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Old 06-17-2014, 07:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Doug's Spezzo Theater - Erskine Build

Hey all, long time stalker/studier, finally about to kick off my own project!

First off, I want to thank everyone that has made this site what it is. There are many experts and passionate DIYers out there that have given me some AWESOME ideas, without which I wouldn't be able to tackle this! I'll try to make sure I always give credit on ideas, but if I forget you, please forgive me!

So, my project:
We just moved into our dream home, and it's been a lot of fun. It was a 3 yr vacant short sale, so there's a LOT to do. It's an AMAZING place though, so we're really excited about all the potential. One of the things that was a MUST have for both of us was a movie room, and this house had one! We were both really excited to start on it, but some of the posts here have me nervous (more about that later). I started by ripping out all the carpet in the basement, then began researching projectors. That led me to this site, which (after months of reading) led me to the fact that I know less than nothing about a dedicated HT room!

Right now, I'm looking to really grab this project by the horns, figure out where we're going. At this point I think I know enough to REALLY be a danger to myself and others, and am hoping for some ideas/comments/suggestions on how to improve the plan before I start demo!!

I'm an OCD kinda guy, so stand by for "plan" and "current state" posts...

Last edited by DougUSMC; 12-21-2014 at 07:48 AM. Reason: Change title
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Old 06-17-2014, 07:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Ok, current status and "The Big Problem":

The room was finished as a dedicated HT room when we moved in. The first thing I did in the entire house was prime the walls and trim, to get rid of the Ravens Purple and Gold (Originally from Boston, go Pats!!). Then we ripped out the carpet, as it was old and musty.

The room was really hooked up in the day (when it was build, 2005), with the following:
- Klipsch speakers wired up in a 5.1 surround, to a panel on the wall
- Originally had a projector and screen (removed by owner), wired up thru the ceiling
- One riser in the room, ~6 ft wide
- Pre-wires for 4 sconces inside, 2 outside
- Leviton switching throughout
- (2) x 2 coax for cable
- (2) x 2 cat 5 for ethernet

The main concerns I have are:
- The room is almost EXACTLY the wrong shape (15'8" x 16'2" x 9)
- The length is about 2-3" short (almost exactly 10' from screen to first row seats)
- No where I can see for an equip rack / 400+ BluRay/DVD collection
- I REALLY want an AT (~120") screen and upgraded 9.2 surround (see prob 2)
- I'd like to have a stage/proscenium, but don't think I have the room

Here's a ROUGH plan (made in PPT, almost done w/the CAD software I got), and current state pics:



Entryway Pics (from basement bar)





Front Wall (excuse the ping pong table!!)


Left Wall (view from inside room)


Right Wall


Back Wall
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Last edited by DougUSMC; 06-17-2014 at 10:51 AM.
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Old 06-17-2014, 07:16 AM - Thread Starter
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The plan is really in several different steps right now, depending on final design. I think that I'm going to have to strip everything down to the studs, and then decide where to go from there.

Step 1: Tear down to studs. See what I have for insulation, wiring, electrical, etc. Determine if I can overcome the acoustic limitations of the square room, then go from there.

Step 2: Framing: Potentially resize the room, to take two feet off the width OR take two feet off the length, for the AT screen? Not really sure how to go from here, which would everyone recommend? Frame in a new stage, new risers, etc?

Step 3: Finishing: Re-rock the walls, design work, etc

What am I missing?

Last edited by DougUSMC; 06-17-2014 at 11:55 AM.
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Old 06-17-2014, 07:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Here's my wish list for AV gear, it's still a work in progress, so comments would be appreciated:
- Projector: Epson 5030UB
- Screen: Da-Lite Da-Snap High Contrast Audio Vision, 120"
- Speakers: Klipsch
- Center: RC-62 II
- Front: (2) RF-82 II
- Front Presence: (2) RB-61 II
- Surround: (2) RS-52 II
- Rear: (2) RS-52 II
- Sub: (2) SW-112
- AMP: Onkyo PA-MC5501
- Receiver: Onkyo PR-SC5509
- Global Cache IP IR converters
- iRule
- MoviePoster Software

I'm not 100% sure I need an amplifier to drive those 9.2 speakers, but worry that I won't have enough power w/o one? Thoughts?

Overall on my build idea?

Last edited by DougUSMC; 06-17-2014 at 11:05 AM.
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Old 06-17-2014, 08:30 AM
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Congrats and good luck. I can't see the pics, but it may be because I'm on an android tablet now.

You list the seating distance but not the screen size you are going to use. I personally like the front row a little closer than recommended so the back row isn't too far back, but everyone's taste is different.
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Old 06-17-2014, 12:03 PM - Thread Starter
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As for inspiriation, I have a couple of different ways I want to go. Both of these borrow (steal) heavily on some amazing design work I found while reading up on Falcon Screens.

1) My favorite "clean and modern" look is The Rawlinsway Theater by BIGmouthinDC and NYGiantsFan23 . Much props to you gents, she is a thing of beauty!


2) Going more for a "golden age of movies" feel, I really like the design and decor of this "traditionalist" Red and Gold design. I can't find the original source for this one, but she's great looking!



I'm going to play with my CAD design tonight, and see what I can mock up.
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Old 06-17-2014, 08:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DougUSMC View Post
The plan is really in several different steps right now, depending on final design. I think that I'm going to have to strip everything down to the studs, and then decide where to go from there.

Step 1: Tear down to studs. See what I have for insulation, wiring, electrical, etc. Determine if I can overcome the acoustic limitations of the square room, then go from there.

Step 2: Framing: Potentially resize the room, to take two feet off the width OR take two feet off the length, for the AT screen? Not really sure how to go from here, which would everyone recommend? Frame in a new stage, new risers, etc?

Step 3: Finishing: Re-rock the walls, design work, etc

What am I missing?
Step 1) only necessary if you really want to improve sound isolation, otherwise you can leave as is. Note if you want to do better sound isolation that door will need to go. Sound isolation is only as good as your weakest link. Wiring and electrical you can determine through testing and looking at the ends that are in the J-boxes or hanging out the walls. You can always overcome room acoustic limitations however the smaller and squarer the room the more difficult it becomes. Multiple subs in specific mode cancelling arrangements can do wonders under 100Hz, but you are still stuck with >100Hz issues, which you'll need to deal with through acoustic treatment. Education: subwoofer learning page, multi-sub case study

Step 2) you don't need 2 ft for a false / baffle wall. If you use the right speakers you can do an 8" baffle, and hang the screen a couple of inches in front. Education: THX baffle wall case study

Step 3) I'd strongly advise you do design before you start re-framing and tearing down walls, otherwise you might end up like some other people on here who end up doing stuff twice

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Old 06-17-2014, 08:38 PM
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Doors are so easy to change, swap it out for a single, and if there is lots of clearance on the outside of the room consider and outswinging door. When I say lots of clearance it doesn't open into a narrow hall where something could easily wedge the door shut. Are either ends of the room adjacent to unfinished space where you could steal some more space?

Right now you don't have room on the riser for full size reclining theater seating.
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Old 06-18-2014, 05:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the comments guys.

Nyal: I'm going to reserve my comments 'til I've had the chance to read and digest those references you linked, thanks. TBH, I don't know why my square room is bad, other than everyone saying that multiples or matching is bad. I'm hoping those links will clue me in to if/how I can overcome it. The 8" spacing sounds good to me, and the design is coming along...

Big: Thanks for the door suggestion! They're the bane in my existence right now, with swing, and potential speaker replacement. And I never considered just replacing them with a single! There's plenty of swing space on the outside. I'll attach the "real" floorplan later, but the short version is "no". There's a full bath on one side, and a finished utility room on the other. My kingdom for 3 more feet of space...
I was trying to guess "good riser size" on this one. The current is 6', and I was thinking going down to 5' would be ok? What should I really consider my min? It looks like most of the chairs are ~ 30" x 24"?
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Old 06-18-2014, 03:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nyal Mellor View Post
Step 1) only necessary if you really want to improve sound isolation, otherwise you can leave as is. Note if you want to do better sound isolation that door will need to go. Sound isolation is only as good as your weakest link. Wiring and electrical you can determine through testing and looking at the ends that are in the J-boxes or hanging out the walls. You can always overcome room acoustic limitations however the smaller and squarer the room the more difficult it becomes. Multiple subs in specific mode cancelling arrangements can do wonders under 100Hz, but you are still stuck with >100Hz issues, which you'll need to deal with through acoustic treatment. Education: subwoofer learning page, multi-sub case study

Step 2) you don't need 2 ft for a false / baffle wall. If you use the right speakers you can do an 8" baffle, and hang the screen a couple of inches in front. Education: THX baffle wall case study

Step 3) I'd strongly advise you do design before you start re-framing and tearing down walls, otherwise you might end up like some other people on here who end up doing stuff twice
Ok, I read through the references, and I have to admit that a lot of it was lost on me. I believe I understood that most of the Subwoofer studies were about how well spec'd and placed subs can help overcome audio problems with the room? I'd be lying if I said that I understood most of it tho, or really feel that I can apply it?

I dug the THX baffle wall case study, maybe it was just more in "layman's terms"? That gave me hope, but I'm a little concerned that the speakers used will be out of my budget?

I'm trying to work on the design, it just seems like the more I read, the less I really know?

Thanks for all the help tho, it is very much appreciated!
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Old 06-18-2014, 04:03 PM
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I'm trying to work on the design, it just seems like the more I read, the less I really know?
I think that's life in general?!

On the surface home theater design might seem straightforward but once you get into the details it most certainly is not. It gets complicated quickly, especially with respect to acoustics.

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Old 06-18-2014, 04:24 PM
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Thanks for the comments guys.
I was trying to guess "good riser size" on this one. The current is 6', and I was thinking going down to 5' would be ok? What should I really consider my min? It looks like most of the chairs are ~ 30" x 24"?
Reclining Home theater seating require 6 1/2 ft minimum
upright seating less
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Old 06-18-2014, 07:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Ok, here's my first whack at a design, incorporating the advice thus far.

Thoughts??

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Old 06-19-2014, 08:22 AM
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It's hard to tell much from that drawing. You're on the right track though...the layout should include:
- seat location
- screen size, aspect ratio
- speaker layout

You need to look at things in both plan and elevation. You'll find that one thing influences the other. There are industry guidelines from CEDIA, THX, Dolby, etc that you should try and design your theater to.

Generally I would try and keep one seat on the screen centerline (the money seat). Seats close to surround speakers and walls are going to be sonically challenged.

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Old 06-19-2014, 11:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Now THAT's what I'm talking about!! I've read a lot of great stuff, but your post was so perfectly timed to my current confusion, that I'm about to search out some tinfoil for a new hat!!

While I was working on that design, I was having a hard time getting everything to fit, and an even HARDER time working out the "what's really necessary".

The Seat Location lesson really cleared up some things for me, and I'm actually looking to change out my configuration. I liked the 'Superbowl Party' analogy, and I'm considering changing based on that. Combining that with your 'money seat' recommendation, and my space recommendations, I'm thinking 3 recliners in front, one long sofa in back. The real question I have is: Should the money seat be first row or second?
I know, most answers will probably be "depends on what you prefer...", but I'm looking for pros and cons. I can't think thru this problem yet w/the limited experience I have. Primary uses will be just the fam (currently 3 of us, one on the way), secondary will be about 4-5 for movie nights. And lastly I expect more "kids time", as my son is about to hit High School in Sept. I'm thinking the 3+ couch solution knocks those all out, and helps me save space. My other main concern is about to be #2 ...

Screen size: I have a fairly large front wall, and a lot of space to do things. After some other readings today, I think I'm about to eat 4' of that with bass trap. Add about 2-3 ft for columns or drapery (haven't decided yet), and I should be able to fit a 110" wide screen pretty well. I'm looking at a 2:35 screen, Epson 5030UB, and playing with the ProjectorCentral tool, and it looks like I can just squeeze it well, if I put the projector in a hush box right below the rear soffit. Obviously I want the biggest screen I can fit, but I worry that I'm not setting myself up for optimal viewing distance in either row?
My rough diagram (don't know final screen placement, and going w/the 3 + couch above) shows the current front center seat at ~ 9'6" from the screen and the rear at ~ 14'6". If I understand the Horizontal Viewing Angles article properly, then I want to be at .84w for SMPTE closest and 1.67w for SMPTE farthest, with an ideal of 1.26w. For my application that would be 7.7 closest, 15.3 furthest, 11.55 ideal? If I understand the implications correctly, that tells me that both my seating choices and screen size should be good, but neither row is in the visual sweet spot?

Speaker Layout: This was really helpful too, since I'm having a hard time finalizing. I think I want 9.2, but not sure why?
I'm thinking 5 behind the screen, 2 surround, 2 back? After reading the article, I'm not really sure now? I think that the recommendations say that won't work with my new design, but I'm not sure? Mainly I've been placing the columns where they look good, but that's obviously not going to get me far...

Updated (simple) diagram incoming...
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Old 06-19-2014, 11:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Here's an updated (better?) design.

I'm trying to show maximum use of the space, so input is welcome!

Brown diamonds are bass traps
Red squiggles are curtains
black/grey boxes are speakers (or speakers in columns on the sides)

Not shown: Soffit, wall treatments, electrical, proscenium, stage?

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Old 06-23-2014, 06:47 AM - Thread Starter
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Ok, I'm stalled. I think I have enough info to move forward, but I'm worried that I'm doing myself a disservice by not bringing in smarter folks.

My concern is that I'll get everything done, and have spent too much money for $hitty results. I've been leaning towards farming out the thinking part to the Erskine Group Layout Service, but don't know if that would meet my needs?

I can tear down walls, and put up new ones. I can build most of what I need, handle most of the electrical, and generally WANT to do the DIY stuff. I don't have the biggest budget, but want good results for my money. I understand the limitations of the budget and room size, but would really like to optimize what I can do in the room.

My question is: Would the service help to take my general design (above) and tailor it so that it sounds right? Am I asking too much from the package I'm considering buying?

Reading the thread, it looks like a lot of AVS folks have used the service. Any advice from anyone that has?
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Old 06-23-2014, 07:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DougUSMC View Post
Thanks for the comments guys.

Nyal: I'm going to reserve my comments 'til I've had the chance to read and digest those references you linked, thanks. TBH, I don't know why my square room is bad, other than everyone saying that multiples or matching is bad. I'm hoping those links will clue me in to if/how I can overcome it. The 8" spacing sounds good to me, and the design is coming along...

Big: Thanks for the door suggestion! They're the bane in my existence right now, with swing, and potential speaker replacement. And I never considered just replacing them with a single! There's plenty of swing space on the outside. I'll attach the "real" floorplan later, but the short version is "no". There's a full bath on one side, and a finished utility room on the other. My kingdom for 3 more feet of space...
I was trying to guess "good riser size" on this one. The current is 6', and I was thinking going down to 5' would be ok? What should I really consider my min? It looks like most of the chairs are ~ 30" x 24"?
Keep in mind you can actually move the door's location. We closed off a door completely on one side and opened up a door on the other side. It's as simple as shifting some studs around. If the door is getting in the way of speaker placement, I'd definitely suggest moving it out of the way (even if it's just a few feet to get the speaker placement you want).

I just moved my mechanicals (HVAC Water Heater) and demoed a bathroom (for reconstruction elsewhere later). If you think you'd like those extra three feet, I can recommend a great company who will do the move to code specifications (the work just passed county inspection very easily last Thursday). Give Jerry's Heating & Plumbing a call at 231-818-0524. They did mine to very impressive specs and if you use them for the bathroom relocation too, they'll knock some $ off the mechanicals move in good faith. Tell them Matt B. in Charles County sent you--He'll know exactly what you're looking to do.

BTW--I see you're in Elicott City....I used to live very close to you, and still do a lot of consulting up there in the Ft. Meade area.
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Old 06-23-2014, 07:19 AM
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Originally Posted by DougUSMC View Post
Ok, I'm stalled. I think I have enough info to move forward, but I'm worried that I'm doing myself a disservice by not bringing in smarter folks.

My concern is that I'll get everything done, and have spent too much money for $hitty results. I've been leaning towards farming out the thinking part to the Erskine Group Layout Service, but don't know if that would meet my needs?

I can tear down walls, and put up new ones. I can build most of what I need, handle most of the electrical, and generally WANT to do the DIY stuff. I don't have the biggest budget, but want good results for my money. I understand the limitations of the budget and room size, but would really like to optimize what I can do in the room.

My question is: Would the service help to take my general design (above) and tailor it so that it sounds right? Am I asking too much from the package I'm considering buying?

Reading the thread, it looks like a lot of AVS folks have used the service. Any advice from anyone that has?
My suggestion would be to PM @Nyal Mellor . His company does theater layouts, and is very collaborative and very responsive to questions and input. I'm currently using Acoustic Frontiers for Layout, acoustical design, and treatment design. You're going to have a great theater--but you DEFINITELY want some level of professional design.
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Old 06-23-2014, 12:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the feedback Beast, the help is much appreciated! I'm just about sold on moving the door, I think it's probably the strongest suggestion I've heard.

I'm also pretty convinced that I need some pro help. At this point I'm really trying to make sure I understand what the cost is going to be, and what my expectations should be for that package. I don't have a huge budget, but I think that I also need to be care about where I spend it!
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Old 06-24-2014, 10:15 AM
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Subscribed and following closely for 2 reasons.
a) starting my own soon.
b) GO PATS!

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Ok, current status and "The Big Problem":

The room was finished as a dedicated HT room when we moved in. The first thing I did in the entire house was prime the walls and trim, to get rid of the Ravens Purple and Gold (Originally from Boston, go Pats!!). Then we ripped out the carpet, as it was old and musty.
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Old 07-07-2014, 07:07 AM - Thread Starter
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Ok, it's been a while, but we've had some progress with this build. By "progress", I mean I'm about where I was 2 weeks ago, but in a better way.

After some good feedback, I had to accept that I needed more design work. After trying to pull it off, I had to accept that I knew just enough to be a danger to myself and others. In the end, I had to bow to the wisdom of the MANY PMs I received, and started working with someone that can help me get where I want to be. I chatted w/Nyal before the long weekend, and I'm looking forward to getting back on track with his help!

So, I'm pretty much back at the beginning, but have a lot of faith that there will be good updates and a new design up here shortly!

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Old 07-14-2014, 11:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Well, another week, and another change. After much soul-searching, some recommendations, a bunch of conversations, and going back and forth, we have decided to change our designer. We followed up on some PMs, had a couple of great conversations, and decided to work with the Erskine Group.

That being said, I want to stress that Nyal was a TON of help, and really went out of his way for us while we were working through the decision process. I value all of his help, and have already benefited from his experience and wisdom. It was really a matter of the facts that I felt we clicked better with Dennis, and that most of the ideas (aesthetically) I loved came from theaters he designed.

So: I just now signed papers with Dennis, and started the preliminary data gathering and design process. We have a bit of a ways to go, so I'll try to keep this thread as updated as possible as we move forward!

Thanks for all the help thus far, and I look forward to more (and better) posts soon!

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Old 07-14-2014, 01:12 PM
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Congrats on making this important step. What plan 'level' did you purchase? Are you thinking of going with a nice Art Deco theme like you were talking about in another thread?

I'm sub'd and looking to see how things come together!
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Old 07-16-2014, 02:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for that, it's a HUGE weight lifted!! We're going with his basic plan, and maybe a la carte a couple things if needed.

I'm not sure about the theme, the wife and son are pushing for more "modern". Hopefully we'll nail it down a little in the coming week or so...

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Old 09-11-2014, 10:24 AM - Thread Starter
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Ok, still alive and kicking!! We've made a ton of progress on the new house, if not really that much on the room. We have everything from all new flower beds and exterior lighting to a brand new well pump!
(In short, everything that can detract from a respectable Dedicated HT build!)

As far as good/bad timing goes, it's not bad tho: We were in the middle of all this while Dennis was relocating his offices. He gave me the heads up that he'd need time to take care of that before we started, and I was good with it.

We've made a little logistical progress:
  • There was some evidence of water leakage in the foundation, so we had a team out to inspect
  • In order to do the inspection, I pulled down a wall and insulation
  • That led to other walls coming down, and a potential re-orientation of the room
  • Looking at moving the door, we found complications with a steel beam and support column that I didn't know where there
  • Now that the room has changed, I think I *might* have picked up another 10ft of length, which is a great thing!
  • Re-orienting the room should give me more room for a stage! (yay)
  • There will be potential noise concerns that will have to be addressed if we re-orient
  • A buddy is changing up his space, so I'm inheriting some hand-me-down HT seats. That'll help with the budget, but we may let them steer the color palate

Pics incoming!

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Old 09-22-2014, 08:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Ok, a few updates, tho the final design isn't really done yet.

Here's the wall with the damage, sheetrock removed:



After that, we got a little over-excited, and took down a few more walls. The one on the left is the old entry wall, which needed to come down so we could replace the double door with something a bit more acoustically friendly. The wall on the right is the "old screen wall". I say old, as it's looking like we're going to flip the room 180 degrees:



If you look through the screen wall, you can see a whole other room that we're looking to incorporate into the theater, giving us another 7-10 ft. That means another door coming out, and wall being cleaned up. Here's the view from inside that room, looking through the "old screen wall", to the old riser, and what should become the new screen wall:



Finally, here's my rough attempt at a new room layout. Dennis is still doing his magic on the final design, but here's my (rough uninitiated) attempt that I send him as "my thoughts":



He's already talking about improvements to my riser idea, and seating. This one is getting long, so I'll post seating next...
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Old 09-22-2014, 08:22 AM
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can you get the right most seat off of the wall?

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the SadieMax HT build thread - my first build
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Old 09-22-2014, 08:28 AM - Thread Starter
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In working the design, we're trying to accomplish a lot with not the biggest budget. To try to help out, we have some furniture that we're looking to re-purpose to the HT room.

Here's the sectional sofa we would like to use. It's a MONSTER (~15' long), has a chaise on each end, and three recliners in the middle. Right now we're considering taking out 1 or 2 sections before putting it in place, to get better improvement for the floor plan than my quick sketch-up above. It'd really more of a chocolate color than my phone captured:



Next, we got an unexpected gift the other day, when a friend called. He's remodeling his basement, and had 4 HT chairs he wanted to get rid of free! They're pretty cool chairs, decent comfort, if not the "best" fit for our room. We're trying to use them for the initial setup, and potentially upgrade later (when I have the rack of my dreams in place). They're actually 2 sets of 2 chairs:



The dimensions of both are pretty accurate in my sketch above.
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Old 09-22-2014, 08:31 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Fineberg View Post
can you get the right most seat off of the wall?
You really nailed the problem there Brian, both sets of furniture are too big. We're thinking about taking out 2 sections (buys 2' each), and losing one of the chairs. That would give us a lot more room on each side, open up the flow, and greatly alleviate the sound concerns that Dennis has.

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