Goodbye Ping-Pong, Hello Widescreen Theater
A basement rec room ditches the ping-pong table for widescreen fun.
BRONZE WINNER: Best Before & After
Slideshow and Related Content
View Slideshow

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.

Click here to view additional photos.

Follow Electronic House on Facebook and Twitter.

  Find an Installer
  Find custom electronics installers who provide home theater systems,
  lighting, home automation, A/V and more! Click here to get started.

Arlen Schweiger - Contributor, Electronic House Magazine
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for and Electronic House magazine.

Installer/Equipment List

  Find an Installer
  Find custom electronics installers who provide home theater systems,
  lighting, home automation, A/V and more! Click here to get started.

Systems Design and Installation
Audio Video Interiors
Medina, Ohio

Kasco Contracting
North Ridgeville, Ohio

Runco RS900 projector
Runco Whitney anamorphic lens
Stewart Filmscreen 8.75-foot-wide Electrimask screen

Triad Silver/6 LCR (3)
Triad Silver/4 surround (4)
Triad Silver PowerSub subwoofer

Audio and Video Components
LG BH200 SuperBlu Blu-ray/HD DVD player
Integra DTR-8.8 receiver
Monster Power Pro 3500 Power Center

Other Equipment
Crestron CLS-C6 lighting control
Crestron CNX-B6B keypad
RTI T4 remote control
RTI RP-1 RF processor
Owens Corning 2-inch acoustic blanket
Guilford of Maine fabric
Middle Atlantic rack system
Monster wiring and cable

FREE Charter Platinum Membership
Claim your FREE Charter Platinum Membership to EH Network and receive 6 FREE issues of EH Magazine.*
First Name
Last Name
Email Address

We understand your email address is private. By granting you access to the EH Network, you agree to receive email communications from us, including our newsletters. You can manage your subscription at any time in the future.
* The new EH Network launches and your free subscription begins December 2014.