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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Right... So here I am. To start, my wife and I bought our home in March of 2009. It was a foreclosure and while the basement had previously been finished, a sump pump malfunction while the home was unoccupied resulted in an empty basement full of framework, but no drywall with the exception of the full bath which was left in place. What started as replacing the drywall at the landing of the stairs led me to buying a bunch of drywall with the thought of putting the basement back to finished living space. Then the thoughts of building a theater popped into mind.

My family was in the retail side of the CES biz until the mid '90s so I've always been into home theater equipment, but I've never attempted a dedicated room for HT viewing. While planning wiring for a dimming system I haven't even purchased yet the thought occurred that perhaps I should get some advice from those who have walked this path before me, so I've put the brakes on for now. I'm eager to learn where I've already gone wrong and what my next steps should be.

Some relevent info:

Room size is roughly 20½' x 12½'
Floor to ceiling (bottom of floor joist) is roughly 7'10"
Floor to lowest ceiling obstruction (plumbing) 7'3"
Foundation is ICF with 4" of foam on either side of concrete walls
I plan on using DRIcore subflooring
I currently have framed in a 5' opening to this room that will join what is to become a wetbar area.
One end of the room is a false wall with door that contains the electrical panel and grinder pump.
The other end of the room is a wood framed wall that is the side of the stairwell. I've already insulated with QuietZone batts and hung the drywall on this wall. The other side of the stairwell is my geek lair (workshop).

The wife has given me full reign of this room with the limitation that it be dual use for both entertaining/games and movies, and that the seating be of the traditional couch/sectional/recliner variety. I would like to use a sectional in ~the middle of the room with an elevated couch/loveseat/chairs at the rear.

I am undecided at this point on projector vs. flat panel. Due to the size of the room it seems a 65" panel would fit the dual use nature of the room better. An 80" projector screen seems like it may be too big?

I am hesitant to drywall the ceiling due to the plumbing obstructions and need to access plumbing at later date. Is an acoustic tile ceiling really that horrendous for a theater room?

I'm not looking for an audiophile quality room, but I do want to take any steps reasonable to do this right which is why I've put the brakes on hanging drywall.

I had planned on using an automated curtain to close off the (only) opening (5') to this room. I'm not opposed to changing this if it is absolutely necessary.

I downloaded Sketch Up today and hope to have a model in the next day or so to post. Here are some pics of the area for now:
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·


View from planned wetbar area looking at 5' opening into theater room. A sliding slab door will be used to close off basement from first floor at stairwell landing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·


View from planned wetbar area looking down hallway that leads to full bath. The beam that runs the length of the house is the top of the wall that separates the hall from the theater room.
 

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This room looks like it has great potential. The size is good. The layout, shape and proportions are almost ideal. If it were me, I would still put a projector in there. 50" plasmas are very reasonable in price these days, so it might be worth having that and a drop down screen for a projector. It all depends on your budget....which would be helpful to know. Which side were you planning on putting your screen?
 

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And... what has happened since?

If nothing, the def a projector due to the perfect ambient light control and the cost-performance ratio of projectors.

Did you buy something? Even if you got some onwall LCd, please get back and let us know since i am sure it will still be wonderful and we want to live via your experience too. :D:T
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
This room looks like it has great potential. The size is good. The layout, shape and proportions are almost ideal. If it were me, I would still put a projector in there. 50" plasmas are very reasonable in price these days, so it might be worth having that and a drop down screen for a projector. It all depends on your budget....which would be helpful to know. Which side were you planning on putting your screen?
Budget is very flexible, but probably towards the low end of what could conceivably be spent on a HT. I have no delusions of building a $20k room and stuffing $30k worth of equipment in it. That just isn't in the cards. I learned long ago that I usually end up spending at least 2x whatever my proposed budget is, so now I just set to work and throw cash at a project at a rate that doesn't infuriate SWMBO. I have no deadline, so if something like adding acoustic treatments to the walls requires a significant amount of cash I'll just take a little longer to finish the project.

For viewing location I had intended to place the screen at the stairwell end of the room. I am not opposed to changing this as the equipment rack can be flushed into the wall with access from behind at either room end. I would prefer the stairwell end though.


And... what has happened since?

If nothing, the def a projector due to the perfect ambient light control and the cost-performance ratio of projectors.

Did you buy something? Even if you got some onwall LCd, please get back and let us know since i am sure it will still be wonderful and we want to live via your experience too. :D:T
Since last night very little has happened. I won't be purchasing equipment until the room starts to evolve a bit more. The idea of using both a flat panel and a projector is tempting. I don't foresee putting any equipment in this room for at least a year and we all know how much technology and pricing can change in a year. Adding the projector setup later on would be very easy if I use an acoustic tile ceiling as planned. If the drop ceiling is a major no-no, I would need to plan that in ahead of time. I'm worried about low ceiling height issues due to the plumbing overhead.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·


Sorry about the floor plan, but I'm learning. I should have a decent 3D version going before too long.

The wall that closes off the electrical/grinder pump area can be adjusted if need be.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·


Not exactly to scale, but fairly close. Getting better. I need to learn how to add the stairs. Once I feel like I'm getting the hang of SketchUp I'll make a more precise model. If you search "Shife" in 3D Warehouse you'll find the model.

I'm interested to hear from the experts on if it would be worth trying to decouple the room or if two layers of drywall and a drop ceiling is good enough for an average joe home theater room. I'd hate to find out down the road that I could have improved the room ten-fold by spending a few more bucks at this stage.
 

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Just for some perspective, my theater is 12.5' X 20', so almost exactly the same as yours. The only difference is that I have 10' ceilings (but the front and back ceiling slopes down to 8' and other than a ceiling fan I'd have to lose, the ceilings could be 8' high and nothing would be different).

I have 2 rows of seating (3 in front, 4 in the rear) with the rear on a 11" riser. Seating distances are 18' & 13' with both rows having theater recliners.

I'm viewing a 126" 16:9 image and have 7.1 sound.

I built it almost 6 years ago and there's very few things I would do different.

One of those things, however, would be to go with a ~11' wide 2.35:1 screen (instead of 16:9), and a shallow false wall for the front sound stage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Just for some perspective, my theater is 12.5' X 20', so almost exactly the same as yours. The only difference is that I have 10' ceilings (but the front and back ceiling slopes down to 8' and other than a ceiling fan I'd have to lose, the ceilings could be 8' high and nothing would be different).

I have 2 rows of seating (3 in front, 4 in the rear) with the rear on a 11" riser. Seating distances are 18' & 13' with both rows having theater recliners.

I'm viewing a 126" 16:9 image and have 7.1 sound.

I built it almost 6 years ago and there's very few things I would do different.

One of those things, however, would be to go with a ~11' wide 2.35:1 screen (instead of 16:9), and a shallow false wall for the front sound stage.
Great info! How are your walls/ceiling/floor/ constructed? Anything special or just standard construction? Any pics to view?
 

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Great info! How are your walls/ceiling/floor/ constructed? Anything special or just standard construction? Any pics to view?
It was a pre-existing room, so it's just standard construction, although the builder did add extra insulation in the walls and it has an exterior door with threshold for the entrance. I did seal off the windows and closed off a built in nook that was present (where I put the equipment rack).

Don't have any pics currently, but I'll see what I can do.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
So far the plans are to move all the plumbing to the foundation side of the room and box it in with a soffit. Otherwise my ceiling height would be no more than about 7'3". I can gain a few more inches by moving the plumbing. I need to figure out HVAC before getting too much further along. With 8" of foam on the foundation the basement stays at about 65*f pretty much year 'round, but I assume adding ventilation is never a bad thing. To appease SWMBO, the room will stay open with a 5' opening to the adjoining room and furniture will be a sectional near the middle along with a loveseat and recliner on a riser at the rear of the room. I still plan on double drywall and dricore subfloor. The ceiling will be acoustic tile for now. I can always convert this space to a full on room-in-room setup later on if the wife decides we don't need the room to be dual use.

Question: Would building a bookshelf wall at the rear of the room (electrical panel end) muck the sound up? My idea is to create space for books and BD/DVDs along with hiding a door to access the electrical/network panels and basement grinder pump. Building in a hidden door would be very easy with a book case for camouflage.

Edit: Rough sketch of layout

 
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