November 30, 2009
by Rachel Cericola
Building a house has its advantages. There are new fixtures, stain-free carpet, and very few renovations needed (we hope). Another nice perk is that you get to wire up an entire theater room from the point of a new construction.
As soon as Shane Holden’s garage walls went up, he went to work. During five weeks of the construction process, Shane worked in the room for five nights a week. During that time, he got to tinker around in his theater at the point that most DIYers only dream about. “I was able to make the room as wide as I wanted and also build the equipment closet in a location that was easy to get to and use,” he says of his garage theater. “Also, since there were no wires or plumbing run, I didn’t have to worry about cutting or avoiding anything major.”
Yes, tapping into pipes is never fun, but neither is drywall. Shane had the contractors take care of that as well. Since he was already paying them, they could do that deed during the day. At night, Shane was busy working on the wiring, the equipment closet, and other details inside the theater.
In November 2006, Shane and his family moved into the house. However, the theater wasn’t exactly ready for its big debut. Now that he was in, he could get to work on the risers. Shane says this is his favorite part of the room, but was also the most difficult part of the project. He started by researching other people’s theaters, finding out what worked and what didn’t. He also added his own twist into the riser, as well as four ButtKicker LFE transducers. “I like to see the reaction people have when it starts to shake,” Shane says. “Also, there’s an overall satisfaction that I did it on my own with no previous experience.”
One of the tips he found that worked well on the risers: hockey pucks. Shane used one puck on every corner to keep contact with the ground to an absolute minimum. “They are basically isolators,” Shane says. “You want the ButtKickers to be able to vibrate the entire riser and not lose its vibration into the ground. The less contact with the ground, the better.” At $2 for each puck, it was a small price to pay for perfection.
Shane tweaked a lot of other items in his theater as well. He doesn’t want to brag about his “modified” gaming setup (since it’s probably illegal). However, it does allow him to play a whole lot of games on his 110-inch homemade screen—one thing he doesn’t mind boasting about. The idea to build the screen was a nice challenge, but it was really all about the cost. For about $100, he bought everything needed, which included some 1x3 boards and blackout cloth.
Now, he has a very unique, very nice screen. “My thought was to make my own screen and use it for a while then upgrade later to a professional screen,” he says. “Honestly, the results were so good with the homemade screen, I decided I would keep it as long I was happy with it.”
At the back of the room, Shane also needed to tweak his projector setup. A recessed shelf was needed to make the distance work. “The projector did not have enough throw distance to make the image on the screen the size we wanted,” he says. “We could not move the back wall another two feet because then our car would not fit in the garage.”
The theater was completed in December 2006, just in time to watch The Polar Express on Christmas Eve. Three years later, Shane is still tweaking, of course. He is hoping for a home theater PC in the future. For the upcoming holiday season, Shane’s wife Doré has given him the thumbs up to add some Blu-ray, so he plans to scour the sales for a PS3.
Still, Shane’s blue theater room makes us green with envy. That unique color is a nod to the home’s location—as well as Shane’s love of the ocean. “I have not seen any other theater the same color, but I am sure there are a few out there,” he says. “I wanted a color people would remember.”
For a closer look inside Shane’s garage theater, view our slideshow.
Location: Holden Beach, NC
Year Completed: 2006
Room Size: 13.5 x 17 feet
Length of Project: 7-8 months
Total Cost: $15,000 - $18,000
Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at www.rachelcericola.com.