May 12, 2009
by Arlen Schweiger
Home theater means different things to different people. To the owners of this New Jersey home theater, the definition was more literal: She looked for the formal, richly designed theater from her childhood to come alive in her home.
“She wanted a very traditional feel to the room, not a ‘media room’ feel,” says Rob Kowalski of Premier Home Theater in Newton, N.J. “We didn’t have the luxury of going way over the top, so we went for a happy medium and created a powerful statement with design.”
The statement comes across colorfully, with burgundies, reds and gold used throughout. Curtains frame the 110-inch screen and adorn the rear entrance to the room because it could not be fully enclosed. You must walk through the theater to enter a dance studio and wine cellar, but the rear curtains make for a lavish backdrop when the daughter has dance practices or recitals in the adjoining space.
Kowalski dealt with the room layout first. It was being used as a passageway to the other areas of the basement, and its configuration required shifting: The width of the space needed to become the theater’s depth. That would allow for a greater viewing distance and tiered seating, a necessity for true theater replication. Premier Home Theater installed two rows of Acoustic Innovations Deco Theater chairs that fit the design, and there’s a countertop and barstools for some overflow seating.
Because the left side of the room is open under an archway, Kowalski installed the surround speakers in the 7.2-channel Triad system within the ceiling soffit. The speakers provide a narrower sound dispersion, Kowalski says, and are aimed toward the seating area.
Front speakers are positioned below the screen, along with one of the two subwoofers; the other is built into the side wall. Some sound leakage could not be prevented, but the insulated soffit, dual-layer Sheetrock and absorptive acoustic panels help keep the audio tight and relatively contained.
The room features one wily element that puts the “home” in home theater: Video from the driveway security camera pops up for about 15 seconds as a picture-in-picture when a sensor is tripped.
“You’re isolated from the rest of the house down there, but you need to know what’s going on when you’re sitting in the theater,” Kowalski says. If the projector happens to be off—perhaps during a dance recital—a WAV audio file provides the alert instead.
Click here to view additional photos.
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.