Depending on your age, this home theater might make you think of Barbara Eden, Christina Aguilera or Disney’s Aladdin. There’s a definite genie (or dreaming of Jeannie) thing going on here, and since the homeowners felt the oddly shaped room was very genie bottle-like when they set foot in it, why not? Better than a Coke theme, for sure.
In this massive Ohio house, the construction happened to produce a multi-level master suite that’s topped by a helipad and secured by a poured concrete foundation, with a floor for the master bedroom and bathroom and one for the master lounge and closets in between. Poured concrete might make for a rock-solid foundation, but not a rockin’ home theater, especially when it curves in a semicircle and tapers at the top.
“It was definitely unique—we’d never done anything like that before,” says Shane Horner of Mentor, Ohio-based Horner Networks, the custom electronics genie that took on the A/V and automation portion of this project that was headed by Jeff Knezevich of Amazing Design and Shelley Lutz of Lutz Décor. “It was fun trying to figure it all out. The shape and construction were definitely obstacles to overcome.”
For example, two-piece projection system was pretty much out of the question. The curved wall was not ideal for mounting a projector (or a hush box to conceal it), the rising, tapered ceiling wouldn’t work, and by the time seating was considered there wasn’t much distance left to the screen wall anyway. But a 65-inch Sony flat-panel LED TV works nicely. “Plus you’ve got that big chandelier right in the middle that would have interfered. Doing rear projection would have been an option, but there wasn’t enough depth to put in mirrors (behind the screen wall, used to reflect projected images correctly) to make that happen,” explains Horner. “So a flat panel was the best option for that space, and it’s plenty big for where they are.”
The sound system is plenty big, too, even though the room was hardly ideal for optimal audio either. While the builder was pouring the concrete for the room, it was poured around speaker molds, which would form cubby holes that Horner filled with a complete Triad Speakers surround-sound system. It’s a 7.3-channel configuration that includes three Triad Inwall Silver 6 LCR speakers for the front channels, four Inwall Silver 4 surrounds and a trio of Inroom Platinum Power subwoofers. The surrounds are parsed along the rear wall, while the LCRs flank the TV with the center channel above the set and the left and right speakers hidden behind curtain fabric. Two subwoofers are below the left and right speakers (the fabric is sheer enough to transmit sound just fine) and the third is centered in the seating area buried below the purple-cushioned seat.
(View images of this themed theater here)
“Placing the speakers and trying to get it to sound as best as possible was a challenge,” Horner says. “The walls are framed in plaster, but there’s a lot of fabric in the room and curtains, seating, carpeted floor [to help with sound absorption]. We also did what we could to help by running Audyssey Pro.”
Audyssey Pro is a room correction/equalization software included in the beefy Denon AVR-4308CI surround-sound receiver that feeds the audio system. It wasn’t easy to wire the room, but Horner managed to do so through a crawlspace that leads to the home’s centralized equipment racks located about 75 feet away. The same A/V sources as the rest of the home are readily available here (see sidebar).
To top things off, the genie design features some fiber-optic lighting, as well as blacklights that when turned on make the room’s purple and gold hues shine like brilliant gems. And if the homeowners actually had three magic wishes? One might be the ability to transport the big TV from this room to the one above, says Horner. “There’s talk of putting it on a lift to take it from down here. There’s a spot reserved for a TV up there.”
Un-bottling A/V Magic
This themed theater is pretty amazing in its own right, but also impressive in that it stands as one of 32 video zones in this home—all tied together receiving content selections from a fully packed 16-source Key Digital switcher. As such, although this theater may have been full of challenges for custom electronics firm Horner Networks to outfit, it’s a breeze for the homeowners and their children to operate and select whatever they want to watch. Using the theater’s touchscreen or a handheld remote as governed by a Control4 home control system, they can pick movies and TV shows from a Kaleidescape server, Blu-ray player, satellite TV (each family member has his own DirecTV DVR) or cable box, which is there for backup in case satellite is on the fritz.
If you liked this home theater, see more themed theaters here
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Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.