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54 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Professional Assistance

I used a professional carpet layer and I had an electrician hook the power up to the fuse box. I wired everything up to the box but didn't have the patience to mess around with live power.

Project Distinctness

The goals for this project was to take our seldom used partially finished basement, tear it down to the bare walls and floor, build something that will be used by all family members and have a sense of satisfaction when completed. The only way to get the later was to do as much of the work myself. Even though I wanted to do this project on a budget I didn't want it to look that way upon completion.

6' x 6' faux tin ceiling tile layout. The tiles give the dimensional illusion of higher ceiling while adding some uniqueness.

The projector is hidden within the center column with a round opening in the wall for the lens, contributing to the theater atmosphere. Audio equipment is placed in the same column concealed from the theater side but accessed on the opposite side.

A theater with a clean look. All speakers, audio and video equipment are hidden out of sight. This included hiding the massive ED-350 subwoofer in another room with the front exposed through an opening in the theater. Audio purists may be opinionated toward the discrete speaker arrangement but my ears don't detect any sound inequalities and because of the smaller room I wanted to eliminate clutter.

Just completed MAME arcade cabinet in the pub area.

The overall ambiance of the layout is a vintage looking theater with a pub in the back to boot. The brownish toned walls, the aged brick fireplace, the brushed bronze lighting, the faux tin ceiling and the glass blocked windows with nostalgic window treatments add to the antiquated atmosphere. It may be somewhat of an oxymoron, but I managed to give the MAME arcade cabinet a dated feel with a WWII theme and pin-up girl on the side, replicating a bomber's nose art.

Project Challenges

Low ceilings - 7' Ceiling in the theater area and partial 6.5' ceilings in the back bar area due to duct work

Existing fireplace

Support beam running across the middle of the room and a steel support post in the middle of the room

Basement windows

Spring time water seepage through the walls and floor (only during very wet springs)

Keeping costs down

The traditional theater only setup was my original concept, using two rows of stepped theater seating, removing all windows and eliminating the fireplace. But because of the low center support beam and the support pole it was more efficient to divide the room in half; where the front section is the theater area and the back section is the tavern section - still allowing 3 people to watch a movie while sitting at the bar. Switching to a more pub like atmosphere avoided the need to remove the fireplace and using architectural type glass blocks for the windows added to the tavern ambiance. Since I wasn't removing the steel support post, I built a closet around the post using the closet to hide my projector on one side and incorporating an audio rack on the other.

To handle any water seepage through the walls I applied Dry-Lok prior to placing walls. For the floor I placed down Platon (impermeable damp-proof barrier) over the concrete prior to placing the sub-floor. The wall frame was built directly upon the Platon/sub-floor section reducing the risk for any wood/water integration.

Keeping costs down was managed by not purchasing specialty items, and by being diligent with product purchasing. Individuals can construct a first-rate theater without having to break the bank to achieve. The cost to complete this theater came in at around $12,000, including all building supplies and audio/video equipment.


Pre-planning is perhaps the most important advice to offer. If construction commenced based off of my first schematic layout, the finished result would have been disappointing. Access to AutoCAD software was beneficial for preparing preliminary and final plans. Most of my design knowledge was acquired from websites and forums.

The rule for keeping costs down to the lowest denominator is to do everything yourself (at least as much as possible). Once you make that phone call to the professionals the costs will escalate. I'm not discouraging using contractors, but if the goal is to keep costs down it needs to be done with your own hands, and maybe with help from some friends and a cold beer.

The one thing I waffled between was to install either a 2.35:1 or 16:9 screen. Ultimately, the 16:9 screen was chosen because of sports; an anamorphic screen drastically reduces the screen size for watching sporting events. In addition, many movies are still being produced in the 16:9 format. This is unquestionably a personal decision but it's a decision that works for my family. I incorporated magnets within the back side of the screen to support masking for 2.35:1 movies. My simple DIY masking system incorporates foam board, magnets and black velvet.

Lutron Maestro IR dimmers are a low cost alternate for remote lighting control, which can be operated by using my Logitech Harmony 900 remote control.

While overall stylishness is significant if you're going for the authentic theater experience, don't become consumed with this objective. Overall, when completed; the video and sound quality is what it's all aboutall the other stuff is just fluff. Find a common balance.

Don't buy over-priced wiring and cable. I've always found it interesting that a certain box store will attempt to sell high-end cable to hook up to their low to mid-level equipmentI wonder where the profit is.

My last bit of advice would be not hesitating toward building a theater yourself. There's plenty information out there in the digital realm, and with time and patience anybody can build a theater. Very few things overcome the sense of gratification obtained when accomplishing something using your own brain and brawn.

Equipment List

Onkyo TX-SR706 Receiver

Sony PS3 Blu-Ray Player

Motorola HDTV Receiver and DVR

Belkin PureAV PF30 Power Console

Panasonic PT-AE3000 Projector

Polk LS50 Front Speakers (older but very good sounding Polks)

Polk CS350-LS Center Channel

Polk FXi A6 Surround Speakers

Elemental Design A5-350 Subwoofer

WilsonArt Designer White 124 16:9 Screen

Logitech Harmony 900 Remote

Coaster Executive Theater Seating (3- Seats)

Lutron Maestro IR dimmers controlled by the Harmony 900 remote

Lighting from Home Depot

Monoprice cables and speaker wire

Everything else from Lowes

First Step:

Everyone's first construction step - taping the screen.

No turning back



· Premium Member
2,247 Posts
Agree, nice job. Good balance of "home" and "theater"

· Registered
54 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·

Originally Posted by Randocal /forum/post/0

I wish I could copy/paste your basement into my basement. That looks superb!

Did you meet the objectives that you set out for in your initial post? I can't imagine you don't have the satisfaction aspect nailed!

Thanks. I tweaked a fee things, but I pretty much met my objectives.

· Registered
2,862 Posts

Originally Posted by Rocko66 /forum/post/19559943

6 months. 5 months longer than my wife wanted.

... and about two+ years shorter than most of us DIY'ers here.

Fantastic job. Turned out real nice. I'm especially impressed with the creative use of the cabinet to hide the support post and the PJ. Very cool.

Can you elaborate a bit more on how you made your screen masking system?

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1,305 Posts
nice write up and great result. can you show some pictures of the different aspect ratios with masking on and off?

nice job

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594 Posts
Nice! Short and sweet and to the point!

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249 Posts

Room looks great! I see that you use platon and then a subfloor on top of that. What type of subfloor? I also have a 7' ceiling, how much height did the the platon and subfloor add?

I would like to do the same but i'm concerned because of the low ceiling.



· Registered
Klipsch Heritage, Danley subs, Emotiva, Epson 5050
5,300 Posts
Originally Posted by Chris_Holmes
Nice! Short and sweet and to the point!
Chris, you don't enjoy the 3-5 year build threads? Come on man...you're making me self conscious.

Rocko66, I like that ceiling treatment. I may borrow that idea.
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