When the Lowes step into their theater, sometimes they don’t even bother to turn on a movie. There’s just too much other eye candy to savor besides the 125-inch screen.
Designed in an Art Deco style, the 330-square-foot space is embellished from top to bottom like a 1930s movie palace. Remarkably, nothing was ordered from a catalog, came from a store, or was pulled out of a box. Each piece, from the 8-foot DVD storage cabinet and the comedy and tragedy wall ornaments that flank the screen, to the umbrella-shaped wall sconces over the doors and the ornate medallion-shaped chandelier was hand-constructed from MDF board and finished with enamel and latex paint. “The only store I stepped into to get my supplies was Home Depot,” says theater designer Mario Sorrentino of Marioarts in Roseville, Calif.
Sorrentino represents a unique niche of home theater specialists who focus solely on the decorative aspects of a room. “I’ve been an artist, a sculpture and a furniture builder all my life,” he explains. “Creating unique environments for theaters was a way for me to branch out and redefine my craft.”
The Lowes’ Art Deco space is just one of many theme theaters Sorrentino has designed for clients. He’s done everything from sci-fi to the Wild West. “If we ever run across a client who’s thinking way outside the box, we’ll usually call in Mario,” says Brian Smith of El Dorado Home Theater in El Dorado Hills, Calif.
Smith and El Dorado Home Theater owner Chris Shine have no problem sharing the limelight with Sorrentino. “Our philosophy is that a home theater should be a getaway, something special and completely different from the rest of the house,” he says. “If that means bringing in a designer, we’re happy to do it.”
For the Lowes, the Art Deco theme was a huge departure from the more traditional decor that comprises the balance of their house. They embraced the concept, though, and after reviewing a few conceptual drawing from Sorrentino, gave him total creative liberty on the architectural details. He admits that the room could be considered a bit over the top, “but in true Art Deco design, if there’s a bare spot, you’ve got work to do.”
The architecture and decor may have been Sorrentino’s main focus, but those additions were made with complete deference to the audio and video demands of the space and the client’s budget. For example, to prevent light from interfering with the video presentation, he built hinged fabric covered doors to cover each of the three windows in the room. The made-from-scratch proscenium beneath the 125-inch Da-Lite 2:35:1 high contrast CinePerf screen holds a variety of audio and video components. And while Sorrentino would have preferred to recess the surround-sound speakers in the wall, he understood that the freestanding Dali models would provide the homeowners with a better audio experience.
Both Smith and Sorrentino admit that such an over-the-top theater like the Lowes’ is not for everyone. For starters, it can be costly. About half of the $150,000 budget was spent on the room design. For creative-minded clients like the Lowes, however, the details are what make their theater truly one of a kind.
Click here to view additional photos.
Follow Electronic House
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.