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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hey Guys,

I've been hanging out here for several years, since I began planning and building my first dedicated home theater (The Underground) in my previous home. When my wife and I planned the build of our new home, I had it in my head to build out a more elaborate and larger home theater. I was the General Contractor for the new home, and ended up swinging the hammer on most of the construction (I installed all the hardwood floors, cabinets, tile, stone, trim, low voltage, carpet, built the back porch, and paint - not to mention a few other things). Anyway, as life has a way of breaking my plans, so until recently I couldn't get to building out the HT like I wanted.

Fast-forward a couple years as I finish projects in the new home. Now I'm ready and have started to build the theater, but realized I haven't been keeping track of my build on anything except my Facebook page. Figured I'd toss some of the updates on here so I had a place to document it regularly (well, as 'regular' as life will allow).

A few things about the build:
First, it's in the basement of our rural home in Louisville, KY. We live on 7.5 acres of beautiful land on the outskirts of Louisville - our home was designed to blend in with the countryside, and look as much like a 'ranch-house' as possible. While we enjoy aspects of the city life (I go to Chicago, San Francisco, Atlanta and Orlando frequently) we really enjoy living out in the country and having room for our four kids to roam. Two weeks after moving in, we had a hot-air balloon do an emergency landing in our driveway. That's the type of place where we live...


As such, we have a lot of natural/wood tones in the house (timber-frame beam design, cedar trim and doors, etc). We are continuing this design through the home theater as we build it.

I'm building it in the walk-out basement, back corner underneath the office. The 'front' wall and right side are exterior walls/cement. The back has a bar window that opens into a kitchenette area, and the door on the left of the theater will be a sliding barn door similar to these - these are other doors in the house (wider and heavier for the theater with acoustical treatments on the backside, but similar to these).


Two similar doors (smaller) will come together to close off the bar window in the back from the kitchenette, blocking off light and [most of the] sound. When wanted, the back window can be opened so kids can sit at the bar and eat while still enjoying the movie ("Quit eating on my home theater seats!!")

The space isn't as large as I'd like, but fits our needs. It's 19+ feet long, 12'9 wide, and 9 high (actually, 10'ish including the i-beam space, but I'll get to that later). I'm initially going with a TV rather than a projector, but will likely move to a projector within a couple of years. As such, the front of the theater is a little less 'detailed' than the rest.

I'm going to have pillars wrapped in cedar along the walls, and integrate my speakers into these. Because of width constraints, the speakers will be at ~6-7 ft, rather than down at ear height. I plan on having two rows, with the second row directly up against the back wall (yes, I know it's not ideal. My view is that if/when people visit and we have movie night, they would prefer to have a seat with less-optimal sound than to not have a seat). The primary viewing position will be at ~13-14 ft away from the screen.

The riser will be 13 inches tall, and (still debating on this) have subs facing the back of the first row seats.

The ceiling for the entire basement will have a cedar-beam look, and have drywall that sits on top of the beams, spanning the 'gaps' between them. I'll do the same thing in the theater, but instead of drywall spanning the gap, I've bought foil-backed 2" OC-703 that I'll wrap in black AT fabric. Above that, between the beams, I'm putting 4 inches of Roxul AFB. This design will give me the ability to get into the ceilings if/when I need to, and provide some acoustical treatment for the ceiling, and still have the 'cedar' timberframe look that we like. We've already wrapped the beams and painted the joists (paint wasn't necessary, but I had extra black on hand).

Here are a few pictures that show the design and the current progress:

view from the kitchenette - you can see the window that looks into the video room.


the cedar used for building the doors and trim. I get raw-cut cedar at a fairly good price, and think this stuff is gorgeous.


Here's the room post-drywall, with the cedar wrapping the bottom of the i-beams, and the beams painted.


a better view of the beams, as we were putting them up.

and finally, a few design shots from Sketch-up:


The boxes between the pillars are acoustical treatments, covered by movie prints. I've built some of them (you can see the first-half of the build thread here). Each section will have one larger panel/print (24x36) and a smaller panel 6 inches above it (12x24).



Looking at the riser and seats (well, the seats aren't there) from the screen/stage:


I'm debating on if I put the components inside or outside the room. It's wired for the components inside, in the front left 'box' on the stage (I initially wired with the idea of building two large columns, but I am reconsidering that) - but I could easily push them out to the ajoining room. The two boxes in the font are (1) for components, and (2) stands for the speakers. I don't relish the idea of having my components up front, but I also don't like the idea of leaving the video room to get my hands on the components. Go figure...


Anyway, That's about the extent of my progress so far. It's slow, but I'm hoping to have things workable and semi-running in 6-8 weeks.

Please give any feedback/ideas/questions - I'm doing this myself, so rely heavily on people much more experienced to give ideas and insight into my bad ideas.

Thanks,
-Scott
 

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Looking great! This is a fun time for you! I built my own house as well and it's very rewarding when it's done. Well, it's never really done, but rewarding none the less! I too moved from the city to the country in order to do this. It has it's advantages and disadvantages, but I could never move back to suburbia after living on a large piece of land.

I love the hot air balloon picture, that's a story most will never get to tell!

If you do put the components outside the room, there are many good remote control options that will give you full control of everything. Just a thought.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Looking great! This is a fun time for you! I built my own house as well and it's very rewarding when it's done. Well, it's never really done, but rewarding none the less! I too moved from the city to the country in order to do this. It has it's advantages and disadvantages, but I could never move back to suburbia after living on a large piece of land.

I love the hot air balloon picture, that's a story most will never get to tell!

If you do put the components outside the room, there are many good remote control options that will give you full control of everything. Just a thought.
I've been thinking of that...In my current situation, I won't be using a projector so don't need the full width - and I need to raise the L/R speakers anyway so thought "hey...the component rack could be short, in the room, and serve to be the stand for the left speaker" - but I'm still deciding.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
So I've been doing more work in the theater, and am in the process of deciding on seating. However, I have some challenges that I'd like to get some opinions on.

I read through the Fusion Seats thread (all ~1500 posts) and then posted this, but figured I'd post here since the question is as much of a 'build' question as it is a 'seats' question. Please forgive the double-post, I just figured that many won't visit both threads, and I was hoping to get as much of a response as possible.

---

I thought it may be best to do a quick write-up to ask you guys a few of my internal questions running around my head regarding seating. Roman has been awesome about answering all the pre-sales questions and even giving excellent opinions about things that the buyer should already have figured out (I don't have them figured out). I'm trying to get an understanding of how 'acceptable' breaking certain home theater rules is and how that may work in my theater.

First, the general dimensions of my theater are relatively conservative - 19'+ long, 12'9 wide and ~9' tall. It will have 4" deep columns on each side which reduce the 'usable' width down to about 12'1, but still provide a bit of a 'gap' between the wall and the immediate edge of the chair. The door to the theater is on the side - it's a barn-style door (slides across the outside opening) and the opening is almost 5ft wide. There is also a 'bar' window opening in the back of the theater that can be closed with the same type of sliding barn door. It provides access to the bar on the opposite side of the wall, and allows people sitting at the bar while eating to see and hear the movie but be somewhat 'outside' the theater. Several images in the build process and in Sketchup are on my very short build-thread in my signature, but the overall look is very similar to this:


For seating, the goal was to have a rear row on a riser (roughly 13 inches tall) and front row directly on the floor. Width AND length are somewhat tight (I should have made the theater 3 ft larger in both directions), so I'm trying to figure out seating.

My wife and I are social people, and usually go out to dinner/movies at least twice a month with other couples. Additionally, we have people over for 'main event' things (Superbowl, UFC fights, basketball playoffs, Kentucky Derby, etc). Finally, we have four sons, two of which have autism and may end up living with us until we die. With all of these factors, in my mind it screams "get as many chairs as possible" when figuring out a format - I'm going to want those seats for the future.

I love the idea of the Escapes, and have decided I want them for the front row. I'd like to have 4 seats there, if possible, but I can't do a IOIOIOIOI format and be that narrow. I'd have to go with a double loveseat IOOIIOOI configuration (I don't think I can get rid of the double middle armrest with Escapes in this config, correct?) or a center loveseat config IOIOOIOI. Having the seats this wide means bumping the far right seat up against the column on the wall (basically, the chair is 4 inches off the wall, so your head will be about 18 inches from the wall, and about 4 foot from the above-ear surround sound speaker that is angled downward at 30'ish degrees). The far left chair would be about 25 inches from the doorway opening, providing enough room to pass through, but still being somewhat 'tight'. I'm mostly OK with this, as I think that when my wife and I are alone, we would sit in the 'middle' chairs on the front row so don't care about the side chairs as much, and when we have people over everyone would be willing to sacrifice a little bit of surround-sound capabilities to have a seat in the theater. Maybe I'm wrong.

The back row is where I start having concerns. I was thinking of getting a duplicate row in the back, but read several people post that the majority of the time you will be watching movies alone. Don't design for parties, design for the 'normal' - my normal is probably four people watching movies. I'd prefer to have the back row only take up about 5'-5'6" on the riser, and have the back edge of the front row seats sitting about 5'6 from the back wall. This isn't possible, if I use reclining seats in the back. I've thought about just putting a couch back there, but I don't like the 'looks' of HT seats on the front row and a completely different seating option on the back. I've almost convinced myself to go with the Lagoons for the back row (comfortable, look similar to the Escapes, lower cost option) but I'm still torn between 5 Lagoons and 4 Escapes, keeping them all the exact same seat through the theater. Also, if I go with the four escapes, I'd use the extra width not needed for the aisle to go with a more configurable design IOIOIIOIOI that would allow me to move to a IOIIOOIIOI loveseat.

Now my questions that are rattling around in my head:
  1. Given my constraints and needs, this will put the right side seat against the wall in the front row, and the back row against the back wall and both side walls. This obviously isn't ideal. Should I be more conservative and reduce each row by 1 seat to keep off the side walls?
  2. Do I go with all Escapes (fewer in the back row) or do I go with Lagoons and get (1) more width, and (2) a different feeling chair in the event that someone in the family doesn't like the comfort of the Escape and wants a different option?
  3. How 'tight' can I be between the back wall, the back row, and the front row. I imagine that the back seats won't ever need to fully recline (higher riser and a row in front will keep people from reclining the entire way so they can see the movies). I don't care if people can walk between the front/back row if both rows are reclined...my feeling is that if someone needs to go to the bathroom during a party, interrupting the other people in the back row to get them to un-recline while they walk through is acceptable. What I DON'T want is to have someone from the back row put their feet right next to my head while I'm watching a movie in the front row. My older sons are 16 and 18, and they can clear a room with their feet-stink at times. =D I'm actually holding off building the riser until I have seats-in-hand, so I can build the riser to the perfect size. I just want to get the correct seats for this, to save as much space as possible.
  4. My budget would keep me from getting Buttkickers on these seats. I could get two if I go with all Escapes. I could get four if I go with 5 Lagoons on the back row or go with 6 if I go with four Lagoons on the back row (less expensive seats provides more money for other options). I can buy BK's in the future, so this isn't a huge deal for me, but I'm trying to make my decisions from a holistic perspective.

OK. So I've over-analyzed this way too much (that's my way...analysis paralysis is my skillset). Any thoughts/gut reactions you guys have are more than welcome. I'd like to make a decision in the next couple of days, but I'm also hoping someone close to me responds to my request for giving their chairs a test-spin, so I probably won't make the decision until Wed/Thurs after I've given people a chance to respond.

Thanks again for any feedback, and a special thanks to Roman for being so quick to answer my previous questions in such a professional and complete manner.
-Scott
 

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I have 7 seats, 4 in front and 3 in back on a riser. I may not be as social as you but honestly the back row never gets used. The few times I have more than 4 people in the theater I always sit in the back and let my guests enjoy the front row sweet spot. You may or may not find out that most people are not as into a home theater as yourself so whenever I have people over they would prefer to hang out in the livingroom where "talking" is easier, or they want to play pool.

My back row is also against the back wall so you should be fine to do that. Design the sweet spot based on the front row and let the back row get whatever compromises it needs to take. As far as the side walls 2.5 ft is plenty for a walkway. You don't need 400 people exiting at one time so don't feel like you need huge walk ways.

Here's a picture of mine, I have about 2.5' between the front seat and the side wall, plenty or room for people to walk by.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I have 7 seats, 4 in front and 3 in back on a riser. I may not be as social as you but honestly the back row never gets used. The few times I have more than 4 people in the theater I always sit in the back and let my guests enjoy the front row sweet spot. You may or may not find out that most people are not as into a home theater as yourself so whenever I have people over they would prefer to hang out in the livingroom where "talking" is easier, or they want to play pool.

My back row is also against the back wall so you should be fine to do that. Design the sweet spot based on the front row and let the back row get whatever compromises it needs to take. As far as the side walls 2.5 ft is plenty for a walkway. You don't need 400 people exiting at one time so don't feel like you need huge walk ways.

Here's a picture of mine, I have about 2.5' between the front seat and the side wall, plenty or room for people to walk by.
Thanks. This is the type of advice I am looking for. I don't know if I really want to spend a bunch of money on seats that will get used 'on occasion'. Maybe that's not the normal thought, but I've seen enough posts on here that say that most of their seats sit empty most of the time...just trying to figure out where to invest the money.

Thanks for your thoughts.
-Scott
 

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You can also come with up temporary seating that could be moved in. I remember one guy on here years ago used bean bags in the front for kids to sit on, they loved it. If you are a drinker you could think about a bar in the back with some comfy stools for those few occasions that you have people over.
 

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Hi Scott, it was great to meet you and your lovely wife!
I really love what you are doing and I look forward to visiting in the future to see the final product of all of your hard work...:)
 

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I have a similar sized HT and I have 8 seats in it. 3 in the front row and 5 in the second row. The two outside chairs in the second row will not be ideal sound wise. But, as drunk mentioned, not everyone is as into or knowledgeable about our rooms as you'd think. Most people will be so awed by the HT they won't notice or care that they aren't in a "print" seat. I have pictures of my seating in my sig if you want to see what "bad" seating looks like lol! With a teenage daughter and 11yo son, we've already host a several events with 4-6 extra kids. The HT will just be one more thing they can do. Plus, my in-laws retired and moved in with us, so we needed at least 6 seats anyway. Any spill over greater than 8 can either get to know each other better in the first row by squeezing one or two more in or can hit the floor. We have a couple of the floor rocker chairs and I might pick up some bean bags too.

In any case, your build looks impressive! I do wish we'd had the time and budget to create some columns into the our HT but, since I decided to go blackout anyway, I'm not sure they would have ended up being appreciated. Also jealous of your acreage. I had hoped for something similar when we moved to the Orlando area but taking my in-laws moving in with us into account we just couldn't find anything affordable. So, we have a postage stamp yard instead lol! At least there's less to mow :D.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
A quick update, since I added some of this information on a speaker-build thread yesterday - It's been several months since my last update, and I wish I had accomplished more...I've just been working on several dozen projects, and I have to do the Home Theater in-between those.

My progress so far: I've put in a small stage (2 ft deep, 7 inches tall), and a riser in the back. I've carpeted those, and installed my chairs from Roman. I've installed acoustical panels disguised as movie posters on the walls, and created columns that have BAD deflectors/dispersers within them. I haven't gotten most of those pillars covered in cedar trim (yet), but I have done one of them so I can see what it will look like.

I've covered the front wall and the ceiling with acoustical panels covered in black fabric, and I've installed the temporary display (LG's 55" OLED display). I will end up putting in a projector, but probably not for a year or so...until that time, the flat screen is an excellent solution.



The trim will look similar in pattern to this (although it isn't sealed in this picture):


and here's how the speakers will be inserted in the pillars to align with the rest of the theater environment




The MDF will be covered by cedar trim, but it gives an idea of how the pillars look in the space.

I still have the doors to hang and the rear opening to cover (it will have similar doors on it also, but be a pass-through to a kitchenette/bar behind it), the trim on the floors/doors, and the trim on the pillars. After that, I think I'm just about done.

Doors are made, but need to be finished and hung. They look like this:
 
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