Basement Home Theater Screen Bursts Into LED Color
Minus windows and away from living quarters, unfinished space lets homeowner live out his home theater dreams.
June 04, 2012 by Lisa Montgomery

Jared Kroff couldn’t help but build a theater in his 5,300-square-foot home in Riverton, Utah. An unfinished space underneath the 3-car garage offered a near-perfect environment for serious big-screen movie viewing.

“There were no windows so we’d be able to keep the room really dark,” says Kroff. Plus, at 700-square-feet, there would be plenty of space to fit in a mega-size screen and lots of speakers and seats. “The fact that entire room—the ceiling, floor, and walls—was concrete made it ideally suited for a home theater, too,” says Kroff. “We’d be able to watch movies at reference volume without hearing so much as a rattle anywhere else in the house.”

First, though, the area, which was basically a “cement box,” says Kroff, would need to be framed. For this part of the project he hired local contractor Silverhawk Construction, who for reference used plans drawn up by Kroff in Google Sketchup. “I could export 3D diagrams with measurements for the builders to follow,” says Kroff, “and it allowed me to envision how the space would look.” The build-out would also involve running high-voltage and low-voltage cabling, installing an entirely new heating/cooling system, and building a multi-tier riser for 12 theater seats.

Once the build-out was finished, Kroff took over, adding a 166-inch, Center Stage XD, CinemaScope-format screen from Seymour AV, a 7.2 THX Ultra 2 Surround-Sound system from Klipsch, a Grafik Eye lighting control system from Lutron and several components from Marantz

One of Kroff’s priorities was keeping the floor clear. “Since we have young kids, we thought it would be better to place the speakers where they’d be safe, like behind the screen.” A 4-foot passageway which was constructed during framing, contains the front three speakers and two subwoofers, which fire through the acoustically transparent fabric of the home theater screen. The entire wall behind the screen is covered in fabric wall panels—also acoustically transparent—from Acoustimac.

One Kroff’s favorite purchases, though, was an LED light kit from LED Wholesalers, which he bought online from Amazon for about $25 per 5 meter reel. He ran the LED strips around the perimeter of the ceiling, and along the steps and riser. The kit came with an infrared remote which the homeowners could use to change the color of the lights, and Kroff added a Music Controller, which enabled the lights to pulse and change color with beat of the music.

Tip: If you’re installing long runs of LED strips, be sure to have your electrician install plenty of power outlets—a powered amplifier is necessary about every 5 meters.

Although the kit was simple to use, Kroff opted to unify the LED lights, incandescent lights and all of the A/V equipment under one main control device. His choice: his iPod touch via an Logitech Harmony Link app. This app allowed Kroff to design his own movie scenes, where the lights and equipment would react to one command issued by from the Link app. For example, a “Welcome” scene powers up the Panasonic projector and Marantz receiver, and plays a random selection of movie soundtracks stored on a USB stick that’s plugged into a port on the Marantz receiver. In this mode, most of the lights turn on then gradually dim when the “Movie” mode is engaged. Even the lights inside a specially constructed equipment closet get into the act. “I had some extra LED strips so I lined the rack that holds our media gear,” says Kroff. If the Xbox is selected from the Harmony Link app, the media cabinet lights turn green then blue when the Blu-ray player is activated.

Check out pictures inside Jared’s home theater here.

Details
It took Jared Kroff 3 months to complete the project
He spend $35,000 on the room build-out and furniture and $15,000 on the A/V equipment
His favorite part is being able to use his iPod touch to control the lights and A/V equipment.


Equipment
Seymour AV 166-inch, 2.35:1 Center Stage XD screen
Acoustimac acoustical paneling
Panasonic AE7000 projector
Marantz AV7005 preamp/processor
Marantz MM7055 power amp
Marantz MM7025 power amp
Panamax UPS and power conditioner
Klipsch THX Ultra 2 speaker system
Panasonic BT-210 Blu-ray player
Xbox 360
iPod touch with Logitech Harmony Link app
Lutron Grafik Eye lighting system
LED Wholesalers LED light strips
Apple Airport Extreme

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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.

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