Safety First in Basement Theater Design
Hatches, doorways and removable paneling provide access to critical components in this home theater.
FINALIST: Best Home Theater $50,000-$100,000
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June 24, 2009 by Lisa Montgomery

Basements are a prime spot for home theaters. They’re away from the rest of house so you can decorate them as you like and crank the audio without bothering anyone. They’re also a blank canvas, giving you and your contractor the liberty to build them out however you want. On the flip side, there’s always a possibility that the room could flood, and with few (if any) windows or doorways, it could be difficult to escape the room should you need to leave the house quickly. 

These were a few of the concerns Ryan Herd of 1 Sound Choice faced when building and designing a home theater for clients in northern New Jersey. While most of the newly dug basement’s water issues stemmed from poor grading on the exterior of the house, Herd installed a sump pump and sealed the concrete walls and floor with Drylok masonry paint for extra protection.

Still, accidents do happen, and in the event that water did seep into the basement, Herd wanted to be sure that the homeowners could get to the source of the problem quickly. Cleverly designed hatches and doorways became his weapons of defense. For example, the tiered features a hatch that opens should the homeowners need to get to the concrete surface in the event of a flood. A door built into stage beneath the 119-inch Screen Innovations screen, meanwhile, provides quick and easy access to the sump pump that Herd installed there.

Access to the home’s plumbing system and wiring was also considered during the build out. For this, Herd designed 4-by-8-foot panels for the ceiling that could be easily removed one piece at a time. Made of acoustical material and finished with fiber optic lights, the panels also help soundproof the room and provide a decorative touch. A larger acoustical panel on the wall pops off to reveal a window that can be used as a fire escape.

Off course, Herd didn’t forget about access to the theater equipment. The audio and video components, as well as lighting and home control processors, are tucked inside Middle Atlantic racks that can be rolled away from the wall, and the ceiling soffit that houses a Sony VPL-VW60 video projector was fitted with a small hatch that give Herd and his crew access to the unit’s circuitry and wiring.

Despite all the precautions, Herd plans to implement other safety features, including water sensors that will alert the homeowners that second moisture is detected, and a surveillance system that will allow the family to monitor the front door and other areas while they’re tucked away in their theater.

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Lisa Montgomery - Contributing Writer
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.

Installer/Equipment List

System Design and Installation
1 Sound Choice
Pompton Plains, NJ

Sony VPL-VW60 projector
Peerless PRG-UNV projector mount
Screen Innovations TR 119 Maestro screen
Denon AVR-430CI receiver
Russound R235LS 2-channel amplifier
Control4 C4-TSM10-G-B wireless touchscreen
Control4 C4-HC300-E-B home theater controller
Bay Audio 970 in-wall speakers (3)
Bay Audio 460 in-wall speakers (4 pair)
Bay Audio 900 subwoofers (4)
Bay Audio 500 watt subwoofer amps (2)
Middle Atlantic ERK-3520LR 35 space rack
Monster Cable MP-HTS1600 power center
Pure AV AP30800-10 surge and battery backup
Control4 dimmers (9)
Control4 keypad
United Leather Sahara Chairs (8)
Booth Seating Alessandria Rocker (4)

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