Unused Front Room HT Area Conversion - First Timer - AVS Forum
General Home Theater & Media/Game Rooms > Unused Front Room HT Area Conversion - First Timer
TheAstronaut's Avatar TheAstronaut 02:16 PM 12-18-2012
Hey everyone, I am starting to plan to modify a currently unused room where I am living into a HT area and I figured I should ask all of you for some help in planning and ask what advice you can give before I start working to help make my modifications easer. Please let me know what you think.

Here are some of the relevant details:

Room Dimensions:

12' W x 13' 3" D x 8' H
The room is 12' W running East-West, and 13' 3" running North-South. There is a fireplace and mantle on the Northern end of the room and a 72" wide window on the eastern wall. The southern end of the room is open, but there is a steel entry door, on the eastern wall in the corner of the room. I am planning on using the western wall to hang a fixed aluminum-frame screen that was used previously in another room. The dimensions of the screen are 96"W x 54"H.

These measurements are accurate to within an inch or so, I will update with more accurate measurements as I have them.

The home is a pre-fabricated home sitting on a cinder block foundation. There is a 4' crawlspace underneath the house, though I'd prefer to run things through the attic so I can work below instead of above my head. There is no conduit run to any part of the house. The attic is accessible, and runs the entire length of the house. The house was fabricated in two pieces, with the split running length-wise through the house. The western wall of the room is a seam-wall that I'm assuming is a double wall since there is a bedroom closet on the other side. While I am not the actual homeowner, my friend who is the actual homeowner has given me permission to transform the room. Her plan is to eventually sell the house an move out of the area in the next five years or so. That being said, I would like to do the minimum amount of cutting/drilling as possible, but still have a nice HT setup in the front room. Also, if I could plan my modifications in a way that they add some value back to the house when she gets it appraised in the future, that would be excellent. The house was renovated about 7 years ago just before my friend bought it, but it was a flip-house so the renovation was fairly cheaply done.

I'm a Computer Science major, but currently don't make a spectacular salary, so I'd like to keep the budget as affordable as possible. I am also not afraid of getting my hands dirty, drilling holes, or snaking cable; so I will be doing most of the labor myself alleviate that cost. I can also borrow most of the tools (drills, hole saw, fish tape, etc.) so I won't need to purchase those either, unless it's something unusual.

As far as adding to the house value, would it help to run Cat 5e/6 to the rest of the rooms while I am running my cable? Being a CS major, I have a lot of computers in the house already and have put a few runs under the house, but while I'm in the attic I was thinking of adding a couple more. At what point would it be ideal for me to install a centralized switch instead of adding smaller 8-port jobs to the rooms that need them?

Also, what order would everyone recommend I plan to do everything in?

The wiring for my devices currently is fairly linear:

Source -> HDMI -> Receiver -> HDMI -> Projector
I would like to keep it as much to this same linearity as possible so I can run as few wires as needed.

The equipment I currently have is as follows:

Yamaha RX-V765 Receiver (I would like to upgrade to a Network-capable receiver at some point)
Polk Audio CS-I center-channel speaker
Polk Audio RM8 LR channel speakers (I would like to upgrade these to something with a little more punch)
Polk Audio RM7 Rear-LR channel speakers (These work fine, but if I upgrade the RM8's, I will move those here)
Polk Audio PSW10 Powered subwoofer (eventually upgrade, but it's enough for right now)

BenQ W710st projector (I have tested this in the room in question and found the throw distance to be fine)
Apple TV 2 w/XBMC (this would be my primary video source for the short-term)
Popcorn Hour C-200 (not sure if I will be using this yet or not)

Equipment I still need, and might need help selecting:

Ceiling Projector Mount (I have no idea what universal ones work with my projector)

More Speaker wire (would like to go pretty cheap on this unless there are any pitfalls)

HDMI cable - I haven't measured the total run distance yet, but if it's greater than 25 ft. I would like some help extending this.

Outlet boxes and wall plates, or any equivalent that will make the cable terminations look nicer, especially in the ceiling.

Cable Staples

Ethernet cable - probably Cat 6 for future-proofing. I'm fairly familiar with this, so shouldn't need much help purchasing unless anyone knows of a brand-type I should avoid (STP vs UTP).

Satellite box - Currently there is a ViP-722k in the living room, with one RG6 cable using home distribution to a bedroom, so I'm not sure what extras I would need to put satellite in the HT room as well. Advice here would be much appreciated.

Some Brackets to mount the screen to the wall. The screen frame is made from 1" square aluminum tubing, and I haven't really come up with a good solution for mounting it on the wall yet. The whole thing only weighs around 10 lbs. There currently is no masking for the screen, but I would like to add it at some point in time.

Paint for walls and ceiling - not sure how high this is in priority yet, but I also don't know if it's better to do first or last.

TheAstronaut's Avatar TheAstronaut 03:32 PM 12-19-2012
Here are some pics of the room. Please excuse the mess, it's mostly being used for storage right now smile.gif

The fireplace is on the north end of the room, so you can reference that to the dimensions.

TheAstronaut's Avatar TheAstronaut 04:58 PM 12-25-2012
Placeholder for future images.
willmo's Avatar willmo 04:48 AM 01-01-2013
Looks as though you're close to being all set. Adding the Cat 5s won't likely add value but it's a nice feature to have when reselling especially the central switch. Will the screen be above the paneling? Either way you might want to try some of the painted screens. I am assuming you will go with a darker curtain and darker walls.
TheAstronaut's Avatar TheAstronaut 01:35 PM 01-07-2013
Originally Posted by willmo View Post

Looks as though you're close to being all set. Adding the Cat 5s won't likely add value but it's a nice feature to have when reselling especially the central switch. Will the screen be above the paneling? Either way you might want to try some of the painted screens. I am assuming you will go with a darker curtain and darker walls.

I'll keep that in mind about the Cat 5 wiring. If it doesn't add much value to the house I might forgo doing all the rooms and only drop cable to the ones that will need it. Perhaps if I find some cheap conduit I could run that to the rest of the rooms and just drill holes in the sill-plates for later use.

I've tested the projector on the wall a few times, and it looks like the optimal screen height would overlap the paneling by about 2-3 inches, meaning I would probably at least have to take off the moulding. Unfortunately, the room was originally painted a forest green type color. When it was renovated, the owners decided to save on paint and did not repaint the lower part of the wall before installing the paneling. So if I decide to remove the paneling, I'm stuck repainting at least one, if not all the walls in the room. I think painting will be on the plan at some point, so I might just bite the bullet and pull everything off and paint.

As far as paint on screens go, the house is a pre-manufactured home, and I have not found one wall in the house that does not have a bulge or recess that would allow me to do a paint on screen.

I have already purchased some darker curtains and a new curtain rod to help keep more light out from the window. If anyone has some recommendations for cheap in-window roll-down blinds or roman blinds I would be welcome to hear them. As already mentioned, painting the room will likely happen at some point, just not sure when. I am also welcome to hear some recommendations for paint colors that work well in theater environments without making the room seem too cave-like.

I've also recently salvaged a wall mountable network rack, now I just have to decide which closet it will go in, and plan my wiring. biggrin.gif
TheAstronaut's Avatar TheAstronaut 02:39 PM 03-18-2013
Managed to find a big enough break in the cold weather to get up into the attic and take some pictures. Despite the house having a 4' crawlspace underneath, I think it will be easier to pull wiring in the attic. I also have fewer environmental concerns about the attic (moisture, pests, etc.).

This first picture shows where the main breaker box for the house is, and the type of wiring running to it. Based on the state of things, I think I will avoid messing with the existing wiring as much as possible.

Here is a look down the center of the attic space towards the room I will be using for my HT space. It is the area to the left all the way against the outside wall.

This last one is a view of the general area that is directly above my HT space. I didn't expect the ceiling joists to be angled, which will be a bit more of a challenge for mounting the projector conduit, but I think it should still turn out okay.

Obviously, before I begin working up here I need to spend some time laying down catwalks to make it easier to move around without falling through the ceiling. smile.gif
willmo's Avatar willmo 03:46 PM 04-22-2013
Have you started pulling the wire?
TheAstronaut's Avatar TheAstronaut 12:12 PM 04-23-2013
Not yet, things have been busy with work and life lately so I haven't had much time to finish planning the wire pulls. I've finally managed to get the room cleaned, and with luck should be securing a new couch and loveseat combo for the room that will be much better than the current ones.

Currently, I have all the equipment installed in the (much larger) living room which has more seating than the front room. The projection screen is hung from the ceiling and the projector sits on a barstool on the floor. This room is a more common area for all the members of the house and is right next to the kitchen, not to mention it has more seating.

I'm thinking now it might be better to make the projector / screen combo more modular and revise my plans so I can use the projector in either room instead of a permanent install in just one. The living room has a LCD tv, so with a modular set up it would be possible to watch something in both rooms. Having the projector just sitting on the barstool in the middle of the floor makes me very nervous though, so I think I'm going to find a way to mount it to some sort of table using my Peerless mount. That way, I don't have to worry about it getting knocked off the stool. In the front room, I can set the projector on the cedar chest which is serving as a coffee table, so no worries about tipping there. smile.gif

I think I will enjoy the flexibility of a modular setup more, but it's still just a rough idea in my head, so if anyone has advice that will save me time or aggravation I would be glad to hear it. biggrin.gif
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