Editor’s Note: Equipment is the key to a pleasing picture and amazing sound, but the room environment is equally as important to the overall entertainment experience. Here, Houzz shared with Electronic House an inspiring home cinema designed to resemble an outdoor theater. It’s a fun way to design an entertainment space, and proves that anything goes when you build a dedicated home theater. Express your own creativity by designing your home theater around a favorite hobby, sports team, or a great memory from long ago.
By Becky Harris, Houzz
You would expect audiovisual experts to be involved in the creation of a home theater. But a man who builds cars for NASCAR, a craftsman who can turn a barrel and a wheelbarrow into a popcorn machine, and a muralist and a barn supplier who crafts horse stall doors? Not so much. But they all played starring roles in this home theater’s design. Homeowner Tracie Stier-Johnson had a vision for her family’s lower level. “I wanted it to have the feeling of a barn, but also feel like we were outside at a drive-in under the stars,” she says. Elements such as starry lighting, a vintage Coca-Cola machine and even hay helped her achieve the look.
Photos by Julie Legge
Basement at a Glance
- What happens here: A couple and their four girls enjoy movie watching, snacking, entertaining, pizza eating and slumber parties.
- Location: Outside of Charlotte, North Carolina
- Size: 600 square feet (58 square meters)
- Designers: Homeowner Tracie Stier-Johnson and Travis Hite of Weber Design Group
“I wanted the space to feel like it was in a barn, but also like we were outside at a drive-in,” Stier-Johnson says. So she had the walls covered in reclaimed wood and had an artist create an outdoor scene in a mural. “The mural looks like the view you’d see from a barn and keeps the room from feeling like a closed-in theater,” she says. Her daughters are avid riders, so the painter incorporated two beloved horses of theirs, Rocco and Joe.
The shaggy green carpet has a grassy outdoor look, while the reclaimed wood walls make the space feel like the inside of a barn.
Of course, the most striking element in the room is the turquoise Chevy pickup replica. Originally, Stier-Johnson had wanted to use a real rusted vintage truck that she owned, but she realized it was too rusty for comfort. So, instead, her builder found a man who builds cars for NASCAR, who built the pickup from the molds of an original truck and added a real salvaged part or two. She selected a 1968 Chevrolet C10 stepside pickup truck.
“I love turquoise, and I used it all over the rest of the house, so the color choice was a no-brainer,” she says.
The taillights are incorporated into the audiovisual system and can be kept on when wanted. Behind the back windshield is a faux dashboard and steering wheel painted on the wall. One more detail worth noting: the North Carolina replica license plate that says “VIA WI.” This represents the family’s move from Wisconsin to North Carolina.
Moviegoers can flip down the tailgate, lie down in the back of the truck and stare up at the starry outdoor patio lights overhead.
To the right of the truck, there’s a “pizza bar” for laying out casual meals. The light overhead is a repurposed old truck radiator. Next to that, Stier-Johnson designed a faux horse stall, complete with a real horse stall door. She sourced it from a barn builder who makes them.
Another barn detail Stier-Johnson wanted to incorporate was a hayloft, so she had the builders add a shelf here for real bales of hay. The welcome sign is made of horseshoes.
To give the theater even more of a drive-in feel, she designed a concession stand for snacks.
The vintage Coca-Cola machine is a piece she’d kept for more than 20 years and adds to the authentic feel of the concession stand. The barrel houses a custom popcorn stand; when they are popping, they place the wheelbarrow underneath to catch the popcorn. When it’s done, they wheel it out into the theater so that everyone can dig in.
A cabinetmaker created the candy display cabinet, which Stier-Johnson had outfitted with glass. Behind the counter there is a mini kitchen. She found the Chevrolet sign at a local antique mall, along with the horseshoe welcome sign and the other taillight sign just outside of the concession stand area. The red refrigerator plays off the colors of the Coca-Cola machine and the Chevrolet sign.
“Movie nights with our girls are our favorite thing,” the mother of four says. They often order pizzas or Chinese food to have down here on movie night. They also love to have friends over, and when the girls have slumber parties, they sleep in the theater. “It’s one of the most-used rooms in the house,” she says.
Home automation has come a long way. Today, there are solutions available almost everywhere. Need help turning your home into a “smart” home. Find an installer near you.
Looking to Add Smart Technology to Your Home?
Home automation has come a long way. Today, there are solutions available almost everywhere. Need help turning your home into a “smart” home. Find an installer near you.Find an installer near you