Upstairs bonus room theater - make the most of what you have - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 12 Old 06-14-2019, 07:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Upstairs bonus room theater - make the most of what you have

A little quick background. Been a part of AVS for many years and then took a break for a few years when I got tired of chasing upgrades and picture quality. When your hobby isn't fun anymore then it's time to find a new one or take it a little less seriously. I did the later and home theater has pretty much fallen off my radar for a few years. I had a converted bedroom space that was always smaller than I would have liked but turned it into a nice little theater space. Never happy with what I had I got caught up in always wanting a "better" projector or receiver, you name it. Finally, in frustration I sold everything and told my wife to take the room for her craft and scrapbook hobbies. I settled with a 4K TV downstairs, soundbar, subwoofer and streaming media player. No problem.

Fast forward a few years and we have just moved into a new house and I have a similar opportunity to turn an extra room into a theater. It's not huge but workable. 16' x 25' with 9' ceilings. Two double-door closets on one end of the room that I can use for an equipment location and or snack bar, popcorn, etc. Floors are carpeted and walls are neutral paint at the moment. I don't plan to tear out any walls or alter the room beyond wall treatments, paint, decoration, etc. At the moment there is no overhead lighting in this room, just a ceiling fan with no light. Took a few quick pictures which are not great quality due to the lighting. As you can see I'm dealing with some typical obstacles of a non-dedicated space. Windows on one wall, entry door on another wall, slanted ceilings at the front and rear of the room. All I have for equipment at the moment are the huge JBL 3722N front and center speakers you see in the photos and (6) JBL 8340a surrounds that I hope to use for surround and or Atmos ceiling speakers.

So, basically I don't know where to start. I'm obviously going to need more equipment (projector, amps, etc.) but this time around I don't want to focus as much on the gear to start with as I do the room itself. One thing I learned from my previous room is that most comments I got from friends and family were about how cool the room looked and how much everyone noticed the special little touches and things that make you think of going to the theater. I was the only one that was ever concerned with how good my projectors black levels were and how accurate colors looked. Most people are just wowed by a big screen and good bass.

I have a few accoustic wall treatments I made in my last space but not nearly enough for this room. I'm unsure of what I should treat the walls with and where. I know I don't want to make it too "dead" in there but I also want to contain as much of the sound to this room as possible. I know this is difficult considering this is existing construction but I did things before that helped such as hanging fabric on the walls, the acoustic panels, etc.

I'm looking for any and all suggestions!
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post #2 of 12 Old 06-14-2019, 09:21 AM
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Member from 2003 with 4k posts... I have nothing to contribute :P

My wife isn't going to like the idea of painting walls/ceilings black, so I was thinking I might get black curtains or some such material to attenuate light reflections once I get a projector going. I don't know if that will be aesthetically better than just painting things black, but I have to make her enjoy the space too for when it isn't a theater room.

What sort of decorations are most impactful for creating the feeling of being in a theater, or just generally aesthetically pleasing in a theater room?
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post #3 of 12 Old 06-14-2019, 09:45 AM - Thread Starter
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Member from 2003 with 4k posts... I have nothing to contribute :P

My wife isn't going to like the idea of painting walls/ceilings black, so I was thinking I might get black curtains or some such material to attenuate light reflections once I get a projector going. I don't know if that will be aesthetically better than just painting things black, but I have to make her enjoy the space too for when it isn't a theater room.

What sort of decorations are most impactful for creating the feeling of being in a theater, or just generally aesthetically pleasing in a theater room?
This is what I did in my last room. I think I spent a total of $175 on fabric for the walls. It's hard to see because the room is so dark but above the curtains is a wavy piece of material that I screwed to 2x2's on the wall and my wife painted them with movie themed stuff. It is supposed to look like a piece of film and most people got it. I put some cheap rope lights behind that and it made for a pretty cool effect.
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post #4 of 12 Old 06-14-2019, 12:01 PM
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That is awesome. Just curious, do theater rooms stay as theater rooms when people sell the house, or does all that awesomeness have to go back to white walls?

After seeing your room, I'll need to have a discussion with my wife. Maybe she'll go for a fun theater room. She's got the rest of the house to decorate how she likes after all.
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post #5 of 12 Old 06-14-2019, 12:14 PM - Thread Starter
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That is awesome. Just curious, do theater rooms stay as theater rooms when people sell the house, or does all that awesomeness have to go back to white walls?

After seeing your room, I'll need to have a discussion with my wife. Maybe she'll go for a fun theater room. She's got the rest of the house to decorate how she likes after all.
Unless the house is really high end and huge, most realtors will tell you to convert it back into a bedroom or office. Bedrooms and bathrooms sell houses, not home theaters. You always want to appeal to the masses so specialty rooms like home theaters won't really get you a return on your investment. At the very least I would remove all of the equipment or it just becomes a negotiation point in selling the house and again, nobody else is going to want to pay for it. A basement theater might be one of the few exceptions as most people would plan to have something entertainment related in that space anyway.

You don't have to turn the room into a batcave like I did but it only helps the image the darker the room is and the less reflections you have.
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post #6 of 12 Old 06-14-2019, 12:59 PM
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I have 3 living rooms. 2 upstairs on the main level, and a huge one (12ft ceiling) in the daylight basement. The one downstairs needs to still be useful as a living room/play area for kids, but would be great if it could serve dual purposes.

I don't know if anyone will be able to give you more advice, but I hope you provide some photos of what you started with, and the progress along the way to your new theater space.

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post #7 of 12 Old 07-02-2019, 05:46 AM - Thread Starter
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Anyone...anyone?

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post #8 of 12 Old 07-02-2019, 08:27 AM
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That doesn’t look like a bad room for a theater at all. I assume that with those big JBL’s that you are planning on building a false screen wall and will be using an acousticlly transparent screen. Are you planning on going the DIY Spandex screen route, or a screen like the Silver Ticket AT screen? I know you don’t want to think about gear now, but you do need to figure out a few things. You’ve done this before so you probably have already thought about screen size, throw distance, where your projector will be mounted, and where your equipment will be kept. Your projector of choice will (potentially) have an impact on screen size and where you’ll mount your projector.

What about seating – one row? Two rows and a riser?

You mentioned Atmos. Are you going 5 or 7 channel for your main speakers? 2, 4, or 6 for your Atmos channels? Either way it seems like you are going to be cutting some drywall.

For your room, I’m assuming you don’t want to add a layer of green glue and another layer of drywall. It also sounds like you don’t want to turn this into a bat cave. I’d start by painting the ceiling a dark gray or some other dark color. I’d go with a gray a shade or two lighter on the walls, but not too light. I’d paint the trim a darker gray to match the ceiling, but it’s up to you. You may even get your wife to help you pick out colors. You want to walk the fine line between HT performance and keeping the room from looking like a dungon.
Then I’d go with a cordinating carpet of some kind. The light tan wouldn’t do well, so if you can change it, I would. Lastly, I’d change (or paint) the HVAC registers, switches, and receptriles as the white would really stick out.

I’d build a window plug if your wife approves – something removable both in an emergency, and if you ever wanted to turn the room back into a bedroom/bonus room. If the plug idea doesn’t fly, keep the blinds and add dark blackout curtains. I doubt your wife would OK this and you might not want to do this if you have neghbors that see that window, but occasionally I have to go work night shift out of town, and I have found that aluminum foil and a roll of blue painters tape can really black out a window, whereas curtains still let light through around the sides. Aluminum foil + curtains makes for a pitch black room.

For room treatments, I’d put some bass traps in the front corners and line the front wall behind the screen with Linacoustic or Owens Corning 703. Hanging this will put a few screw holes in the drywall, but they should be able to be spackeled pretty easily if you ever want to turn this back into a regular room. On the walls I would build some accoustic panels with OC703 and acoustically transparent fabric. You can also buy these panels pre-built from ATS Acoustics and others. You can go with more elegent plain panels or add some flair with art panels. I’d add 3-4 of the larger 2x4 panels on each side wall and maybe one in the back between the closet doors. You might even add one or two the the ceiling.
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post #9 of 12 Old 07-02-2019, 10:48 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Mocs123 View Post
That doesn’t look like a bad room for a theater at all. I assume that with those big JBL’s that you are planning on building a false screen wall and will be using an acousticlly transparent screen. Are you planning on going the DIY Spandex screen route, or a screen like the Silver Ticket AT screen? I know you don’t want to think about gear now, but you do need to figure out a few things. You’ve done this before so you probably have already thought about screen size, throw distance, where your projector will be mounted, and where your equipment will be kept. Your projector of choice will (potentially) have an impact on screen size and where you’ll mount your projector.

What about seating – one row? Two rows and a riser?

You mentioned Atmos. Are you going 5 or 7 channel for your main speakers? 2, 4, or 6 for your Atmos channels? Either way it seems like you are going to be cutting some drywall.

For your room, I’m assuming you don’t want to add a layer of green glue and another layer of drywall. It also sounds like you don’t want to turn this into a bat cave. I’d start by painting the ceiling a dark gray or some other dark color. I’d go with a gray a shade or two lighter on the walls, but not too light. I’d paint the trim a darker gray to match the ceiling, but it’s up to you. You may even get your wife to help you pick out colors. You want to walk the fine line between HT performance and keeping the room from looking like a dungon.
Then I’d go with a cordinating carpet of some kind. The light tan wouldn’t do well, so if you can change it, I would. Lastly, I’d change (or paint) the HVAC registers, switches, and receptriles as the white would really stick out.

I’d build a window plug if your wife approves – something removable both in an emergency, and if you ever wanted to turn the room back into a bedroom/bonus room. If the plug idea doesn’t fly, keep the blinds and add dark blackout curtains. I doubt your wife would OK this and you might not want to do this if you have neghbors that see that window, but occasionally I have to go work night shift out of town, and I have found that aluminum foil and a roll of blue painters tape can really black out a window, whereas curtains still let light through around the sides. Aluminum foil + curtains makes for a pitch black room.

For room treatments, I’d put some bass traps in the front corners and line the front wall behind the screen with Linacoustic or Owens Corning 703. Hanging this will put a few screw holes in the drywall, but they should be able to be spackeled pretty easily if you ever want to turn this back into a regular room. On the walls I would build some accoustic panels with OC703 and acoustically transparent fabric. You can also buy these panels pre-built from ATS Acoustics and others. You can go with more elegent plain panels or add some flair with art panels. I’d add 3-4 of the larger 2x4 panels on each side wall and maybe one in the back between the closet doors. You might even add one or two the the ceiling.
Hey, I appreciate the response and suggestions!

I am planning on an acoustically transparent screen on that wall where you see the speakers. Part of me says go wall to wall huge and part of me says keep it reasonable so I don't need a light cannon projector. I have done DIY screens before with pretty good results. The Silver Ticket screens I think are a good value and prevent me from having to build something so I'm leaning in that direction. I think the largest I could go would be the 158" diagonal 2.35:1 screen. I know I want constant height but this size might be pushing it. That slanted ceiling means I am limited as to how far back I can hang the screen and still clear the speakers and not have the screen too close to the floor.

I like the idea of painting the ceiling and that would be quick and easy. I could also change out switch and receptacle plates to black with no problem. I had thought of a mix of maybe ceiling to floor fabric to look like curtains staggered with acoustic panels. I have a few panels I made for my old theater out of Roxul and covered in speaker fabric. I would need more here but I'm sure I can reuse what I have as well.

I used Linacoustic on my front wall in the last theater so I know I want to use that here as well. Some of this stuff is just hard to find locally.

For seating I'm thinking two rows at most with a riser in the back. I have some "real" theater seats that bolt together, I think I have 5 or 6 of them. I would like to use them in the room but would also like to have a more comfortable option as well like leather or "pleather" reclining chairs.

Another thing, there is zero overhead lighting in this room. I plan to take the ceiling fan down and maybe put in some recessed lights. I would love to make some sort of soffit around the ceiling but the weird shape prevents that I think, not to mention the HVAC return and registers.

For gear I have thought about it a bit but nothing set in stone. Crown has their XLS1002 and XLS1502 amps on sale at the moment so I thought about getting a few of those for the LCR speakers. I need a receiver or processor as well, probably a receiver to start so I can power the surround with that for now. It might be a bit overwhelming to use these 8340a surrounds for Atmos ceiling speakers. They are pretty huge. I was thinking maybe 7.2.2 or 5.2.2 to start with for speaker configuration. Not sure what most people are doing these days but again this room is kind of a challenge. The side surround should be easy enough but rear surrounds will need to mount on that sloped ceiling. At least the angle is correct there so maybe it's not a bad thing.
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post #10 of 12 Old 07-02-2019, 11:23 AM
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Like you, I took some time off from HT. I’m in the process of building my first HT room with a projector so I am certainly no expert. I did have a dedicated room at my last house I built in 2005, but it was small and only had a 65” TV. When I moved in 2014 I disbanded the theater room and have been living with a 64” plasma and a modest 2.1 sytem ever since. Now, I am going to get my dedicated room back.

I was initially planning a 158” 2:35:1 AT screen as well, but decided on 142” inches due to the limitations of my projectors light output. A 142” 2:35:1 screen gives me a 114” 16:9 image but takes the equivillant light of a 150” 16:9 screen to do the 142” 2.35:1.

A 158” 2.35:1 screen would give you a nice 126” 16:9 image, but you’d need enough light output from your projector to do a 167” 16:9 to do your 158” scope content. If you have the horsepower, that would look really good though.

I had a hard time finding Linacoustic too and ended up getting Owens Corning Quietr Duct Liner that is a direct competitor to Linacoustic and had similar acoustic proporties, so that might be an option.

I’d put the real theater seats on the back row and get some HT seating for the front row. Perhaps in a OIOOIO configuration with the loveseat in the middle. Atlernately, as much as we don’t like to admit it, just about any seating would work.

For gear, though you are set with some awesome speakers. I imagine you’re right in needing amps for the front, and for the surrounds, a reciever “should” be able to drive them OK. I’d go to accessories4less and pick up a Denon 4400H or similar – no need in spending a fortune on something that you are going to replace every 5 years or so.

The most important thing is just to enjoy your theater. Sometimes we get bogged down with the techical details of these amp over that amp, or this speaker over that speaker, and though that can be fun at times, we just need to enjoy the content and being able to share it with friends and family.

7.4.4 Theater Room: JVC-RS46U, Silver Ticket AT 2.35:1 142”, Onkyo RZ830, Anthem PVA-7, Panasonic DBT-110, JBL Studio 270’s, 4 - 15" DIY Sealed Subs

3.1 Living Room: Samsung 64” F8500 Plasma, Anthem MRX 300, Dynaudio Audience 52’s, Dynaudio Audience 122C, NHT SubOne
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post #11 of 12 Old 07-02-2019, 11:38 AM - Thread Starter
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The most important thing is just to enjoy your theater. Sometimes we get bogged down with the techical details of these amp over that amp, or this speaker over that speaker, and though that can be fun at times, we just need to enjoy the content and being able to share it with friends and family.
Yep, this is exactly why I went ghost for a while. Too much time chasing unreachable gear and perfection, not enough time enjoying it. That's what I remember most about the last theater was that most people couldn't care less if your picture is calibrated properly or your sound system is setup correctly, they see a big screen, a dark room and the first time the sub hits low they just smile and enjoy it. I remember being able to do that once upon a time.
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post #12 of 12 Old 07-19-2019, 10:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Been looking at theater photos until my eyes hurt. I'm beginning to get an idea of what I can do to transform the room, hopefully without a huge amount of effort. As some here mentioned I think the first thing will be to paint the ceiling a very dark color, probably black. Second, I think I can build some ceiling "clouds" in the highest area of the ceiling (9 feet) which could serve several purposes. First they can do accoustical duties, second they can hold some small can lights to provide the majority of lighting in the room, lastly they can hold Atmos ceiling speakers. There is already a ceiling outlet box in the middle of the ceiling where the fan currently is so since I was going to take that down anyway, I should be able to branch off of that box and install maybe 4 to 6 can lights total. Maybe 2 ceiling clouds with 3 lights each and 2 Atmos speakers each. That means they need to be located somewhat directly above the two seating rows. So difficult knowing where to start and what decision I make now might screw something else up for me later.
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