Installation Snapshot: Casual Media Room

When Brian Lamont had his home theater moved from his living room to his basement - which we chronicled in our October 2001 and September 2002 issues - he became so passionate about overseeing the installation that he decided to become a custom designer and installer himself (DesigningHomeTheaters .com). So when it came time to do something with that old living room (below), now he could do it on his own.

"Old" is right. Note the relic 27-inch TV in the relic wall unit. Since Brian and his wife, Debbie, already had their dedicated home theater downstairs, the idea was to transform this space into a multipurpose media room for casual viewing. Budget: $7,500.

"We have a beautiful view of a lake, and our backs were always to it while we were watching TV," Brian explains. "We also wanted a fireplace, so we needed to orient the room differently to accomplish one focal point for both the fireplace and the TV."

The old country-style look morphed into a Southwestern motif, to complement the Mexican-courtyard home theater below. (The Lamonts' house, by the way, is in Presque Isle, Maine.) And the TV is now an LCD, because Brian found it best handled reflections from the windows and the sliding glass door. He chose the Sony Bravia KDL-V40XBR1 40-inch set because "I love the clarity, and it has a black finish, which is just what we wanted. And actually, a review I read in Sound & Vision was instrumental in our choosing it" (see LCD Universe).

That's the TV you see mounted on the wall above the fireplace. (What you don't see is gear. It's all stashed in a homemade equipment rack in the nearby laundry room.) Brian rigged the artwork overlay himself for $500, to stay within budget. "Basically, it's a window shade with a picture instead of a shade. It's remote-controlled, so the picture automatically retracts, and the TV and the DVD player turn on." Lamont bought the print on eBay for 99¢, had it made larger to suit the TV, and then had it reprinted.

Now the room is great for Brian and Debbie to catch their favorite TV shows: 24, Prison Break, and American Idol. But they're already talking about their next step - back downstairs. "We'll get a Blu-ray or an HD DVD player for the home theater," says Brian. "As soon as I figure out who will be the winner." You and the rest of us!

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