or Connect
AVS › AVS Forum › Home Entertainment & Theater Builder › Dedicated Theater Design & Construction › Living the dream - Upstairs Theater build
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Living the dream - Upstairs Theater build

post #1 of 286
Thread Starter 
Ok, I am starting to interview contractors for my theater.

Here are the facts:
1000 sq ft of unfinished space on my second floor, plans to finish ~700 sq ft.
Current HVAC is a 1.5 ton heat pump that heats/cools 700 sq ft but will be way too small for an additional 700.
I would like to find a way to incorporate a new home office and a wet bar into my design. I am also looking to plan for about 8 seats in the theater with a back row that is a bar top with barstools.

I think I can do at least a 9' ceiling as this area has about 20' to the peak of my roofline up there.

In the next few months I hope to finalize the design and start framing. Currently the unfinished area is floored with 3/4" OSB.

I have made a very rough floor plan design and pdf'd it. I dont know what is the best way to insert that into my thread.

I am looking for ideas on the good/better/best way to isolate most of the sound in the theater. I'm not concerned about sound going out the of the ceiling as that will be floored attic above it. I mostly want to minimize the boomy bass that carries downstairs.

Some of the challenges I have are that my current breaker box is at capacity, I do not currently have a chase to run new electric down to where my box is located. I know I am in the infancy of my project but since I am in no rush I want to make sure I think through all the scenarios and get this as right as possible since I am starting with a completely blank slate. I will post pics of the area this weekend.

I'm excited to start but a bit overwhelmed at the same time. I can't believe the dream might finally come true!
post #2 of 286
Thread Starter 
Attachment 241416


Upstairs floorplan.pdf 35.8125k . file
post #3 of 286
Congrats on the first step towards your new HT! Just positively deciding to do it is the biggest hurdle. I'm no expert, but I'll just throw some stuff out there. Not sure what your budget is but for what you're looking at doing, this won't be cheap.

With your current AC maxxed out, you'll either need to upgrade to a much bigger unit and run the appropriate feed/return ducts OR install a completely new and separate system for "HT/Office Only". I would think the latter would be the easier and possibly cheaper option. If your upstairs ws just one big room you might be able to get away with a large, split unit. Compressor goes outside, coils and blower inside in a free-standing unit. They are very popular in Europe and starting to make their way here. Or even a big mutha, 25K BTU window unit. But since you have a room within a room, you're going to need dedicated ductwork.

You're going to need a separate sub panel run upstairs. 100-amp panel comes to mind. The good thing about all this is that it's basically new construction. Nothing to rip out, no existing plumbing/ducting/wiring to work with or around. A clean slate, as it were.

Your situation is a lot more complicated then say, turning a finished, spare bedroom that already has AC and power outlets into a HT.

Don't know how handy you are, but don't forget all this has to be done to code and inspected, less the resale value of your home go to pot. Not to mention possible "We're not covering you" from the insurance company should something go wrong. I.E. an unfortunate electrical fire starts and when they investigate they find out it was in the wiring you did and wasn't inspected. That's bad. I had a recent experience w/this. I could not install a single 240v outlet in my garage for a tablesaw b/c the insurance company wanted a receipt from a certified electrician that it was done to code. And the outlet is exactly 3 feet from the main panel on the same wall. x 2.

Not trying to discourage you, but helping you think (I hope).
post #4 of 286
Hire a HT designer, like Dennis , and let him deal with the planning, electrical, HVAC, isolation and design. Then, submit bids out to local contractors. Makes the headaches almost gone

This is how i did my theater. Dennis then (directly or indirectly) worked with my HVAC guy, electrician, contractor and architect There is so much to it if you want a solid end result.
post #5 of 286
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the feedback guys. What's the ballpark price for Dennis's design work? I have budgeted about $500 for the design. I have received my first of 4 bids from local "turn-key" contractors. My only worry is these guys specialize in additions and remodels but don't really know anything about acoustics and theater design. Also, most GCs I know are simply subbing the work out to various specialists. What would prevent me from doing the same? Why should I pay someone else to just help coordinate the work? For now I want to finalize the design so I can bid out the various parts of the work.

As far as sound isolation goes I think I will definitely do either green glue between double layers of OSB and Drywall or I'll do something like Sheetblock from Auralex in between the OSB and Green glue on the drywall layers.

Once I finalize the design I will probably frame it out with some experienced contractor friends of mine. I will definitely sub out the plumbing, hvac, electrical and drywall. I will probably run my own low voltage, paint, and trim.
post #6 of 286
Thread Starter 
I would really like to get some feedback on my room dimensions and AV rack placement. I want to put the rack in an area where I have clear access behind it so I can make changes easier. Seeing as I am starting from scratch I don't see a reason why that shouldn't happen. Ideally I would like to have seating for 6-8 people and a bar top with barstools at the back row. I currently have two different plans in mind. Which do you like and why and if you don't like either, why? What would you do differently. The storage area has an angled roof that I did not want to have in the theater so I decided to close it off and use as attic space.

Attachment 242169
Attachment 242172
Attachment 242173

Any feedback is appreciated!


Visio-Upstairs Floorplan.pdf 18.1884765625k . file


Visio-Upstairs Floorplan - Reversed.pdf 16.3603515625k . file
post #7 of 286
I like the version with the door in the middle. That way, you don't have to step up onto the riser to enter the room, and step down again to get to the front-row seats.

Does your A/V room open into the theatre? I still use Blu-Rays, and don't like going into another room to insert the disk into the player.
post #8 of 286
Thread Starter 
This is all a draft for now. I like your point about having to step up into the room though. In the version with the door at the back the av room would be a separate closet with the rack facing out into the hall.
post #9 of 286
Thread Starter 
Any other thoughts on my layouts?
post #10 of 286
I see a lot of wasted space for hallways and long narrow storage areas which will be difficult to fully utilize. Without knowing more about the total space in general it is difficult to see if there are alternatives.
post #11 of 286
Thread Starter 
BIG, this is currently a walk in attic space on my second floor off of my bonus room. There is approx. 20' to the top of the roof pitch. I included a storage space in order to eliminate having angled ceilings in the room. I was under the impression that it is best to avoid angled ceilings if possible. I can take some pictures of the space tonight to give you a better idea but I am truly working with a blank slate. There are no walls, or HVAC in this area. The floor is currently 3/4" OSB sitting on top of 2x10"s filled with fiberglass batts.
post #12 of 286
Thread Starter 
No other feedback on my design???

Sorry guys but I don't plan on budgeting $2K to get Dennis's firm to design this one. I know they do a great job and if this were going to be a $50K theater I would consider it but that's not the case.
post #13 of 286
Thread Starter 
Maybe this will help me get some feedback. Here is the floorplan for my entire 2nd floor. Now you can see the layout better. What would you do differently in the unfinished space as it pertains to the theater, av rack, or wet bar?

Attachment 242711

Attachment 242712


Visio-Floorplan.pdf 13.4736328125k . file
post #14 of 286
Your seats seem awfully close together. What kind of seating are you planning to use?

I would keep the layout with the screen at the "south" end but move the door forward (toward the screen) so you don't have to step up to enter the theater. Then you could consider rotating the rack 90 degrees so the components face into the room, which would be handy for changing discs. Put a door on the back of the rack to provide access to the cables.

All of that unfinished storage space would be great for an infinite baffle subwoofer, if you're inclined to such things.
post #15 of 286
Originally Posted by wraunch View Post

Any other thoughts on my layouts?

I'm having similar struggles. I have decided to have one or two local HT builders come give me their advice...I'll just pay them an hourly rate to come chat with me about it.

I would LOVE to be able to fit in two rows and a bar, and my room is similar in size to yours. I think I can probably pull it off by moving the door off the back wall...
post #16 of 286
Thread Starter 
I am open to an IB chamber. I need to do some more research on how much space is required for such. The only issue I can think of is that would probably cause me to have to do quite a bit more soundproofing work than I was planning. Also, I currently have a ED A-300 that I would like to reuse with one other sub if possible.
post #17 of 286
I'd explore having the theater entrance at riser level, by moving the door to the back wall and reworking the entry hall area. The av rack could have rear access via a gasketted door in the air handler room.
post #18 of 286
Thread Starter 
Would you just have a notch or two out of the riser for steps when you open the door?
post #19 of 286
I would not, if I could avoid it. Depending on riser height, it might be an accident waiting to happen.

It also means you loose the corner for riser bass trapping.
post #20 of 286
Step up to riser height outside the theater if you have to enter at the back of the theater. Only if you have the headroom. From Big Red's thread:

You could swap the screen wall and move the door down the hallway just a little bit and enter in front of the stage. My choice for this space if you can't build a step up outside the theater.
post #21 of 286
Could you pull the theater forward by hiding some of the roof line slope (if any) in a front soffit? And then rotate the office closet ninety degrees to reduce hallway length. It would add square footage to the office, plus offer a buffer zone between the office and theater.

A really "out there" rough idea is to create a hidden storage/air handler area door and wet bar/av rack for the raised entry area.
post #22 of 286
Thread Starter 
I like what you propose. The other possibility I an investigating is moving the air handler since it will have to be replaced when I swap out my heat pump and placing it on the opposite end of the storage area so that I can shift the theater up against the northern wall. Lastly the other idea I am thinking about is doing away with the hallway all together and just having the theater as a big open room with the bar in the back and turning the theater so that the screen wall backs up to the storage area on the left. I will upload done proposed layouts later.
post #23 of 286
Thread Starter 
Quick question, what is the rule of thumb as far as how many outlets I should have where my A/V rack is located? Would 4 outlets be enough? I would think 2 might be enough since everything in the rack will be plugged into a power conditioner. Do those 2 or 4 outlets need to be dedicated/GFIs?
post #24 of 286
Thread Starter 
Here are two more proposed plans. Biggest difference is moving the HVAC, which I might possibly be able to move up into the ceiling of the new space and adding a bigger bar. I want a wet bar at least in this space. It doesn't have to be in the theater but if I lose the hallway it will be.
Attachment 243306

Attachment 243307



Visio-Upstairs Floorplan - Without hallway, screen on left.pdf 18.724609375k . file


Visio-Upstairs Floorplan - Without hallway, screen on north.pdf 18.83203125k . file
post #25 of 286
Thread Starter 
Ok, small project update. I met with my HVAC, electrician and plumber yesterday. It looks like I should be able to move the HVAC so that it will be parallel to the storage area on the left of my space. This will open up quite a bit of floor space. As such I am thinking about going with this floorplan.

I promise I am trying to finalize this design so I can order some wood in the next few weeks!

Attachment 243890
post #26 of 286
I'm not sure whether you are still considering building this out as a single large, multipurpose room with a poker table and bar, in addition to the theater. I have a similar multipurpose space and we absolutely love it. It is a fantastic space for entertaining. However, it is not ideal for watching movies. With the theater seats on one side of the big space and the opposite side wall a long way off, the seats are too close to one surround speaker and too far from the other, so surround sound is not terribly immersive. My single 12" SVS sub is a workhorse but it can't really pressurize a space this big. If there are people at the card table (or playing pool, in my case), it's impossible to use the theater for more than casual watching. So, great for entertaining. Not so great as a serious theater. We're happy with our choice, but you might have different priorities.

Either way, it looks like it should be a great space!
post #27 of 286
Originally Posted by wraunch View Post

Quick question, what is the rule of thumb as far as how many outlets I should have where my A/V rack is located? Would 4 outlets be enough? I would think 2 might be enough since everything in the rack will be plugged into a power conditioner. Do those 2 or 4 outlets need to be dedicated/GFIs?

I have 8 outlets - 4 each on two circuits - and they're all full. But that's mostly because I've sloppily added more and more stuff, without regard to what's on which circuit or adding additional power strips to group the low draw items (ethernet switch, IR receiver, external hard drive, etc.). Two circuits is nice to have, so you can dedicate one to high draw power amps, should you go down that road (subs).
post #28 of 286
I would consider how to center the screen and seating in the room -- symmetry is important, particularly for the sound.

Our plan for my new theatre, similar size (19' x 21') if for 2 - 15" Subs up front, and 3 more 10" Subs side and back to balance out. Should be a great bass system, if I can get it all balanced right.
post #29 of 286
LeBon has an excellent point about using multiple subs to smooth in-room bass response. With all of the unfinished storage space surrounding the room, you should be able to place subs without taking up any in-room real estate.
post #30 of 286
Thread Starter 
Are you thinking I should put in-wall subs in the unfinished spaces to even out the bass?

As far as centering the seats, I can move the riser to the right to do so I just want to make sure I have an aisle left to walk to the office without having to step up onto the riser and then down off the riser.

I like having the big open room and I know I will sacrifice some acoustically. I doubt I will do the poker table if I leave the room oriented the way I have it in this plan. I have a game room adjacent to this space that will have a pool table, foosball table, 46" LCD with video games and an upright arcade cabinet so I don't really need game space in this room.

The other question is where should I put my equipment? When I was thinking about doing a smaller contained theater I had an AV room. I could still do that I guess in one of the dormers on the right that I am currently showing as unfinished. Thoughts?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
AVS › AVS Forum › Home Entertainment & Theater Builder › Dedicated Theater Design & Construction › Living the dream - Upstairs Theater build