Racks & Mount
Out of Sight Home Theater
Electronics and aesthetics don't often go hand-in-hand. This owners of this featured home found a way to hide the home theater.
The team of Mark Mable, Frederic Paradis and Brian Gibson of Elite Media Solutions of Wellesley, MA, helped the Copelands make their electronic decisions, such as having this 50-inch Pioneer plasma TV in the master bedroom. Talk about suite! Photo by Tony Scarpetta.
February 01, 2006 by EH Staff

Some people spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on home theater systems, automated lighting control and other electronics throughout their houses. For Mark and Michelle Copeland, though, the cost of a house full of electronics was entirely reasonable.

The interior of the couple’s new Colonial in Newton, MA, includes dual home theater systems in the family room, another system downstairs in the kids’ playroom, a plasma-based TV in the bedroom, a couple of smaller flat-panel TVs, a whole house lighting system and an extensive telephone/intercom system.

All this didn’t come about without some compromise. For example, says Mark, “We just tried to incorporate things we thought would be cool but not get too crazy. Some people put in all this stuff and never use it.”

The most visible compromise is in the Copelands’ family room. Michelle wanted a big fireplace, and Mark had big plans for that space as well. “I really wanted a home theater,” he says. “I wanted one that could be used at night but not where we’d have to leave the main gathering area of the house. I can’t stand going into a dark room and watching TV.”

Michelle had a concern about a home theater in the family room, though. “I didn’t want a big screen and all that stuff visible,” she explains.

As the couple debated about what they could do in the family room, their builder, Bill Foley of CM&D Corp., put them in touch with Elite Media Solutions of Wellesley, MA. The installation company suggested hiding a motorized screen in the soffit of the tray ceiling, so the screen would only come down when they needed it. The couple was also concerned about placing a projector on the ceiling or having it rise out of a coffee table, so Elite came up with the simple solution of placing it inside a cabinet in the back of the room. Sonance’s Ellipse in-wall speakers, which offer the performance of rectangular in-wall speakers and the stealth of round in-ceiling speakers, were placed in the soffits in the front and back of the room. An Optoma DLP (digital light processing) rear-projection TV is used when the big-screen isn’t needed and stays visible because it doesn’t deter from the decor. It uses its own DVD player and HD satellite receiver with a built-in TiVo digital video recorder. So the compromise solution was a family room home theater with two video systems—both of which can be operated by the same remote control.

Three’s No Crowd
There’s also a 17-inch Panasonic LCD TV mounted on a swivel arm in the kitchen, which is adjacent to the family room. “We had a great Super Bowl party with three TVs going in one area,” Mark says. “The projector is pretty bright, so having some lights on didn’t wash out the picture on the big-screen. I’m also a big basketball fan, and I had all three screens on at once to watch the March Madness [collegiate tournament].”

Michelle is more inclined to watch the 50-inch Pioneer plasma monitor that’s mounted on the bedroom wall. And off the bedroom is a sitting area with a computer workstation and a 20-inch LCD TV so Mark or Michelle can stay up late without disturbing the other.

The kids use the home theater system in the basement, which features an older Pioneer rear-projection TV that was in the old house and represents a cost savings. The family also gets a lot of use out of the Lightolier whole house lighting control system, which features programmable scenes and the ability to shut lights off from the Theater Master remote controls. And they love the Panasonic whole house phone and intercom system. “Michelle saw that a friend had this Panasonic phone system that was incorporated into her doorbell, had intercom capability and so forth, and she really wanted it in our house,” Mark says. “Just to be able to ring the kids for dinner or hear who’s at the door and talk to them without shouting is great. And we’ve noticed the kids transfer calls around and sometimes use it to talk to each other while in bed.”

Including the telephone system was a turning point in establishing this electronic house. “I really didn’t have plans to incorporate the plasma screen and lighting system,” Mark says. “I was afraid that Michelle and the kids would have a hard time working this stuff. My mind started to open up to some of the possibilities once I knew Michelle was willing to incorporate such a complex phone system into our house.”

According to Michelle, the phone system did require some training, but she’s accustomed to it now, and Mark hasn’t received any calls at work about how to turn something on.

And what did they pay for all these electronic conveniences, for which others shell out well into the six figures? Mark says about $60,000 to $80,000, which is a pretty good bargain, considering all the audio/video systems, lighting control and telephone system in their new home. It seems their sensibility in choosing only the electronics that they would use may have been the best compromise of all. EH

Equipment List

    Family Room
  • Runco VX1000D DLP projector
  • Stewart 110-inch FireHawk retractable screen
  • Denon 2910 DVD player
  • DirecTV HD TiVo receiver
  • Onkyo TX-SR700 receiver
  • Sonance Ellipse 2.0 in-ceiling speakers
  • Sonance Ellipse SUR in-ceiling surround speakers
  • Boston Acoustics PV700 200W subwoofer
  • Theater Master MX-800 remote control
  • Remote control shades System 2
  • Optoma 50-inch RD50 DLP rear-projection TV
  • Sony DVP-NS575P/B DVD player
  • DirecTV HD TiVo receiver
  • Kitchen
  • Panasonic 17-inch TC-17LA2 LCD TV
  • Sony DirecTV satellite receiver
  • Remote control shades
  • Master Bedroom System 1
  • Pioneer 50-inch PRO-1120 plasma TV
  • Sony DVP-NS575P/B DVD player
  • DirecTV HD TiVo receiver
  • Theater Master MX-800 remote control
  • System 2
  • Panasonic 20-inch TC-20LA2 LCD TV
  • Sony DirecTV satellite receiver
  • Basement
  • Pioneer PRO-610 rear-projection TV
  • Panasonic RP-91 DVD player
  • Denon AVR-2805S receiver
  • Polk Audio RM20 5.1 home theater system
  • Whole House
  • Lightolier Multiset lighting system
  • Panasonic KX-TA624 whole house phone system
  • Linksys router
  • 2 Linksys wireless access points
  • Cat5e cabling throughout the home for wired and wireless networking

Electronics Design & Installation:
Elite Media Solutions, Wellesley, MA

CM&D Corp., Wellesley, MA

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