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Dedicated Theater Design & Construction

NaTeDoGG's Avatar NaTeDoGG
12:51 PM Liked: 10
post #1 of 15
08-01-2007 | Posts: 615
Joined: Aug 2003
Here is the home theater we are currently building. We bought a new townhome in November '06 with the intent from day one to convert the single car garage into a theater. Here is a drawing of the garage before any work was done...

The room is about 19'x10.5'x8', not including the extra bit where the hot water heater (HWH) sits. The tubes there are for a radiant heat system. On top of the HWH is a blower, since the tank is gas and the house has no chimney. The blower is very loud when it is on!

The plan was to build a wall just in front of the garage door, leaving the door so that we don't have to change the external facade. The inside of the garage windows were painted black. So from the outside it looks like we have a garage, but we saved a bit of money this way.

Next, we wanted to wall off the HWH, which normally gets fresh air by sucking it through small vents in the garage door. This meant we had to make new vents in the side of the house.

Also, we wanted to build a 14" riser and a new ceiling. Here are drawings of the finished project...

The new ceiling makes for a little storage and a place to put noisy equipment, like the two computers. This way I don't have to sacrifice any computing power or worry about building a quiet PC. In fact, the gaming PC is [url=]quite loud[/img]!

Originally, the door to the HWH was going to be a hinged wall to reduce sound from the blower. In the end, we decided on using an actual door and solving the blower noise in a different way. We are going to use Insteon switches, so the light switch by the door will turn on the room's lights and also will disable the HWH for 2 hours. This way the blower makes no noise while the room is in use, and I can't forget to turn it back on (which would mean no hot water!).

We haven't yet solved how we are going to climb up into the storage space. I currently use a 4' ladder, but nearly bust my ass every time I get up there.

On to some construction pics! The front wall being built...

The new ceiling, which also provides the floor of the storage area...

The riser...

The back part of the riser was cut so I can easily run wires in the future. I have run a lot of wires! Even more than shown here (I remembered a few I forget!)...

The riser step and rope light...

The outlet, dimmer switch for the rope light, and extra computer monitor cable, USB cable, and speaker wire for the couch shakers will all be covered by the couch that sits in front of the riser. The Insteon dimmer will be controlled by a PC, so I'll never have to get back there to press it. The computer monitor cable will be for a 19" monitor somehow embedded into a coffee table, sometime after the theater is complete.

The front wall with a first coat of mud, along with all my mess...

NaTeDoGG's Avatar NaTeDoGG
12:51 PM Liked: 10
post #2 of 15
08-01-2007 | Posts: 615
Joined: Aug 2003
The back wall and ceiling just before mud...

This is looking up and through the door in the back wall, there is the vent for the HWH to pull in fresh air, and some dimmer switches for the room lighting. Again, these Insteon switches will be controlled by a PC, so I won't have to climb back here just to turn on the lights.

This is the back wall with texturing and painting complete...

As you can see, the wife talked me out of a completely black room. Then she talked me out of a black front wall and ceiling, with the rest charcoal. The stripes were her idea and I think they came out really nicely. So the side walls are medium gray, gray, dark gray, and the ceiling and front wall are black. All the paint is flat finish. The stripes make it a bit more interesting than just a single color wall, since we don't have any sconces or columns. We are using 6 can lights in the room.

The entry door in the side of the room...

The front of the room...

The black is SUPER black, and SUPER flat. It is quite amazing stuff. I called some paint manufacturers and was turned on to a paint called SpeedHide interior/exterior flat black latex. It is made by Pittsburgh Paints and the model number is 6-753. Here is the web page, choose 6-753 from the first select box. Here is the PDF spec sheet for it. It is hard to explain how black and flat this paint is! It is amazing! The paint on the sidewalls are also flat, but come nowhere close to this. The sidewalls have a noticeable sheen where the flat black has absolutely none. The only downside is it is so flat that if you touch it, you can easily leave marks that are not easily cleaned off. Here are some pics trying to capture how black it is...

This brings us up to today! Paint is complete, except the screen case still needs to be painted flat black (it is currently white). The carpet tack strips are down and carpet will be down tomorrow. Then the only thing left is to mount the projector and to move in all my equipment!! I can't describe how excited I am!
NaTeDoGG's Avatar NaTeDoGG
01:02 PM Liked: 10
post #3 of 15
08-01-2007 | Posts: 615
Joined: Aug 2003
Welcome screen (click for bigger)...

The cost of the room was about like this...

Labor: ~$2500. I did what I could, but I had help from my dad (a carpenter/shipwright of 45+ years) and a friend of the family (@$30/hr) help out.

Materials: ~$1500

The rest of the equipment I already owned from when I had my mini apartment theater. Here is the equipment going in the room...

Sanyo Z2 projector
Denon 3803 receiver
Onix Rocket RS750 left/right with stands
Onix Rocket RSC200 center with stand
Onix Rocket RSS300 dipole surrounds
Onix MFW-15 subwoofer (when it is released in September!)
AudioSource Amp1A amplifier (for bass shakers)
2 anthracite leather couches each with 4 Aura bass shakers
2 cable boxes (one for digital cable, one for recording HD through firewire)
3 USB hubs (2 in the rack, 1 behind the lower couch, remember the PCs are in the ceiling!)
Xbox with mod chip, 160gb drive, and emulators (2500 NES games, 6500 SNES, ~50 N64, ~2000 Genesis, ~12000 MAME, ~30 Xbox)
4 wireless Xbox controllers
2 PCs (one gaming, one a server for media and TV recording)
NaTeDoGG's Avatar NaTeDoGG
08:28 AM Liked: 10
post #4 of 15
08-15-2007 | Posts: 615
Joined: Aug 2003
The carpet is in and the speakers and other equipment has been moved into the room! The computer is all hooked up, I just need to clean the tools out and vacuum, then I'll post some finished pics!
BIGmouthinDC's Avatar BIGmouthinDC
08:58 AM Liked: 735
post #5 of 15
08-15-2007 | Posts: 21,492
Joined: Jan 2003
Looking good. Really like the innovative color scheme.

Just one safety item. I'm not sure of where that one exit door leads but please consider the what if's. What if there is a fire,would it block your only exit. If the answer is yes think about installing a Smoke detector inside the theater that is linked to the major areas along your exit path.

With the audio cranking inside the theater you might not be alerted to a smoke detector going off in the kitchen for example. When you finally figure what is going on it might be too late.

In other areas of the townhouse you probably have windows as emergency exits. This room no longer has that feature since you've closed off the garage door.
DVDO+WESTY=1080p's Avatar DVDO+WESTY=1080p
09:03 AM Liked: 10
post #6 of 15
08-15-2007 | Posts: 451
Joined: Feb 2006
looks great, my brother has a townhome and is considering turning his single garage into a room, but he is not sure if his HOA will approve, did yours?
oman321's Avatar oman321
09:14 AM Liked: 39
post #7 of 15
08-15-2007 | Posts: 4,771
Joined: Sep 2005
Great work,

Fast too, give the Mrs. the nod on the color scheme. I like the grey doors different from the typical black. Good luck with the rest of it.
HD MM's Avatar HD MM
11:10 AM Liked: 10
post #8 of 15
08-15-2007 | Posts: 688
Joined: Sep 2006
Another compliment on the color scheme. Love the gradual shades of grey to the ceiling's black.

My room is also the same dimensions as your's except for ceiling height, (as you noted in my thread also). Sounds dumb, but just wondering if you made sure you will have enough isle space to fit the two sets of seating in the narrow space? That, along with low ceilings and an even lower soffit drove me to do the theater layout wide instead of narrow......
NaTeDoGG's Avatar NaTeDoGG
12:40 PM Liked: 10
post #9 of 15
08-17-2007 | Posts: 615
Joined: Aug 2003
Thanks, glad you guys like the color scheme! I'm sure to get an I-told-you-so when I tell the old lady. I also think it turned out very cool, it was just a very hard thing to visualize beforehand.

BIGmouthinDC, interesting thought on emergency exits. I probably couldn't hear a smoke alarm, though the exit to the house is just outside the garage (theater) door.

DVDO+WESTY=1080p, we don't actually have an HOA, but I don't think they have anything to say about what you do to the inside of your house. The only way they might be able to get you is if you make a mess outside during construction or you make too much noise after it is built. Since we just built a wall right behind the garage door, we didn't change the external facade, which is something the HOA might not like.

HD MM, I left 24" between the front of the back couch and the back of the front couch. This was reduced by just a few inches when the back wall had to be built out slightly. You can see a jog in it just to the left of the door. So there should be enough space to walk between the couches and take your seat, and you should have enough legroom. However it will be tight if you are trying to walk past people already seated! We haven't hosted yet, but we are hoping that it won't be an issue since people don't move around much during movies.

On a related note, we modified the projector mount. The lowest drop from the ceiling it could do was 5.5". A pipe cutter, die grinder, a couple new holes, and some spray paint later and we reduced the drop to about 3"! I am 5'10.5" and I can stand on the riser beneath the projector without hitting it. People > 6' need to beware though! This was important since the projector is directly above the isle between the couches.

The room is almost finished! Equipment has been moved in and mostly setup as of last night. The furniture is not in place and there is some minor cleanup to do, but here are some more pics...

The screen was a white pull down from our old apartment theater. Here it is being painted flat black...

The entry door to the room, riser steps, surround speaker, and equipment rack...

The carpet came out awesome, especially with the stripes on the wall. I hope to get a new rack in the future. I'm worried the equipment LEDs will shine on to the screen.

Close-up of the rack...

That is a Denon 3803, USB DVD RW drive, Amp 1A bass shaker amp for the couches, a modded Xbox w/ 20k+ games, and two USB hubs for the computers hidden in the ceiling. Not shown are the wireless Xbox controllers which will go on the bottom shelf.

Back of the rack...

I love how simple wire management is without a computer in the rack! Compare to my old setup. There are two 7-port hubs in the rack that are hooked to the two computers hidden in the ceiling. There is also another 7-port hub behind the front couch. The rack wires have enough slack so I can move the rack away from the wall like it is in the pic to work back there. You can see the panel in the riser floor, that is removeable so I can route more wires to the rack later if needed.

As you can see, I have so many wires! I used Decora style wall plates without any switch or plug so it was just a hole. I think it worked great. We went to a used electronices store to find old ground fault plugs that had a bracket we could break off. You'll need these brackets to mount to the junction box so the Decora plate has something to screw into!

Here is the back of the room without the couches in the right place...

The screen is hard to photograph since it is retroreflective, but here is a pic from the rising looking to the front, you can just see the PJ at the top of the pic...

Finished pics to come soon!
SuprSlow's Avatar SuprSlow
01:00 PM Liked: 13
post #10 of 15
08-17-2007 | Posts: 476
Joined: Jul 2007
Very nice room, Nate.

I love the sofa
DVDO+WESTY=1080p's Avatar DVDO+WESTY=1080p
03:54 PM Liked: 10
post #11 of 15
08-17-2007 | Posts: 451
Joined: Feb 2006
cool thanks i will pass the info along to my bro, again awesome setup
penngray's Avatar penngray
01:54 PM Liked: 30
post #12 of 15
08-20-2007 | Posts: 26,779
Joined: Feb 2006
Just found this thread, very well done!!

I have same rockets you do and I dont want cover them they distract at all from the HT?

My room size is similar too 12x20 so its going to be a similar design. I will be building DIY sub that sits on the floor in front and the bigfoot will sit on that.

How far back is the first row for you? My screen will only be 92" though
NaTeDoGG's Avatar NaTeDoGG
05:15 PM Liked: 10
post #13 of 15
08-20-2007 | Posts: 615
Joined: Aug 2003
Thanks penngray! The four "good" seats don't have any speakers blocking the screen, the two "bad" seats the left speaker just clips the edge of the screen by 3-4". In the good seats, I am not really bothered by the speakers. You know they are there of course, but I don't feel they distract from watching. Yeah, it would be super clean to have all in walls and an acoustically transparent screen, but I don't find the Rockets annoying. In the bad seats they would annoy me since they actually cover the screen a little, but I will never sit there! With the lights on the speakers look awesome!

Have you read about the MFW-15? I'm on the preorder for one, it looks really cool. I'll get to hear a prototype next weekend at a GTG in WA.

The first row heads are about 11.5' from the screen. Using the 1.5x-the-screen-width rule as the closest you should be to the screen, I should be using max a 92" wide 16:9 screen for the first row (11.5*(1/1.5)=11.5*0.666=7.666*12=92). So the first row is just slightly too close. The back row heads are about 16' from the screen, so the max screen size for that row would be 124" wide.

I already had the screen from a previous install, but I think I would choose the same size if I had to do it over again. You don't want to spend all the time and effort of a dedicated room just to have a small screen! I say go with as big as you can fit from the get go! With your little bit bigger room, I think you can do the same size I did (100"x56.5", or 114.5" diagonal 16:9) without the speaker-clipping-the-screen problems I have for the bad seats. You say you are going with a 92" screen? Is that 92" wide or diagonal?
bigwill's Avatar bigwill
12:36 PM Liked: 10
post #14 of 15
08-30-2007 | Posts: 39
Joined: Nov 2006
My wife and I purchased a townhome last year with the same size garage and i have been dying to do this. I do not use my garage for anything besides a spare refridgerator because we have a huge shed out back. My neighbor coverted half his garage but i always wanted mine basically the whole size of the garage. I have been just trrying to figure out how to do it. I didnt want to get rid of the garage door so i like what you did. We dont have a HOA or anything, i just wanted to keep the outside look. I cant wait to see the final pics. Love the paint.. We may have to steal that one lol
NaTeDoGG's Avatar NaTeDoGG
02:25 PM Liked: 10
post #15 of 15
08-30-2007 | Posts: 615
Joined: Aug 2003
Thanks bigwill! I've been really slacking on taking some finished pics! I won some Ready Acoustics Chameleon bass traps at an audio get together, so we are trying to figure out where to place those. We're thinking something like this...

But maybe we should use high frequency traps at the first reflection points, not bass traps?

So acoustic treatments and the sub that should be coming in September, oh and a new 1080p projector... THEN it will be completely done! I'll get some new pics soon though!
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