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Options for a Combination Game Room / HT with a large window and 1-2 doors

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
I originally planned to build a dedicated home theater in our basement (see this thread from 2009).

However, life threw us a few curve balls since then. We had surprise twin girls (already had 2 daughters, so that makes 4!), and my mother-in-law and father passed away. So, this has dramatically shifted our focus for our plans for our basement (we now need more storage, we have to have a kitchen/kitchenette, full bath, bedroom, etc.).

When we found out about the twins, we finished off a 2-story family room to add a new room above, and in the process, I added in-wall/ceiling speakers and a projector for the family room (see my other thread). This works ok, but, since it is so open and right below the girls' bedrooms, it leaves a lot to be desired. Lots of ambient light from both the front (morning) and back (afternoon/evening) of the house, and very little sound containment.

So, I am down to my one and only shot at getting a room that I can live with (i.e., listen at a "manly" volume at all hours, and watch during the brightest part of the day if I want). Because of the family situation, we only have one room left to work with, and we have to make the room a combination game room and home theater / entertainment room (see sketch below, room is top center):



There are several problems with using this room, however:

For one, I have to work around a large exterior window (this cannot be removed - I didn't even ask, but it would never be permitted). In addition to partial indirect afternoon sunlight, it also poses a problem for sound containment. It also limits speaker placement (I will probably be using wall-mount Athena Point 5 MK2's for now).

Next, I have a door to the workshop that is not in the best location, but it is ok I guess (can't move it closer to the stairs b/c of a subpanel, but it can go the other way if needed).

Then, there is the current entry to the room from the common area at the bottom of the stairs. This is a 4.5' unframed opening without doors, currently. This obviously presents problems for sound containment and speaker placement, too.

--

I have been given an ultimatum from my wife, so, I have to move on with finishing the basement. So, I am posting here to see if I can get ideas / opinions for layout, sound containment, etc.

1) As I see it, my best option would be to put the screen on the wall with the stairway, put up blackout blinds on the window that can be closed when watching, and add (double?) doors to the opening at the bottom of the stairs. My wife doesn't even want doors here, but I think the sound would travel right up the stairs if it were left open, so she has agreed to the doors if they can be left propped open when the theater isn't being used. One of the doors would probably cover/hit the front right speaker when open, and possibly the sub (I was thinking of building a box under the landing of the stairs), though. Another negative here is that the "seating" (in quotes b/c we will just be using couches frown.gif ) will be in front of the windows.

2) I had also considered putting a motorized projector screen on the wall with the window, but that limits my center channel placement, and there is no great place for rear surrounds in that option (would probably have to go in-ceiling). This is the option that my wife likes best, but I don't... (also, the doors would probably be in the way of the seating in this option, I just realized)

3) A more radical option would be to remove the door to the workshop, and put the screen on that wall instead. I would probably have to remove the utility sink that I just put in under the stairs (ugh) to provide an alternative entry to the workshop (or just live with always coming in from the outside - ugh, too). I also have the problem of rear surround speaker placement here (because of the hall entry opening/doors - also would be a problem for the seating).

4) Not sure that the wall at the bedroom is a valid option for the screen, I would have to look at it closer. This actually corresponds to the wall that my "screen" is on in the room above (the Family Room that I mentioned earlier), so it might work I guess.

Finally, a general question about soundproofing: Would any soundproofing that I did in the room (DD/room-in-a-room/etc.) be totally negated by the big fat exterior window? I don't care about the sound getting outside as much as I do getting to other places in the house. Should I even bother with soundproofing the rest of the room? (That being said, this is in the basement, and there are no bedrooms on the 1st floor, so I can live with some noise.) I also have a large (10") ceiling return, and a gas pipe shutoff in the ceiling that I would need to provide access to.

Anyway, I know that was long and confusing, but I appreciate any thoughts or opinions that anyone has. Thanks!
post #2 of 39
Thread Starter 
This photo is a bit embarrassing, but I didn't feel like moving all of the junk just to get a photo of a wall...

Here is the wall with the window, looking into the room from the hall at the bottom of the stairs. The window is about 5' tall by 6' wide, with 2' above and below on the wall:



As I mentioned, one option (and the one that my wife likes the best) would be to mount a dropdown projector screen right above the window, so that it covers the window when it's down. I'm trying to think if there are disadvantages to this other than what I already listed:

1) I would have to mount the center channel in the 2' space on the wall either above or below the window. If I put it above, it would have to go above the screen mount, which would push it even higher (I guess I could mount the screen above the speaker if I got an AT dropdown screen, haven't looked at those really). Obviously not ideal (also have the header to deal with if I wanted to mount it in the wall).
2) Rear surround speaker placement is problematic because of the opening to the hall and the door to the workshop. I might have to put these in the ceiling, which is also not ideal. Or, move them forward. Or, just settle for 5.1.
3) If double doors were added at the entry at the bottom of the stairs, they might limit the seating possibilities
4) Could the light/heat from the window damage/degrade the screen? (Not sure if this is a valid concern) The screen would normally be up, and I would use blackout blinds when it was down during the day.
5) Subwoofer placement - as the room will double as a game/play room for the kids, it would be best if I could hide the sub. The best place to do this would be under the stairs, but that's behind the seating with this option.

The advantages:

1) Enter at the rear of the room
2) HVAC return would be right behind the projector on the ceiling
3) Screen covers window, so hopefully daylight wouldn't be an issue (plus blinds too, of course)
4) Can still use the window otherwise (as opposed to the seating being in front of the window, which would make it harder to get to)
5) Wife is happier
post #3 of 39
One option to cover the window would be to have sliding panels on the wall that close to cover it. They could possibly even double as acoustical panels.

You mentioned entertainment room, what else would the room be used for?
Edited by Kamikaze13 - 1/4/13 at 9:28am
post #4 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kamikaze13 View Post

One option to cover the window would be to have sliding panels on the wall that close to cover it. They could possibly even double as acoustical panels.
You mentioned entertainment room, what else would the room be used for?
Also are you planning 5.1 or 6.1/7.1?

Thanks for the response. I had thought about something like sliding panels to cover the window, but couldn't really visualize how they would look / work, or what to make them out of. Were you thinking fabric, or solid? If they were acoustical panels, I guess they couldn't be full-height or they would cover the center channel (this is assuming the screen is on the wall with the window).

Our kids are 9, (almost) 7, and 17 month old twins, so, for now it would be a little of everything. We have an arcade-style basketball game, and will probably have an air hockey table. Then there will be random plastic toys for the twins (sigh). I know it's not the best combination of activities but, this is the best I can do.

I was planning 7.1 sound, but, if the rear surrounds are problematic, I could drop down to 5.1 or 6.1.
post #5 of 39
Is the "kitchenette" really that or just a "wet bar" (fridge and sink)? I'm thinking maybe you put the theater in the gym/kitchen area instead. Assuming the plumbing is there for the sink/drain so you can't easily relocate that - just incorporate that into the theater. Not ideal, but worth thinking about. That location also has no windows to deal with, isn't adjacent to the bedroom, and can easily have a door added to close it off.

Also, you mention needing access to a gas shutoff valve in the ceiling - I'd suggest relocating the shutoff if possible instead - anywhere that will remain unfinished that has the pipe exposed?

Jeff
post #6 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

I'm thinking maybe you put the theater in the gym/kitchen area instead.Jeff

To expand on that, in this case you could also build your a/v rack into the space under the stairs for easier access.

And possibly combine your games room with your gym?
post #7 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kamikaze13 View Post

To expand on that, in this case you could also build your a/v rack into the space under the stairs for easier access.
And possibly combine your games room with your gym?

Yeah, that was the original plan back in 2009:



I even moved my main electrical panel out of the wall between the kitchen and gym and into the storage room, and spec'd a beam for knocking out the load-bearing wall in preparation for this.

Unfortunately, we now need to have a more functional kitchen than just a wet bar. My mom stays with us a lot to help with the twins, and she sleeps in the twins' bedroom with them right now. It's not working so well. So, the goal is to have an apartment-like setup in the basement with a bedroom, full bath, and (small) kitchen.
post #8 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jautor View Post

Is the "kitchenette" really that or just a "wet bar" (fridge and sink)? I'm thinking maybe you put the theater in the gym/kitchen area instead. Assuming the plumbing is there for the sink/drain so you can't easily relocate that - just incorporate that into the theater. Not ideal, but worth thinking about. That location also has no windows to deal with, isn't adjacent to the bedroom, and can easily have a door added to close it off.
Also, you mention needing access to a gas shutoff valve in the ceiling - I'd suggest relocating the shutoff if possible instead - anywhere that will remain unfinished that has the pipe exposed?
Jeff

Good point about the gas shutoff. It is for the fireplace that is on the main floor (in the spot that the window is in in the basement), but the line runs through the workshop to get to that point, so I think I can move the shutoff into there (the workshop will remain mostly unfinished, but it is heated/cooled).

As I mentioned above, the kitchen needs to have more utility than just a wetbar, although we probably won't be putting an oven in.The sewage ejector is under the stairs near the bottom, so the easiest place to put the sink was there in the corner between the kitchen and the gym. Otherwise I would've had to break up the floor to run the drain.
post #9 of 39
Well I guess that leaves only one choice...
Convert the bathroom into a bathroom/kitchen LOL wink.gif

If it's not possible to move the kitchen then IMO I would put the screen on the stair wall.

My 2nd choice would be to have a pull down screen on the shop wall and have the door swing into the shop.

How long is your mom helping out with the twins? They will be in school in a few short years! smile.gif
post #10 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by ToHellWithUGA View Post

The sewage ejector is under the stairs near the bottom, so the easiest place to put the sink was there in the corner between the kitchen and the gym. Otherwise I would've had to break up the floor to run the drain.

You could put cabinets on the other side of the stairs and run your drain from there? Have a built in fridge and microwave as well.
post #11 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kamikaze13 View Post

Well I guess that leaves only one choice...
Convert the bathroom into a bathroom/kitchen LOL wink.gif
If it's not possible to move the kitchen then IMO I would put the screen on the stair wall.
My 2nd choice would be to have a pull down screen on the shop wall and have the door swing into the shop.

Yeah, my first choice is probably to put the screen on the stair wall, too. I'm not sure about putting it on the wall to the workshop. I hadn't thought about leaving the door and using a pull down screen, I will have to think about that some more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kamikaze13 View Post

How long is your mom helping out with the twins? They will be in school in a few short years! smile.gif

Well, one problem with that... we homeschool (and I work from home). Although, my wife may burn out by the time the twins would start school, so who knows. wink.gif This is one of the reasons we are so short on space - I have an office, and they have a school room, in addition to everything else.

As a side note, my mom really is a huge help when she is here - I never knew how hard raising twins would be. Also, since my mother in law passed, she is the closest thing my wife has to a mom now.

There is also the looming potential that one of our remaining parents moves in with us eventually, so that is in the back of our minds with these plans, too I guess.
post #12 of 39
I see. I have 3 kids as well but we don't home school.

Here's a crude idea with the kitchen moved. Do you already have a floor drain for the sink?

post #13 of 39
I don't have anything to add except... 42-10. Go Dawgs! cool.gif

(I had a look at your other thread - I really like how you closed off that area and added an extra room... gives me something to think about in the future)
post #14 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kamikaze13 View Post

You could put cabinets on the other side of the stairs and run your drain from there? Have a built in fridge and microwave as well.
I had thought about that at one point when I was considering my options, too. I was going to line that wall with a sink / cabinets / fridge /etc. to the right of the theater entrance.

I just remembered one big problem with using the area marked as kitchen/gym for the HT: the entrance to the storage room would be through the HT then. My old plan had the entrance to the storage room going through the hall at the bottom of the stairs. However, that is no longer an option, as the HVAC unit is already in place as shown in the diagram in the first post. The unit I bought ended up taking up a lot more space than I had planned, and I couldn't put it anywhere else.
post #15 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by UGAd13 View Post

I don't have anything to add except... 42-10. Go Dawgs! cool.gif
(I had a look at your other thread - I really like how you closed off that area and added an extra room... gives me something to think about in the future)

Ha, thanks for the painful reminder of that "game". Ugh...

Yeah, I really liked the solution that we came up with originally. But, alas...

Ok, now I'm depressed, lol...
post #16 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by ToHellWithUGA View Post

I just remembered one big problem with using the area marked as kitchen/gym for the HT: the entrance to the storage room would be through the HT then. My old plan had the entrance to the storage room going through the hall at the bottom of the stairs.


ya your couch would have to be set forward from the HVAC wall (better for audio) or you would have to use a pull down screen over the door way for that to work.
post #17 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kamikaze13 View Post

I see. I have 3 kids as well but we don't home school.
Here's a crude idea with the kitchen moved. Do you already have a floor drain for the sink?
...

My wife wasn't crazy about the idea of having the kitchen in with the game room, but I can't remember her objections right now.

I have already run the rough plumbing to the kitchen area, but the drain for the utility sink runs along the wall so that I could tie into it pretty much anywhere on that wall. I would have to move the water supplies, but it's just PEX, so it's no big deal. The drain isn't in the floor, it's just in the wall, pitched down to the top of the sewage ejector.

There are other "challenges" with using the gym/kitchen area that I haven't mentioned here. You can read all about them in my other thread if you want, but, my main sewage drain runs close to the ceiling along the outside (dark grey) walls. Also, the wall between the kitchen and gym is a load bearing wall, and it was going to be a bit of work to knock it out (only have 6" above the sewage drain, would need to cut floor to add extra support for the beam, etc.).


Quote:
Originally Posted by Kamikaze13 View Post

ya your couch would have to be set forward from the HVAC wall (better for audio) or you would have to use a pull down screen over the door way for that to work.

Again, hadn't thought about the pull down screen in front of the door. I don't think I could get the front speakers balanced in the wall in that case, though. I could look at it (although I probably shouldn't let myself look too hard at these options, as I'm sure my wife is not going to be happy with any of them, sigh...).
post #18 of 39
Right, load bearing wall. That's no small task to change and then you're pretty much stuck with a beam/bulk head.

It's seems the first layout in this post is most realistic.
post #19 of 39
Thread Starter 
Ok, so, back to reality (i.e., I really do have to use this room, and it has to be multipurpose)...

Does anyone have a feel as to how much sound would be traveling to the rest of the house through this window? Let's say for argument sake that I used hat channel / clips / double 5/8" / GG / insulation everywhere else. Would this window totally negate all of those efforts? Would it even be worth it then to do everything else? (as a side note, I'm not even sure how to frame out the window after doing that)

Like I said, all of the other bedrooms (except the guest BR in the basement) are on the 2nd floor, and I'm not really worried about sound that travels outside.
post #20 of 39
IMO you shouldn't get much sound transfer through the window to the rest of the house at all but I'm no expert. Is it single, double, or triple pane?

You will have to extend your window jambs to be flush with your drywall.
post #21 of 39
Thread Starter 
I guess I could do something like this removable window plug/panel (but it's kind of ugly):

http://www.hometheatershack.com/forums/home-audio-acoustics/9610-blocking-out-window.html



Edit: I also don't know what I would do with it when it wasn't in the window. It would be better to have something hinged/sliding as was mentioned earlier, but that's probably going to interfere with the speakers on that wall.
Edited by ToHellWithUGA - 1/5/13 at 12:17pm
post #22 of 39
Check out this link on DIY acoustical panels, would be a lot nicer window covering.

http://acousticsfreq.com/blog/?p=62



You could make several panels that hang on the wall when not in use and cover the window for movies.
post #23 of 39
Thread Starter 
Yeah, that definitely looks nicer - I guess that's the type of thing that can be added after the fact, so that I make sure it doesn't interfere with speaker placement, etc.

So, I guess I am happy enough with my options for blocking noise through the window. Now to turn back to my layout options...
post #24 of 39
Thread Starter 
So, here is one option (forgive my pathetic Sketchup skills...). This is with the screen on the wall with the stairs (obviously).

Just imagine a folded-up basketball arcade game on the right wall, a bunch of plastic toys scattered everywhere, and goldfish stuck between all the cushions of the couches, and you would have a more realistic view, lol.

post #25 of 39
Thread Starter 
Well, I was going to draw up some alternate layouts, but I think the one above is my best bet.

Some random notes/questions:

- I realized that I only have 6 of the Athena Point5 MK II's (5 satellite and one center), so I will pre-wire for 6.1 sound for now (will also prewire for 7.1 just in case). What would you do for the extra (unused) speaker runs? Should I just leave them curled up behind the sheetrock and find them later? Or, should I go ahead and put boxes with blank face plates for now? Not even sure I want to use boxes, maybe just a bushing like is mentioned here).

- My rear surround has to go above the window. Should I put the side surrounds at the same height (that would make them pretty high, about 7.5' or so)? Or, should I put them just above ear level as recommended?

- I also need to figure out how far forward to put them. Main seating will be the couches, but we will have beanbag chairs/etc. in front when needed. Not sure if I should cheat them a little forward in that case, or put them right at (or just behind) the main listening area.

- I'm not sure if I should go high or low with my center channel, but I guess I can figure that out later, since I (mostly) have access to either option from the wiring closet (since they are surface mounted, high seems to be better since the room will have kids playing/etc.). Ideally I would do an AT screen and place the center inline with the front l/r, but I haven't researched AT material, so it might be cost-prohibitive. That would mean making a recessed box for the center channel, which I kind of need to decide on now I guess.

- I have to figure out how far I want to go for sound isolation. I am tempted to skip the clips/channel, and use a single layer of plywood plus a layer of 5/8" drywall (the plywood would allow better mounting options), or maybe just double 5/8" drywall, plus R-19 in the walls and R-26 in the ceiling. This might be "good enough" in my case, since we are separated from all the bedrooms by a floor (except the one in the basement). I really don't have a feel for this, though, so any opinions are appreciated.
post #26 of 39
I wired for 7.1 and 6.1 and covered the open boxes with some plaques that I made.

Seating view from front stage

I place my surrounds just behind my main listening position and had to mount them high so I angled them downward.

My rear center is high but not angled downward.

I personally would not like my front center channel high.

My vote would be drywall on plywood.
post #27 of 39
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Kamikaze13 View Post

I wired for 7.1 and 6.1 and covered the open boxes with some plaques that I made.
...
I place my surrounds just behind my main listening position and had to mount them high so I angled them downward.
My rear center is high but not angled downward.
I personally would not like my front center channel high.
My vote would be drywall on plywood.

Thanks for all the replies, Kamikaze13. So, if I can mount the side surrounds lower, would that be better? Or would it be better to mount all surrounds at the same height?

I guess if I mounted the center low, I could recess it in the wall (but then I have to build a box for it).

If I used plywood/OSB + drywall, should I use green glue in between still? Any thoughts on the clips/channel? Am I going to be disappointed with the sound containment if I don't use them? What did you do?
post #28 of 39
I think ideally according to dolby, your surrounds should all be at ear level. Other sources I've read suggest to keep surround back's high.
THX recommends your surrounds to be 2' above ear level or higher.

I was on a tight budget as I just built my house so I did fibre rock insulation, drywall, sound bar, then drywall (as a contractor friend who builds hotels suggested to me). My outside walls are styrofoam so I just did 1 layer of drywall there.

I didn't even know where to find green glue in my area and couldn't really afford it either so I don't really have any experience with that. But ya probably do green glue if you can I would say.
IMO sound is going to transfer no matter what and in my situation I was satisfied with what I could afford.
Edited by Kamikaze13 - 1/7/13 at 2:29pm
post #29 of 39
Thread Starter 
Hmm, I haven't heard of putting the channel between the layers, I always thought both layers were supposed to go on top.

I don't think I can afford the clips (or the green glue for that matter), and I don't know how much the channel by itself helps. Plus, I am going to be paying someone else to do the drywall (I just don't have the time right now, and this has to get done soon), and I don't know if they will be willing/able to use the channel.
post #30 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by ToHellWithUGA View Post

Hmm, I haven't heard of putting the channel between the layers, I always thought both layers were supposed to go on top.

Ya me too but this guy is professional with a very large construction company and many years of experience so I decided to try it.

Basically the 2nd layer of draywall only mounts to the sound bar and doesn't attach to the studs, which prevents the sound from transferring along the studs and also prevents the 2 sheets from needing to be glued together and eliminating vibration I guess.
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