DIY Home Theater Design Inspired by Grandma

Inspired by his grandmother, Rudy Brown turned a second-floor bedroom into a DIY home theater showpiece.

Photo by Michael Laurenzano.

We’ve heard a lot of homeowners talk about what inspired them to install a custom home theater room. Never once did someone mention their grandmother.

However, Rudy Brown had his grandmother Elaine in mind when it came time to give his bedroom an AV makeover. “My grandmother is a major proponent of architectural and interior design,” Rudy says. “I grew up watching her design and build churches and houses.”

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Elaine’s work as an architect and pastor helped influence Rudy in several ways. It fueled his fascination with architecture and construction, but also inspired him to get the knowledge (and get a little dirty) create his own DIY home theater.

“This is my first home and I knew that I wanted to build something that would not only make my grandmother proud, but also surprise her and the rest of my close-knit family,” says Rudy. “What better than a home theater?”

Rudy worked on the room over a 2-year period, all while keeping the project secret from his grandmother. However, it wasn’t just a surprise for her. He wanted a space where he could enjoy movies (action and sci-fi are his favs), as well as spend some time with his fiancée Rebecca and eventually, the couple’s 2-month-old daughter, Rhyan.

Although he had the inspiration, he says that he had limited space — and skills. He knew a little bit about wiring components, computers, and speakers, but the drywall, framing, and painting were all new. He looked to the AVS Forum for help with gutting the upstairs bedroom, as well as the framing and construction. He also says that he picked up a lot of design ideas from Electronic House.

As far as the space, the bedroom is just a mere 12-by-14 feet. Although there were plenty of naysayers, Rudy says he credits “meticulous planning down to the inch” to making it a success. Of course, having to carry materials up the stairs to the second floor didn’t make the job any easier. Some of those materials included two sheets of 5/8-inch drywall, which Rudy installed to minimize any noise bleed into the neighboring master bedroom. A little green glue is sandwiched in between the layers. He also put in two bass traps in the corners behind the false screen. Those were made using Roxul insulation, wood frames and a Linacoustic dust liner.

The effort was certainly worth it. The end result is a room with five full-sized recliners, as well as the space to put his three front speakers behind a false screen wall.

To get the job done, Rudy divided the 11-month project into three phases. The first two weeks were spent gutting the bedroom. The second phase was the longest, with seven months dedicated to framing. The remainder of the time was spent painting, installing the carpet, and having a lovely star mural painted on the ceiling.

“I wanted to create a space that mimicked an actual movie theater,” Rudy says. “Although space was a limitation, I wanted to incorporate as many aesthetic cues from an actual movie theater, such as the curtains, an acoustically transparent screen, theater seating, and stage.”

That star mural was also important. While planning the room’s design, Rudy was inspired by several fiber-optic star lighting systems he had seen on YouTube. However, he didn’t want to spare the expense and time to make it happen. Instead, he researched alternatives and found Jeff from Night Sky Murals. “I absolutely fell in love,” he says.

Rudy invited Jeff to his home in West Palm Beach, Florida, to paint an astronomically correct mural that resembles the sky in November. (“Rebecca and I were born on the same day,” he says of the inspiration.)

Once the mural was completed, Rudy built a soffit around the perimeter to house black lights. “When the black lights are turned on, the ceiling looks like an afternoon sky. Once the black lights are turned off, the paint glows in the dark for hours mimicking a night sky without the interference of city lights,” Rudy says. “My family and I often go into the theater room just to relax under the stars.”

Those black lights are one of the many features tied into an iPad mini and the Roomie Remote app. This controls Rudy’s entire room, from AV equipment to the Lutron lighting system. Other features include a 3D-capable Panasonic projector and a 105-inch 2:35:1 screen that Rudy made using materials from Seymour AV. (“This proved to be extremely cost-effective, saving me around $2,000,” he says.) He even has Aura Pro Bass shakers in every theater seat and a home theater PC to house all of his movies.

“My home theater is a result of my equal love of the cinematic experience and architecture,” Rudy says. “This theater project was definitely an unforgettable and fun learning experience.”

Of course, it’s great that Rudy is pleased with the final result — but what did his grandmother say?

“My grandmother was totally shocked when she saw the theater,” he says. “She told me that she had no idea what I was working on and that she was very proud of me. She comes over all the time, mainly for music under the stars!”

To see more of Rudy Brown’s bedroom theater, check out our slideshow for Home Theater Made With Grandma in Mind.

Equipment List
Apple iPad mini with Roomie Remote
Aura Sound Pro Bass Shakers
Chase Home Theater SHO-10 Speakers (3)
HSU VTF-3 MK4 Subwoofer
Lutron Lighting
Onkyo TX-NR809 7.2-Channel Receiver
OPPO BDP-103 Universal Blu-ray Player
Panasonic PT-AE8000U 3D Projector
Polk Audio F/XiA6 Speakers (4)
Rialto Theater Seats
Seymour AV DIY 105-inch Screen (2.35:1)
Sony PlayStation 3
Sony STR-D515 5.1-Channel Receiver
Custom unRAID Media Server
Home Theater PC Running XBMC

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View Slideshow

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