June 09, 2009
by Arlen Schweiger
Rear-projection TV, big cabinet loudspeakers, ping-pong table, foosball table, sports memorabilia, wall-to-wall paneling and fireplace: This Ohio basement’s furnishings made for a sweet all-night hangout.
Sometimes basements need to grow up, though, and this one was ready to graduate. It wasn’t as simple as plopping a screen on one of the walls and adding seats and surround sound, however. “The owner came by our showroom and fell in love with the idea of putting in a theater,” says Joe Calderaro of Audio Video Interiors (AVI) in Medina, Ohio. “We talked about the space and partitioning a wall next to the theater, removing a wall there, adding a back wall, figuring out the orientation of the room … it became a truly new space.”
The well-polished result delivers a classic theater look that combines the latest in home A/V, such as CinemaScope projection, with old touches like natural woodwork.
A beam that ran along the length of the basement serves as the perfect boundary for the theater. AVI reconfigured the space to comprise most of the room to the right of the beam, leaving the remainder as a lengthened basement entertainment area. That involved extending a half-wall to the beam so it could serve as the screen wall, building a wall below the beam to become the theater’s left side, and knocking down a wall outside the theater to conjoin the rest of the basement. A back wall was also framed in front of an existing boundary wall to house the equipment rack and aid in acoustics.
After seeing the showroom demos, the homeowner decided a superwide 2.35:1 aspect ratio screen was this theater’s ticket—a Runco projector and anamorphic lens would rid the screen of top and bottom black bars on CinemaScope movies, and masking could convert it to the 16:9 aspect ratio for HDTV programming. The roughly 9-foot-wide screen required AVI to add depth to the room, hence the reconfiguration, because front speakers in the 7.1 surround system would go behind the acoustically transparent screen for a wider, more realistic soundstage.
To highlight different aspects of the theater, AVI separated the many lighting loads—another change from the one-switch basement. Now the owner can use a touchpanel or keypad to engage the sconces, task lights and can lights of the Crestron iLux system. Bitten hard by the theater bug, the homeowner even pitched in by finding the dark ceiling tiles to accentuate the bright screen image.
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Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.