May 03, 2010
by Lisa Montgomery
When designing a home theater, custom electronics professionals usually focus on the selection and installation of the audio and video equipment.
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Interior designers, on the other hand, concentrate on the colors, fabrics, and non-electronic aspects for the space.
Sometimes, one part of the equation must be compromised for the other. Not in this 21-by-16-foot lower-level theater, though. The custom electronics professionals at Chicago–based Procom Enterprises collaborated with interior designer Ingrid Baltasi every step of the way to ensure neither the room’s A/V performance nor its aesthetics would suffer.
Take the 106-inch Da-Lite screen. It definitely dominates the room visually. But when the owners press a button on a T4 RTI remote, motorized draperies slide over it, allowing the decorative aspects of the room to take over.
And there’s a lot in this area to appreciate. Three-dimensional fiber optic lighting, for example, transforms the ceiling into a star-studded night sky. Adding a personal flair to the space are the backs of the eight leather Continental chairs that bear the family insignia.
Then there are the decorative panels on the walls. The nine Auralex Sonic Print panels were covered in a printed fabric chosen by the interior designer. Mounted one inch off the wall and lit from behind, the panels function both as wall art and acoustical treatments that enhance the sonic properties of the room.
Procom installed other types of acoustic treatments throughout the space, although most were tucked behind the walls during the construction. A vinyl sound barrier and two layers of drywall, for example, effectively isolate the theater from the hearth room above. This way, the owner can play movies as loudly as he wants without disturbing the rest of the family upstairs. And loud is something this room can do really well, says Procom’s Jacek Zaworski, as it’s fueled by a Klipsch THX system including a 1,000 watt amp, seven in-wall speakers and two subwoofers.
The high-octane audio is complemented by a Sony 1080p projector, a Vantage lighting control system and an RTI remote that can ready the room for a movie in seconds. “They hit play and the projector starts, the drapes open, the lights dim,” says Zaworski. From there the family can select from a high-def satellite receiver, LG Blu-ray player, Escient movie server or Sony PS3, all of which are hidden in a separate equipment room.
The only aesthetic choice that didn’t sit right with Procom: the two wooden doors that flank the screen. They may set off the display nicely, but “as A/V experts, we would have rather had people enter the theater from the back of the room,” Zaworski explains. But as in life, when designing a theater, sometimes you’ve got to give a little to take a little. Procom and the owners were willing to give up a back-door entrance to have high-end A/V equipment, easy controls and sensational lighting effects.
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.