Theater Room Takes Long & Lean Approach
This DIYer works a big theater into a skinny space, with stunning results.
November 07, 2010 by Rachel Cericola

Awkward spaces don’t make for an easy DIY project—but they sure are fun. Curt Caveney knew when he set out to build his basement theater that the narrow shape was going to work against him.

“Our basement is very long and narrow. Being able to watch traditional movies in the first two rows was essential. It was also important to leave the back area of the theater open for a counter, a sitting table, and a future bar,” Caveney says. “Such a configuration will ultimately provide seating for up to 17 people—say at a Super Bowl party. We felt we could get much more use out of the space this way.”

We are guessing that Caveney and his family do get a lot of use out of the room, as well as a lot of praise. Not only did he want enough seating to pack them in; he also wanted his guests to actually enjoy themselves. This meant making sure every seat would provide a perfect view of the screen.

“The seating risers were key to eliminating the problem where people are craning over those in front to see,” Caveney says. “However, too high of a riser would obscure the view of those seated at the counters in the back.” By adding 2x8s in the front, 2x12s in the back, and barstools by the counter in the back he provided the perfect seating height for everyone.

Guests are not only invited to visit the back area during movies; they are encouraged. Using different light fixtures on separate dimming circuits, Caveney was able to create an affordable, yet effective lighting scheme.

“Theaters in general can benefit from the right kind of light in the right locations. A multi-function room such as this should have a variety of lights at various levels to accommodate a variety of situations,” he says. “Sporting events need brighter light for conversing and eating, whereas a movie needs just the minimum amount of light to get in and out safely.”

To help cushion some of the lighting cost, Caveney opted to install PVC-molded rope behind the crown molding. That’s right—good, old Christmas lights. “Considering it might not last forever, we had to make sure it was all removable,” he explains. Other lights can be found by the risers, the columns, the stairs and the curtains. There’s also lighting under the counter at the back. Lutron’s Spacer dimmers and a wireless remote operates each of those lighting elements.

To ensure that lighting wouldn’t interfere with the main attraction, Caveney installed a black border around his 108-inch screen. The entire wall is framed with curtains, which not only enhances the image, but adds a dramatic effect.

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Rachel Cericola - Contributing Writer
Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at

About the Project
Total Money Spent: $22,500
Location: Johnson City, Tenn.
Room Size: 23 by 14 by 9 feet
Year Completed: 2007
Total Project Time: 2½ years

Equipment List
Barco BG808 Graphics CRT Projector
Lumagen Vision-HDP Pro Video Processor
OPPO DV-980H DVD Player
Phase Technology Velocity Series 5 Speaker System
Samsung DTB-H260F HDTV Terrestrial Receiver
SpeakerCraft AIM7 In-Wall Speakers (2)
Stewart StudioTek 130 108-inch Screen
SVS PB1-ISD Subwoofer
Yamaha RX-V2400 Receiver
ZeroSurge 7.5Amp Surge Suppressor/Power Conditioner

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