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The Rostowsky Family Home Theatre

post #1 of 537
Thread Starter 
Another home theatre project is born! WAHHHH! Im beginning the fun process of remodelling my downstairs den into a home theatre. It was a 1970s den complete with fire engine red carpet (presumably to match the fire engine red toilet that was in the downstairs bathroom when we bought the house ). The red carpet was an amazing eye grabber, but its run its course. I had been using this room as my home office for many years. Almost the last room of the house that I havent remodelled so Im really excited to blow this room up and get started.

About Me
Primarily, Im a DIYer. Drywall is the exception though. Wont touch it. I know my limits too. Im not the most comfortable with electrical, but Ive done it in my bathroom remodels and was pretty successful at that (i.e. the house hasnt burnt down. ). Im a computer nerd, so the electronics are more a less a no-brainer.

I do get to the point where Im not a complete fanatic about audio/video. I reach a point where everything is "good enough." Ive seen many demonstration theatres with ridiculously expensive equipment, and the pic quality isnt anything I could really tell a difference between that and my Panasonic AE900. I love Panasonic equipment! Everything Ive ever owned (including a 1985 CD player) from them has ever blown up. Thats getting bang for your buck!

Room Dimensions
The room itself is about 22' long x 13.5' wide x 7.75' tall. Sounds big until you see the fireplace that sucks up a lot of space. The real useable footprint is 16.5' x 13.5'.

- 3 or 4 wall sconces. 2 (or 3) on one side of the room, and 1 on the other side of the room. I could put 2 on the back wall. Im undecided there and thought I might use that wall space for decoration (movie poster maybe).

- 2 rows of seats. My ceiling if kind of low 7'9" so probably a 6" riser is all I could deal with. Hopefully, I can comfortably seat 6, but looking to seat 8. Got a big extended family... Just 4 of us in the house though that would use on a daily basis.

- Wood! I love woodworking! Anything I can do with some wood moldings and columns in here, and Im all for it! I want to make wood columns with a cabinet grade cherry or oak for the sconces. I need some media shelves and bookshelves too as I have a lot of those to store.

- Equipment closet. Just to the right of the fireplace is an existing closet 2'd x 2.5'w. A perfect equipment closet! Its stuffy, and I am concerned with airflow there. I did have a ton of spare junk in there before so Ill need some new place to throw my junk.

The Challenges
My room is not without its design "challenges."

- FIREPLACE - The focal point is a big old 7.5' w x 7.75' h red brick fireplace. Its been used twice in the 12+ years that we've lived here. Its a perfect place for the screen actually. My buddy said I should not put the screen there but on the opposite wall that has a 6.5' x 2' window. I could do that, but it would really make putting in 2 rows of seats difficult because row #2 would be basically right up against the hearth of the fireplace. Just wouldnt "look" right. Im not completely opposed to it, but getting a floor plan that can seat a crowd of people would be a challenge that I need some help resolving. One idea I had was to put 1 chair on each side of the fireplace so as to not block the firebox with a chair. An end table could go in between I suppose. I dunno. Needs some more thought. Im still pursuing using the fireplace as the primary screen locale.

Center speaker troubles
My B&W center speaker is close to 12" deep (with grille on). No exactly an easy mountable item to jut out from the fireplace. Any ideas?

Infinity 4000?
I did some research on other center speakers and found the Infinity 4000 which is a mere 4" deep, and it looks like I could mount it right on the brick too. I could probably line the speaker wire behind the screen itself and it would be nice and hidden.

Left/Right Front Speakers
Depending on the speaker layout, Id like to try and reuse my rocking B&W 603s speakers that have served me well for many years. I cant recess them, or hide them particularly though with this fireplace. However, with the screen I picked out, I can build some 4" wood columns (oak or cherry) on the edge of the fireplace and drop the speaker wires all the way to the bottom of the column. The speaker could sit on the hearth right next to the column and the wires could be pretty well hidden that way.

Ive got a pic of my first proposed screen layout with my existing L/R speakers, but cant post until Ive graduated to 5 posts.
post #2 of 537
Thread Starter 
Step 1) Demolish the existing room.

Here's where challenge #1 is. Popcorn ceilings! Yes, it has asbestos. House was built in 1973. Sigh. So, Ive got an asbestos abatement company coming out on Friday (6/23) to scrape it. Boy, I was tempted to DIY! I flip-flopped on this decision so much. Ive heard, read, and seen many situations where people just wet it, scraped, and lived happily. I finally waffled to fear and paid the $1500 to get it professionally scraped and removed. I dont want to watch because its going to kill me watching someone wet it with a garden sprayer and scrape with a putty knife. I could have done that! Only difference is theyll be in a moon suit, have a negative vacuum going, and everything will be sealed with plastic. Their advice was for me not to demolish anything in the meantime so it would make removal easier. Sigh. Im DYING to rip down the old drywall and see what I have to deal with!
post #3 of 537
Thread Starter 
My Equipment
Panasonic AE900
Yamaha RX-v2600 Receiver
Panasonic RP62S DVD
DirecTV rcvr (some ancient RCA model. Waiting for the new HR20 to come out like everyone else)
Panasonic SVHS VCR - going in the trash once the DirecTV HR20 comes out.
Playstation 2
Klipsch KSW-12 Subwoofer

Available for use if designs permit
B&W 603S Speakers

And if designs dictate otherwise..
B&W M1 (going for 7.1 surrounds). This is my fallback plan. Mount the 3 fronts on the ceiling in front of the fireplace. 2 on the side ceiling (duct work is dictating a bit here), and the backs on the wall. Even if I get away with using the 603s in front, Ill still be getting some of these little guys for the side and rear speakers.

I do have a pair of Bose bookshelf speakers. In a pinch I suppose I could use them as the side speakers. Id probably bury them in the wall a bit so they dont get in the way.

Purchased in my mind...
Elite Cinetension 84"D - Matte White -OR- Elite EZ-frame 84" D - Matte White

Some people favored getting equipment later rather than sooner. I favored getting the projector beforehand to play around with it in the room and get a feel for projecting (on the red brick). We projected on one of the side walls for awhile. 30 yr old white (now grayish yellow) paint still made me go "WOW!" This is after years of thinking a 27" TV was "big enough." Man that 27" is HEAVY!!!!
post #4 of 537
Thread Starter 
Challenge #2
HVAC! Ive never had to really deal with adding/modifying HVAC in my house. I did replace a dryer vent and installed a new Panasonic Whisper fan in my bathroom remodel. Does that qualify? Anyway, my den has a big heating duct box that runs the entire 22' length in a ceiling corner. It drops down about 1.5' from the ceiling. Its a big plywood box that covers the duct and then drywalled (and asbestosed over that with popcorn). Not sure what to do with that. I did find there is a 3" gap in the side wall of the box covering the duct. Is it code to run low voltage wiring alongside duct? Ive toyed with building a soffit for all my wiring, but Id prefer not to if I can get all the wires in the ceiling. Going alongside the duct would help that. My windows get in the way of making a real nice soffit. Ive got about 4" to make a soffit on the ceiling before hitting a window. Cant wait to post pics so everyone can see what Im saying. A couple more posts to go!
post #5 of 537
Thread Starter 
Ok, Ive made my 5 posts. Let there be links and pics!

Here's my fireplace proposal #1 where Id like to reuse my B&W 603s. Im definitely interested in what everyone thinks of this. Ill post the floor plan soon. Still fiddling around with Visio...

This pic shows some 4" oak or cherry wood columns that Id like to build to drop the speaker wire down to the B&W's. Id drop speaker wire behind the screen to get to the center speaker. In this situation, I would need a center speaker thats not very deep and easy to mount on the masonry. The Infinity 4000 has a nice low profile. Anyone ever use this center?

post #6 of 537
Thread Starter 
Here's a pic of the back wall my buddy said I should really put my screen. The window overlooks (or maybe underlooks is the better word), the belly of my deck. No big loss if the window is covered up with something. I agree this is a good wall for it, but the fireplace is then at my back, and puts a wrench in my 2nd row idea (i.e. the back row would butt up against the hearth).

post #7 of 537
Thread Starter 
To the right of the fireplace was a closet. I will rebuild the closet for my equipment. Ive used a Panasonic Whisper fan in my bathroom remodel so I found it enlightening to hear others using it in their closets/cabinets. Not sure where itll vent to, but to the right of the closet is the outside wall (near the main entrance to the house). I wont really have access behind the closet. Its the storage space underneath my stairs, and there isnt much headroom for anyone to really manuever back there.

I would like to put my subwoofer at the bottom of the closet. I have a Klipsch KSW-12. Its a nice middle of the road woof with good enough boom for me. Anyone ever do such a thing before? Im interested in knowing if the woofer is going to be rattling my equipment.

The closet runs floor to ceiling. Used to have some bi-fold doors on top and bottom, but Ive ripped those off. Ill have 7'9" to play with, so Im hoping to get some drawers in it for DVDs, CDs, random junk, etc.

Not sure if Ill hide the closet behind a door or anything. Maybe a glass door. Ill cross that bridge when the time comes.

I would like to build the closet shelving with cabinet grade wood that I can stain. Each shelf would be a slider so that might help make up for the lack of rear access (if youll pardon the expression). I like stained wood and dont mind making the equipment closet visible to people. Hey, I paid good money for this equipment! Why hide it?!

post #8 of 537
I like the idea of the screen on the fireplace. Another thought to consider could be a small stagelike area built on the hearth space, it could encompass the entire hearth and extend into the firebox. This could help eliminate those columns by running the wires to the left of the closet and up through the stage area. 2ndly would raise the speakers up more to ear level and possibly also hold the center channel in the firebox hole up more to ear level. Could also provide a wider soundstage by giving almost another foot of separation for your front L and R speakers. Eliminating those columns might also allow a slightly bigger screen.
post #9 of 537
Thread Starter 
Great ideas Solodon! Precisely why I decided Id start a thread! I need more brains helping me!

Not sure if Ill be able to use the extra space for a screen. Will have to search around a bit more. The 84" diagonals seemed to be the best fit. Cant remember if the next size up was too big or not.

Thats interesting about the stage idea. Basically, I would hide the firebox entirely behind it? Will have to test the W.A.F. on that. I had mulled over getting some nice glass doors installed on it, but the opening is so non-standard that Id have to get some custom made doors for it. Thats typically a $1000 expense (if you want nice doors anyway). I wouldnt mind covering that up myself since we rarely ever used it. I think I burned wood in it twice in the 12+ years we've lived here. That room has some excellent temp control where its the warmest room in winter and coolest in summer. Didnt plan it that way, but it sort of works out. Never really needed it. My upstairs fireplace in the living room is the one that gets used.

The more I think about it, maybe that would be good. I could then use my B&W center speaker too! Whoopie! Cost savings is a good thing. I could make some shelves or something if we wanted to put some nicknacks or media there too.

Thanks for the thoughts!
post #10 of 537
Thread Starter 
So here's my basic floor plan. Is 6' deep enough for a 2nd row? I just sat on my sofa and stretched out good to make a guess that it would work pretty well. The only drawback is the back row would be against the back wall. Im not too worried about it unless someone out there thinks this would be a very bad thing to do acoustically speaking.

Now you should be able to see that if I flipped the room so our backs were to the fireplace that the 2nd row becomes a problem. I suppose I could move the first row forward a bit more, but was trying to make that as optimal per the screen width * 1.5 rule.

Where does everyone get those cool Visio shapes? Ha. My Visio had some really generic sofas. Id actually like to consider an "L" shaped sofa (i.e. wraparound) on the first row. Adds more capacity, and I think it would work stylistically too.

post #11 of 537
sweet galaga cocktail, did you build it or is it an original?
post #12 of 537
Thread Starter 
Haha. Thanks for noticing! It was an original that I rebuilt. Its got a real wood veneer on it now instead of the original plastic laminate. I replaced the graphics under the glass, gave it a new power supply, replaced video chips, new fan, new joystick, buttons, etc. All replacements were true to the original machine. It was a fun project. It is a sweet machine now. Ill post a couple of close ups when I get a sec. Its my personal all-time favorite video game. My first paycheck after graduating college went for that. Didnt even have a chair to sit on, but darn it. I had GALAGA!
post #13 of 537
Thread Starter 
Oh yeah, I forgot. Its even got new tempered glass on it. Its a beauty! My first "baby."
post #14 of 537
I like the way you've put dimensions on your photos. Very efficently informative.
post #15 of 537
Thread Starter 
Thanks. Takes a little time to put together, but wanted to make sure I gave enough info so people could help me think this through properly.
post #16 of 537
Thread Starter 
Nothing too interesting here, but should help keep the pictures flowing to help complete the mental image of the room space. It does show where the lighting controls will be located. There are currently 2 light switches here. One for each light fixture. I could never figure out why it was that way as the room was always so dark that both lights needed to be on to see anything. Drugs were obviously more widely (ab)used in the 1970s...

I guess the important point here is the duct that drops down about 11" from the ceiling. Most people over 6' tall get the paranoid feeling that theyll bash their forehead on the duct when walking in. Cant wait to rip the ceiling open so I can assess what (if anything) can be done to help this out.

post #17 of 537
Thread Starter 
So this is the wall where lots of interesting things will no doubt occur.

Theres a fairly big window here to contend with. It used to have a roman shade here which rendered the room pitch black even in bright daylight. Not much sun to worry about in Seattle area. Ive taken the shade down as it was really falling apart after 30 years, but I will get a nice new one. I used to think the room being so dark was a curse, but that roman blind really helps for the home theatre application! Im not so fanatical as to drywall off perfectly good windows either. I replaced those windows with 2 pane windows a few years ago. Not about to drywall those babies off!

You can see where the satellite feed came in to the house. The line was drilled through the outside wall straight into that jack. Its up so high on the wall because they were either lazy when they built the house, put it in after the drywall was up, or the foundation of the house got in the way. In any event, that and the phone line will have to be pushed over to the equipment closet. Ill have to figure that out once I can see behind those accursed walls.

Another problem spot is the heat register on the floor. You can see I marked off where Id like to have a wall sconce, but I cant imagine that being code if the electrical was near the heating duct that Im sure runs right up the wall to where I want the sconce. I can live without the sconce, but it would help balance the room out with 3 sconces on the opposite wall (maybe). There used to be a wall clock there which I found invaluable. Maybe itll go back. Or maybe some other decoration can go there, a picture? I dont know. Thats a decision that can wait.

post #18 of 537
Thread Starter 
By the way, around where my phone line is currently, Id love to build a little in-wall cabinet for housing my PS2. Id definitely want an AV outlet there for it at a minimum, but if it had a little cubbie for storing my games, controllers, and PS2, that would be great! Probably a conduit for the PS3 too, when I get that. Would love to hook up the PS2 against that wall, and be able to comfortably sit in the first row without dealing with super long wires for the controllers going into the equipment closet. Ive played with many wireless controllers, but they never felt responsive enough. Besides, I play online quite a bit and use a headset, so those are just more wires to deal with.
post #19 of 537
Thread Starter 
Been mulling over Solodon's good advice about building some cabinetry to house the front speakers. Got the wife thumbs up as long as its all removeable when selling the house. I figured I could build a red oak frame box around the hearth that I can slide over the hearth and off again if needed.

On the top, I can just put some oak plywood with some edgebanding.

On the front, I can put a base molding and then some cabinet/drawer fronts along the front face to make it look like cabinets.

On top of the hearth, then we can build the cabinet thatll have openings for the L/R and center speakers. If I build it correctly, I think I can put in a bunch of drawers for storing my DVD's and CD's. That would be great.

Need to draw it up in Visio, or maybe better put my 3D Studio to the test.

Happy Fathers Day!
post #20 of 537
Thread Starter 
Just a quick interjection about the greatest video game of all time, and the only game in my home theatre's arcade. Not sure where Ill put it when the HT is done, but Ill make room!

I bought this baby in 1994 for $400. Since then, I rebuilt it almost entirely.

Heres what got modified (or didnt):
Galaga Serial #1262
Original circuit board
New video RAM (those were a treat to find )
New power supply
New fan
New replica joysticks
New replica buttons
Repainted original glass clips
New 1/4" tempered glass (beautiful)
New graphics underlay
Ripped off plastic laminate from original plywood cabinet. Taking off that plastic was a PAIN!
Glued on walnut wood veneer 10 ply paper backed
I stained it with red mahogany. It looks like the original color (but better IMHO). Reflections from the red carpet make it look redder than it is. Its really a nice dark brown ala 1970s molding (I should know, my house was covered with it).
New lock
Spray painted original coin return
Spray painted original vents
New corner guards
New T-molding
Spray painted metal under joystick controls on each side
Original monitor. The reason I bought it. 0 screen burn.

post #21 of 537
Thread Starter 
Yay! The popcorn is gone! The blocking item to my demolishing my room for the home theatre is removed! Let the demo begin! Know what Im doing this weekend.

Now that I can peek into my big ducts vents, I can see theres a specific heating duct line and probably a separate return duct in the big plywood box. The return vent is running against the wall, and the heat duct is the one nearest to the room. Cant wait to see where the return lines branch off. I suspect one comes from upstairs. I do have the one return in the HT room, but it wouldnt make much sense to run a big huge 12" duct just for one silly 8" return vent. My suspicion is the HT will have to just live with the HVAC the way it is. However, I will probably call in a HVAC expert to fill me in if anything could be done.

Im excited to see what mysteries lie behind my walls!
post #22 of 537
Thread Starter 
Say hello to my new addition. The DeWalt DW682K biscuit joiner. I went to town with it immediately. Adjusted the depth a bit when I did my first #20 cuts. I practiced doing my first end piece joining. I know Ill be doing this join when I build the oak plywood box around my hearth. Im going to do the same thing again tonight, but 45 degree the joining edges first. I think thatll be a cleaner look and I wont have to worry about edgebanding it.

That board the joiner is laying on has about 25 slots cut into it, but its on the backside.

post #23 of 537
Best of luck with your theater!

post #24 of 537
Thread Starter 
Thanks Gary. I found your thread quite informative. I may just borrow a construction idea or two from your risers. Mine wont be nearly as big, but I like how you ran the conduit through it and built a little frame area on the front for the outlets.
post #25 of 537
Thread Starter 
With the help of my nephew, we took down all the side walls today! Wow, what a load of junk. My garage is filled with garbage sacks of busted up drywall. We also pulled up the carpet too. We left the carpet pad for no particular reason. Seemed easier on the feet.

We found a treasure in the walls though! A built in 3.5" soffit! It runs from the equipment closet, above the bookcase and windows all the wall around the room until it hits the duct. Wow, its SO perfect for running cables! I could put a 2" conduit in there for my projector wires. It does get tight going around the heat duct between the bookcase and window. Thats the only issue really, but this is great news!

Here's some pics that show the soffit. Theyre ordered such they basically move from left to right when looking at the room. One closeup pic is my camera in the soffit space looking down this great space.

Im in the soffit!

post #26 of 537
Thread Starter 
So here's the big picture of the room.

Check out the honking 6x6's holding up the house! Kind of hard to see the far one in the pic, but its there.

Heres the bottom of the electrical closet. My equipments electricity!

Heres the right side of the fireplace (left inside of the equipment closet)

My nephew is keen to come over tomorrow. Ah, the boundless energy of teens. We'll drop the ceiling. Hopefully not on our heads. Ditto for the drywall + plywood box covering the overhead duct. If we have time, take out the insulation too. Im almost hesitant to pull the insulation. Its in great shape. Will have to get to the electrical though eventually. My brother in law is coming over with his pickup so we can make a run to the trash dump with my garage full of junk.

BTW, I dont have a pic yet of it, but below the windows theres a little concrete "shelf" too. Its where the foundation wasnt as deep to make room for the windows. I noticed peeking behind the insulation that the electrical is run on this little "shelf." Interesting.
post #27 of 537
Thread Starter 
Well, demolition day #2 is in the books. 5 hours yesterday plus 5 hours today. The ceiling is pulled down as well as the insulation removed. Just me and my nephew going to town on it. We yanked 98% of the nails out of the studs. We also removed the carpet pad too. Later in the day my brother in law came over with his big truck and we loaded it up with everything! Whew! What a pile! He's a landscaper so he's used to hauling big loads in his truck. He helped us remove all the carpet tacks too. The floor is in its bare concrete glory now. My wife came down later and swept up most of the little bits and pieces. Will need to run over everything with the ShopVac to pick up the remaining junk aroud. As far as Im concerned the demolition is 99% done. I see a few nails here and there in the studs, but really its ready for construction!

Now that I can see most of the electrical wires. I can start to noodle through how to hang some recessed lighting. Need to crank out a drawing for it, and then see if I can figure out the rats nest of electrical wires everywhere. Whew. There are wires going every which way. Completely nonsensical right now. I cant see how it made any intuitive sense to the original electrician!

Will post pics later.
post #28 of 537
Thread Starter 
The next project. Fiddling around with my biscuit joiner and some scrap wood. Joined the 1x4' pieces with a #0 biscuit after a 45 degree miter cut. Thatll be what I want to use on the oak plywood box around the hearth.

post #29 of 537
Thread Starter 
Junk Piles before my brother in law arrived with his truck for a run to the dump!

Heres a nice clean room (almost) after sweeping and cleaning up a bit more at the end of a long day.

post #30 of 537
Looks like fun no doubt. Clean up is the worst part, but it is far nicer to work in a clean area than a messy one. Great progress, looking forward to watching your thread.

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