Would you do it again? (are you using your completed theater?) - AVS Forum
Dedicated Theater Design & Construction > Would you do it again? (are you using your completed theater?)
RicardoD's Avatar RicardoD 04:08 PM 10-03-2012

I am long time AVS forum member and way back in the year 2000 had Dennis Erskine design a theater space for my low ceiling basement which I was never able to build. Instead I went forward a media room setup in my family room with a projector and large screen. It fit the family budget and my wife and I enjoyed the large screen cinema impact. Wow has a lot changed since then. I am in a new house in a new state but once again considering adding a dedicated home theater to my home.

My question is for those of you who have invested significantly in this dedicated space was it worth it? Or could you also see an alternate use for the money you spent that would derive equal value for your family. I am married and have two boys ages 10 & 8 and can envision, movies, football games, and video game playing. I could simply just add a regular family room to my home, with windows, and a large flat panel television to give our home the extra recreation room it needs. The alternative is the properly designed 2 row home theater that starts with a blank sheet of paper. That costs a bit more.

Perhaps this is the wrong place to ask, but I see a lot of build threads (it is clear that the building is 1/2 the fun for many) and then silence. I want to know what happens after the build. Are you using your theaters as much as you thought?

All the best,

J_P_A's Avatar J_P_A 04:48 PM 10-03-2012
This comes up from time to time, but thanks to the new and "improved" search function, I can't find the specific threads I was looking for. Google turned this one up, though. Not exactly what you're after, but at least it gives an idea of how much people use their theater.
RicardoD's Avatar RicardoD 05:14 PM 10-03-2012
I thought I saw that thread earlier but couldn't find it. Thanks so much for the link, its exactly what I was looking for.

Unacceptable's Avatar Unacceptable 06:25 PM 10-03-2012
Funny timing on this one.

I'm nearing the completion of mine in the next couple of weeks after having spent exactly one year building it on weekends and nights after work. I spend a LOT of time lately wondering if I will enjoy using the room as much as I've enjoyed the time spent building it.

I'm a software developer by trade so the challenge and problem solving, combined with actually building something in the real world that I can touch and feel, has been immensely enjoyable and will be very hard to top.

I will miss this part for sure.
Sonyad's Avatar Sonyad 10:36 PM 10-03-2012
No denying the beauty of a properly built home theatre, but it's important to weight the benefits of what I call the shut and watch room. If the theater space will dominate your recreation area, is it your expectation that most visitors will devote 2 hours watching a movie of someone's choice? Does running your whole recreation area as a theatre mesh with intermingling with guests who come in willy nilly?

One the front page there's an article about home theaters. Someone commented that eating and sleeping (sofa vs. theater seats) negating a room being a home theater. My view is to attain the best video and audio I'm willing to buy and I reserve the right to munch on popcorn, pizza and buffalo wings and pass out on the sectional while watching the movie of my choice.
RicardoD's Avatar RicardoD 11:48 PM 10-03-2012
You are right in that there is a big difference between a windowless bat cave and an open living room/media room floorplan. Currently I have very comfortable family room with sectional couch, skylights, and beautiful views. What I am adding is either another family room, so I can kick the kids out of my family room and they can play their video games when I want to watch football, or add on the dedicated home theater bat cave. I do like the fact that my intended space is not in a basement but a 1st level addition accessible via our current family room. I don't really entertain but like the idea of having another couple over for dinner and a movie, or having a space that becomes an area for my kid's friends to come over and hang out. And as they get older, closing the theater doors and not letting the kids bother my wife and I in the adjacent room.

Mat1220's Avatar Mat1220 03:16 PM 10-04-2012
I have two boys ages 7 and 9 with a third on the way. We have so many activities, from soccer, guitar lessons, swiming, baseball, karate, etc., that we don't use our home theatre ( http://www.avsforum.com/t/1409425/small-diy-dedicated-theatre-post-build-and-retrospective ) very often. Right from the start I layed down the ground rules... the theatre was just that, a theatre. Not a media room, not a play room, not a tv room. It was to be kept special. Sometimes, we will go a week or two without even opening the door. But when I do... Ricardo, that feeling is incredible. Sometimes I will just walk in and close the door and sit there by myself without even watching a movie... just looking around. The room is very special to me and my family. When a special movie is released on blueray, or if the planets and stars all align for everyone to be free to plan and watch a movie, it becomes an "event". We will anticipate the evening or afternoon in the theatre and it makes us all very happy and excited. Once the smell of popcorn starts to fill the house and the kids are getting their drinks ready and picking their seats, it's the best!! For me the fact that the theatre doesn't get used very often keeps it special. I would do it again and again and again!! smile.gif
RicardoD's Avatar RicardoD 04:18 PM 10-04-2012
That's very cool Mat1220. Thanks for sharing. You did a terrific job on your room using simple design elements to make a special place for your family.
secondhander's Avatar secondhander 11:50 AM 10-05-2012
For us, it was never about using it every night, its to replace the movie experience we lost after having kids lol. We use to go the movies 2 or 3 times a month but shortly after our first kid (He's 3 years old and our second is due on the 24th), we realized those nights out were very far and few between. After selling our first house a year ago, we had some small, extra cash so I convinced my wife to let me have a go at the basement.
cntl's Avatar cntl 02:17 PM 10-18-2012
We had a dedicated home theater in our old home. This was about 12 years ago so it started with a CRT projector and a high gain screen. At first we used it a lot but started using it less and less. After a few years I replaced the projector with a DILA G11. Hated it! Horrible blacks and the projector fan was to distracting. After it sat pretty much unused I replaced the screen with a 55" LCD TV. It got used much more but the theater was slowly repurposed as an office/media room.

We moved 2 years ago to a much larger home and thought we would just leave the unfinished basement alone, but now my kids are teenagers and we are realizing we need an area they can hangout with friends. So...I'm going to build another theater but this time make it more of a game room but with some kind of theater feel. Been having a blast reading about the new projectors and screens on the forum again. Construction starts in 2 weeks.
c-not-k's Avatar c-not-k 02:37 PM 10-18-2012
I'd do it again. Our theater was built about seven years ago. My kids are now 13 & 14. It's had its peaks and valleys of use, but the kids now bring friend over for "Movie Nights". My wife and I don't use it as much as I'd like, but that'll hopefully change in five years or so.Whenhe I work from home I'm often in the theater. Projector off and a little music in the background. Like Mat1220 said, we are all still very pleased with the room, and I still go down there sometimes just to look at it.
randy98mtu's Avatar randy98mtu 07:55 PM 10-18-2012
Beautiful space Mat1220!

I am nearing completion of phase 1 for my room (a functional theater, far from my final vision.) I have been wondering the same thing. Though I am the opposite of Mat1220. I plan to use it a lot to just spend time with my family. I think I will use it for regular TV, sports, movies. I do consider leaving it closed so the pets don't go in there and ask the kids not to go in there when we aren't around. I have 2 daughters, 3 and 2, and a third daughter coming at the end of next month. Hoping to have a functional space by the time number 3 arrives.
R Harkness's Avatar R Harkness 10:13 AM 10-19-2012
I've considered starting a thread about a somewhat similar subject: what is the state of "dedicated" Home Theater these days? It was certainly a rising trend for quite a while in the 2000s, but I have the sense - and I don't know if it's right or not - that the trend is cooling off somewhat. Probably due to all the competing ways we absorb our entertainment media, people aren't bothering building dedicated home theaters as much. I've heard the trend is more toward media rooms, more flexible and accessible. Also, I get the sense traffic is even down somewhat in this forum than it used to be (again...it's more a sense of things, I don't know if it's true).

Anyway...as to the OP question, I didn't build a dedicated room per se - I turned my living room into an AV room - music listening, movie watching, some sports. But I did it with the verve of someone making
a dedicated theater. While I was using an existing room, I didn't want to sacrifice "dedicated home theater" quality. I achieved my goals (you can see the results in the links below my name).

Frankly it was torture to build. I was practically sick of the whole thing by the time I was about finished it. But once finished...aaaahhhhh. It has been the most satisfying project I've ever done.
I use it constantly, almost every day either for relaxing, listening to music, reading, watching movies (my passion) or having friends over to watch the UFC (it's become "the" place for those events, packed for every event). It is so ridiculously comfortable and inviting, and the sound and picture quality so incredible, I can't stay out of the place. Years after it's completion I keep pinching myself with glee as I use it. I've had so many great times watching stuff with my kid, be it getting them hooked on the original Twilight Zone series, or the original Star Trek, which look stupendous on the big screen in Blu-Ray.

I have to say that the general casualness and accessibility of the room, being a main room on the main floor, helps tremendously with the ease of using the room a lot. It also depends on your personality.
I'm very social and like to feel connected to the world, so in that sense I love the fact my room is not hidden away in the bowels of my house. Whereas others want to feel that "getaway" feeling, and like isolation.
kromkamp's Avatar kromkamp 11:16 AM 10-19-2012
We use ours almost every day. For me the room is primarily to watch TV/Movies with the lights down or off, but my front row is a sectional sofa so it also serves as an area to entertain guests. And, because it's soundproofed, we don't need to worry about making noise after our 2yo daughter goes to sleep.

For our daughter, we can also envision the stage area being something she will play on when she gets a little older. Plus, because I excavated a 10'x10' portion of the room in order to do tiered seating, what we have now can be turned into the sweetest ball pit ever biggrin.gif

I see you are in Santa Cruz - I'm in Toronto where the weather is crappy for six months of the year - no doubt that could affect your decision. Your kids are also of an age where you are very close to having some of your freedom back!
GoCaboNow's Avatar GoCaboNow 11:30 AM 10-19-2012
The big advantage of a dedicated theater is it is special to use it because it is separate. Everyone has a general family room to hang in but the dedicated room is where you make an effort to go to. I find it raises folks attention and mindset and makes whatever you do there a little more special than just in your family room. We still use our alot to entertain, have kids parties or for me to watch "guy" movies at night after all my girls are in bed. smile.gif

The theater is a luxury though. We have a separate play space for the girls, and a gym, and without that I may have tried to incorporate more multi use into the space.
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