Small Challenges Don’t Stop Big Theater Experience
Small rooms, low ceilings? No problem.
November 19, 2012 by Grant Clauser

Building anything as significant as a high-performance home theater is going to involve some challenges. Troy Cuvelier, owner of Integrated Smart Technologies in Jackson and Kalamazoo MI, has worked in a lot of challenging situations, and he’s gotten very good at getting home theaters into small basements with low ceilings and odd shapes.

“We get all kinds of challenges” says Cuvelier, but fitting a big screen with a powerful sound system into a small basement is the most usual. “People tell me they have a space for their home theater, and then they show me it’s 12-feet by 15-feet.”

In a log cabin, Cuvelier built a theater in a 12-foot wide room with 8-foot ceilings and a window (see slideshow for images). Left alone, the window would have impacted both the image quality and the sound, so rather than sealing it up or just covering it with curtains or shades, Cuvelier built a cover out of acoustic material and attached it with Velcro. This solution solved the light and sound issues, blended nicely with the room and was easily removable if the owner wanted to use the window. The solution also fit the customer’s budget, which is always an important factor.

The room also included a structural “bump” in one wall from the fireplace in the floor above. Cuvelier used this feature to build a small storage area the family could use for Blu-ray discs or anything else they wanted to put out of the way. “Those are some of the fun James Bond things we did in the house,” he says.

To match the rustic look of the house, Cuvelier used earthy colors, stone and faux columns that look like logs.

In another challenging basement renovation, not only did the crew face low ceilings, but pipes and support beams that could not be reoriented lay in the way of the projector light path. For that room (see slideshow for pictures) he selected a long-throw lens projector placed on the back wall, rather than hung from the ceiling. With the seat risers in place, anyone near a ceiling-mounted projector would have received a head injury. “When you’re working with a seven foot ceiling, you’ve got to be careful,” he says.

The beam had to be covered in fabric and acoustic materials to prevent any sound reflection issues.

Because the room was small, the projector was sealed up in a hush box to deal with the fan noise, and ventilated to prevent overheating.

Cuvelier says the home theater business has been good this year because people are able to get a lot of performance for their money, and he’s able to creatively solve room problems. When bang-for-the-buck is a priority, he installs Episode speakers, Dragonfly screens and Epson or JVC projectors. For step up systems he usually turns to Triad or Monitor Audio speakers and Screen Innovations screens. In constructing the rooms he uses a lot of MDF and acoustic panels, both to create interesting features and to control the sound quality.

Check out another great home theater installation by Integrated Smart Technologies here.

Integrated Smart Technologies
Central/East Michigan:
2600 Airport Road |  Jackson MI 49202 |  517 841 9716
West Michigan:
259 E Michigan Ave - Ste 105 |  Kalamazoo MI 49007 |  269 978 6888

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Grant Clauser - Technology and Web Editor, Electronic House
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.

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