When Matt Bridges, owner of custom electronics firm Avista in West Columbia, S.C., was called in to revamp a do-it-yourself theater that had been installed by the former owner of this home, he had no idea what he was getting into. “It was an awful sight. The screen wall had two windows covered, literally, with construction paper. The previous owner had built a fake wall on top of the sheetrock and attached a snap screen to it with duct tape,” says Bridges. The speakers were sitting on top of a homemade built-in cabinet constructed from lumber from the former owner’s timber business. To make matters worse, the projector was hanging down from a huge telescopic pole nearly 5 feet from the ceiling—obtrusive, to say the least.
To fix the design, Bridges armed the new homeowners with magazines and books to use as inspiration, then called in interior designer Ashley Petty Interiors and carpenter Chris Truett to help nail down the details. Truett designed custom cabinets along the screen wall to box in the windows and provide storage. Meanwhile, Avista designed custom acoustic panels using the same fabric chosen for the window coverings.
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These design details all contribute to the professional look of the theater, but it’s the dramatic carpet, handpicked by the designer, that takes your eye right to the screen wall and gorgeous faux-finished cabinetry. Despite an almost complete aesthetic overhaul, there were some constructs of the room that were worth saving, such as the seating risers.
From an equipment standpoint, however, the room had to be totally redone. After some initial discussions, Bridges ascertained that the homeowner—despite his extensive experience with high-end equipment— wanted to scale back a bit to create a solid system that wasn’t over-the-top.
To meet the challenge, Avista chose a JVC projector to achieve a spectacular image, and Marantz separates to give the THX Ultra II Plus Klipsch speakers and subwoofers ample power and clarity. Avista even closed in an opening in the rear wall to house a TV that would share the theater’s video with the homeowner’s game room area. A URC MX-6000 talks to an MSC-400 processor to control the entire system.
Whether the homeowners’ young children are relaxing on beanbags and playing PlayStation or the family is enjoying movie night, the end result is that they are all very pleased with the sound and the video—not to mention the interior design—of their new and dramatically improved home theater.