Several years ago when New York homeowners Julian and Betsy were considering redesigning this former playroom, an interior decorator suggested turning it into a home theater. But Betsy didn’t want that. Then her husband, Julian, became ill with cancer. Julian had to spend a lot of time at home; he was watching more TV, and he loved sports, so Betsy reconsidered. “I thought, wouldn’t it be fun to do this as a family project?” she recalls. “My husband and my two sons in college would really enjoy this, and one of our sons in particular is a big video game player. We are normally very conservative in terms of spending money, but we felt that this was important to do.”
The interior designer who had originally suggested the home theater referred Betsy and Julian to Hometronics Lifestyles in North Haven, CT. They visited the company’s showroom, saw an Acoustic Innovations modular home theater design they liked, and the project was off and running. “Hometronics really had the aesthetic that we liked, and we decided to have seats in two tiers and step lights,” says Betsy.
Julian followed the progress of the home theater design, and their video game–loving son gave his input on convenient video game jacks.
Acoustic Innovations did an analysis of the room to see where acoustical treatments were required. And because the room is located beneath a bedroom, soundproofing was needed. Hometronics worked with Julian and Betsy’s budget to select the equipment, including a Sim2 1080p DLP projector, a 110-inch Stewart Filmscreen fixed GreyHawk display, three Triad Silver inRoom speakers hidden in the cabinet below the screen, two Triad Silver surrounds hidden in the columns flanking the seats, two more Triad LCR speakers hidden behind fabric in the back wall, two Sonance subwoofers, a Pioneer Elite receiver and DVD player, a Lutron Grafik Eye lighting control system, and a Universal Remote Control 850 touchscreen remote.
The equipment rack would be hidden behind one of the side panels that abuts the garage. And Acoustic Innovations home theater chairs would round out the experience.
As the project progressed, though, so did Julian’s cancer. He was confined to a wheelchair, and Hometronics made sure the door to the room was wide enough so he would be able to move from the wheelchair to the home theater seating with ease. The company also made sure his seats had motorized controls.
Sadly, Julian passed away just weeks before the home theater was completed. He never got to see the finished room, though Betsy and her sons, Michael and David, have enjoyed what Julian could not. “It’s the first place they go when they visit,” she says. “I use the room occasionally to watch what I haven’t seen in the movie theaters.”
Julian’s Theater, as it is called, certainly evokes memories, but Betsy doesn’t consider herself sentimental. “If anything, the room is Julian’s legacy,” she says. “Doing this was interesting, fun and new. Julian was passionate about baseball and sports. And this continues to be a place for us to gather. I’d have a very hard time moving out of the house, because that theater is a major pull.”
Her sons wouldn’t want her to move, either. She says they’re already talking about having her grandkids enjoy it, and they’re not even married yet.
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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