For a semi-obnoxious intro:
Q. What's under $250, can be completed in a day (if you're more organized than I was) and won't upset even the strictest landlord?
A. White paint, black fabric and a handful of black push-pins.
- Remember that almost any fabric, cover or curtain can pose a possible fire-safety hazard. Be safe and keep heat sources at a safe distance.
I've been wondering what sort of improvements could be possible with darkening the walls and ceiling in a front-projection environment. I didn't really want to paint everything dark and the only room that could get away with a "blackout" treatment is also somewhat of a storage area that would require a false wall to eliminate the visual clutter.
I've heard of long curtain being used with wire or such as an alternative to painting that also absorbs more light while being more temporary in some renters' minds as well. This also would take care of my false-wall requirement as well as a few other neat benefits.
Figuring that purchasing cloth and building my own would save a bit of money (and likely be necessary for covering the ceiling anyway), off I went to explore my options.
As it turned out, the approximately 12'x14'x8' room required nearly $150 worth of the thin, black cotton material I ended up settling on. It's very lightweight, doesn't stretch at all, and can be found for around $2.50/yd if you call around..perfect.
I grabbed a $2, 200count box of tacks on the way out and got to work. Starting with the walls and overlapping meant all the tacks could be hidden by the next piece of fabric, and the fabric was so lightweight that only the tops (right near the ceiling) needed tacking..the rest could simply drape down. I was most surprised by how easily the ceiling covering went. Once again, the low weight coupled with the lack of stretch meant only 1tack/yard was needed to hold the fabric tight against the ceiling, leaving only a very slight pillow in between. Despite all the dark colors, the room turned out really cozy probably owed to the tufted fabric instead of hard paint lines.
I left the only clear wall slightly framed by fabric and rolled a couple coats of flat-white interior latex..because the only clear wall was also the only wallpapered wall and I figured I'd try painting over before dedicating a week to properly taking down and cleaning the 20year-old wallpaper (had to do one of these in the lower level..yes it took about a week of on and off scrubbing to finally clear the wall). My fears of the paper curling or the seams showing proved unfounded and now it's a working room with only a few finishing touches left. The problem is that it's now working and I can procrastinate everything else. :/
Rolling the paint on with a 1/4" nap roller, I didn't drip once..NOT ONCE. It was the easiest thing ever.
For masking, the side borders of cloth will be measured and tightened up. The top/bottom will be using the same fabric, rolled around a 10' 1/4" steel pole (basically used as a rolling blind) with preset rests for 16:9 and 2.40:1 concealed behind a loose hanging side curtain.
Sound is currently a little $40, 2.1 system that will likely stay for quite some time. If I find a cheap/free 5.1, the wiring can be easily fully hidden behind the wall fabric without any construction required..yet another benefit of using fabric instead of paint.
Seating was easily obtained for free via craigslist (a ton of good options if you live anywhere withing driving distance of a populated area). I've woken up in the very dark-green loveseat once or twice a week. It is ridiculously comfortable.
Because the fabric isn't thick enough to fully block the sun, I did buy a couple yards of thicker stuff (nearly blue-jean weight on clearance for $2/yd..the store only had about 4yds though) for the window sections as well as ducktaped some tinfoil over the glass. Using blackout curtains or material would probably work better for most folks, but for me, grabbing a little baking foil was cheaper and totally blacks out the windows.
Edit: switched to using BlackOutCloth over the windows. It's fantastic.
So now it's a dark-in-the-day, black and light-absorbing room with a 120"+ screen, a simple soundsystem that's loud enough for the small space, AND it's still functioning as a sectioned-off storage area.
-Paint and paint supplies: $15
-Fabric, foil, tape and tacks: $155
-Steel poles: $4
-2.1 soundsystem: $40
Not counting the projector; that's about $215, a short round-trip drive, and a few hours of pushing tacks into a ceiling from a stepladder.
I'm using a 720p LED DLP with similarly modest contrast as the w1070 but lower black levels because of its lower lumen output.
That puts the total cost (including PJ) up to $600. Everything except the loveseat was purchased new in-store.
Next will be finishing the masking and probably putting up a backlighting array to increase perceived contrast. Reflections from the backlight should be minimized by the black room..I'm pretty excited.