Well, on this issue of aesthetics and "room performance" here's my current plan:
I have a very light colored living room that I'm turning into our media/HT room. It's one of those rooms at the front of the house that you "do up nice" as we did when we moved in, but in reality the family ends up hanging out in the back family room. So I had always used the front room for my high-end 2 channel music system. When we first moved in I had a big nice sofa against the wall, facing the front bay windows and a wonderful selection of amazing floor standing speakers passed through that room. I even had big Quad ESL 63 panels with the gradient subwoofers - looked like 2001 in there.
But we decided to make it more "normal" looking and added new carpet and a pair of nice chairs facing the listening sofa - the typical "conversational" room set up.
But, as so often happens with the front room of a house, it was all done up nice but no one actually used it to hang out in. People naturally gravitate to the back of a house (especially our house) where the kitchen is, which opens into the more casual family room. That's were we tend to live and friends hang out.
So I had this front room dedicated to 2 channel music listening that was now compromised by furniture no one actually ever sat in (I had to place speakers to the sides of those chairs). That's always been an annoyance to me.
In "selling" the idea of changing the room into a projection-based home theater media room I used that logic with my wife: I pointed out how no one actually goes in the room but me. And that we could get much more rewarding use out of it if we make it a place to watch movies, with a big comfortable sectional sofa for us to cuddle, with the kids etc. It was hard to disagree with the logic of that, I think.
So the project gets a green light from my wife and now here I am.
As far as the decor goes, I'm going as much for performance as possible, while also attempting to make the room look really nice and clean aesthetically. Equipment will be housed in a different room, so you won't see any equipment or CDs etc. And the screen will be a fixed screen which will be covered by remote control curtains when not in use. I want a clean, calming feel - despite being a long time audiophile I'm generally not a fan of seeing the equipment.
The way I'm approaching the aesthetics/projector contrast thing is this: The curtains covering the screen will be a darkish color - likely a chocolate brown. Our interior designer brought many curtain samples of velvet, but I actually ended up preferring the cotton samples, which tended to look a bit nicer and neater.
The curtains will also extend out along the sides of the walls for between 4 and 8 feet or so. (One side to the screen is an opening of the room to the hall, which will be closed off with curtains for viewing). The curtains, when not covering that area of the sidewall, will be pushed to the corner so they are not always in use.
I'll be choosing a fairly dark colored rug, in warm tones to match the decor. I plan on using a two tone, where the carpet has a very wide border surrounding it. The border will be the color of the chocolate curtains (or ceiling color) so that the area right in front of the screen has a consistent dark palette to make it "disappear" when the lights go down so only the screen gets your attention. Then I don't have to have the rest of the carpet super dark.
I'll probably a fairly dark big sectional sofa. Remote controlled black out blinds for the bay windows behind the sofa. And the ceiling will be painted...how dark I can go will depend on negotiations with my wife. I do think a pretty dark color (deep brown or whatever) could actually look pretty slick.
Then there is the choice of wall color. I think I'm going to go with an idea from our interior designer - a subtly textured fabric wall covering. The samples he brought are really beautiful and I think would add a luxurious quality to the room. Since I don't want everything dark I think here is where I'll choose a mid tone - so dark ceiling, darkish carpet, chocolate curtains running along the side walls, and a mid-tone fabric wall color. I'm still trying to decide how dark I need to make the walls in order not to throw away the contrast gains I'm making in choosing other darker areas in the room.
Finally, the actual screen wall, when revealed by the curtains, will be black (which is one reason I want curtains to hide it when not in use). I want the floating picture against black look. So I'll be using a Carada screen with their new vertical masking system. But I also need side masking because I'll be using a variable-image-size system. Therefore I have an idea for side masking with black panels/thin black curtains, which will remain hidden behind the front chocolate-covered curtains when not in use (thinking of using the HTIQ tracking system with presets for different image widths).
Whew...quite a project. But since I'm not actually doing construction I'm hoping I can implement this stuff in not too slow a manner.
Hopefully I can end up with a "high performance" room that will accommodate the growing abilities of new projectors to do great contrast, with a nice luxurious sense of aesthetics
and not too "bat cavy" for a front living room.