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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've just finished putting finishing touches in the room, I still don't have a PJ or seating, and my sub locations are not finalized, but I just want to share the room with you.

A little bit of history: I had an almost black HT room (black walls and carpet + white popcorn ceiling) in 2012 briefly before remodeling my condo where I integrated screen into the wall in the living room which was dark brown with white ceiling, but ambient light (was watching movies at nighttime with city lights going through the window, not bad). I really liked what I did with my living room (138" screen... 130" viewing area, watched from about 11-12 ft... chairs and table were relocated usually, they're there just for showcasing purposes)



but...

I missed the immersion factor of a black room. There's just nothing like it. If you try it once, you will never want another kind of HT, just like the other thread out there specifies. Basically, in my opinion, there's only right kind of HT - pitch black. Not grey, not red. Not blue. Only black. Just my opinion.

Here's the room I had to work with



Problem: stove. Originally I wanted to keep it and intergrate into the design. Also I considered "pretty" HT. Here's original design



I wanted a 150" screen and keep the stove. I decided to build a wall on the right because this allowed for larger screen with speakers next to it where it shows and a few extra ft of throw for pj if mounted in the open closet/alcove thingy. The budget I planned was pretty tight: about $5-6000, and that's including about $1500 of labor for my friend who's sort of self-employed general contractor (having pro crews would cost me 5 times that). The other $3000 for gear. $800 for chairs/loveseat So barely $1500-2000 for materials and everything else. I didn't calculate it right, of course, the wisdom "multiply your estimate by 1.5" turned out to be true, if not actually an underestimation. Basically, I completely screwed up the budget. But more on that later.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
The design above just didn't feel right. And then I read the thread "Once you go black..." in this section. It made me vividly remember my original black(ish) HT room, and although I kind of thought of it, I never seriously considered it. And then it hit me... I want that floating window effect. Immersion. I want it BACK.

Back to the drawing board. Simplifications began. Room got darkened, then details started vanishing one by one. Curtains gone. Tile/stone gone. Shelves gone. Fancy ceiling gone. Light carpet/modlings gone. Finally, fireplace gone (and two small windows on that wall), they're getting drywalled. Added traditional columns on L and R walls. Removed them, they're just too corny, every HT has them. They protrude, they ruin immersion. I don't want to see anything but the screen. I want purity. I couldn't get happy until I stipped the room clean of any features. No lights. Didn't want any reflections, didn't want to add complexity/cost... who needs lights anyway - I have one in the closet that provides enough light to see where you have to sit down and operate equipment. Had to leave HVAC duct (can't get rid of that!). Finally there wasn't much left to even show to my contractor guy. I basically told him "the wall goes here... get rid of the stove..."... and that was it. The work began. I didn't make many pictures, I was working those days and he did his job by himself. Basically he built a double wall (with double drywall on each side) facing bedrooms to let my family sleep at night. The rest got drywalled. One extra outlet. No lights, nothing extra. Here what it looked like:



The stove is gone and windows are R13'ed. All the walls got drywalled (there was some old veneered plywood from 70s originally)



And the projector area:



In the meantime, fabric was bought from Joann... It's called "Cozy" something. Original $5.99... It was on sale at 50% in store plus I used a 25% off coupon. I got it for like $2/yd. I picked this one carefully. I had two considerations: 1) light reflection 2) price. Originally I wanted some sort of velvet and they had Empress Velvetine (or something like that) but it costed $15/yd (not on sale). Light reflection was about the same as Cozy fabric I ended up buying. To check for light reflectivity I brough my brightest LED flashlight and shone upon the fabric at various angles and checked which reflected least light. Not the most scientific method, but best under the circumstances. You will be surprised how much light some black fabrics reflect. They're like mirrors. If you see any sparkles... the fabric is reflective. In my original black HT in 2012 I had mismatched fabrics I bought on clearance/remnants. One wall was dull and one was quite shiny. You can't just buy any black fabric. You have to be careful or result will disappoint you. Cozy and velvetine looked the least reflective of all the fabrics they had, this is why I bought it. Anyway, I got all the fabric they had in three stores (any roll over 3 yrd). After I returned the untouched rolls (just recently) it turned out I used up only like $100 of fabric, and that's for a 15x16x7.5 room AND ceilings! Not bad, I wish all the other stuff was so cheap.

We made some frames with beveled sides. Stapled the fabric together. It's pretty stretchy so I knew I wouldn't get perfect panels, but I didn't care. I wasn't building a pro high-end HT. Just a budget black cave for myself pretty much so I was ready for all kinds of imperfections. I upholstered all 35+ panels with my wife in under 4 hrs. We did a so-so work as most of them sagged anyway, but I didn't care.



The fabric doesn't look too fancy in store (kind of like rag) but on panels it's actually pretty nice and has a nice deep black color. It doesn't look cheap at all, very nice, I recommend it if you can't afford velvet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
A 165" 1.1g matte white screen was bought. The rule of wisdom "buy the biggest you can fit" was followed. This was the biggest I could fit. It's literally like 5" above floor and 2" below ceiling. I was concerned about legs getting in the way. But from 14-15" viewing distance (I simulated) it's not a problem even in reclined position. I originally bought Epson 5030ub but returned it promptly d/t bad SDE. I'm waiting for a refund and then I will probably order Sony.

I got the blackest carpet I could find on sale (it's actually even blacker than walls!). Painted the closet walls with darkest flattest black paint Home Depot could make me. I don't like it much. It's still too shiny compared to fabric and if you touch it, it leaves a permanent light stain. Absolutely can't be touched. Probably needs a sealer or something, but it's a hassle and I don't intend to touch it. I upholstered inside wall in the closet (just in case any reflections come from projector body/light spill) and the shelf for projector. Painted all the doors (one is recessed in that thick new wall and one is the closet within a closet). Even changed the tiny closet door handle to black. Every single surface in this room is black. The only non-black things in here are dust specks and stickers on equipment.

End result: (me shining a LED flashlight at the screen from approximate projector location)



Here are some more pics with additional lights (they don't help much, the room eats all the light). Sorry for poor quality, that's the best my potato camera can do









Looking into the abyss... I mean, room.



This is it. Just need to buy projector and seats. I will take some pics when I have that with screen lit up. A note on light reflectivity in the post below
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
So on the subject of light reflectivity. I don't know how helpful this is going to be, just going to share my thoughts and observations.

The spray-on velvet stuff on the screen bezel is by far the blackest thing. I wish I could spray the whole room with it. :) The Cozy fabric comes next, it's still pretty good in absorbing light. The dead last is paint, it reflects a lot of light and is a pretty bad solution for room darkening. Also, as silly as it sounds, it would probably be more expensive than fabric! Fabric costed me $100, that's about 3.5 gallons of paint. For a 15x16x7 (walls and ceiling) I think you'd need A LOT more. Plus brushes/rolls and not to mention mess, and upkeep issues. I highly recommend to avoid using paint. I'd upholster the closet too if I put it in the budget (and maybe one day I will)

Here are comparison shots, LED flashlight shining dead on two surfaces. You can see the brightness/reflectivity difference between suraces:

Fabric left - spray on velvetine screen bezel right



Fabric left - Paint right



Yuk! Bottom line: don't use paint! Save money and get fabric!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Originally I wanted them. But since this HT never meant to be eye candy I found little to no benefit from extra lights. All you need is to see where to walk/sit, and where's the player. Back light is sufficient for that. I considered just putting a floor lamp if necessary. The way it works, you walk in, grab pj remote right there on a lit PJ shelf, turn it on, and then you don't need any lights because you have a 165" light wall right there.

The other cons: complexity of installation. We'd have to plow the ceiling for wiring, install new wiring/switches, buy lights... then modify ceiling fabric panels to fit those lights... it's small things that add up to project complexity and expense. It was my minimalistic approach. I have done some remodeling jobs. My most common regret is needlessly overcomplicating things, like adding too many feature "just in case" and then never using them.

And I was worried about reflections and them being visible...

I forgot to mention what it took me to build this:

Time: 6 days:
- 1.5 days to strip the whole floor (!) ceilings/clean and get the damn stove out, and then buy the supplies
- 4 days to build it

FANTASY budget: $5000 (average) -6000 (high end)

REALITY:
Building materials (damn wood!!! why isn't it free????): 1400
(2x4wood, door frame wood (ouch!), fabric frames wood, some other wood, drywall, insulation, putty, door, paint and paint supplies, misc tools, door hardware, shelf hardware, boatload of damn expensive mending plates used for fabric frames etc)
Projector: 2500
8 pairs 3D Glasses: 50
Receiver: 250
Screen: 820
Fabric: 120
Cables: 150+ (damn cables!!!) speaker+subs+hdmi
Carpet: 780
LABOR: 1600
Chairs: 1300 (ordered)
Equipment stand: 20 (best purchase ever, it's the small tv stand from walmart, fits receiver and player perfectly... love it)
==================
TOTAL: ~$9000 (ouch!)

I'm trying not to think about how much it cost as I'm still recovering from shock (like thinking of three Hawaii vacations we could've had... a mildly used Subaru...) If I knew it would cost me this much I probably wouldn't pull the trigger (so I'm glad I didn't know about it).

And this is just a basic minimalistic cave.. I can only imagine how much people pay for the much nicer theaters in this forum....
 

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Awesome, simply awesome! 'Big as possible' is the only way to go! Pitch black, Ice cold, loud as a rock concert, and a floor to ceiling picture - the perfect home theater recipe! Gotta love it!
 
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