When the owners of this theater began laying out plans for a 2,000-square foot addition to the upper level of their house, they knew they wanted part of that space to go toward an entertainment room. Exactly what kind of entertainment room, they weren’t sure.
“He was leaning toward just hanging a plasma on the wall, but she wanted a screen in the 100-inch range,” says Murray Kunis of Los Angeles-based Future Home, the firm hired by the owners to guide them through the process. Also in question was how elaborate to make the decor. “Their initial design criteria was to keep the room extremely simple,” says Kunis. “They figured why to go the trouble when you’re going to have the lights off anyway. Plus, that would leave them with more money to spend on the gear.”
In the end, the couple agreed to go big—incorporating a 12.5-foot wide Stewart Filmscreen screen into the 425-square-foot room, and did a complete 180 with their plans for the decor. After visiting private theaters of some of Kunis’ other clients, the couple realized that there would, in fact, be many times when they’d watch the screen with the lights on—like during sporting events. At that point, “the design took on a life of its own,” says Kunis.
Inspired by the architecture of the buildings she had seen during her many trips to Italy, the lady of the house began collecting molding and other details to work into the room design.
With each new piece she brought home, the room changed, says Kunis. “The project may have taken a little longer to complete than had we followed a solid plan, but there were advantages to doing it the way we did.”
For starters, by choosing the elements of the decor themselves, the homeowners didn’t have to hire an interior designer. The decision making was a little simpler, too. “She’d really do her homework before bringing something to the project, which made it easy for us to quickly respond to the changes,” Kunis says.
While the decor may have been in a state of flux, Kunis and the homeowners never wavered from their ideas on how to modify the structure of the room. Framing was already complete when Future Home was hired, and the contractor had inadvertently created a few obstacles for the custom electronics pros. For starters, there was a bay window planned for the back of the room—a big no-no for a dedicated home theater where the video quality benefits from a dark environment. “We ended up sealing it off and using the space for storage and a soffit for the video projector,” says Kunis. “We took something that could have been a negative and turned it into something positive.”
The 9.5-foot ceiling was another issue. Had Future Home been involved in the project during the framing stage, it would have suggested a height of at least 10 feet to more comfortably accommodate a ceiling mounted video projector and tiered rows of seating. The homeowners got both, thanks to creative placement of the projector and the other room elements. The framing also left little room to build in a rack of audio/video components, so Future Home placed the equipment in the adjacent home office. “It ended up being the perfect spot,” says Kunis.
In the end, this theater may look a lot different than what the homeowners had originally envisioned, but even the plasma-touting husband is pleased with the results. “He probably uses it more than anybody in the family,” says Kunis.
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Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.