Home theaters usually conjure thoughts of big screens and blow-your-socks-off sound. Equipped with a 106-inch Draper Onyx screen, a Sony Cineza projector and a 5.2 Energy surround-sound setup, this seven-seat theater certainly delivers in those areas. But it’s the extra attention to detail that sets the entertainment room apart from the rest. The audio/video designers and installers at Ontario, Canada–based Station Earth added a motorized bookcase, devised a slick way to trade stocks, and attached a cool tray to the owner’s favorite chair that could swivel an Elan VIA! control touchpanel and laptop right in front of him.
The bookcase closes off a passageway to two additional rooms where the owners can partake in their woodworking and sewing hobbies. Set on a heavy-duty piano hinge, the shelf swings open on command from the tray-mounted Elan touchpanel. Or, cooler yet, the owners can open the shelf by pulling out a book. “We thought it would be fitting to choose the Sherlock Holmes novel The Adventure of the Engineer’s Thumb as the trigger device,” says Station Earth’s John Stumpf. “The hinge even creaks to add to the effect.” When the book is returned to its spot, the bookcase swings shut, bringing the renovated 475-square-foot basement back to its original form as a high-quality entertainment room.
Another nifty transformation involves the Internet. With a laptop easily accessible on the swing-style tabletop, the owner can get online quickly to monitor and trade stocks. For a bigger view of the action, he can touch the dollar-sign icon on the Elan panel to bring the computer video onto half of the 106-inch screen. The other half of the screen displays CNBC. As the Elan system configures the video, a Lutron Grafik Eye system adjusts the lights so that only the fixture directly above the main seat stays on. The stock-trading light fades to black along with the rest of the fixtures when the owner touches the movie icon. At the same time, the Sony projector and Pioneer DVD player and surround-sound processor gear up to get the space ready to deliver a fantastic entertainment experience. “Simplicity was paramount in the control of this theater,” says Stumpf. “The owners travel frequently, so they needed a system that wouldn’t take a lot of time to learn.” The one-touch commands programmed into the Elan system by Station Earth couldn’t be easier to understand and master.
Simplicity and audio/video excellence go hand in hand in this room. Station Earth mounted three Energy speakers beside and below the screen, put the two rear effects speakers on the back wall and placed two subwoofers on the floor at the front and the side of the room to envelop the space with sound. No audio escapes the lower-level room, thanks to special soundproofing techniques employed during the build out of the space. Two layers of drywall and resilient channels prevent the walls from vibrating and sound from radiating into other areas of the house. Foam Iycnene was applied above the ceiling, inside the risers and around heating and cooling ducts for additional soundproofing.
The audio and video sizzle is complemented by an elegant yet cozy room design. Plush motorized chairs arranged on two levels provide comfortable seating for seven, and a bar at the back serves as the family’s concession stand. “They can grab their refreshments and never miss a minute of the action,” says Stumpf.
One big cabinet was definitely enough for the room, so Station Earth created a nook for the audio and video components on a side wall. The niche houses a Middle Atlantic equipment rack that can slide out whenever the equipment needs servicing or when the owners are ready to add new components to the system. A built-in fan prevents the components from overheating.
When the family’s ready to move on to more traditional forms of entertainment, there’s always their well-stocked bookcase to turn to. The shelves are filled with great reading material. Or, they can just pull out their favorite Sherlock Holmes novel to escape to their hidden hobby rooms for awhile. No matter what type of entertainment the owners of this theater are in the mood for, their clever convertible theater is sure to satisfy.
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Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.