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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys,


I am finishing my basement and would like a home theatre area in there. It looks like this (dimensions are finished dimensions) :-

  • The "North wall" will have the projection screen. There is a 12' space behind the wall so front speakers can go behind the screen. I have an acoustically transparent 106' screen.
  • There is a fire place indent in that wall. Projection screen will cover most of it (I'll put a black plywood behind it, so the area behind the screen is consistent. However, on the top and at the bottom I will be able to store HTPC, Xbox, receiver etc.
  • Projector will go in the 'south wall'
  • There is no "west wall". That part is open


The room is fairly narrow (10' 4"). It seems big because it's missing a wall
, but I don't want furniture to "spill over". This means that any furniture I get has to be Do I have enough room to do two rows? This is my dream setup :-



Do I have to decrease the size of the screen to 92" to make this setup work? I prefer the 106" screen because when we are only using the back seats, we can use the 106" setup. IF people use the front row then we can think about (potentially) reducing the screen size.


Another major issue is the soffit above the rear row. It's not an issue if I do only one row and don't use a riser. But if I have to use a riser then there wont be much headroom left. Unfortunately flipping the room around (aka, putting the projector screen under the soffit and sitting area on the other side) is not an option (electrical is done, will have to get it all reinspected etc). For this reason I can't put proper home theater seats under the soffit on top of a riser. Is it possible to do a taller riser just under the seat and a shorter one around? The idea is that you climb a 6" riser, walk to the seat and then the seat will be 48" high instead of 41" high. It may make it a bit trickier to climb onto the seat but at least you wont hit your head on the soffit.


Alternatively, I am thinking about classic movie theater chairs at the back, like this (four chairs) :-



Since they're small and don't recline, this will allow me to put a riser of only 4' (seats themselves only need 28". They obviously don't have a foot rest. If I add 20" of aisle space in the front then I can get away with a riser of 4' depth.


Alternatively, I can use these non-reclining (they recline only slightly) at the back :-



This will also allow 4' distance between back seats and front seats. 4' is very tight, but my main regular seats will be at the front. For back I am just trying to find a good option that I can use if more people (more than just my kids and I) are watching. My brothers often visit and we watch movies together.


Also, if I put my main sitting area at the front then the front row will be ~12' 5" from the screen. Is that too close for a 106" screen? The screen has 0.8 gain and the projector is 1080p with 1800 lumens (if that makes a difference).


Another option is to just use normal (but with tall back and high seat) at the back without riser and seats with short back and short seat back at the front so I don't have to use a riser. But then I am worried that the front row may be too close to the screen. I do have the option to move the home theater wall in by 7" (I built the frame 7" further from where I had to so I could put the center channel behind the screen, right at the ear level ( otherwise I'd have to either put it above the screen or below it).


Yet another option is to use a couch at the back on riser and home theater seat at the front.


Essentially, I spent last three days reading this forum and researching but I have trouble visualizing the end result, so I am having a really hard time deciding. That's why I am here.


Any advice or guidance will be appreciated (and those in the GTA will be more than welcome to come enjoy a few movies in the finished product).
 

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I think the trouble is that you don't want, as you said, to go to all the trouble and only have seating for four. If you can get over that, you'll find yourself in a much happier place.


There are a few keys to coming to that conclusion, IMO.


First, how many people live in your house? If it's more than four, then I understand your concern. If it's only two or three - you need to be brutally honest about how the space will actually get used. I know that the idea of a party for six of your closest friends every other weekend sound like a great time, and I'm sure it would be (for a while at least), but going to all the trouble and expense it would require to accommodate that many would force so many other compromises and stretch the budget it wouldn't be worthwhile, for me at least. A second row means every time someone in the rear stands up they interfere with the projector. If they are tall, they bump their head - maybe into the projector. A second row means surround placement gets compromised and no one ends up with the best sound the space could provide if better optimized. It means there's no way to put a sub in the rear of the room. A second row is so far back that it misses the point of the big screen.


Some of this may sound like I'm beating down your dream - I hope that's not how this comes across. I know that if the room does what you want it to and you can use it to have a great time it won't matter what my opinion is. And that's all this is - my opinion. That said - these are compromises I would be reluctant to make for my own space.


Second, acknowledge that there will be compromises. You may not compromise on the amount of seating, but that will inevitably lead to other compromises (like speaker placement or overhead room). Later, there will be more compromises - the paint won't be the right color, or the carpet you saw won't fit in your budget, or you will be slightly disappointed in the sub's output. You'll find that the sound seems off-center because there is only one side-wall to the room (fixing that may be very challenging).


Again, I don't want you to think that I'm trying to discourage you. I'm not. Keep reading. Keep designing - lay it all out. Check viewing angles, speaker locations, projector throws, screen gain... everything you can think of and then some. Pick your battles. You can win the seating battle if you want to - but it may prove to be a Pyrrhic victory. Clearly, you have some experience with home theatre (
), as you already have a screen and projector, and clearly you've done a lot of planning and figuring already. Just see it all through as far as you can and weigh your options. I've found that as I get further along in my process, I can "see" the results more clearly when I am in the space. Go stand in there and set up some dummy seating - maybe just tape on the floor. Walk around in the space and get a feel for what it will be like. Get five other guys to stand or sit in there and see what it feels like - you may be surprised at your conclusions.


Hope that helps,


Fred
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks Fred.


I think you nailed it. The problem is that I realize that I must make compromises and being horrible at the ability to visualize things, I don't know what's a better compromise. Reading your post, I realize that I'll need to redo speaker wiring because it's all done assuming a single row. Do I want a kickass setup for four people or a blah setup (after all the trouble) for 7?


How to deal with the missing wall is my second issue. I am thinking about putting a curtain that can close the room (and put a curtain on the opposite wall to balance it out). I have some strategies to deal with that situation, but that's a topic for a different thread.


Thanks again!

Quote:
Originally Posted by HopefulFred  /t/1418491/room-design-advice#post_22185986


I think the trouble is that you don't want, as you said, to go to all the trouble and only have seating for four. If you can get over that, you'll find yourself in a much happier place.

There are a few keys to coming to that conclusion, IMO.

First, how many people live in your house? If it's more than four, then I understand your concern. If it's only two or three - you need to be brutally honest about how the space will actually get used. I know that the idea of a party for six of your closest friends every other weekend sound like a great time, and I'm sure it would be (for a while at least), but going to all the trouble and expense it would require to accommodate that many would force so many other compromises and stretch the budget it wouldn't be worthwhile, for me at least. A second row means every time someone in the rear stands up they interfere with the projector. If they are tall, they bump their head - maybe into the projector. A second row means surround placement gets compromised and no one ends up with the best sound the space could provide if better optimized. It means there's no way to put a sub in the rear of the room. A second row is so far back that it misses the point of the big screen.

Some of this may sound like I'm beating down your dream - I hope that's not how this comes across. I know that if the room does what you want it to and you can use it to have a great time it won't matter what my opinion is. And that's all this is - my opinion. That said - these are compromises I would be reluctant to make for my own space.

Second, acknowledge that there will be compromises. You may not compromise on the amount of seating, but that will inevitably lead to other compromises (like speaker placement or overhead room). Later, there will be more compromises - the paint won't be the right color, or the carpet you saw won't fit in your budget, or you will be slightly disappointed in the sub's output. You'll find that the sound seems off-center because there is only one side-wall to the room (fixing that may be very challenging).

Again, I don't want you to think that I'm trying to discourage you. I'm not. Keep reading. Keep designing - lay it all out. Check viewing angles, speaker locations, projector throws, screen gain... everything you can think of and then some. Pick your battles. You can win the seating battle if you want to - but it may prove to be a Pyrrhic victory. Clearly, you have some experience with home theatre (
), as you already have a screen and projector, and clearly you've done a lot of planning and figuring already. Just see it all through as far as you can and weigh your options. I've found that as I get further along in my process, I can "see" the results more clearly when I am in the space. Go stand in there and set up some dummy seating - maybe just tape on the floor. Walk around in the space and get a feel for what it will be like. Get five other guys to stand or sit in there and see what it feels like - you may be surprised at your conclusions.

Hope that helps,

Fred
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by HopefulFred  /t/1418491/room-design-advice/0_50#post_22185986


I think the trouble is that you don't want, as you said, to go to all the trouble and only have seating for four. If you can get over that, you'll find yourself in a much happier place.


There are a few keys to coming to that conclusion, IMO.

GREAT post, Fred!
 

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I had room for about 3-4 people in my room before. I had a couch, a recliner, and regular chair. Then I got rid of all of them in favor of just two permanent lazy boy recliners. If I have a need, I can pull another small but comfortable non recliner chair into the room. My room is small and taking out the other chairs and having just the two really makes the room open up and seem bigger than it is.


I have another friend of mine who has a nice size room and one row of 4 seats. I am unsure if another row would ever be in the works but I can tell you that if the other row would compromise the sound in the room, there is no way he would do it. I think you should maximize for what your room can accommodate without too much compromise on the sound. It seems like having the 4 chair setup will allow you to have a bigger screen.


Now don't get me wrong, in my opinion 92in is a nice size, I know someone who has a screen that size and it looks great. But if you really want that bigger screen, then you may have to compromise on the seats. I can say that the other person I mentioned has a screen that is close to, if not 120in and it looks outstanding. But he has the space for that. I think Fred hit the pros and cons pretty well. Good luck on what ever you choose to go with
 

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Discussion Starter #7
OP here. Thanks everyone. After soul searching (and re-reading this area a dozen times), I've decided to go with a single row of four. I thought about reducing the screen size, but even then due to the narrowness of the room I'd be stuck with a lot of compromises. With a single row I can actually move the row of seats away from the rear wall. Fred got through to me
 

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Well I once had your same decision. My room is a bad shape (13x13). I wanted a row of 4 in the back and a row of 3 up front. My front row seating was going to be way to close to the screen, about 7 feet on a 100 screen. The back row is under a soffit . Well I have designed many home theaters and new my room shape and seating position was way out of the recommended positions. Well I threw caution to the wind and did two rows anyway. I am very happy with my decisions. I have a 1080 projector, I do not see the pixel structure at that close and the sound (with some tweaking) is where it should be. Since the chairs take up most of the soffit space people do not have trouble hitting there head when they sit down. I know I will get flamed for this, but, enjoy your home theater with your friends and don't spend so much time making sure it is perfect, perfection is like a drug, you are always looking for the next fix.
 

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You need to give some thought to your surround speaker placement. The seating will be right on top of the surrounds and the nearest speaker will draw attention to itself.

Totally spoils the multichannel magic for me.


I'm impressed with you coming to terms with one row and an AT screen in the small space so quickly. Took me years and several remodels to get my head around two seats in 9'5" width,

with a horizontally masked 54x96" AT screen.


Ever consider flipping the room end for end, and getting symmetrical side walls for the front three speakers? Better audio with symmetrical side walls. And give some thought to placing the

electronics outside the theater space.


bighifi, don't you bake in that small space with seven bodies? Not flaming you... I agree in principle and think so many accepted ht design practises have become outdated. Pushing the envelope

can give impressive results. I also wonder about your front row audio? Your "money" seat is practically dead center of the room, lenght and width . Seven feet is a 1/2 wavelength

of an 80 Hz wave (14 feet), which makes me wonder what crossover point you are using, and whether your sub/sat crossover is seamless? Perfection might be a drug, but wave science can get you

optimal performance out of one's sound system.
 

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To the OP,


I have no experience in HT design, but I plan one day to have a dedicated room myself. In my head, I have already run into the conflict of perfect setup for audio and visual vs. some compromise to make the room more flexible, ie for bigger groups, sporting events, or kids etc. partly it depends on you, and your social and viewing habits. If you really plan to just watch movies there and you have another space in your house for the more social get togethers, then go all out for a perfect setup. If up this will be the main room to hang out in and watch all kinds of TV, then maybe opt for more seats.


If you do opt for one row, I had two ideas. Depending on exactly how far back that row would be, maybe you could have enough room so that if you did have more than 4 people, you would have room to pull a couch or chairs in front or behind that row. Or, maybe a built in or fold down cushioned bench across the back wall that would need a lot less space than fancy recliners.


Good luck.
 

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Zhamid - perhaps this is mentioned above as I only skimmed all the postings, but......


I would take a different approach entirely and have a serious reality check with your room. You have a nice little space to put a small, quality theater that you and your family will be using 99% of the time. Why not simply eliminate the first curved row, move the back row forward and eliminate the arms between the chairs for maximum seating. Then put a small 12" or 16" counter behind this single row of cushy seats and add some counter stools or bar chairs for this overflow seating. You can also bring in some large bean bag chairs if things get really full in the room.


The point is, you are dreaming about a Ferrari because it represents everything you want out of this hobby....but the reality is that this sparkling Ferrari is sitting at the starting line of a Moto GP dirt track (i.e. the tiny room). So the quicker you realize this is not the right room to install your dream system and design a system that truly functions and works despite the compromises, the better off you will be. To give you another analogy - don't be the overweight teen girl shopping in the juniors section and shoehorning something larger into something smaller and ill-fitting.
 

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Isn't there a minimum distance from the chair to the screen, required for proper viewing? One calculator computed the distance for a 106" diagonal screen to be 13.25 feet!
 

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I was in the same boat as you zhamid with a small room that I had to make some compromises on. I accepted pretty early on that I was only going to have one row of four. Have there been times where I've had more people over and I wish that I could seat them all in the theater? Absolutely, but the vast majority of the time it is just me or maybe one other person enjoying the room. I'm a big believer in building the room to make it the best experience for YOU. It is your house after all and you will be the one using it for many years.


I'm going to second TMcG's idea for a small bar in the back with some high stools. That is a nice way to save space while still providing a few overflow seats.
 

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RedGuitar, I think you stumbled upon out of date information on the web there. That applied to 480i sources, older less capable scalers, and limited projector light output.

I think the new rule of thumb should be 1 foot of viewing distance for each foot of screen width. And tweak either side of that, to finetune to personal preference.



A couple of threads that might be of interest: to you:

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1036161/the-pocoloco-theater

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1285764/innate-theater-designed-by-dennis


And WilsonL's build.


And one unsual one row on riser design. Adult row plus less formal kid's row,

P1000109_Panorama.jpg 83k .jpg file
P1000118.jpg 81k .jpg file
one raised row.JPG 40k .JPG file with pillows
 

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I agree with the general concensus here.


I have a fairly small room for my home theater (about 13ft wide by 14 ft long) too, so seating was an issue along with everything else.


The wisest words are ones that council you to think realistically about how your theater will actually be used. There have been numerous threads on this and one theme that emerges is that the reality often ends up different from the fantasy.

We make our home theaters imagining that it will be filled, often enough, with people...grateful guests, friends etc...over to watch movies. However, especially these days, most people have a sizable flat screen and often a decent sound system so they already have, to their minds, "home theater" (virtually every TV bought these days is in what is now called the "home theater" section of big box stores). Getting people that interested to fill your home theater THAT often may be something of a fantasy.

Unless you are used to having many people over now, I would say don't spend extra money on your theater with the expectation you'll suddenly be the hosting movie nights very often for many people. Not a few home theaters have been left sadly empty more often than the builder initially imagined. Think of how many people live at your place now, how many of those people are already interested in watching movies, and build realistically on that. Then you get to build probably a better home theater, and have your more realistic expectations met.


That said...


It's nice to have the room for more IF it does not compromise other aspects like audio or screen size. I looked at home theater type seating but had to give up that idea early for two reasons: I couldn't fit much of it in my room and it would have looked aesthetically unpleasant in my room (since it was going in an existing living room, main floor). What I did instead is to go the sofa route. I found out that a custom made sectional sofa was actually somewhat cheaper than many of the new sofas I was looking at, and it could be made precisely the say I wanted - high back for long viewing sessions, deep comfortable seat cushion for long lounging, matching ottomans etc. And in custom making it to my room, to the inch, I could maximize seating space.

My sofa is about 135" long and seats 7 adults comfortably. I know this because my house actually became the hub for watching the UFC each month so friends do flood in the room. On those few occasions we've had even more people in the room (some sport events, a party or two with people's kids), kids and other guests have actually been quite comfortable filling the floor, using pillows and ottomans as rests. (I think I've had up to around 13 people in the room on rare occasions...all happy).

As for comfort - it's been unanimous: pretty much everyone says it's about the most comfortable they have been watching a movie (that's what can happen when you custom design a sofa with the right back height, seat depth, with nice pillows and otomons, etc). There's also the nice "cuddle factor" if you have a family. We watched Super 8 last night and the big comfy sofa allows my wife and I to be cuddled with our kids, vs separated more formally by theater seating.


Another plus for this idea is it's essentially a single row and it maximizes the image/sound for most everyone, and reduces some of the hair-pulling of trying to come up with the right compromise for two rows of viewers.


You should be able to fit a sofa in there that seats 6 adults, when necessary.


If you are committed to home theater type seating, that's cool. It can be great too (I love a good comfortable HT chair as well). So I just thought I'd throw out the pluses of a sofa as a possibility in your situation. BTW, another nice thing about custom designing furniture is you can make it fit your room's aesthetics and your own aesthetics so perfectly. (Sorry...I have to voice my opinion on that second white theater seating photo you posted: whatever comfort they may provide they is butt-ugly lookin,' as unfortunately is the case with all too many recliners. Those other movie seats may fit more people, but I highly doubt that most would find them as comfortable as a well designed sofa).


If you do your room right it will be a source of great satisfaction and joy. I can barely stay out of my home theater room I enjoy it so much.


You can click the first link below my name to see the sofa in my home theater/living room.
 

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I have a very similar room to yours, except a bit more square (12'x13'x7'H). I don't know how you are measuring your screen choices, but I ended up with a 92" diagonal screen (16x9) and 720p projector. It was very important for my wife and I to have plenty of room for guests, so we have two rows of 4. The back row is against the rear wall, with the front row being primary with nice recliners and sitting about 8' from the screen.


My question is, why don't you just put theater-style chairs in the back row with flip-down seats? That's what I did, I got them straight from the local Regal Cinema during a remodel (front row, almost perfect condition). This allows a comfortable amount of room for everybody and a walk space when the seats are up. Great compromise, plus it makes the room feel like a real cinema.
 

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My room is small also, 11.5' x 13.5' x 8'. I have one couch in it so that I can seat our family of four. I wanted four theater seats, but I refused to placed seats almost against the side walls. Not willing to compromise sound that much. We rarely need all four seats. I should have gone with three electric reclining theater seats and not worried about being able to seat four. That is what I will do eventually. An odd number of seats, means, I will be sitting in the prime location when I watch movies.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by AV Science Sales 5  /t/1418491/room-design-advice#post_22194360


My room is small also, 11.5' x 13.5' x 8'. I have one couch in it so that I can seat our family of four. I wanted four theater seats, but I refused to placed seats almost against the side walls. Not willing to compromise sound that much. We rarely need all four seats. I should have gone with three electric reclining theater seats and not worried about being able to seat four. That is what I will do eventually. An odd number of seats, means, I will be sitting in the prime location when I watch movies.

My room is roughly the same size as yours Mike... I have 5 Palliser Blades and a white glove delivery scheduled for today! I'll post up some pics tonight of the new furniture... The Blades are designed to be space savers. BTW, I was considering two rows of seating, but the space pretty much doubles as a dance area when the drinks start flowing...
 
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