Alison Sweeney's living room holds a special secret: It transforms into a theater.
Inconspicuously placed above a bookshelf brimming with family photos, books and awards lies a formidable drop-down projector screen that Sweeney, husband David Sanov and their two children use to catch up on their favorite shows and films.
"We've been known to clear off the coffee table, put out a lot of place mats and eat dinner on the floor," said Sweeney, who recently reprised her long-running role on "Days of Our Lives." "We have a lot of Netflix time in this room."
A vintage-inspired theater popcorn machine, a gift from Sanov, is both a visual piece and adds an extra, fun element to family movie time in the 4,125-square-foot Hollywood Hills home.
The room is accented with equestrian-inspired decor, including a framed portrait of Sweeney's late childhood horse, Ghost, above the fireplace.
Sweeney, 41, is the star and executive producer of the upcoming Hallmark Channel Christmas movie "Christmas at Holly Lodge," premiering Sunday.
Why is this your favorite room?
It's important to have a space where you can sit down and be social together as a family. We took a lot of time and care with this room. I love all the wood in it and the bookshelves. And, of course, the sneak of this room — the drop-down screen.
What's your aesthetic style?
We like the New England feel; we designed a house with that colonial idea in mind.
Did you have a design goal with this room?
With the interior we wanted it to feel warm and lived in. We don't want a house where people are nervous to sit on the furniture or a room that feels like a museum. We liked the open floor plan so all the rooms had to flow together.
Any special history behind the equestrian paintings on the wall?
I bought them with my aunt Jane, who was an interior designer in Connecticut. I've always loved horses, and she helped me learn to decorate the house with things that make it personal. They remind me of a special time with her before she passed.
How do you decorate in here for Christmas?
We have beautiful, old-fashioned stocking hooks for the stockings. I love how they add a touch of antique feel to the Christmas decor. Also the mantel is usually lined with fresh pine fronds — I love the Christmassy scent. And we love to have fires in the fireplace, even if it's not that cold outside.
You're a working mother of two. Any "me time" rituals in here to help you unwind?
I like to read in here in the morning by myself. I take a little time and just sit on the sofa and enjoy alone time after I've gotten the kids off to school.
You have quite a collection of photo albums.
I make a photo album every year of our family, and I keep them in here after they're completed. It's a project I really love doing. I often make books of the trips that we've taken.
You used to host weight-loss show "The Biggest Loser." Can you recommend any easy, at-home exercises for while you're watching TV?
Get resistance bands, or maybe little weights, or ankle weights — I have kettle bells. Also use your own body weight; whether you're watching a show or during the commercial breaks, you can do squats, sit-ups and push-ups for toning and body work.
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