My wife and I decided to convert our garage into a home theater room so we could entertain more guests than the 4-5 we can seat in our living room. We had two main requirements.. One, we're retired and on a fixed income so we need to keep the budget tight. Second, we want to continue to use the garage to park our cars. In other words, the theater conversion had to be something we could set up and take down quickly.
Thanks to a "garage makeover" I did about 9 years ago, we started with a pretty decent blank canvas:
To keep costs down, we decided to simply use the front speakers and subwoofer from the living room. So we could also use the existing living room theater gear, we installed wall jacks in the living room that connected to corresponding wall jacks in the garage.
That made it easy to simply haul the front L C R speakers and subwoofer into the garage and hook them up to the gear in the living room. (We already had a pair of KLH outdoor speakers, which we used for surround to complete our 5.1 system.) Our system was already set up for control by RF remote so that made it possible to control everything from the garage.
We picked up a used Sharp DLP projector on eBay for $300. We spent another $120 or so on a 120" 4x3 screen. This is what our first version of the Booth Bijou Garage Theater looked like:
Our guests brought their own folding chairs and we entertained up to about two dozen guests in the Garage Theater for a couple of years (skipping the hot summer months). Everyone enjoyed it and we were quite pleased with the results.
For the Fall season reopening this year, however, we wanted to up the ante a bit. We wanted to make it look more like a theater and less like a garage. Again, keeping costs down was important, as was the need to make everything quickly reversible (still need to park those cars in there at night). After a bit of brainstorming, we came up with the idea of using black flat sheets as wall treatment. With the addition of a few screw-in hooks to the ceiling, and some grommets to the sheets, it became a easy matter to quickly hang (or remove) the sheets. A few bungee cords (stretched between ceiling hooks) allowed us to hang sheets between the hooks.
It all came together very nicely!!
Since we were having so much fun with it, we decided to splurge and upgrade the projector to an Epson 8350 model (pictured above). At the same time, we also decided to pull down the screen just far enough to create a 16x9 aspect. That gave us a 105" screen and, of course, raised the image a bit higher for easier viewing. Here's what it looks like with a few folding chairs set up across the middle of the garage:
And with the lights out:
We held our Fall reopening on Saturday to a sold-out house! Our guests loved the new look! The grand total we've spend (not counting the garage makeover we did 9 years ago), including the Epson 8350, new Polk Atrium 5 speakers for the rear surround (also added this year), screen and wall treatment is less than $2,000. And, best of all, we can set it up (or take it down) in less than an hour!