House Beautiful isn’t just a magazine; it’s a way of life for Joon Lee. His stunning Silicon Valley home has an equally stunning home theater. It did cost him a pretty penny—a lot of them, actually. Despite a few hired hands and a lot of free advice, Joon was able to tackle much of this massive project by himself.
When it came to construction, Joon called in a pro. His contractor built the semicircular 16-foot-wide stage, the soffits and the columns. After all, Joon needed to sleep at some point. By day, he was busy launching a vineyard and his business, Cora Vina Wine. Most of the work would need to be done night and on the weekends, and that wasn’t all that easy, since he and wife Claire were dealing with a newborn.
Yes, his screen, seats, receiver, and the rest of the lot weren’t the only new bundles of joy in his life. Cora was a new addition to the family—and as far as we know, she had no knowledge of running wire, calibrating equipment, or installing acoustic treatments.
Photos: DIYer Delivers 212” Screen with Seating for 22
Thankfully, Joon does. At times, he did need advice and a bit of nudging, so he would post questions and progress reports in his lengthy, heavily watched AVS Forum build thread (and his own thread there goes on for dozens of pages). It made sense that he would need help here and there. This wasn’t just a huge financial investment; it also took up a lot of his time and living space.
Joon actually started work on this room back in 2003, when the home was first being built. He worked with an architect to make sure that the theater room was designed perfectly. In the end, the room was built about 1.5 feet lower than the other rooms on his home’s second level. Also, the way the space was designed created natural theater seating risers. By the screen, the ceiling is 12 feet high; at the back, it’s 10 feet. This allows for three rows of seating, for a total of 22 guests. In an effort to make the seats a throwback to old-school theaters, Joon asked Claire’s aunt to upholster 20 of them by hand. Each one is adorned with crushed red velvet and reclines for comfort. However, if you want the real VIP treatment, ask to sit in one of the two “money seats” in the center of the second row. That’s not to say that each seat isn’t a good one. The 24 tactile transducers in the floor seem to shake out any complaints.
One of the advantages building a theater during a home’s construction is that Joon could keep three of the room’s four walls away from the house. The one that’s actually connected features three sets of walls and doors to buffer the noise from the living space. Other acoustic treatments include columns with acoustically transparent fabric faux-painted to look like wood. Speakers are hidden inside those columns, as well as in the soffits. There’s also strategically placed reflectors and absorbers in the walls, which are hidden by the rich brocade fabric. “At 0 THX reference volume, you cannot hear the sound from anywhere else in the house,” Joon says.
Naturally, the room includes a lot of A/V goodies, such as a custom-built 2.35:1 screen that measures a whopping 212 inches (diagonal). His home theater PC (HTPC) can hold 2TB of content, which allows Joon to stream about 200 DVDs, music and photos. All of that content runs throughout the house via Windows 7 netbooks, Xbox 360 consoles, and Linksys DMA2200 Media Extenders, as well as the 40,000 feet of wire Joon ran through the house, with help from his father. Five 200-disc DVD changers are daisy-chained to the HTPC for an additional 1,000 high-def DVD options.
Also, if the room isn’t dazzling enough, you can look up at the starfield ceiling, which features about 1,000 points of fiber-optic light. The Milky Way, multiple constellations with the astrological signs of his family, and two shooting stars stretch across the width of the ceiling.
Of course, the fun doesn’t stop once the projector goes off. Outside of the room, there’s a lobby, complete with a candy counter, popcorn maker and poster marquees. There’s also an adjacent game room, with a bar, pool and foosball tables, video games, and two 10-person poker tables. Klipsch THX Ultra2 speakers are sprinkled throughout the level, with access, via an HAI system, to security and other whole-house features, including Internet, audio, sprinklers, lighting and other A/V components.
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Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at www.rachelcericola.com.