or Connect
AVS › AVS Forum › Home Entertainment & Theater Builder › Dedicated Theater Design & Construction › Wasted room turned Dedicated HT Room, on a budget (...kind of)
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Wasted room turned Dedicated HT Room, on a budget (...kind of)

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
A little background about myself before I get started:
I live the bachelor life. I work full time as a paramedic and part time as a carpenter/general contractor on my off days, and I've completely and totally remodeled my entire house single-handedly, so I have quite a bit of experience in the field of home construction. Our family company does multi-million dollar lakefront homes in the Chicago area so I have a lot of experience with the higher end homes and seen quite a few HT rooms put into these houses.
The final frontier at my house was the hideous room that you see here.. matted down berber carpet, ugly windows, and two layers of vertical wood paneling that had been painted a terrible shade of creamy yellow. It once had a fireplace that was leaking, rusted, and ugly with a concrete pad poured for it. Needless to say, this room had to go. Needless to say, working as a civil servant, I don't have quite the expansive budget that many other builders may have. That said, I have the resources (read: freebies) and knowledge to do this all myself.. so here's my journey.

Here's a breakdown of all the components I used (electronics wise). They're almost ALL refurbs, open boxes, or special sales, as I spent 3 months hunting and buying this as they came on sale or otherwise.

Harman Kardon AVR-2600 Receiver
Panasonic DMP-BDT220 Blu-Ray
Belkin PureAV PF30 "Power Conditioner" (pure ********, but it's much cleaner than a power strip in my rack)
Optoma HD20 Projector
Elite Screens Sable 100" 16:9 CineWhite screen
Logitech Harmony 900 RF remote
Polk Audio CS20 Center Channel
Polk Audio TSi300 Floor Standing L/R
Polk Audio TSi100 Bookshelf surrounds
Polk Audio RC80i in-ceiling Rear surrounds
Polk Audio PSW505 12" Subwoofer (soon to be x 2)
ALL wiring, plates, rack shelves, etc from Monoprice

I definitely have aspirations for higher end equipment, but I'm new to the HT world and I was able to procure ALL of this (everything, wiring included) for under $3,000.

Other stuff:
Lowe's house brand 3" gimbal lights inside the beams, over the columns
Minka Lavery 680-14 sconce, freebie value: $400
Lutron Maestro electronic dimmers
Western solid core doors
Emtek door hardware
Mohawk carpet

Here's a quick before and after of the final result, as I'll be doing this in posts periodically since I'm only this far in and running out of typing steam:
BEFORE:

Photobucket




AFTER:

Photobucket




Edited by rtmccormick - 8/24/12 at 6:24pm
post #2 of 18
That's an amazing transformation! I really like the ceiling, and would like more details about the size of the room and how you built the ceiling.

Welcome to the forum!
post #3 of 18
Great looking room. Most folks on here, I think, don't have the mega budgets to do fancy work, so yours is a nice one to see and get ideas from.
post #4 of 18
Thread Starter 
Definitely. I think we'd all love to have a $50,000 room in a $1,000,000 house, but for the majority of us it's just not feasible.

The original room layout/dimensions are 12'11" by 17'7", and the actual part that is now the theater room is 13'4" by 12'11":


Photobucket





The left adjoining wall is my kitchen, and the bottom adjoining wall is my garage. The section that says "tile" is where the doors to both of those go. This was 1 large room previously, but the walls were added to make it a closed off room with component closet and foyer (plus, my house is now technically a 4 bedroom house care of the cordoned off room with a closet).

It all started with the DEMO. I had intended to keep the ceiling intact and put 5/8 Drywall over it to avoid having a massive fiberglass blown in insulation explosion, but unfortunately the fireplace was in the corner of the house where the roof is at its lowest in the attic. It wasn't possible to get to that spot in the attic and repair the roof, nor was it possible to do it from above completely.. so down the ceiling came.


Photobucket


Photobucket




Photobucket

The large window was replaced with a single, smaller new window for the sake of light control, woodworking and speaker placement, and thermal efficiency.
Photobucket

The wall was razed, and so begun electrical.

Photobucket


Photobucket



post #5 of 18
Thread Starter 
As I said, I raided monoprice for all my low voltage wiring needs. I used about 200' of their 12ga in wall speaker wire. I realistically could've gotten away with 14ga because none of my spans were really THAT long, but for the sake of being future proof I went with the 12, it's not really that much more expensive anyway. I re-wired all the outlets and lighting, and intentionally ran the 110 wires very low to the floor and the LV wiring higher in order to avoid any 60 cycle humming. I've had issues with that in other installs, and despite all this wiring going through here I am glad to report there is ZERO hum now to any speakers. I ran two subwoofer cables, one to each side of the room, in order to support for dual subs. HDMI and a power outlet to the wall behind the projector, going to the inside of the component closet.
3 new circuits for the room:
1-The outlet inside the component closet is a 20A dedicated circuit on my panel so there's pretty much zero chance of blowing it due to overpower.
2-All outlets in the room all have their own 20A, and they essentially are only being used for powering the subwoofer(s).
3-The lighting all has its own 15A circuit, though it's been over-wired with 12ga Romex anyway.

Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket



post #6 of 18
Thread Starter 
Next: Drywall.
Photobucket

The only step I had no part of. I've done it, I know how, but I know when to secede to the experts. $700 for materials, hanging, taping, and finishing. The way I saw it, the amount of time it'd take me to do that would be time I'd lose at my other job, and the money I'd lose would be FAR higher than $700, and the job wouldn't be done half as well.

A quick coat of primer on everything, and a coat of paint on the walls so I could start all the horrendous trim work on the ceiling.
Photobucket

Next step was laying out the inner boundaries of where the coffers would lie. I calculated it so the columns would be on either side of my screen with a 1 1/2" gap outside the frame, and with the sconces centered between the walls and the columns on the other walls. Their width was made so the capitals of the columns would fit inside the horizontal portion, and the height was built to house 3" gimbal can lights over the columns for accent lighting.
Photobucket
Photobucket

Next step: putting up 2x4 nailers on the ceiling where the coffers will be. It can be very helpful to do this with blue chalk lines, then go along with a red chalk line and snap all of your trusses on the ceiling. I ended up catching meat fairly easily on all of it because the roof framing changed direction perpendicularly on the far wall where the screen is. One span was directly over a truss, so I had to use a 2x12 ripped to the width for this. It's extremely important to use long screws and screw directly into your trusses (I used 3.5", but you could even go more hardcore and use a trusslok style screw) because this framing is essentially holding up several hundred pounds of lumber hanging above your head.

Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket



post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
I used 1x12 finger jointed primed poplar for the coffer horizontal pieces, and 1x10 for the verticals. All were leftovers collected over time from houses when extra was ordered. Freebie value: $750. I ripped all of the vertical sections to the correct height, but had to go through and trim some to height to deal with waves in the ceiling (house is 50 years old, 90 degree angles and things being plumb or level doesn't exist very often.) The blue tape is covering small vents that I put above the spots where the gimbal lights go as they aren't IC (insulation contact) lights meaning they require airspace around them to dissipate heat throughout the can. IC cans tend to be sealed up and can vent heat downwards in order to avoid catching the insulation on fire. Since they're cooped up inside sealed coffers I vented the coffers to the attic to keep them from overheating.

Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket





Small pieces of 1x ripped stock were measured and placed inside the coffers to give me the correct depth for the horizontal section. I wanted an approximately 1/8" reveal of the vertical boards for added visual interest, so I took the vertical measurement of 2x4 to bottom of coffer and minused 15/16 for the length of the spacer on either side (1/8 + the actual thickness of my 1x stock was 13/16"). These were placed every 2 feet or so. These were also necessary as I did this entire project ALONE, including lifting all the boards while they were nailed, so I needed something to push against to make it easier. Man cave, Man power.
Photobucket

Coat of paint on the split columns that were special orders on a big shack, then someone changed their mind. Freebie value: approximately $1500. Benjamin Moore Aura Pearl paint sprayed through a Graco airless sprayer. 1 coat of primer, 2 coats of paint.
Photobucket
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
Columns and lights placed. Half circles of 1x stock cut and screwed to wall, with countersunk holes drilled into columns, then the columns screwed to the half circles with a healthy dose of liquid nails on all parties. Capitals screwed to the beams and bases withheld til after carpet.

Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket



post #9 of 18
Thread Starter 
Crown molding hung. 1/8" reveal below the crown, and left lower than ceiling for the sake of the center uplighting and the rest matching it. Many MANY hours of caulking, puttying nail holes, and painting all of this. I'd conservatively estimate 80 hours of carpentry and paint work in JUST the ceiling, coffers, and columns. The pictures below don't show it, but I ended up painting the vertical portions of the coffers with the darker ceiling color (not the lighter trim color as shown here) in order to provide separation between the crown and beams, as it was all blending together with them being 1 color.

Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket





Far will window retained, but the glass covered with "rice paper" privacy coating and boarded over with plywood (this is where the screen is). This is for resale value; should the next owner not want this room to be a HT room, they can remove the screen, take off the board, trim out the window, and now you have a bedroom with 2 windows again.
Photobucket
post #10 of 18
Thread Starter 
Wiring up outlets rig. Creeper, outlets, strippers, and beer. Much easier than bending over, just slide around the room and drink beer.
Photobucket

Homemade component rack, built from an MDF box, then 90* 1/8"x3/4"aluminum for the rails. Monoprice rack shelves bolted the rails. Not the prettiest, but it's more for function than form as it's hidden in my closet out of sight anyway. Total cost was around $80-90 with the shelves and hardware.
Photobucket
Photobucket

The "holy ****, there's a lot of wires here" moment picture:
Photobucket
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
Finished product, almost. Lots of touch ups and finishing, and adding acoustic paneling, etc left, but it's functional now.

Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket





Photobucket

Homebuilt floating shelf for the gigantic center channel:
Photobucket

LOTS OF BANANA PLUGS.
Photobucket
Photobucket

Optoma HD20 hung from Peerless mount
Photobucket

Keystone jacks for the subwoofer connections
Photobucket

Rear surrounds inside the coffers
Photobucket





Thanks to everyone for reading this all. I know my pictures suck, as they're garbage iPhone pics, but you get the idea. Hopefully you can get some ideas and the inspiration to do your own room on a decent budget and realize that you don't need to spend 5 figures to have a decent home theater room. Any questions, let me know.
Edited by rtmccormick - 8/24/12 at 7:00pm
post #12 of 18
Only see one documented beer.

I can't believe the transformation
post #13 of 18
Nice job. enjoy!!
post #14 of 18
Great build all thumbs up .
post #15 of 18
Awesome work! Maybe I need to talk my builder into letting my follow the trim carpenter around and pick up the scraps smile.gif
post #16 of 18
Thread Starter 
Hell yes..haha. Took lots of scavenging after these jobs were over to save up enough pieces of 1x10 and 12 stock, as that stuff is super expensive so they rarely order much extra. Thankfully, I have pretty extensive experience in both carpentry AND painting, so I could use lots of smaller pieces on the horizontal parts of the beams and blend the seams to make them invisible. Also, BM Aura paint is a huge lifesaver too. It lays down SUPER smooth when sprayed, and even when you need to go back and brush (as I did after caulking the seams between columns/wall and capitals/beams), it lays down so smooth that you can't even tell it has been brushed. Amazing stuff, unfortunately you pay the price for quality as it retails for about $65 a gallon (we get it for $40/gallon due to volume discount at the lumber yard).

One thing I will say, and take this with a grain of salt as I've not heard a $10,000+ audio system, is that this Polk gear is pretty amazing. While I didn't get their lowest end line, it's definitely not the highest and sounds pretty amazing for the price. People tend to knock Polk's subs, but the PSW505 has pretty solid and clean power. Being a massive 12" driver in a ported box I didn't anticipate it to be super tight, but it's definitely respectable.

I'm a firm believer in respecting the point of diminishing return. I'm sure a $20,000 audio system paired to a $9,000 projector shooting at a $3,000 screen would be nothing short of breathtaking. But for me, and for 95% of the people who are partying in my room watching the Bears kickoff in 2 weeks, are they going to know? Is this system 10 times better than this? Would I rather spend 2 hours rationalizing how my speakers are 20% tighter, cleaner, and more powerful, or would I rather take all that money and time and spend it touring Europe? I really had to take a step back and think to myself "what is my purpose of this theater room? To impress other people and wow them about how much money I've spent, or to enjoy it with friends and family?" I chose the latter, and realized that I'll have just as good of a time with everyone with a reasonably priced budget system. And I definitely think I chose right.
post #17 of 18
Nice work. I am a bit surprised you did not run power and signal cable for the projector into the cross beam of your coffered ceiling to avoid having the power and signal cables hang in front of all your nice ceiling work. And did you go back and use your Graco airless sprayer to paint the rear in-ceiling speakers?

And I hear you regarding the law of diminishing returns .... and to some extent I agree. But, it is really a question of choices as to what is important to you (or the person making the purchase). Does a $20,000 Rolex tell time that much better than a $20 Seiko? Does a $90 Ralph Lauren cotton polo shirt have that much better styling and feel than an Izod polo shirt? Does a $28 bottle of Paul Mitchell shampoo get your hair that much cleaner vs. an 89 cent bottle of Suave? And does getting the car with the slightly bigger engine at a cost of $4000+ really make a difference if all you use it for is shuttling around town? I used to be in the higher end of this business and it is all about choices in discretionary income. Some people pay for the additional performance gained through better audio/video products and professional setup and some people don't. As a former professional designer, this forum is littered with mistakes of all shapes, sizes and severity but I can't save the world from bad audio. People normally used to Best Buy or similar system to yours would come into the store and have their jaw drop in amazement of what a quality system with professional setup can really sound like. Hitting "play" on a SACD player for a well set-up $1500 budget system was a huge sales tool. Most people don't know what they don't know....until they experience it. So if a high-quality system is important to them, hopefully they make the choice to spend the money for the better products and a professional who has the capability to get all the performance you paid for since 50% of the system's sound is actually impacted by the room itself.

I'll leave you with this - a neighbor of mine has the exact same 60" Sony SXRD TV (from 2006). I have the technical knowledge and the expertise to properly set up and calibrate the TV. He came over one afternoon for a football game and couldn't stop talking (for the next four hours) about how much better my picture looked than his - and he thought his looked great before he saw mine on the exact same TV. He offered up a steak dinner and a beer (I would have helped for free, but let's face it - I'm not going to turn down a steak and beers!!!) if I would work my magic on his TV. So I brought my equipment over and went to work. 90 minutes later it was fully calibrated and he was over the moon with the difference. But like I said - people don't know what they don't know and the performance is there and available if you CHOOSE to spend your money on better products and professional assistance.
post #18 of 18
Outstanding! cool.gif

I really like the whole column thing you have going on smile.gif
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
AVS › AVS Forum › Home Entertainment & Theater Builder › Dedicated Theater Design & Construction › Wasted room turned Dedicated HT Room, on a budget (...kind of)