Home Entertainment Options For Every Room


From bathrooms to bars, home entertainment no longer requires a dedicated theater.

Whether it’s a family room, kitchen, bath, or even the backyard, there’s always room for home entertainment equipment.

Oct. 18, 2007 — by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Do you love your dedicated home theater but aspire to bring entertainment options to other rooms in your home? It is possible. Here are some stylish, high-tech spaces that will motivate you to come up with ideas for your own home. Just keep an eye on that budget.

Curling Up in the Living Room - View slideshow
You don’t need a dedicated room with formal rows of seats to have a home theater. Any family room will do. And for some, the more casual the seating, the better.

This 50-inch Panasonic plasma HDTV is at the perfect height for viewing movies and HD programming in 1080i resolution. Above the plasma TV and hidden behind the grilles are three small Energy bookshelf speakers for the front channels, while the two Energy surround speakers are on stands in the back. Two Acoustic Energy subwoofers provide the bass from locations on each side of the couch.

“The Acoustic Energy subwoofers have a lot of punch, and that makes up for the small size of the Energy speakers in filling this room with sound,” says Rod Dykstra of design and installation firm Station Earth in Fergus, Ontario.

The only other piece of audio/video gear here is the Rotel DVD player, located below the TV for convenience when inserting a disc. All the other gear needed for audio/video enjoyment, including a Rotel preamplifier and amplifier, is in a rack behind the TV in the adjoining room. The rack slides out, allowing service access to the back of both the components and the TV.

A Vantage/Legrand control system is used to operate systems throughout the house, with an Elan whole-house audio system. In this room, the owners can press entertain on a Vantage keypad when entering the room, and the motorized shades descend, the lights dim, and the TV and audio system come on. If they forget to do that, they can trigger the same effect by pressing watch tv on the Universal Remote Control MX-3000 all-in-one remote.

Playing in the Rec Room - View slideshow
As if a billiards table isn’t enough entertainment in this room, there’s also a 42-inch plasma screen and in-ceiling speakers so players never miss a moment of the big game.

The Samsung plasma screen and a pair of Paradigm speakers don’t provide the sole audio/video entertainment in this space, though. The owner can call up any DVD from a Sony 400-disc DVD player in the adjacent home theater or from one of the other audio/video components. Or he can order up some music from an XM satellite radio tuner or his own computer that serves as a media server on his home network.

He can also use the plasma screen as a computer via a wireless keyboard and see video feeds from cameras around the house. If someone rings the front doorbell while he’s enjoying a game of nine-ball, the telephone emits a distinctive ring, and he can check to see who it is by having the feed displayed on the TV. The telephones also function as an intercom system throughout the house.

All this is possible with a Control4 home control system that uses IP to bring together the operation of audio/video, security and other systems over what is essentially a computer network with high-speed data wiring called Category 5 (the same cabling you use for high-speed Internet access).

Three- and six-button touchpads in the room give the owner control of the lights via the Control4 system, and there are some preset lighting scenes that raise or dim the lights. The Control4 system also integrates the operation of the heating and ventilation system. All systems are operable via a wired Control4 touchscreen.

When it’s time for some drinks, there’s a refrigerator beneath the plasma screen.

No matter what pool players want to do in this room—whether it’s watching the big game or a movie or listening to some music—they can call their own shots.

Retiring to the Bedroom - View slideshow
First it’s an ordinary master bedroom; then it’s a media room. The owner of this luxurious master suite relished the idea of watching TV in bed but didn’t want a bunch of electronic equipment intruding on the room design. With that in mind, the installers at Florida–based Criteria of Naples designed a system that would transform a 61-inch plasma TV into a work of art whenever the owner wasn’t watching a movie or TV program on the screen. A beautiful frame was wrapped around the TV to finish off the look.

On command from a Crestron touchpanel, a painted canvas rolls down from a slim housing within the frame to completely cover the surface of the display. Later, the owner can use the touchpanel to power on the TV and 5.1 surround-sound receiver. From there, he can access his 1,200 DVDs, thanks to an Escient DVDM-300 Media Management system. The DVDM-300 organizes the DVDs into categories and displays them on the screen, taking the trouble out of finding the perfect flick for the evening.

The owner can darken the room without ever leaving the bed by pushing just a couple more buttons on the touch panel. One command lowers a series of motorized shades over the windows; another command fades out the lights. And, if the owner needs to take a bathroom break, there’s a smaller LCD TV in the bathroom that can play the same movie that’s on the bedroom set.

Cooking in the Kitchen - View slideshow
He likes classical music. She likes jazz and blues. So when it’s time to cook up some tunes in their spacious kitchen, these Ontario homeowners enjoy an eclectic electronic stew.

The musical ingredients are sorted by an Elan Via!dj music server located in an equipment rack outside the kitchen. The rack stores the couple’s wide-ranging music collection to a 400-GB hard drive for instant access and organizes his and her titles according to each person’s tastes.

Finding the right stuff is made even easier by the 12.1-inch wireless Vantage/Legrand touchpanel sitting on the countertop. Vantage is known for its lighting control, but the system can control everything, including the Elan whole-house audio system. “The Elan-Vantage combination has been flawless, and the Vantage system is very robust and requires minimal programming,” says John Stumpf of the installation firm Station Earth in Fergus, Ontario. “They wanted control over everything and wanted a simple interface.” An intuitive layout on the touchpanel allows them to access music, control the lighting and perform other functions in their home with ease.

The system goes one step further, automating the lights and music to each person’s personal preference when he or she comes home. When he pulls up to the gate, his classical music comes on in the kitchen and lights are lit if it’s dusk. When she arrives home and her garage door opens, Miles Davis or John Coltrane fills the kitchen.

The music is piped in through five Elan in-ceiling speakers. Two pairs are flush mounted over the kitchen’s work and sink areas, and a single speaker is centered over the breakfast nook. This dual voice-coil speaker, as it is called, contains two tweeters that play on separate channels, so it sounds like two speakers.

When the couple wants to watch TV, a 23-inch Sony high-definition LCD is available. It is cantilevered on an arm, so it can swing out and face the eating area. The TV speakers can be used, or sound can come through the five in-ceiling speakers. And instead of scrolling through hundreds of stations, icons to change to the couple’s favorites are a touch away on the Vantage screen.

Below the TV is perhaps the most important piece of equipment: a cappuccino machine. In the future, a wine-management system called eSommelier will enable the couple to view the inventory of their extensive wine cellar on the Vantage touchscreen.

Soaking in the Spa - View slideshow
What happens when the owner of this elegant bath enters his relaxing escape? Certainly, bathing and shaving and the like. But there’s much more. By putting a finger to the AMX 7-inch in-wall touchscreen, he can access his large collection of eclectic music that’s stored on his iPod, call up a TV station on the bath’s 26-inch LCD screen, or watch a show recorded on a DVR (digital video recorder) system.

The iTunes music from the owner’s iPod is routed to the luxurious bath from an iPort system in another part of the house. The owner simply docks his iPod there, and the music is available via the AMX home control system.

The music comes into the bathroom through two 6.5-inch Boston Acoustics in-ceiling speakers. When the TV is turned on, that audio is automatically routed through the speakers instead. The two speakers provide plenty of audio for this bath space.

The 26-inch LG LCD HDTV has a 720p resolution and is located on the wall opposite the mirror. The owner can turn on the news in the morning and see it in the mirror. Alternatively, the LCD can be turned 190 degrees so it can be viewed from the stylish tub, which is actually inside a turret with windows overlooking California’s Santa Monica canyon.

The owner can access TV programs recorded in other areas of the house, thanks to a TiVo-like housewide DVR system. And the AMX touchpanel can display views from three surveillance cameras. The owner can see what’s happening around his property without ever leaving the comfort and seclusion of the master bath.

The DVD player and other sources are located in a closet in the great room, which helps keep the bathroom clear of electronic clutter.

Taking it Outside - View slideshow
In La Quinta, CA, golf is a way of life. To hone his putting skills and give his kids a chance to pick up the sport, the owner and his wife had their own green installed. But there’s more to do than swing a club in this outdoor living space. Beneath an enormous covered patio are a dining area, a barbeque setup loaded with top-notch appliances, and a media area featuring a 40-inch Sony 1080p LCD TV. The display is tucked into cabinetry and mounted on a pull-out swivel bracket on the wall above the fireplace. Four ceiling-mounted Bay Audio speakers accompany it.

The family can pick from an assortment of video components that are installed in a rack inside the house. By pressing buttons on a portable AMX Modero touchpanel or an AMX MIO DMS keypad, the owners can cue up programs on high-def cable, movies stored on an Xperinet media server or film from a standard DVD player. The choices are displayed on both the screen of the touchpanel and the TV. The RNX design and installation team categorized the movies to make it easier for the family to find a particular flick. Music is an option, too, as an Audio Design Associates A/V distribution system pipes tunes into the space from an Apple iPod, laptop computer, music server or AM/FM tuner. Whether the entertainment comes in the form of a movie or a song, the audio signals can be distributed to every speaker in the backyard, including Sonance landscape rock-style speakers positioned around the swimming pool and putting green. Music and movies are important to the enjoyment of this outdoor living space, but so is convenience. RNX


Living Room
System Design and Installation
Station Earth
Fergus, Ontario

Rec Room
System Design and Installation
Valley Home Theater & Automation
Dublin, CA 94568

Master Bedroom
System Design and Installation
Naples, FL

System Design and Installation
Station Earth
Fergus, Ontario

System Design and Installation
Beyond Home Theater
Santa Monica, CA

Outdoor Space
System Design and Installation
RNX International
Indio, CA

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