Each year the editorial staff at Electronic House reviews hundreds of submissions to its Home of the Year contest. The entries submitted by home systems integrators represent some of the smartest, most innovative home tech projects on the planet. Here, you’ll see our picks for the Best Multipurpose Entertainment Rooms.
1. Multipurpose Room of the Year, GOLD Winner
Kid-Tested, Mom (and Dad) Approved: Kid-friendly home entertainment system tailored to handle the wear and tear from active family.
Kids can be hard on furniture, clothing, toys, pets … basically almost anything that crosses their path. Rather than risk damage to an expensive home theater system planned for the lower level of their new 10,000-square-foot home, the owners contacted home systems integrator Bryant Moore of Moore Audio Design, of Matthews, N.C., for his advice how to have a stellar, high-end entertainment setup in an area where their kids would likely be kicking around a ball or having pillow fights without worrying about someone breaking a piece of valuable A/V gear.
There were a couple of ideas that we’re tossed around as the design for the space was taking shape: One was to hang several flat-panel TVs on the wall like what you’d see at a sports bar, or two shield the precious video gear from harm behind the walls and ceiling. Cool, yes, but it held no appeal to the homeowners who were concerned about having a pricey A/V system out in the open around their playful progeny of pre-teens. The second idea was to hide all of the video components. “Concealing a video projector and a 120-inch screen in the ceiling and speakers behind the walls was a completely new concept to the homeowners, but after I explained it, they thought it made perfect sense for their entertainment style and active family,” Moore says.
This design would not only protect the gear from roughhousing but would allow the family to use the room for activities besides watching movies. When the projector and screen lower from their hiding spots in the ceiling the room transforms from a casual entertainment area to a high-caliber home theater.
Parental Control Keeps the Peace
In the hideaway mode, the family often hangs out at the adjacent kitchenette at the other end of the room, where a sliding glass door leads to a patio and swimming pool. Or, the kids might play a video game or watch cartoons on a 65-inch high-definition Samsung TV that’s mounted to the wall in the theater area, while the adults catch a sporting event on the 40-inch Samsung display on the wall in the kitchen area. “The TV is what gets uses when the parents are away and a babysitter is in charge,” says Moore. “We’ve had clients who have had the lens of their very expensive video projector crushed by a bat swung by a neighborhood kid. No joke. Motorizing the screen and projector to enter the room only when the parents are home will prevent this from ever happening at this house.”
Stowed for Safety
Because the owners had put the multipurpose media room on the drawing board before construction of their home had begun, Moore and the builder, Simonini Homes, of Charlotte, N.C, collaborated closely to ensure proper ceiling clearance for the Chief motorized lifts, the Epson video projector, and the Slate screen from Screen Innovations. There was also plenty of room worked into the design of the room so that five Paradigm speakers could be recessed into the ceiling and two Paradigm subwoofers tucked into the walls. Of course, the theater would need processors, receivers, switchers, and other components to provide the family with engaging A/V content, so Moore worked a roomy, well-ventilated equipment closet into the blueprints, as well.
This area is where Moore and his team spent a good chunk of time configuring the Savant system that would operate the A/V equipment in the multipurpose media room and distribute video and audio to 11 other TVs and 13 pairs of RBH speakers throughout the house. To make it simple for everyone—kids, adults, babysitters—to enjoy the A/V setup, Moore programmed the Savant system to streamline the process of selecting something to watch and choosing where to watch it (65-inch TV, 40-inch TV or the 120-inch projection screen) to a simple tap of a button on any iPad or smartphone that’s handy. A Savant app presents the video options—three cable boxes, a Blu-Ray Disc player, and two Apple TV boxes. A user simply touches her or her choice, selects the displays to which they’d like the content sent, and the Savant system carries through the command—lowering the projector and screen from the ceiling if necessary. In seconds the home theater, and other entertainment zones, are humming with great A/V.
More on the Entertainment Docket
The Savant system is capable of much more than supervising this multifaceted entertainment system. It can control lights, thermostats, motorized window shades, swimming pool pumps—you name it. The family is perfectly content with how the systems in this space work together to create a sensational entertainment experience that’ll last them a lifetime, thanks to a solid protection plan Moore Audio Design, but the lights will likely soon be woven into the Savant control platform, says Moore. “We selected a budget-minded yet bright projector and a light rejecting screen to combat the any light that’s on or sunlight that’s streaming through the glass doors, but having the ability to dim the lights from the Savant app will add to the ambiance and enjoyment,” says Moore. Plugging the media room light switches into the system will require nothing more than a few hours of programming time to add one more layer of convenience and enjoyment to this family-friendly, multipurpose entertainment hangout.
Systems & Equipment
- Video Projector: Espon
- Projection Screen: Screen Innovations
- Speakers: Paradigm, RBH
- A/V Receiver: Yamaha
- TVs: Samsung
- Control: Savant
- Whole-House Audio/Video: Savant
2. Best Multipurpose Room, SILVER Winner
Ode to McIntosh in a Media Room Makeover: Audio and lighting transition this room from a home theater to a casual entertainment space.
When a client is wants to show off a favorite product, you find ways to show it off. Such was the case when the design team at Gramophone, of Timonium, Md., met with the owner of this made-over media room to discuss ways to highlight a suite of McIntosh audio components. The signature blue glow emitted by the rack of McIntosh gear that would be prominently displayed in the room in an equipment rack recessed within a wall and dressed with a custom casing that features details that complement the look of the gear.
Walls painted in a blueish hue and light grey Cinemacoustic acoustical wall panels coupled with contemporary furnishings and stainless steel details evoke the perfect ambiance for enjoying a movie on the projection system, a sporting event on the 50-inch Sony LED TV on the back wall, or just settling in with music. Rounding out the A/V accouterment are Totem Metal floorstanding, in-wall, and in-ceiling speakers; two JL Audio subwoofers; a Sony 4K and 3D video projector; and a Stewart Filmscreen Electrimask screen. The A/V components are controlled via a Savant system, which also operates the room lights. The entire setup makes a statement in both its aesthetic appeal and performance excellence.
Systems & Equipment
- Video Projector: Sony
- Projection Screen: Stewart Filmscreen
- A/V Components: McIntosh
- Speakers: Totem
- Subwoofer: JL Audio
- Control: Savant
- Lighting Control: Lutron
3. Best Multipurpose Room, BRONZE Winner
PGA Pros Maintain Form in Golf-Inspired Multipurpose Room: Golf simulator satisfies family’s passion for golf and need for relaxation.
When your client is a family made up of former PGA pros, entertainment naturally will involve golf. Whether they are watching it on a big screen in this multipurpose room or playing it via an integrated golf simulator, they can fuel their passion year round, regardless of the weather. As the discussions about the design of the room were taking shape, the owners requested the realism of the outdoors that made them feel as if they were playing at an outdoor course.
The SwingTrack Flight and SwingTrack Club from Visual Sports Systems provided the authenticity the family demanded, plus would help them train for their next big scramble. A suite of cameras included with the system captures video and the system analyzes the acceleration and accuracy of the swing.
When they aren’t practicing, they can follow other entertainment pursuits, like listening to music or watching a movie on the big screen, courtesy of a Sony video projector.
Systems & Equipment
- Golf Simulation System: Visual Sports Systems
- Video Projector: Sony
- Screen: SwingTrack Impact Screen
- Video Cameras: SwingTrack tracking cameras (4)
- Speakers: Tannoy