Cool Homes
DIYer Transforms Entire Basement
With 1,400 square feet to work with, Bud Ketterl was able to add his dream theater -- as well as a few special features.
March 17, 2008 by Rachel Cericola

When Bud Ketterl started his home theater project, the one challenge he didn’t have was space concerns. With 1,400 square feet to play with, Ketterl’s basement is bigger than many homes. Forget the bed and hot plate; we’d give up a kitchen and other conveniences to pass out in one of his theater chairs every night.

Instead of making one mammoth theater, Ketterl shared his wealth of space with a game room, a bar, a bathroom and a workshop. When all was said and done, wall treatments took away 200 square feet, but no one’s complaining. They are too busy being mesmerized by the perfect party space Ketterl has built. “It’s a great place for the kids and us to have our friends over, whether it be for a game of tennis on the Wii, a family movie or a big sporting event like the annual Super Bowl party we had,” says Ketterl. “It really is a great area to relax and escape to.”

The theater room has six Berkline chairs facing a 104-inch screen. Sneak down to the front, and you can get your candy fix off the theater in the concession area, which also holds games, blankets, a microwave and mini fridge. This is also where the equipment rack lives. 

Ketterl built a small closet in that room, which would allow for a Middle Atlantic rack, as well as rear access to all of the equipment. There’s also a temperature-triggered bathroom fan, which keeps the heat out of the closet.

Beyond the closet is the bar area, which includes a table and spot to lounge. “As with the whole basement, I tried to make it look old and eclectic, sort of like a T.G.I. Fridays,” Ketterl says. “I have a lot of old horror movie posters, old sports black-and-white framed photos, a traffic light, a 1940’s barber chair and a 1950’s working payphone.” Although we might like fries with this (or anything else for that matter), Ketterl’s basement is a bit more elegant than any chain restaurant we’ve ever seen. To tie everything together, he also installed in-ceiling speakers in both the bar and game room, with all of the equipment in the theater’s rack, accessible via an IR-based controller. 

The entire experience was quite a project; Ketterl didn’t do a little at a time. He actually took on the entire area at once. He even archived each section on the AVS Forum, and has an index and 3,600 comments (and counting) that show his work. Ketterl did have some help from friends, his father Al, and father-in-law Jack Scully. However, he had a hand in everything from framing, drywall, trim, flooring and other thankless jobs, as well as choosing and installing all of the A/V equipment. “I tried to pay attention to details,” he says. “Personalization was also a big part to it with my Blazing Ridge Cinema concession sign and marquee done in Photoshop, a ticket window, backlit mylar and poster boxes.”

When it came to the equipment, Ketterl tried to get the biggest bang for his buck. “I didn’t want to compromise quality, but I couldn’t spend a fortune either,” he says. “I tried to spend a little extra where it made sense and tried to make educated purchases.” Of course, much of that education was provided via the AVS Forum.

Since the system has been up and running, Ketterl has added an Xbox, a Wii, HD DVD player, and a slew of accessories. “All of us AVS’ers know it’s never really complete-complete,” he says. Ketterl also plans to add a fiber-optic star ceiling in March.

Quick Hits:
Year Completed: 2006
Room Size: 12 x 19 x 9
Length of Project: 12 months
Total Cost: $18,000

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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

Equipment List

Ascend Acoustics 340 Ses LCR Speakers
Aura Pro Bass Shakers
Berkline 090s w/Power Recline (6)
Buffalo Electronics IR System
Carada 104-Inch 16:9 Criterion Series Screen
Carol In-Wall Speaker Wire
Furman M-8 Power Conditioner
HSU Research VTF-2 MK-2 Subwoofer
Kenwood KR-9030 Receiver
Logitech Harmony 880 Remote
Microsoft Xbox 360
Middle Atlantic 2U, 3U, 4U Shelves & Drawers
Middle Atlantic Slim 5-43 Rack
Monoprice HDMI & Component Cables
Motorola DCT6412 HD DVR
Nintendo Wii
Panasonic PT-AE900U Projector
PCS 6-Button Wall Transmitter
Smarthome PowerLinc Controller (1123CU)
Smarthome SwitchLinc PLC Dimmers (2384W)
Sonance Symphony 622TRs Surround Speakers
Toshiba HD-A2 HD DVD Player
X10 Powerhouse Command Controller (IR543)
Yamaha RX-V2600 Receiver

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