July 02, 2010 | by Steve Crowe
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Home theater rooms aren’t always part of a new construction project. More often than not, you’ll wind up taking your existing basement, bonus room or attic space and working on a conversion. Of course, the result is worth it for that big-screen and super surround-sound system renovation.
Here are some of our favorite before-and-after rooms.
Garage Becomes Theater:
Turning this three-car garage into a 850-square-foot home theater involved leveling out the concrete floor, adding insulation to the walls and replacing the garage door with Anderson sliders. New electrical wiring, outlets and lighting were also added, and soundproof walls were built around an existing central vacuum receptacle to hide the beast and prevent noise from interfering with the movie presentation.
You could never tell this theater was once a three-car garage. It features a 119-inch Screen Innovations screen, seven Boston Acoustics speakers and four Boston Acoustics subwoofers. A portable Control4 touchpanel gives the owners the freedom to control their A/V equipment — including a Sony 1080p video projector and Denon 7.4 surround-sound system – from anywhere in the room.
The entertainment in this basement once included playing table tennis and listening to tunes out of big ol’ cabinet loudspeakers. This room required some wall removal and wall construction to be reborn as a theater and entertainment space.
Big-screen viewing in the space now consists of an 8.75-foot-wide Stewart Filmscreen CinemaScope 2.35:1 screen, with images fed by a Runco RS900 projector. A panel hides the front channels and subwoofer in the Triad surround system, while rear and side speakers are concealed by acoustical fabric. Toward the rear of the room, the theater’s left side was existing, but a rear wall and right wall were constructed. A door in the rear provides access to the back of the equipment rack. An RTI T4 universal controller commands all the fancy new A/V.
Before Ruben Ortiz transformed his 2-car garage into a home theater, the 15-by-20-foot room housed a lot of old junk. Ruben needed a way to keep the sound from escaping into the neighborhood or into his house. The solution was to create a “room within a room,” using double-layered Sheetrock, staggered studs and insulation. Adding those extra layers led to one of the most challenging parts of the entire project: installing in the ceiling. At first, Ruben wanted 8-foot ceilings, so he made the walls eight feet tall and ran the ceiling joists.
About 110 sheets of drywall, some Green Glue, and a DIY screen later, Ruben Ortiz has one of the best garage theaters (DIY or otherwise) we’ve ever seen. One of Ruben Ortiz’s most challenging parts of his project was installing the ceiling. Once the size was right, he added a homemade starfield.
Indoor Pool Becomes Theater:
The owners of this Wisconsin home converted their indoor swimming pool into an all-season home theater. Many of the pool’s existing elements, like the sloped bottom, the ladder and the steps, were retained to give the home theater a unique look and feel.
Wiring for the audio and video components was pulled through the pool’s existing plumbing systems, and the slope of the pool floor was maintained to create a stadium-style seating arrangement. A 106-inch Draper screen is suspended from the room’s rafters using aircraft cabling. Video is handled by a Marantz projector mounted to the ceiling, and A/V components are stowed inside an equipment rack at the back of the room.
The basement was flooded due to heavy rain and a faulty sump pump. The original goal was to repair the damage in the basement, but they discovered the family’s love of the theater. They gutted the entire room, finishing the transformation in one month.
You could never tell that this theater was once a flooded basement. All the equipment is run by a Control4 system, controlling the lighting and the alert for the doorbell; the lights at the front of the theater flash when the doorbell is rung.
The owners of this 22-by-18-foot space had no intention of updating their 1970s-style basement rec room. They were going to leave it as is, and focus their remodeling efforts on main living areas of the house. But their remodeling plan turned into adding a basement, win cellar, a bar, and billiards area. And because playing video games calls for a completely different room environment than movie watching, they created a special gaming button. The command activates the Nintendo Wii console, lowers the temperature, leaves most of the lights on and pulls motorized masking material across portions of the screen to change it from a CinemaScope size (2.35:1) to a 16:9 size.
The 22-by-18-foot theater features a 122-inch Stewart Filmscreen CinemaScope screen, Planar video projector, Marantz receiver and a Control4 system to control the lights and thermostats and to spread audio and video to speakers and TVs throughout the house. The control system includes a “gaming” button that turns on the Nintendo Wii, lower the temperature and pulls motorized masking material to change the screen from 2.35:1 to 16:9…
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