Big Home Theaters in Small Spaces


Two creative design teams were able to fit Runco DLP projectors into the home theaters.

How two homeowners overcome their space limitations and build a pair of elaborate home theaters.

Sep. 20, 2007 — by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

It’s a dilemma many of us face, getting the most out of our living space.  And that can be an even bigger obstacle when building a home theater.

Our first homeowner was forced to deal with a small room made even smaller by low ceilings. The other had to construct the theater without it disturbing the adjacent master bedroom. Fortunately both were able to find the right designs.

If the space doesn’t fit the theater, try digging deeper. That’s the strategy Murray Kunis of Future Home took with his California home theater project.

Illusion is everything in home theater, so creating the sense of an open room despite low 8-foot ceilings was Kunis’ first move. “I convinced the homeowner to cut the slab at the front of the room so we could drop the seating for tiers,” Kunis says. “That made the front of the room taller.”

There was another issue. The room serves as a pass-through between rooms in the lower level of this three-story house. Theater designer Theo Kalomirakis of TK Theaters created a room within a room, keeping the three rows of theater seating within a visual space defined by ornate columns. He designed walkways outside of the theater area to allow for a clear runway between rooms. Another Kalomirakis coup: The structural beam in the ceiling disappeared, thanks to the new elaborate design.

Kunis went high-end for the projector and sound system. The Runco VX-2D is a special-edition projector offering high-grade lenses and the quality of a three-chip DLP design. “We went with this one because there are no artifacts with the three-chip DLP and because it’s THX certified for digital cinema,” he says.

JBL Synthesis got the nod for the 7.1-channel sound system. “There are only a few reference-grade systems out there,” Kunis says. “It plays very loud and we [use] it for people who want a true theatrical presentation.”

The theater’s impressive equipment rack is six feet away in an adjacent room. There, the homeowners can access all the audio/video gear while whirring fans keep the hot-running DLP projector cool. Kunis wouldn’t have it any other way: “We want our clients to focus on the performance of the theater and not have the technology interfere with the space.”

Installing a home theater next to a master bedroom can be a recipe for waking nightmares. Preventing those bad dreams in one southern California retrofit was the first priority for electronics installation firm Audio Images.

Audio Images called in Anthony Grimani, president of Performance Media Industries, to tailor a sound isolation solution for the theater overhaul. Grimani plugged the leakage paths by reconstructing walls, installing a floating ceiling and reducing vibration transfer between rooms.

The theater’s scalloped ceiling serves as part sound absorber, part diffuser, and Grimani prescribed acoustical treatments for the walls, including absorbers, diffusers and bass traps. All acoustical materials are hidden behind stretched fabric on the walls and ceiling. Add a little noise control for the adjacent furnace, air ducts and projector fans, and all’s quiet in the bedroom—even when the theater is cranked.

The stunning woodwork in the theater is the most impressive feature of the space, according to Audio Images president Mark Ontiveros. Because workers were unable to alter the framing of the room, installers elected to mount the projector in the master bedroom closet. Utilizing a closet shelf is a fairly standard solution for a projector installation, but Ontiveros hit a snag when he proposed renting out permanent shelf space for the Runco piece. “The wife didn’t want to give up any closet space for the projector, so we had to mount it into a soffitt and install a fan to keep it cool.”

When it’s not a theater, this 10 seater is a karaoke joint. Audio Images wired the karaoke music server into the sound system and included multiple microphones. Whether it’s a theater or karaoke house, it’s a great place for entertaining.


Future Home
Los Angeles, CA

TK Theaters
New York, NY

  • Runco VX-2dc DLP Projector
  • Runco DHD Digital Video Processor
  • Escient DVDM 100 DVD
  • Management System
  • Sony 777 ES DVD Changer
  • Hughes HD10-250 HD TiVo Recorder
  • Marantz DV 9600 DVD Player
  • JVC HRS 5912 Super VHS VCR
  • Speakers
  • JBL Synthesis II Main Speakers
  • JBL Synthesis S4A Surround Speakers
  • JBL I 18-inch Subwoofer
  • Electronics
  • JBL Synthesis Amplifiers
  • JBL Synthesis Digital EQ
  • Other Equipment
  • Crestron ST 1700c Wireless Touchscreen Controller
  • Panamax M 5500 AC Power Conditioner

Audio Images
Tustin, CA

Acoustical and Engineering Design Performance Media Industries
Fairfax, CA