New construction...help with free floor planning software - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 8 Old 01-18-2013, 01:25 PM - Thread Starter
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I am starting to design a new recroom/media room for my family of 5. We entertain a lot and have lots of kids over. The room plan is starting to take shape and will measure about 30' x 45'. In this very large space we will be adding all the standard goodies like pool, Ping-Pong, air-hockey, darts, etc. The room will have cathedral ceilings with exposed beams to hopefully give it a lodge/barn type look.

I have done some preliminary plans on www.floorplans.com but am wondering if there is another free online software solution that will give me some nice 3-d images which I can share here? Before I spend any money on my architect I want to have some decent ideas so I can help direct him.

One other quick question...the way I have drawn the theater room is about 20' wide by 15-16' deep. The back wall will be barn-type doors which I can open when we are shooting pool etc. and watching sports. My preliminary plans after running to BestBuy and reading a bunch here is to get the Epson 5010e projector and the ScreenInnovations black diamond screen. I would like to do about 110" diagonal screen size with two rows of seating (would like to seat upwards of 12-14 people when necessary). I'm a little concerned that the front row viewing distance of about 7.5' may be too close with a screen that big. However, with the doors open, I really want to bring the media experience out into the rest of the recroom.

I'll post a floor plan later this evening but would like to know how I can get some nice 3D renderings which I can also post.

Thanks for taking the time to read this long first-time post. I think this could be an amazing room if done right.
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post #2 of 8 Old 01-18-2013, 01:30 PM
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folks seem to like google sketchup on here - haven't used it myself though.

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post #3 of 8 Old 01-18-2013, 01:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarinS View Post

..the way I have drawn the theater room is about 20' wide by 15-16' deep. The back wall will be barn-type doors which I can open when we are shooting pool etc. and watching sports. My preliminary plans after running to BestBuy and reading a bunch here is to get the Epson 5010e projector and the ScreenInnovations black diamond screen. I would like to do about 110" diagonal screen size with two rows of seating (would like to seat upwards of 12-14 people when necessary). I'm a little concerned that the front row viewing distance of about 7.5' may be too close with a screen that big. However, with the doors open, I really want to bring the media experience out into the rest of the recroom.

Welcome, you came to the right place and you will get lot's of suggestions when you post a rough plan. Now the bad news.

you need some serious planning help and the basic design service offered by the Erskine group ($500) may be just the ticket

My thoughts:

14 people having a prime view of a 110 inch diagonal screen is a really big wish, it is too small
six to seven chairs sitting 7.5 ft from the screen isn't practical. the row of seating is too wide for the size of screen and it is too close
Planning a rear wall that opens so you can "bring the media experience" isn't a realistic expectation. Kind of like than watching your Living room TV from the kitchen. Do you enjoy that?
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post #4 of 8 Old 01-18-2013, 02:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post

Welcome, you came to the right place and you will get lot's of suggestions when you post a rough plan. Now the bad news.

you need some serious planning help and the basic design service offered by the Erskine group ($500) may be just the ticket

My thoughts:

14 people having a prime view of a 110 inch diagonal screen is a really big wish, it is too small
six to seven chairs sitting 7.5 ft from the screen isn't practical. the row of seating is too wide for the size of screen and it is too close
Planning a rear wall that opens so you can "bring the media experience" isn't a realistic expectation. Kind of like than watching your Living room TV from the kitchen. Do you enjoy that?

I hear you loud and clear. I am less concerned with "optimum" viewing for everyone than I am for functionality for the overall space. That being said, however, I do want some nice viewing for those in the center. My current viewing set up is a 55" plasma in my den which used to be a garage. Sound in there is via a Bose satellite system so anything I do will be a very big improvement, I would think. As far as "Kind of like than watching your Living room TV from the kitchen. Do you enjoy that" I understand what you are saying, but I would like to be able to shoot pool and watch a sporting event in between shots. I have seen numerous photos on the web of media areas which are not your prototypical enclosed home theater. As I am simply in the design phase, I can basically do whatever it is we want (including making the space bigger) and we are still trying to find the right identity for the space.

I'll try to post some potential plans later.

Thanks for the input. This is exactly the kind of stuff I was looking for.

D.
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post #5 of 8 Old 01-18-2013, 02:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarinS View Post

One other quick question...the way I have drawn the theater room is about 20' wide by 15-16' deep. The back wall will be barn-type doors which I can open when we are shooting pool etc. and watching sports. My preliminary plans after running to BestBuy and reading a bunch here is to get the Epson 5010e projector and the ScreenInnovations black diamond screen. I would like to do about 110" diagonal screen size with two rows of seating (would like to seat upwards of 12-14 people when necessary). I'm a little concerned that the front row viewing distance of about 7.5' may be too close with a screen that big. However, with the doors open, I really want to bring the media experience out into the rest of the recroom.

Echoing BIG's comments. Flip those dimensions as a start, think about a smaller "prime" seat count and supplement with a bar table, beanbags, etc. One of the things I figured out during my planning was - how often will you really fill up the theater? I originally planned for 15 people, and backed it down to 12, with 4 being at the bar. I've filled it to capacity a number of times, but more often than not there's several seats leftover...

The other thing I'd recommend is to NOT do the barn door idea on the theater. If you want to expand the media space to include the rec/games area, put a flat screen or two on the walls, and add the wiring to echo the display in the theater. Having had an open plan where movie-watching was taking place at the same time as a pinball game (similar noise will come from any game room activity, not even counting the kids!), it was not practical to watch a movie while anything else was going on. The ability to separate the areas for multiple activities should be something to consider, just as much as combining the rooms for larger stuff.

For me, the enclosed area works much better, and for big events (Super Bowl), the same content is everywhere, and folks that are "serious" about watching the event naturally migrate into the theater.

Barn doors will leak light and sound badly, not to mention cause a lot of distractions when used during a movie...


Jeff

Rock Creek Theater -- CIH, Panamorph, Martin Logan, SVS PB2000, Carada Masquerade, Grafik Eye, Bar table, Green Glue, JVC RS50 
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post #6 of 8 Old 01-18-2013, 02:50 PM
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You may have noticed that we have high standards for what it means to have a "big screen experience" around here. You're free to make your own compromises of course - we all do - but we'll keep trying to point you toward a more immersive and high fidelity experience. Here's a few things to consider.

SMPTE recommends you sit at a distance 2 to 4 times the screen height - THX gives a little more leeway. Here's a good diagram you may have seen posted here before.


BIG has made measurements of common recliner theater seats and concluded that 6.5 feet is the minimum distance between rows of seats. Let's pick 7 as a rounder number and allowing for better movement between rows for crowds and kids. If your room is 20 feet wide, you can probably fit 4 or even 5 seats in a row - again assuming the normal recliners. That means that to properly seat 12, you need three rows. (can you see where this is going yet? wink.gif ) Not knowing exactly how big a screen you need, let's back the first row up from the screen 12 feet. (that's distance to eyeballs) That puts the second row at 19, and the third at 26. I can tell you already that this pushes some of the seats out of SMPTE recommendations, because the rear is more than twice the distance of the fronts, but I'll press on for the sake of the thought experiment. For the third row to be within 4x screen height, you'll need a 6.5' tall screen. At the paltry aspect ratio of 1.78:1, that screen is 11.6 (ish) feet wide. 75 square feet of screen is a lot of screen, and even with a black diamond screen, you'll need a lot of lumens to fill it. See what I'm getting at?

The audio conversation goes a similar way. Providing complete surround coverage to that many seats will mean things like more than one speaker per channel, which will mean expensive outboard audio processing (to be right), not to mention filling that space with reference level sound will mean a lot of sensitive loudspeakers and a lot of amplification.

Honestly, I don't think there are more than a handful of private homes with cinemas of the caliber (size and quality) I'm talking about - so understand that I'm deliberately pushing the limits. My own theater (under construction) will seat about half that many, in about a quarter the space, but I'm still shooting for a reference level experience in all 6 seats. I hope to do it for about $20,000, all told (including construction materials, not counting pizza and beer budget for my friends who help).

If you're designing from scratch, and shooting for high quality, start with a budget and work first with overall dimensions and optimized audio, then fill in a screen and projector that are appropriate for the space.

Fred

Edit: well now i see your response to BIG above, and much of this is moot, but it's still relevant in some ways.
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post #7 of 8 Old 01-18-2013, 03:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HopefulFred View Post

You may have noticed that we have high standards for what it means to have a "big screen experience" around here. You're free to make your own compromises of course - we all do - but we'll keep trying to point you toward a more immersive and high fidelity experience. Here's a few things to consider.

SMPTE recommends you sit at a distance 2 to 4 times the screen height - THX gives a little more leeway. Here's a good diagram you may have seen posted here before.


BIG has made measurements of common recliner theater seats and concluded that 6.5 feet is the minimum distance between rows of seats. Let's pick 7 as a rounder number and allowing for better movement between rows for crowds and kids. If your room is 20 feet wide, you can probably fit 4 or even 5 seats in a row - again assuming the normal recliners. That means that to properly seat 12, you need three rows. (can you see where this is going yet? wink.gif ) Not knowing exactly how big a screen you need, let's back the first row up from the screen 12 feet. (that's distance to eyeballs) That puts the second row at 19, and the third at 26. I can tell you already that this pushes some of the seats out of SMPTE recommendations, because the rear is more than twice the distance of the fronts, but I'll press on for the sake of the thought experiment. For the third row to be within 4x screen height, you'll need a 6.5' tall screen. At the paltry aspect ratio of 1.78:1, that screen is 11.6 (ish) feet wide. 75 square feet of screen is a lot of screen, and even with a black diamond screen, you'll need a lot of lumens to fill it. See what I'm getting at?

The audio conversation goes a similar way. Providing complete surround coverage to that many seats will mean things like more than one speaker per channel, which will mean expensive outboard audio processing (to be right), not to mention filling that space with reference level sound will mean a lot of sensitive loudspeakers and a lot of amplification.

Honestly, I don't think there are more than a handful of private homes with cinemas of the caliber (size and quality) I'm talking about - so understand that I'm deliberately pushing the limits. My own theater (under construction) will seat about half that many, in about a quarter the space, but I'm still shooting for a reference level experience in all 6 seats. I hope to do it for about $20,000, all told (including construction materials, not counting pizza and beer budget for my friends who help).

If you're designing from scratch, and shooting for high quality, start with a budget and work first with overall dimensions and optimized audio, then fill in a screen and projector that are appropriate for the space.

Fred

Edit: well now i see your response to BIG above, and much of this is moot, but it's still relevant in some ways.

Nope, not irrelevant at all. I can already see from the few posts that the direction I was going was flawed by lack of experience. As I'm getting ready to drop $100k+ on this room (remember, this is a new construction/addition to our home), I want to make wise, informed choices. All of these posts have been VERY helpful. Honestly, after reading other stuff on this site, I was beginning to see already how my ideas weren't going to work.

I also am thankful for the previous post by Jeff who mentioned his personal [negative] experience with the open theater floor plan. As it turns out, I can easily flip that space lengthways and put monitors out in the gaming area for game days-type activities. I'm sure that will serve my nerves anyhow as I don't like extraneous noise when I'm immersed in a movie.

Keep 'em coming. Thanks VERY much!

D.
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post #8 of 8 Old 01-18-2013, 03:58 PM
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Originally Posted by DarinS View Post

I also am thankful for the previous post by Jeff who mentioned his personal [negative] experience with the open theater floor plan. As it turns out, I can easily flip that space lengthways and put monitors out in the gaming area for game days-type activities. I'm sure that will serve my nerves anyhow as I don't like extraneous noise when I'm immersed in a movie.

No problem! Long before I built my current house I had bookmarked an early issue of Stereophile's Guide to Home Theater that had what I thought was an awesome media room layout - theater up front, pool table behind, game table off to one side and a bar with seating to complete the square. I thought that was perfect... Until I had friends over to watch a movie, and their kids ran to the open-plan game room (upstairs, above the family room which was my 'theater' at the time) to play the pinball machine. Needless to say, we had to shut that down...

So my thinking changed, and I went with the dedicated theater, with the game room / bar just outside it. My pinball machine is actually at the other end of the house in a spare bedroom biggrin.gif... My first floorplan for the house had the upstairs bedrooms adjacent to the gameroom such that I could use double doors (or a door-and-a-half) to open those space(s) for use as non-bedrooms. The layout I arrived at is a modified version of that - my "poker room' is just a bedroom adjacent to the game room, with one wall missing. If someone wanted to convert it, it's possible. Now, that said, anyone buying my home would be silly to make that choice instead of buying another house with the correct # of bedrooms - I assume the future owner of this house will be buying it for the entertaining space... smile.gif

Jeff

Rock Creek Theater -- CIH, Panamorph, Martin Logan, SVS PB2000, Carada Masquerade, Grafik Eye, Bar table, Green Glue, JVC RS50 
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