I have always been a big movie fan and a huge fan of the experience of going to the theater. I recently built my own theater room and wanted to share the experience. I did have the help of an all around handyman who, luckily for me, is my dad.
I apologize for the quality of the photos, the room is very dark and the lights in the room produce a very harsh light. It is hard to get a good picture in the room.
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Step 1: Picking the Room or Not.
For me the choice of which room and how big it was, was not really much of a choice. The room I had to work with had been an extra bedroom in the basement. The upside to this was that the previous occupants had done extensive work in the basement which included fixing the west wall, which had been damaged at one time, and installed a French drain and sump system which would help if and when the basement ever leaked. The walls had been sheet rocked and the ceilings textured with lights installed.
There are a lot of articles on the web about how big a theater room should be and what the ratio should be for the best experience. If you have a choice I suggest you read into this but for me the size of the room was limited. Make the best of what you have to work with.
Step 2: Modifying the Room
The room was originally 11.5' X 13' with a closet and one basement window. The first thing I decided to do was to eliminate the closet and extend the room 3' making the room 11.5' X 16'. This would allow for better acoustics and make having two rows of recliners a better fit. There was also an issue with a duct in the room that could not be moved. I decided that the room would have a more complete look if the dropped part of the ceiling, that covered the duct, was carried all the way around the room, sort of like an atrium. While this was being done I ran the wiring for the speakers before the sheet rock went up. After extending the room, a section of the extended wall was recessed further still to accommodate a 70" TV and a shelf to house the surround sound system and DVD player. Holes were drilled through the wall with a hole saw to allow for cables and power cords.
Step 3: Creating a Raised Seating Area
I wanted the people sitting in the back of the room to have a good view, so I acquired some oak pallets and some other reclaimed wood. I managed to find everything I needed except for the face board for the new raised area which I bought from the local lumber yard.
Step 4: Painting
On the wall that would house the TV, and on the recessed part of the ceiling, I decided to go with a flat black since it wouldn't reflect other light in the room and distract from the screen. On the other walls I went with a classic maroon satin finish. I wanted it to be easy to clean but still not reflect light. Before painting I put on two coats of primer. Using a good primer will reduce the amount of coats required to achieve an opaque color.
Step 5: Selecting a Carpet
When shopping for the carpet, this is what I had in mind.
1. Low pile
2. Easy to keep clean and hide stains
3. Low cost
4. Fitting for a movie theater
I went to the local carpet / remnant outlet store and walked in on the right day. I was able to find a remnant that just fit the room and fit my color choices perfectly. I also picked up carpet glue and base coving that matched the room as well. I had decided not to use padding since the room is in a basement and if it did flood the carpet might be salvageable but in most cases pad would not be. To finish the look I nailed a kick strip to the step.
Step 6: Decorating and Furnishing
Kirkland's and Hobby Lobby have some very nice home theater accessories at a relatively low cost. We first used some low end recliners in the room but later upgraded to a set of electric recliners. I used black shears in front of the shelf unit to reduce the visibility of the electronics while still being able to shoot a remote through it. Around the TV area I used maroon blackout velvet like curtains for that classic theater look. I removed the door from the entryway into the room Then installed a single black blackout curtain to block the light coming into the room.
Step 7: Closing Off the Window
I used a left over piece of plywood and a remnant of carpet to make a cover for the window. Is fits snugly in place but could be removed if needed.
Step 8: Lighting
The room had an existing florescent double light fixture in the center of the ceiling. The light is terribly harsh, especially after watching a two hour movie. The lights are functional but not very movie theater like. Since I was on a budget for the room I decided to keep the light but wanted to give it a movie theater treatment. I removed the two plastic covers from the fixture and taped off the smooth side. Using a template I then traced a pattern onto the tape and cut it out. Using spray paint I blacked out the untaped sections creating a film strip pattern on both cover sections. To enhance the lighting I installed a $30.00 16' LED light string inside the double florescent shroud leaving the RF receiver exposed, then I reinstalled the covers.
Step 9: Covering the Large Wall Adjustment Bolts
The wall on this side of the basement had moved at one time, this is common in my part of the USA. The result is large adjustment bolts that need to be checked at regular intervals throughout the year. I wanted to cover them with something but needed them to still be accessible. I decided to go with a wall sconce. I plan on making a separate instructable on how I built these, so to make a long story short I used a plastic popcorn box, the LED light out of a pool float, a piece of plywood and a special tissue box called a "Polder" from Amazon.com. I was then able to mount the light units onto the bolts sticking out of the wall. The LED that I used emit the same colors as the 16' string used in the ceiling but required a momentary contact button to turn them on and cycle through the colors.
Step 10: Control Issues!
For the remote system I bought a used iPod touch and an L5 remote emitter. The L5 turns an iPod or iPhone into a programmable remote that can control about any device. I was even able to control the LED lighting in the ceiling.
Step 11: Grab a Drink, Some Hot Tamales and the Hot Buttered Popcorn and Let's Watch a Movie!
We enjoy the room a lot. We live in a rural area so for us to go to the movies is often too much trouble so we normally wait until it comes out on DVD and the watch it in the movie room. The room still gives you that movie theater feel and I have found that if you are seated on the raised area the experience is enhance by the slight hint of the top of other peoples heads in front of you.