Make Room for Home Theater
Two homeowners so badly wanted home theaters, they were willing to sacrifice rooms already in use within their homes. Whether it’s a playroom or basement turned bed-and-bath, the desire for a home theater won over in both cases.
In this house the child’s playroom was transformed into space the entire family could enjoy. But this home theater is as much about design as it is about the ultimate multimedia experience. The cutting-edge array of audio/video and home automation gear is tempered by striking architectural elements that reflect the local landscape and geology.
Handcrafted black maple doors beneath dramatic arched frames mark the entrance to the 10-seat theater. The arch theme carries over to the stage area at the front of the room, where it crowns the dramatic cinema-like screen. Hand-cut stone columns contrast with the smooth, polished look of a Rocky Mountain Quartz floor. The 17-foot ceiling fulfills both artistic and functional roles. The ceiling has been lined with sound-diffracting material to control the acoustics of the oversized room.
The installation company, Edmonton-based 360 Theatre Systems, met the homeowner’s request for a modestly priced audio/video/home control system while still delivering a big-impact theater experience. Sherwood audio/video gear provides switching and amplification, and a Sony 400-disc DVD changer serves as the DVD and CD library for both the theater and the house-wide entertainment system.
The big picture comes by way of a Mitsubishi three-panel LCD projector, whose built-in Silicon Optics 10-bit processor scales images to 1080p HDTV resolution without compromising the quality of the original signal.
With simple operation as much a part of the homeowners’ wish list as design and performance, 360 Theatre Systems tapped Control4’s web-based control system for the theater and house operation. A mini touchscreen permits the owners easy access to an evening’s entertainment. One tap of a button dims the lights, powers on the audio/video equipment, arranges the proper settings and volume level, and puts the show into motion. Now that’s what you call family entertainment.
In North Carolina, the owner was combing through an issue of Electronic House when he came across two things that stopped him cold: a to-die-for entertainment space and the location of the company that installed it. MHS Technologies just happened to be in the homeowner’s neck of the woods. So he placed a call, and it wasn’t long before two bedrooms and a bath in his basement were making way for a 22-by-13-foot theater.
It’s always tricky when you’re working with an existing space. In this case, the theater was in the middle of the home, and that required more than the standard amount of soundproofing. “We didn’t want the sound to leak to other parts of the house,” says Charley Dearmin, general manager of MHS, “so we had to insulate the ceilings and walls with a rubber lining and mineral fiber insulation.”
That’s a good thing, because when the homeowner cranks up the volume watching his favorite Western or action flicks, you not only hear the explosions and shots, Dearmin says, you feel them. “The two 15-inch subs in the JBL speaker system have a lot of punch,” Dearmin continues. “When there’s a gunshot on screen, you feel the concussion.”
Sound leakage may not be an issue after all, though, because no one’s likely to be anywhere but the theater when a movie is playing. Eleven comfy seats hold the whole family, including the grandkids, who often provide preshow entertainment on the stage.
The Auralex Starfield ceiling compensates for the 8-foot ceiling height. The stars, fiber-optic strands woven into black fabric, give the sense that the space is much bigger than it is. A LiteTouch control system, working with an AMX touchscreen controller, takes the lights down and brings up the fiber optics for an evening under the stars.
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