Home of the Year Awards 2010
A Playroom Grows Up
Home theater marks the end of a family room’s evolution.
October 14, 2010 by Lisa Montgomery

A 50-inch TV suited the owners of this drastically renovated space just fine for several years. “The kids used it to play video games with their friends,” reports custom electronics (CE) professional John Vandruff of Vancouver, Wash.-based Electronic Essentials. The room also sported bean bag chairs and beige walls.

But kids eventually grow up, and so do their entertainment tastes. The gaming rec room that once kept the teenagers of the house occupied for hours now went empty and unused most of the time. “The family was no longer going here to watch TV or movies,” says Vandruff.

That’s when they knew it was time for an update—one that would involve a complete overhaul of the room. Nothing would go untouched. The structure, the wiring, the audio/video equipment—it would all be updated to support a high-caliber home theater system.

The finished space is a dramatic departure from old room, both in its entertainment prowess and its design. There’s a 115-inch CinemaScope screen, a Runco projector and an Integra 9.1 surround-sound system with built-in RBH speakers. The seating layout is completely different, as is the color scheme and decor. From top to bottom, the room underwent a major structural and technological renovation. It had to, says Vandruff, given the family’s request that it provide a true theater experience.

Before any equipment could be specified or installed, though, the room itself had to be remodeled. Walls had to be built and doors had to be closed off. Shades had to be installed over the existing windows and sliding glass doors. Risers had to be constructed to hold two rows of custom United Leather seating—enough room for 13 people. An electrician had to rewire the room to accommodate new light fixtures and a Lutron Grafik Eye lighting system. New carpeting was laid and acoustical paneling installed onto the surface of the walls.

Normally, a design makeover this extreme would take months. Electronic Essentials helped finish it in just a few weeks.

“We were given a very tight timeframe,” says Vandruff. “The room is part of the home’s main living space, so the family didn’t want to be disturbed by the construction for too long.” CAD drawings created by Electronic Essentials streamlined the process by showing the homeowners how the finished room would look. If they didn’t like a certain shape, color or design, Electronic Essentials could change it on the fly via a few keystrokes on a computer keyboard. “It took several meetings and 3D renderings before the final design of the room was approved,” Vandruff recalls.

During remodeling, which was performed by Shafer Inc., a custom home builder and remodeler, Electronic Essentials fished the necessary cabling for the A/V equipment. Nine RBH speakers and Velodyne subwoofers were planted into the walls other structures; a Runco Cinewide DLP video projector was mounted to the ceiling; and a 115-inch Stewart Filmscreen Micro-Perf screen was recessed into a newly built false wall.

A preexisting cabinet at the back of the room was modified to accommodate a variety of entertainment components, including an Integra surround-sound receiver, Samsung Blu-ray player, Velodyne amplifier, Vudu movie player, Escient Fireball DVD manager, Sony DVD mega changer, DirecTV satellite receiver, Microsoft Xbox, PlayStation 3 and APC power conditioner.

The final step was programming the RTI handheld remote. Electronic Essentials created a button to represent each source in the cabinet. “The owners just touch whatever source they want, and the RTI system sets up the appropriate gear,” Vandruff explains. It’s simple yet sophisticated, proving that even in the world of home entertainment things do get better with age.

 

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Lisa Montgomery - Contributing Writer
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.

Installer, Equipment List

Systems Design and Installation
Electronic Essentials
Vancouver, Wash.
www.electronic-essentials.com

Equipment List
Runco RS900CW DLP Projector with Anamorphic Lens
Stewart Filmscreen SNDQ115FG3WMX 115” MicroPerf 2.35:1 Screen
Integra DTR-8.9 AV Surround-Sound Receiver
RBH SI-760 In-wall Speakers (3)
RBH MC-6 In-wall Speakers (6)
Velodyne SC-15 Sub-woofer
Velodyne SC-1250 Sub-woofer Amp
Samsung BD-P1600 Blu-ray Player
Vudu XL HD Movie Player
Escient Fireball MX-311 DVD Manager
Sony DVP-CX777ES DVD Mega Changer
Microsoft Xbox 360 Game System
DirecTV HR23 HD-DVR Satellite Receiver
APC H15BLK Power Conditioner
Ixos Cables & Banana Plugs
Planet Waves Custom Cables
Chief Projector Mount (Ceiling Plate, Down Rod, Mount)
RTI T3V Remote Control
RTI RP6 Remote Control Processor
RTI RM433 Antenna
United Leather Custom Theater Seating (13)
Middle Atlantic AX-SXR Rack with Custom Rack shelves
Linksys EG005W Gigabit 5-Port Switch
Lutron Spacer System Lighting Control
Custom Built Acoustical Wall/Ceiling Panels


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