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post #1 of 74 Old 06-01-2012, 02:05 PM - Thread Starter
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10 years ago when we built our new home, I made sure to create a place in the basement for a dedicated home theater. This included digging down an extra 2 feet: 9 foot ceilings for the most of the (walk-out) basement, but 11 feet deep concrete floor for the home theater area.

I also had the foresight back then to create a separate HVAC zone exclusively for the home theater area on one of the house's multiple geothermal heat pump units.

5 years ago I hired a contractor to build most of the home theater, including the stage, risers, double drywall with GG, columns, soffits, etc., using a DE design. I went so far as to carpet the theater and install everything EXCEPT fabric and acoustical treatments. I even bought all the necessary GOM fabric, polyester batting, Insulshield rigid fiberglass panels, Zero International door soundproofing hardware, etc. 5 years ago.

But... as you can imagine, once I made the "mistake" of putting up the projector (5 years ago), construction stopped dead in its tracks. The biggest issue was that I could never find anyone local who had experience installing fabric and acoustical materials.

Then a few months ago I happened to browse this forum, and discovered that Jeff Parkinson (BIGmouthinDC) lives all of 4 miles from me!

Thus Jeff and I started finishing what became the Swizzle Stick Theater. Where did that name come from? My wife and I had chosen the GOM "Swizzle Stick" pattern (which BIG would soon regret ;-) for the walls, in "Blue Moon" color. It's mostly gray with a hint of blue):

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post #2 of 74 Old 06-01-2012, 02:40 PM
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Yes it was quite a shock to see a beautifully designed theater (Dennis E) that was naked and totally functioning. I'm mean we are talking unpainted drywall mud seams on the walls and all the contractors notes to the workers still decorating the walls. Bare MDF columns and soffits, The good news was the ceiling was painted with the famous Milano Blue and UberAnalyst had done a good job installing a rope light.

The bad news was the fabric, later in the project I started to call it the pajama fabric. It had a mind of it's own and we often disagreed.

I'll let UberA post his wide angle shots of the finished product then I will post some of the finishing details and how we used 14,000 staples. (not a joke)
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post #3 of 74 Old 06-01-2012, 02:48 PM - Thread Starter
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After about 100 hours each of Jeff and my time -- and 14,000 staples! -- here's the nearly-completed theater:






Some info about the theater:

- 14 feet wide by 23 feet long. The original space was supposed to be 16x24, but during the house construction the engineers decided the concrete foundation walls (surrounding the theater space on 3 and 1/2 sides) needed to be 14 inches thick, which reduced the space available.

- Theater equipment is housed in a 19" floor-to-ceiling rack in the equipment room adjacent to the theater. This room also includes a geothermal heat pump, Verizon FIOS termination gear and router, and patch panels for the house's coax and Cat5e wiring.

- Lighting for the theater is controlled via a keypad located near the door -- which signals the Lutron Homeworks whole-house lighting control system to turn on/off/dim various "scenes" within the theater.

Home theater equipment (almost all from 5 years ago!)

Seating
- 6 Berkline full-leather seats each with electric recliner, Mini-Buttkicker, and LED-cupholders

Speakers
- Front L/C/R speakers: Triad Inwall Gold Monitors (behind acoustically-transparent screen)
- Side and rear speakers: Triad Inwall Gold/4 Surrounds (x4, located inside of columns)
- Side subwoofers: Triad Inwall Bronze/4 10" Subs (x2, located inside of columns)
- Main subwoofer: Velodyne DD-18 18" Sub (located in front corner next to screen and behind screen wall.

Screen: SMX acoustically-transparent 110" wide 16:9 132" diagonal

Projector: JVC RS-1 (now on its 3rd bulb and doing wonderfully!)

Surround/video processor: Anthem Statement D2 with Anthem Room Correction (ARC)

Amplifiers:
- B&K Reference 200.7 (7 channels x 200 wpc)
- Triad Rackamps (x 2, to drive 2 Triad subwoofers)
- Buttkicker BKA-1000-4 (to drive 6 Mini-Buttkickers in Berkline seats)

Blu-Ray Players:
- Oppo BDP-93 (relatively new)
- Samsung BD-UP5000 (plays HD-DVDs also, bought back when it wasn't clear that Blu-Ray was going to win).

TV/DVR
- Tivo HD
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post #4 of 74 Old 06-01-2012, 03:03 PM
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post #5 of 74 Old 06-01-2012, 03:06 PM
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You are right I'm so used to 10-12 inch risers that when I saw the 24 inch riser I actually fell in love with the feel of the room. It gives such an added dimensionality that makes you think you are in a Hollywood Moguls personal screening room. Notice how you walk in at riser height.
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post #6 of 74 Old 06-01-2012, 03:13 PM
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Yes, I like the fact that you walk in at riser height and the front seats are tucked in between the stairs. That view of the front row from the back is pretty unique. Makes the back row feel like you're on a throne.

I'm assuming the decision not to go scope was to maximize the size of a 16:9 image for back row viewers. At 110" wide, you still have a nice size scope image for both rows.
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post #7 of 74 Old 06-01-2012, 03:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Some other items that may be of interest:

- The face of the soffits (covered entirely in black GOM) is at a 45-degree angle instead of the usual vertical trim. This made covering the soffits much more difficult due to the need to stretch the fabric at the corners.

- The use of Swizzle Stick fabric with straight line horizontal and vertical black elements made hanging the fabric extremely challenging. Any pulling or stretching of the fabric would make the lines no longer straight. (Good luck being the next person to convince Jeff to hang such fabric!!!)

- While all of the soffits and columns are covered in black GOM fabric, Jeff convinced me to spend a bit more $$ to cover everything in the front of the room with Fidelio black velvet. This included the panels above and below the screen, as well as the entire wall located about a foot in front of the screen. The result is that the entire front wall "disappears" and the screen really "pops" when watching video.

- The theater decor was chosen to create a clean modern contemporary design without chair rails or any wood mouldings. This made the theater consistent with the rest of our contemporary home which is a mid-century modern Deck House. The house has cedar wood decking on all the ceilings and beautiful mahogany trim around all the windows, doors, floor moldings, etc. While being modern, we wanted to create a theater space with some contrast -- hence extensive use of fabric wall coverings with no wood finishes showing.

Here's the view from the hallway leading into the theater (you can see the equipment rack in the closet to the right). Also this picture does a better job of showing the light blue real color of the carpet installed in the theater:


Just for fun I installed some lights clamped to the back of the screen for illuminating the Triad front speakers through the transparent SMX screen. These are on a separate dimming circuit. When listening to music it's possible to create a "3D" effect by leaving the projector turned on:


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post #8 of 74 Old 06-01-2012, 03:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spaceman View Post

I'm assuming the decision not to go scope was to maximize the size of a 16:9 image for back row viewers. At 110" wide, you still have a nice size scope image for both rows.

I had a conversation with UberA about redoing the front end with much wider 2.35 format screen with side masking. He will need a light cannon to fill it but I sensed his pulse quickened when he thought of the prospect.
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post #9 of 74 Old 06-01-2012, 04:01 PM
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Thanks for sharing! It looks great!

The Swizzle Stick pattern looks nice. I can see how it would be picky about installation details.

Do you have any "in-progress" shots? I'd love to see how it all came together. And what about the acoustical treatments? Are they behind the fabric - I assume so - though I notice GOM doesn't list swizzle stick among its acoustic fabrics. How has the sound worked out?

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post #10 of 74 Old 06-01-2012, 04:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spaceman View Post

I'm assuming the decision not to go scope was to maximize the size of a 16:9 image for back row viewers. At 110" wide, you still have a nice size scope image for both rows.

Agreed. We were fortunate to have enough room height that we weren't forced into using a 'scope screen to achieve a large size screen. Most of our video viewing is 16:9 anyway, including Blu-Ray nature and IMAX films, cable TV movies (e.g, HBO, Showtime, etc.), and many of our own high-def videos (e.g., from a GoPro Hero camera). And I've noticed many of the latest theatrical movies on Blu-Ray are now 16:9 (e.g., Avatar, Dark Knight, etc.)

So I don't regret installing a large 16:9 screen with plenty of width for scope movies. The newer projectors (and even our "old" JVC RS-1) have such great black levels that the top/bottom bars are easily ignored. I'd need a "light cannon" to go any wider.
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post #11 of 74 Old 06-01-2012, 04:11 PM
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I do have "some" of the details that I will post. Hopefully UberA will post some of the raw space shots he has.
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post #12 of 74 Old 06-01-2012, 05:38 PM - Thread Starter
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OK, here are some shots of the room from 5 years ago -- right before I hung the screen and projector and all work stopped -- and way before I got BIG (Jeff) involved to finish off the fabric and acoustic treatments. (My apologies for the poor quality -- these were taken with an early cellphone camera):


Triad surround speakers and subwoofers were just sitting on shelves in the columns, covered "temporarily" with their metal speaker grilles.


18" Velodyne Subwoofer lurking in the corner



As BIG said, for the past 5 years the room has had naked MDF columns and soffits, and drywall with taped seams showing. That was OK, since you couldn't see most of it once you turned out the lights and were awestruck by the great screen image. :-)

Here's a drawing of the soffit cross-section I drew and gave to the contractor. It clearly shows the 45-degree "front" as well as enclosed ductwork for HVAC:
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post #13 of 74 Old 06-01-2012, 06:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HopefulFred View Post

And what about the acoustical treatments? Are they behind the fabric - I assume so - though I notice GOM doesn't list swizzle stick among its acoustic fabrics. How has the sound worked out?

Fred

The acoustical treatments are mostly standard stuff for people who read this forum:
- 1" InsulShield rigid fiberglass on the bottom surface of all the soffits, and most of the wall spaces between columns up to ear height.
- 1" polyester batting above ear height to preserve some room reflections
- InsulShield on the front wall behind acoustically transparent screen, as well as more (bass traps) stuffed into the front corners behind the screen wall.

All columns containing speakers are covered in black GOM fabric that's acoustically transparent. The GOM Swizzle Stick fabric (with uncertain acoustic properties) is only used between columns.

I'm thrilled by the resulting change in sound quality after having very little acoustic absorption in place for 5 years. The biggest change is that you can now much more easily pinpoint exactly where sounds are coming from behind the screen, and you even get a sense of the acoustics of the space/room in which a movie or TV show was filmed.

Here is a photo showing the treatments behind the fabric:


BIG agonizing over the installation of the Swizzle Stick fabric, inserting push pins to position the fabric -- to preserve the pattern and keep the "swizzle sticks" straight and level (and vertical). We even pattern matched each fabric panel to start at the same place at the top!
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post #14 of 74 Old 06-02-2012, 05:36 AM
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Some More Details - SOFFITS

First we have the naked soffits that UberA designed with Linacoustic on the bottoms.



I added one inch furring strips at the corners at a 45. Then we stapled the GOM to the backside of the top edge by feel (Checking with a hand mirror) and let it drape down.







Then starting in the middle stapled it to the underside along the last inch where it would be hidden by the wall panels.

when we reached the ends I used tacks to get it into the rough position where we wanted it then stapled.



At the projector mount I cut a cross hatch in the fabric and pushed the down pole up into the bracket and it turned out pretty clean.



It was a real pain to get the fabric on the soffits tight without any ripples particularly at the room corners given the odd angles that the soffits met. We still need to cover the staples at the corners with strips of fabric mounted to something. We've been experimenting with various materials.
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post #15 of 74 Old 06-02-2012, 06:51 AM
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UberA. Very cool room. Nice to see some fabric with a pattern being used. Even though it's a PITA to prob work with the end result is awesome.

Hey and what's with all these clusters of people with rooms like this by each other. It's kinda weird when u think about it, but prob it's because I'm jealous there is no one around me!

Good luck finishing up!

jim
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post #16 of 74 Old 06-02-2012, 12:07 PM
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Nice job, I like the contrast of the ceiling color.

I sympathize re: hanging the fabric on the soffit - I used Commando Cloth to cover mine, it was a PITA - and hard to keep from sagging, since the cloth is fairly heavy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post

we used 14,000 staples. (not a joke)

I got you beat there - 25,000
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post #17 of 74 Old 06-02-2012, 01:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uberanalyst View Post

After about 100 hours each of Jeff and my time -- and 14,000 staples! -- here's the nearly-completed theater:


Is that a phone next to the door? I don't think I have seen that in a theater before.

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post #18 of 74 Old 06-02-2012, 07:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by AZGAMD View Post

Is that a phone next to the door? I don't think I have seen that in a theater before.

Yeah, we're over 30 years old and still have one of those old fashioned things called a telephone land line. :-)

Seriously, the house is big enough that I needed to install a phone switch (PBX) with more than a dozen extensions -- each includes a speakerphone and hence can be used as part of a whole-house intercom system.

Since our indoor cellphone coverage sucks, putting a phone extension into the home theater still permits receipt of incoming phone calls. The soundproof door makes it difficult to hear what's happening in the rest of the house, including the ringing of phones in other rooms.

I forgot to wire a doorbell in the theater, however. I suppose I could hook up a networked streaming videocamera covering the front door that would show on the theater screen. ;-)
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post #19 of 74 Old 06-02-2012, 09:17 PM
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Originally Posted by uberanalyst View Post

Yeah, we're over 30 years old and still have one of those old fashioned things called a telephone land line. :-)

I figured you were at least 75, since the head set on your land line still has a CORD. If you are going for that retro look, at least get a rotary one. Maybe one that glows red when you have an incoming call from Commissioner Gordon.
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post #20 of 74 Old 06-04-2012, 06:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spaceman View Post

I figured you were at least 75, since the head set on your land line still has a CORD. If you are going for that retro look, at least get a rotary one. Maybe one that glows red when you have an incoming call from Commissioner Gordon.

I know you're just kidding, but we rarely pick up the theater phone's corded handset. The wired Panasonic speakerphone on the wall is very handy as a 2-way intercom when somebody else in the house is trying to reach somebody down in the theater. It has multiple red LEDs that *do* flash with incoming intercom, voice pages, or calls -- necessary to grab your attention when movie explosions are happening.

We have a few more decades to go before reaching 75, but I'm old enough that my first home theater was back in the mid 1980s when I convinced my wife to let me cut a big hole in the family room ceiling to install a Kloss Novabeam (w/3 CRT tubes) -- projecting onto a pull-down screen over the fireplace -- so I could show Laserdisc and Betamax movies. :-)
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post #21 of 74 Old 06-04-2012, 07:00 AM
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I'm so old that my childhood home phone had a rotary dial. And our phone number was listed with letters and numbers. Ours was West 8 2560. You only dialed the first two letters, If you wanted to call another city you had to use an operator because area codes didn't exist. My grandmother lived in rural Illinois, I can remember my parents saying we can't call her after 10pm because you would have to wake the local operator who slept in the house with the switchboard. So it had to really be an emergency and of course you know she was listening.
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post #22 of 74 Old 06-04-2012, 11:45 AM - Thread Starter
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Here's a another element of the theater that's different from what I've seen on the forum.

5 years ago after I had hired a contractor to build the basic theater, including columns, riser, soffit, etc., I then had to figure out how to hang my SMX acoustically-transparent screen.

Since I had few woodworking tools (or skills -- I'm an EE/computer science grad), and I didn't trust a screenwall constructed of 2x4s to stay straight over time, I decided to order and construct a screen wall built of T-slot aluminum extrusions (http://www.automation4less.com/tslots1.htm).

I figured out exactly which pieces were needed (in which lengths), and ordered them to size. After they arrived it was like building with a giant erector set, bolting everything together. The resulting frame is complete overkill from a structural perspective, but it worked very nicely -- the Z-clip that came with my SMX screen bolted perfectly into slots of one of the upper cross-beams, making it easy to hang and remove the screen. (Pardon the curves in the photos caused by the wide-angle lens; the aluminum beams are perfectly straight




The fact that the frame was bolted together came in handy when the amplifier of my Velodyne DD-18 subwoofer died and I was forced to remove the sub from the corner for repair. While a bit of work, I was able to unbolt parts of the frame to get the sub out and then put it back in. I obviously wouldn't have been able to do that if I had created the frame out of wooden 2x4s.
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post #23 of 74 Old 06-04-2012, 01:17 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post

I'm so old that my childhood home phone had a rotary dial. And our phone number was listed with letters and numbers. Ours was West 8 2560. You only dialed the first two letters, If you wanted to call another city you had to use an operator because area codes didn't exist. My grandmother lived in rural Illinois, I can remember my parents saying we can't call her after 10pm because you would have to wake the local operator who slept in the house with the switchboard. So it had to really be an emergency and of course you know she was listening.

I think we had a rotary phone until the early 80's, at which time we upgraded to a cordless. I shared the phone with my 3 siblings and found it extremely fun to listen in on their calls on one of the AM stations. My hometown was small enough where you only had to dial the last 4 digits of your friends number (no 3-digit prefix required).
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post #24 of 74 Old 06-04-2012, 01:23 PM
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Nice work on the false wall. Do you recall approximately much it cost for all the parts? I'm assuming it's rattle-proof as long as everything is bolted together tightly. How are your fabric frames attached (friction fit?)
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post #25 of 74 Old 06-04-2012, 01:55 PM
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UberA: you took the screen down AGAIN?
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post #26 of 74 Old 06-04-2012, 03:38 PM
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Ah, interesting - so your false wall IS your screen frame (vs. having a screen frame that attaches to the false wall, like most have). I would have loved to make a frame out of the T slot material, but when I priced the parts out at 80/20, it worked out to about the same cost as a premade frame from Jamestown ($350). Granted the T-slot would have been more heavy duty for sure, but instant gratification won out.
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post #27 of 74 Old 06-04-2012, 06:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post

UberA: you took the screen down AGAIN?

Sure, to stuff more rigid fiberglass into the front corners for more bass trapping in preparation for re-calibration with Anthem Room Correction (ARC) -- using the microphone and test tones. I hadn't re-run ARC since we totally changed the acoustics of the room.

BTW, ARC now shows the front speakers as flat +/- 3db between about 120 - 10,000 Hz *prior* to any equalization being applied -- so I'm really happy with the way the room now sounds.
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post #28 of 74 Old 06-04-2012, 06:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spaceman View Post

Nice work on the false wall. Do you recall approximately much it cost for all the parts? I'm assuming it's rattle-proof as long as everything is bolted together tightly. How are your fabric frames attached (friction fit?)

I don't recall exactly, but the T-slot parts probably cost $400 or so 5 years ago. The frame is solid and very rattle-proof, and the Fidelio fabric-stretched-over-wood frames above and below the SMX screen are friction-fit (thanks to BIG's superior measurement and carpentry skills :-)
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post #29 of 74 Old 06-04-2012, 06:22 PM
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Very nice job, clean lines - looks great!

Love the ceiling, haven't seen "Milano Blue" used in ages, I thought it'd been stopped for some reason - how does it look with the projector on?

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post #30 of 74 Old 06-06-2012, 09:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Elill View Post

Very nice job, clean lines - looks great!


Love the ceiling, haven't seen "Milano Blue" used in ages, I thought it'd been stopped for some reason - how does it look with the projector on?

Well, the blue ceiling was painted 5 years ago, so I guess that was "ages" ago.

With the projector on and all lights (including rope lights) turned off, the ceiling not surprisingly looks like a darker blue. But now with the relatively dark fabric up on the walls, the soffits wrapped in black GOM fabric, and the entire front wrapped in Fidelio black velvet, it's possible to watch many movies/videos/programs with the soffit rope lighting on -- without washing out the blacks on the screen very much. This is useful if viewers/guests want to actually be sociable and see each other. It's also possible to dim the rope lights.
ellisr63 and Mampe235CIH like this.
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