How does a high-powered Wall Street couple relax? “We used to love going out for cocktail hour after work,” says the lady of the house. But that’s become nearly impossible since the couple built a home in the Jersey suburbs and she now concentrates on raising a family. The solution: Bring that cocktail hour home.
“We wanted to have a pub feel, so when my husband comes home, we can sit in the bar area and have a private cocktail hour and talk about the day,” she says. And that’s how the idea of this multipurpose home theater area came about.
The couple also collects wine and wanted a place to store it in their unfinished basement. The pub and wine cellar would only take up a portion of the basement space, and the couple planned on adding to it later. Then their contractor, Phil Bjork of Premier Trade Group, suggested doing a floor plan for the entire space if they chose to expand the project. And sure enough, soon they were adding a home theater, an arcade and a gym. “I said, ‘Let’s just do it all now,” recalls the homeowner. “Doing it in pieces wouldn’t have been the best for us in terms of all the dust and construction.”
And so a 17-by-28-foot casual-seating theater took shape, with the 17-by-35 foot bar and billiards room open to the back, the 10-by10-foot wine cellar, the arcade along the side and the 15-by-15-foot gym. The theater is open to the arcade and the bar area, making use of the structural supports for several half walls. “We wanted to have an open area for parties and gatherings, says the homeowner. You can see the whole area, and people can still talk with one another.”
But when it’s time to watch a movie, or if the arcade game sounds become distracting, privacy is just a button press away. The Crestron remote commands three motorized Lutron Sivoia blackout shades along the side and back walls to drop and completely fill the slightly arched openings. According to Ron Roslasky of electronics installer Home Systems, the thick shades effectively block about 90 percent of the sound. “You can really have a conversation with someone while playing pool when someone else is in the theater,” says the homeowner.
And you can have that conversation despite high volume. The powerful home theater system consists of a three-zone Denon receiver, three Boston Acoustics BT1 high-output speakers, and a Triad subwoofer in the front beneath the stage, as well as four Triad surrounds that are flush mounted into the soffit. All of the speakers complement the high-end, three-chip, sleek-looking InFocus 777 DLP projector that hangs from the ceiling. “They wanted serious sound and video,” says Roslasky. “And the high output of the BT1s will blow your hair back.”
Four more Triad speakers can be found in the bar and billiards area, along with a 23-inch Samsung LCD that can play with what’s showing in the theater, function as its own TV, or show the homeowners video from the front door camera. Another set of Triad speakers is in the gym. While the theater is controlled by a Crestron system, the bar and gym have Elan Via! touchpanels that allow the family to peruse their music collection from a ReQuest Fusion hard drive server. Lutron’s Grafik Eye system provides the lighting scene control for the area.
What really impresses this homeowner is the theater system. “I love the sense that you’re in a movie theater—or better. It makes me want to wait until a movie goes onto DVD to watch it in the privacy of our theater. It captures every drop of a nail.”
The family watches a lot of science fiction and the Lord of the Rings movies, which a home theater is great for. “We’ve also been buying a lot of 1950s movies with Gene Kelly and Judy Garland. Seeing them in the theater and hearing Gene Kelly tap dance over seven speakers gives you a totally different view of the movie,” she says.
One other big benefit of the area: “It’s a low-maintenance luxury,” says the homeowner. The couple can sit in their bar area at the end of the day and drink to that.
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Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates