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When a home is blessed with a 400-square-foot lanai decorated with lush landscaping and a luxurious swimming pool, what else could possibly be incorporated into the space? Does a 180-inch screen for an outdoor theater come to mind? It did for this Florida homeowner, so he called Mark Bolduc of Wicked Smart Homes in Sarasota, Fla., to make it happen.
While outdoor theater installations are always more complicated than indoor installations, this project was especially challenging. The lanai is protected by a metal bug screen supported by a steel frame. Because of the triangle shape of the area and the placement of the pool, the only spot to put the screen was in the far point of the lanai. This location dictated that the projector would have to shoot 30 feet across the pool, and the screen would need to be supported by the lanai’s steel frame.
Bolduc called Stewart Filmscreen for help, and the company designed a custom screen solution. “We had to call in some structural engineers for this,” says Bolduc, “to make sure the frame could support the 300 pound motorized screen.”
Bolduc selected a Digital Projection M-Vision Cine 400 DLP projector for its superb picture quality and ability to project a bright image across a long throw distance. The projector is built into a soffit area on the house, and benefits from the home’s air conditioning system to keep it cool.
The homeowner wanted the lanai to look lush and relaxing, and not be cluttered with electronics, so Bolduc used Terra AC outdoor speakers for the front channels with a partially buried Terra subwoofer. “The sub really changes the whole dynamic of the space,” says Bolduc. “We think highly of those.”
For the surround channels, Bolduc went with Niles surface-mounted speakers. All of the audio is powered by an Anthem receiver. You’d think that getting audio properly adjusted in such an acoustically awkward space would be difficult, but Bolduc notes that the room correction features built into the Anthem unit did an excellent job of making the sound pristine.
In addition to the main screen area, there are two other entertainment zones outside.
In an outside kitchen with a large gas grill, a 46-inch Sony TV is complemented by more Niles speakers. A patio nook has another Sony TV and speakers. All three entertainment areas can be operated as separate A/V zones or they can all play the same content simultaneously via a Crestron Digital Media controller.
Every part of the system can be controlled from the owners’ iPads via a Crestron app or a waterproof Crestron UFO remote that can float in the pool.
The home does have a high-end indoor media room, complete with Paradigm speakers, a 70-inch smart TV, Anthem audio and Crestron control, but the lanai theater is the showpiece. “When the screen is down you can see it from inside the house, and it’s kind of a dramatic show,” says Bolduc. Like a lot of Sunshine State residents, the outdoors is one of the most important parts of the home for this owner, and why so much attention was put into making it awesome.
More home theater ideas here:
Front Projection Basics: Your Ticket to Home Theater Nirvana
Great Basement Home Theaters
Home Theater Design: Let Your Imagination Run Loose
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. His latest book is Necessary Myths
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.