November 16, 2011
by Rachel Cericola
Old kitchen chairs, beanbags, and the dog’s favorite couch don’t exactly make for a killer home theater experience. For that reason, seats seem to be pretty standard when it comes to a home theater. They also seem to be pretty expensive. If you want the perfect audio and video, something has got to suffer, right? Not if you’re handy.
DIYers Mitchell and Sherry Radford currently feature five completely handmade seats in this 23-by-11-foot bedroom theater. Of course, that doesn’t include Mitchell’s prototype or the materials he has to build a sixth seat, if needed.
The idea came about as Radford was building his ultimate theater in a spare bedroom. Like many DIYers, he and wife Sherry had the design and equipment squared away. However, he ran into a snag when it came to the seating. “Originally I had picked out some very nice looking seats made by a large furniture manufacturer that would work great in my narrow room,” he says. “After finding a set on display in a showroom and seeing them first-hand (quality and how they would wear), I was disappointed.”
Naturally, Radford shopped around—only to find that several high-end manufacturers wanted more than the couple was willing to spend. Instead, Radford decided to research how they were actually made. He found a set of photos that covered the entire building process on a manufacturer’s website, and then went about building his prototype
Now, Radford was no stranger to furniture building, but had never done anything like this before. Of course, he still had “the fear of messing up a $200 piece of leather,” he says. The end result, however, is extremely comfortable, as well as affordable. Radford estimates that the cost of each chair came to about $475. This is certainly a nice savings, considering that the chairs they were modeled after start at about $3,000.
Besides the chairs, the room build included plenty of other tweaks and twists. For instance, Radford filled the room’s door with sand as a soundproofing measure. “The soundproofing is actually more to keep the sound inside the house rather than from keeping the sound inside the theater,” he says. “The theater is audible just outside the room, but once you go downstairs to the main part of the house, it is difficult to hear.”
Despite all of his carpentry work, Radford says that his favorite part of the theater is another hand-built item: the HTPC. “I have all my media at my fingertips and with the versatility of it being a PC I can use it for just about anything else audio or video related,” he says.
Although the room has been “fully functional” since May 2011, Radford still has plans for at least one tweak to the automation work for the entrance door curtain. For now, though, he’s completely happy with the room’s nine Klipsch in-wall speakers, the Lutron lighting control, Behringer components, and the Panasonic 1080p projector.
To get a better peek at Mitchell and Sherry Radford’s bedroom theater, as well as the homemade theater seats, check out our slideshow.
About the Project
Total Cost: $15,000
Location: Greenville, SC
Room Size: 23 x 11 feet
Total Project Time: 18 months
Year Completed: 2011
First Movie Watched in the Theater: Star Wars. “It’s a tradition of mine anytime I have a new piece of equipment or setup,” says Radford.
Favorite Movies: “The Lord of the Rings trilogy is up there,” he says.
Other Theater Favorites: Gaming
Behringer DSP1124P Parametric EQ
Behringer Europower EP4000 Amplifier
Direct Logic DO-05 PLC
Fi Car Audio IB3 15-inch Subwoofers (2)
Klipsch R-5650-S In-Wall Speakers (2)
Klipsch R-5800-W In-Wall Speakers (7)
Logitech Harmony 890 Pro RF Remote Control
Lutron Grafik Eye 4 Scene Wall Station
Lutron Grafik Eye 3000 Lighting Controllers (2)
Lutron Grafik Eye External Control Interface
Lutron Grafik Eye IR Interface
Panasonic PT-AE4000 Projector
Pioneer Elite VSX-43TX Receiver
Seymour AV 115-inch 16:9 Screen
Sony BDP-N460 Blu-ray Player
Custom-built Intel i5 Sandy Bridge-based HTPC
Custom-built Theater Seats (5)
Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at www.rachelcericola.com.