Cool Homes
DIYer Racks Up Unique Storage System for Home Theater
A little piece of Tom Guineau's home theater is often imitated, but never quite duplicated.
January 23, 2012 by Rachel Cericola

While some DIYers focus on the screen, the seating, and even the candy counter, Tom Guineau decided to add something truly unique to his room. He has a completely handcrafted equipment rack.

It doesn’t exactly have the same flash as other theater components, but it’s become quite popular since Tom started his home theater build in 2008.

When Tom began working on the room, he found that component racks could start at a few hundred dollars. “However, it was not unusual to then spend close to $2,000 or up once you start adding on the ‘accessories,’ such as metal shelves, trim kits, inserts and so on,” he says. “I have champagne tastes on a beer budget!”

Armed with that budget in hand (and pocket), Tom set about to build the rack himself. The end result is a 24U rack that’s 19 inches wide. “My solution attempts to emulate the professional look and features, but at far less cost,” he says. It also has the option to mix and match commercial rack accessories in the future.

It’s nice that Tom has a spot to hold his receivers, Xbox and other components. However, this DIY rack system features the personalized touch of customized faceplates for every component. “The extra step of constructing the faceplates to an already inexpensive standard shelving method allowed for a more professional look, and seems to have inspired other DIY enthusiasts to refine this even further,” Tom says of his creation. With patience, measuring and about 30 minutes or less per plate, Tom created custom plates for his entire rack, for about $5 per piece.

Yes, Tom’s rack is quite popular—even emulated by his fellow DIYers. (“I am quite humbled!” he says.) He documented the entire process, which includes the faceplates, on the AVS Forum.

The rack currently holds two receivers, a Blu-ray player, an HD DVD player, a feedback suppressor, his HD cable box, and the Xbox 360 Elite. It’s a stacked rack, but Tom still has about 5U left over for future use. Those additions and tweaks are easy, thanks to access via the bi-fold doors to the rear of the seating riser. That same area also houses a little extra storage space.

Besides the rack, Tom has plenty of other impressive equipment, which includes a recent Christmas gift of the Onkyo TX-NR609 receiver. The room also has an Optoma DLP projector, a 136-inch DIY screen, and automated lighting, which is controlled through the Harmony 880 and the ISY99IRPro Insteon Controller. Tom did have an electrician friend help with the lighting and wiring. That’s all factored into his room’s overall cost, which he says includes “every crown staple, paint brush, Tylenol and Band-Aid.”

That said, when it comes to the greatest bang for his buck, Tom points to his homemade acoustic panels. “For me, the immediate improvement they brought to the quality of the sound imaging is the most significant feature of the room. I’ve found that this is one of the very first things that guests comment on,” he says. “I readily encourage anyone with an interest in home theater to really consider treating the first reflection points of their space—the tangible impact that this small step provides is truly worth the effort.”

Despite all of the hard work, Tom says that his favorite part of the room is actually the role it plays in his family, which includes wife Roz and the couple’s two sons. “It provides a central place to spend quality time together while ‘shutting out’ the growing distractions and often frantic pace of day to day life,” he says. “It also serves as a perfect place for our kids to invite friends over and entertain while in a safe environment.”

Get a close peek at Tom’s rack system and the rest of his theater room in our slideshow.

About the Project

  • Total Cost: $14,500
  • Location: Victoria, BC Canada
  • Room Size: 12.5 x 20 x 7.9 feet
  • Total Project Time: About 2 years
  • Year Completed: 2008
  • First Movie Watched in the Theater: The Incredibles
  • Favorite Movies: Hot Fuzz and the Star Wars films
  • Other Theater Favorites: Console gaming matches, family photo slideshow, and the occasional episode of The Big Bang Theory.

Equipment List
Aura Sound AST-2B-4 Pro Bass Shakers (4)
Behringer DSP1124 Feedback Destroyer Pro
Brick Furniture Joey Black Leather Sofas (2)
Logitech Harmony 880 Remote
Microsoft Xbox 360
Motorola DCX3200 HD Cable Receiver
Nintendo Wii
Onkyo TX-NR609B Receiver
OPPO BDP-83 Blu-ray Player
Optoma HD72 Projector
Paradigm ADP-170 Surround Speakers
Paradigm CC-270 Center-Channel Speaker
Paradigm Monitor 7 Speakers
Paradigm PS-1000 Subwoofer
Smarthome HotLink Pro IR Repeater & Extender
Smarthome Insteon wall switches & dimmers
Sony STR-DE945 Receiver
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player
TRENDnet TEG-S80G 8 Port Gigabit Switch
Universal Devices ISY-99 IR Pro Insteon Controller
DIY 135-inch Screen

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Rachel Cericola - Contributing Writer
Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at www.rachelcericola.com.

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