with take-notice style. Elmira’s retro-inspired Northstar and Antique lines are both available in Classic Blue as a custom color.

Start off 2020 in style with Elmira appliances. Classic Blue not your hue? We’ve got more than a thousand standard and custom colors to choose from to create your dream kitchen! 

‘Tis the Season – Holiday Celebrations Around the World

With the holiday season upon us, many families are putting up trees and hanging ornaments to celebrate Christmas or preparing to light candles for Hanukkah. But, there are many unique traditions celebrated around the world during the winter months. Following are just a few variations on the traditional holiday season.

Night of the Radishes – Mexico
Beginning on December 23rd – and celebrated over the course of three days – Oaxaca, Mexico presents one of the most impressive showcases of carved vegetables in the world. Intricately-detailed miniature exhibits made of radishes, which are grown especially for the event, show the Nativity scene and other events from Mexican folklore. Originally performed by shopkeepers to entice people into their stores, radish carving is now an annual tradition.

Saint Lucia Day – Sweden and Norway
Each year, on December 13th, Sweden and Norway celebrate a festival of lights. Seen as the start of the Christmas season, this festival and feast commemorates Saint Lucy, who brought food and protection during a time of persecution. Girls dress in white gowns and red sashes and wear wreaths of candles on their heads. They visit local hospitals and homeless shelters to deliver treats, while people sing songs and perform group dances in the street.

La Befana – Italy
In Italy, Santa Claus is not the main attraction. Instead, a kind old witch known as Befana distributes gifts. On January 5th, or the eve of Epiphany, parents leave Befana a glass of wine and a plate of broccoli with spiced sausage. According to tradition, the good witch flies around on her broom and enters homes through a chimney, bringing toys, clothing and candy to deserving children. On January 6th, the children wake up to find the gifts in their stockings.

Kwanzaa – United States
Kwanzaa, which means “First Fruits,” is based on ancient African harvest festivals. From December 26th to January 1st, millions of African Americans adorn themselves in special clothes, decorate their homes with fruits and vegetables, and light a candle holder called a kinara to celebrate family life, community and unity.

KFC Dinner – Japan
In Japan, eating Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) on December 25th in place of a homemade Christmas dinner is a longstanding tradition. The fried chicken is so popular that customers are asked to place their orders at least two months prior to Christmas. The feast had its beginnings in 1974 when it was offered to visitors to Japan who wanted a dinner resembling a traditional holiday meal. The idea also appealed to locals, and is still practiced 40 years later.

No matter how you choose to celebrate the holidays, we wish you and your family season’s greetings and good cheer!

A New Twist on Thanksgiving Traditions 

Interesting fact: Thanksgiving, the quintessential American holiday, was first celebrated in Canada 40 years before it became a tradition in the States. Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October.


Every family has tried and true Thanksgiving rituals. Why not “shake it up” a little this holiday season by adding a new tradition (or two) to your Thanksgiving holiday.

Here are a few not-so-typical traditions to consider adopting for a joy-filled celebration.

Enjoy some “me-time” before the festivities.
Whether you’re spending Thanksgiving day with your entire extended family, a group of friends or with your significant other, consider dedicating an hour or so early in the day to enjoy your own company obligation-free. Take a morning walk in nature, enjoy a carefree soak in the tub, or savor a cup of your favorite tea in front of the fire before the hustle-and-bustle of the day’s activities start.

Share a recipe, create a recipe.
Ask members of your family to pull out their recipe collection and share a favorite recipe and an associated memory. Or, leading up to the Thanksgiving gathering, request suggestions for new recipes and then invite the cooks in your family to create a couple of new dishes together on Thanksgiving day. Add the recipes that everyone enjoys to the collection.

Tip: Elmira’s Antique and Northstar appliances are great options for whipping up tasty Thanksgiving dishes.

Set up a wishbone scavenger hunt.
Keep kids of all ages entertained after the meal with a scavenger hunt. Early in the day, ask teens or adults not involved in meal preparation to come up with scavenger hunt clues and then scatter the clues around the house and yard. After dinner, send the kids out to search for the hidden hints, which will eventually lead them back to a secret spot where you’ve stashed the turkey’s wishbone. 

Give thanks in a new way.
At the beginning of the Thanksgiving celebration, hand out notecards and ask your guests to spend a moment writing down what they are thankful for. Once everyone has congregated for the meal, read all of the submissions out load and have guests guess who wrote what. Place all of the cards on a piece of string and display it across the mantel for guests to read at their leisure.

Let the kids handle dessert.
Make kids a bigger part of the celebration by putting them in charge of dessert and coffee after the Thanksgiving meal. Let the little kids take orders for dessert and then have the older kids cut the pie, plate it, scoop the ice cream or whipped cream, and pour the coffee. The younger kids can also serve dessert – don’t forget to tip!

Go for a turkey run.
In preparation for indulging in one of the most memorable meals of the year, find a local “Turkey Trot” to participate in. Even if you’re not much of a runner (it’s only a three-mile run, after all), there is no better way to step out of your comfort zone than in a homemade turkey costume complete with feathers – and bystanders encouraging (or laughing) you to the finish line. Afterwards, go ahead and eat an extra slice of pumpkin or pecan pie – you’ve earned it.

Whatever your plans for Thanksgiving day, enjoy the celebration with family and friends!

A Charming Farmhouse Kitchen Steps Back in Time

The farmhouse trend has taken the interior design world by storm. There are a multitude of ways you can mash upthis style to fit your personal taste – whether you are looking to channel a traditional vintage aesthetic, a more modern look, or something in between.

For Wes Kestermont, President and CEO of Laurel Mountain Structures in Ebensburg, PA, farmhouse decor is much more than a trend – it’s a way of life. He realized that he had a love for farms when he started working at a local dairy farm at just 12 years old, where he was taught by local farmer Ava Berkey “to appreciate the land and animals for which we are just stewards while here on this earth.” Now, Kestermont is the proud owner of a farmhouse that was built in 1890 and was an active horse farm until the early 1960s. 

When updating their kitchen, Kestermont and his wife Tricia wanted to stay true to the integrity of the period in which the home was built. In addition, they wanted their home to reflect the humbleness of the farmhouse design, which embraces simplicity and functionality with a relaxed, down home feel. “We were told the house originally had an old black cookstove in it and wanted to create a similar look in the renovated farmhouse kitchen,” says Kestermont. He and his wife selected farmhouse inspired appliances from Elmira Stove Works due to their superior quality and attention to detail. Notes Kestermont, “We went with an entire suite in the Black/Bisque color combination to create a two-tone look that really enhances the rustic character and style of our home.” 

The Kestermonts couldn’t be more pleased with the way their kitchen turned out. “When guests visit our home, they say it’s like stepping back in time, and what makes the Elmira products so unique is the fact that they take people back to a time when things were simpler.”

As functional as it is beautiful, the kitchen is regularly put to good use. Says Kestermont, “Tricia loves to bake apple dumplings with the double convection ovens. Each fall, she bakes hundreds and then turns her focus to Christmas cookies.”

Elmira Stove Works appliances make it easy for homeowners to re-create styles from yesteryear without sacrificing the modern amenities to which they have grown accustomed – from ranges, cookstoves and woodburning stoves to refrigerators, wall ovens, microwaves and dishwasher panels. Learn more about Elmira’s line of farmhouse appliances.

Banish Boring Beige with Take-Notice Kitchen Designs

Looking to refresh your kitchen? Ditch the stainless steel appliances and endless rows of vanilla cabinets. Instead, join the latest kitchen trend – using color, color and more color!

Increasingly, homeowners are spicing up their kitchens and adding personality by incorporating vibrant, fun hues. Check out this basement kitchen design with a classic diner feel. The nostalgic look – anchored by retro appliances in rich royal blue – serves up design elements such as beveled-edged countertops, soda fountain style barstools, checkered tile and plenty of shiny chrome accents. Anyone else craving a root beer float?

Don’t know where to start with your kitchen design? The first step is to pick a theme. The homeowners who brought to life the kitchen below went with a colorful 60s vibe. The retro-inspired appliances in Robin’s Egg Blue, butcher-block countertops, vintage style lighting and psychedelic accent wall definitely make a statement, earning this kitchen the highest marks for originality – and personality.

Once you have a theme in mind, select your appliances. They will serve as the foundation for the kitchen and can help guide the rest of your design. Nadia G, actor, chef and punk singer, really knows how to show off her rockin’ personality in the kitchen created for her Cooking Channel show, Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen. The expressive design highlights retro style appliances in Candy Red paired with unexpected elements such as a zebra-print floor, “upholstered” cabinets and an extra helping of rivets and metal hardware.

Finally, pick out some accents to complement the appliances and realize your vision. Some of the best pieces can be found at local antique markets or thrift stores. Add a few quirky touches – or many, as seen in this eclectic kitchen – to show off your personality. Here, a bubble gum pink, 1890s-inspired stove is surrounded by blocks of green, blue, orange, yellow and more pink, while funky knick-knacks such as a replica VW Bug, vintage cookie jars and a ‘teacup’ chandelier add a whimsical feel to the space.

Though your style might not be as bold as this homeowner’s, it’s easy to create a kitchen that showcases your personal design aesthetic. Just remember to pick a theme, select appliances, and then add fun touches to round out the design. The only limit is your imagination!

For more design inspiration, follow @elmirastoveworks on Instagram, or visit www.elmirastoveworks.com.

Americana Road Trip – Get Your Kicks on Route 66

Summertime offers the opportunity for travel and exploration, and is the perfect time for a road trip. Route 66 is one of the most popular – and photographed – cross-country road trip destinations in the United States.

This iconic roadway spans 2,400 miles and eight states, and was the first all-weather highway in the United States. As John Steinbeck wrote in his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Grapes of Wrath,” Route 66 was “the mother road” in the 1900s and played a significant role in the transportation of hundreds of thousands of Dust Bowl Migrants.

After 59 years of operation, the Federal-Aid Highway Act instituted America’s 47,800-mile Interstate Highway System, leading to the decommissioning of Route 66. Although the iconic highway was officially shut down in 1985, travelers from all over the world continue to set out on the original highway route, exploring some of the most unique attractions in the nation.

If you ever plan to motor out west, consider stopping at these favorite highlights on the ultimate Americana road trip. As Dinah Shore belted out in a television commercial for Chevrolet, “See the U.S.A. In Your Chevrolet” (or your vehicle of preference).

Following are four “can’t miss” stops along the famed route.

The World’s (Second) Largest Rocking Chair in Fanning, Missouri

It all started on April Fools’ Day in 2008 when a local general store owner, in an effort to increase traffic to his archery and feed store, erected an oversized rocking chair. At 42 feet, 4 inches high and weighing an impressive 27,500 pounds, this Paul Bunyan-sized rocker set a new Guinness World Record for the largest rocking chair in the nation. The behemoth rocker was knocked out of its No. 1 spot on August 25, 2015 by a 56.5-foot-high version in Illinois. Soon thereafter, the rocker was painted red and is now known as “The Route 66 Red Rocker.”


Oklahoma Route 66 Museum in Clinton, Oklahoma

This stop may not have existed until after the highway was decommissioned, but it is considered one of the best ways to experience the culture and unique offerings of Route 66. Oklahoma Route 66 Museum takes visitors on a nostalgic journey that explores the history of the nation’s most beloved highway. From learning about the Dust Bowl to enjoying sounds of the Big Band era to enjoying a meal at the 1950s-style diner, the museum has something for everyone. And, make sure to check out the “world’s largest curio cabinet” full of items ranging from original road signs to full-sized gasoline pumps.

Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas

Designed as a tribute to the evolution of the Cadillac tail fin, Cadillac Ranch was created and built by a group of artist hippies from San Francisco, who called themselves The Ant Farm. Ten Cadillacs – from the 1949 Club Sedan to the 1963 Sedan de Ville – were half-buried, nose down in the dirt facing west in a line, leaving their tail fins proudly on display. The creators wanted the art installation to be an interactive monument that let people express themselves. Over the years, visitors have been encouraged to use the cars as a graffiti canvas, and today, all that remains are their time-worn frames, splattered in bright paint.

Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In in Seligman, Arizona

Located in Seligman, Arizona, along one of the most extended stretches along Route 66, sits an eccentric diner owned and operated by the Delgadillo family. In 1953, Juan Delgadillo, with the help of his father and brothers, built the Snow Cap out of scrap lumber that Juan had collected when he worked for the railroad. To create more interest in the restaurant, Delgadillo sliced the roof off of a 1936 Chevrolet, and then adorned the car with paint, horns and automotive emblems. A visit to Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive delivers a hefty dose of Americana, including the vibes of a retro diner that serves up menu items such as “cheeseburger with cheese” and the “dead chicken.”


Fun Fact: When the idea for the Cars movie first came up, filmmaker and animator John Lasseter drove the route and learned as much as he could about its history. Inspired by his trip, Lasseter ended up incorporating a number of the locations in the movie!

So, if you’re looking for the quintessential cross-country road trip experience, look no further than Route 66. Sit back, buckle up and enjoy an adventurous ride!

To echo Nat King Cole’s popular song, aptly titled Route 66:                                                                    

If you ever plan to motor west,
Travel my way, take the highway that is best.
Get your kicks on route sixty-six.

A beloved family cabin gets a “rustic retro” facelift

Nestled in the lushly forested area of Roberts Creek in British Columbia, Canada, the “Cheeky” Cabin features an eclectic mix of styles and motifs anchored by a retro style kitchen designed by the Emerge Design team.

The cabin, part of a larger property, was an addition to the ‘Sandy Castle’ cabin, which was constructed in 1943 by the homeowner’s grandparents. Over the years – various parts of the property were passed down to members of the homeowner’s family, and in 1989, her parents renovated the Sandy Castle cabin and added a separate garage, which became the Cheeky Cabin.

The original decor in the cabin was very dark and had lots of antiques as the centerpiece. The homeowner was looking to transform the cabin into a fresh and bright space while still maintaining the cozy cabin feel. The goal was to lift the mood in the room and make the cabin a welcoming, enjoyable retreat for any season.

In order to revamp the unique home, the design team took their cue from the homeowner’s diverse style. Her openness to different colors and themes gave the designers lots of options when it came to creating the kitchen.

“We were very inspired by our client’s fun, adventurous spirit and curiosity for life, which set the tone for the design process,” said kitchen designer, Gwyntie Van Tuyl.  “We found a vintage stove and then decided to build the kitchen around that using Elmira’s retro style appliances. To complement the existing color palette, we chose Northstar appliances in Robin’s Egg blue, which really brought the whole look together while adding a wonderful pop of color.”

The project was a true collaboration with the owner and showcased her approach to style in a fresh and unexpected way. Says Gwyntie, “We took our time when designing the cabin, which was completed in less than a year. The focus was on having a good time, and the final result reflects that.”

The end result was a cabin that artfully mixed 50s style with rustic cabin style. Adds Gwyntie, “We love the Robin Egg’s Blue Northstar appliances that we used to create a beautiful retro feel in this amazing spot, and the homeowner was thrilled!”

Incorporate Elmira Stove Works appliances into your kitchen design renderings! Elmira Northstar and Antique appliances are catalogued on the 2020 Design 3D CAD cloud platform.