Exhaustive barely begins to describe the labor of love that went into this home theater. It wasn’t even supposed to be a dedicated theater, because the three large windows along the back wall led the owners to believe such a transformation would not be possible.
That’s not what home theater designer Tyler Worthington thought when he inspected the room, however. He noticed that it already had two layers of sound isolation material and dedicated power circuits for A/V gear, because the previous homeowners had used it as a basic theater room. “The owners originally just wanted to replace the equipment and add some cheap speakers and a projector,” Worthington says.
“We told them we can throw some equipment in there and they’ll have a nice multipurpose TV-viewing room… or we could build them a world-class theater.” The owners chose option B. They then gave Worthington free reign over the room, with the only real directive of making it look grand. “They were more concerned with the opulence and extravagance than the A/V performance,” says Worthington. “The priority was definitely the ‘wow factor,’ and every person who walks in there, their mouth drops.” The finished product—gold-leaf ceiling stenciling and stucco texture were added later—is the result of more than 1,200 hours of craftsmanship, according to Worthington. This included multiple design concepts, detailed millwork, six layers of Venetian plaster, hundreds of hours of artistic faux finishing … and the A/V and controls installation.
The biggest obstacles, Worthington admits, were the rear windows. The installation team assured that people looking at them from the outside would see nothing out of the ordinary. From inside the theater room, however, there are no signs that windows exist—they were wrapped in special unidirectional (UD) fabric drapes, framed and boxed in behind a solid wall, and then covered with hard plastic sound diffusors. “We not only blacked out the windows, but completely isolated and blocked them in. It would take someone about four hours with a crowbar to break through them,” says Worthington.
Worthington did all of the carpentry himself, while artist Steve Ereig painstakingly worked on the Venetian plastering and Cheri McClung added the faux finish. The multiple layers of plaster created a less reflective surface that would not hinder images from the projection screen.
Although it’s not isolated in a basement or upstairs room, the theater certainly stands out from the rest of this single-story, horseshoe-shaped, 6,000-square-foot house. That’s part of the wow factor, and it also works for practical purposes. “The living quarters are completely on the other side of the house, so you could have a movie on at full volume and never hear it at the other end,” Worthington says. “It’s a fairly ordinary house [relative to the theater room’s opulence ... it is still 6,000 square feet], and there’s nothing extravagant about the architecture—until you walk to the far wing where the theater is, and that’s part of what blows people away.”
Systems Design and Installation
Worthington Entertainment and Automation
Cheri and Co.
Final Touch AV
Los Angeles, Calif.
Systems and Equipment
Screen: Screen Research
Speakers and subwoofers: JBL Synthesis, Velodyne
Amplification and processing: Anthem
Equipment rack: Middle Atlantic
18 x 24 x 10 feet
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Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.