Moving On Up

In the past, creating a movie experience at home meant setting up a big screen in the basement and putting in a few recliners. These days, many homeowners are transforming living rooms on the main floor of their homes into home theaters. Some homeowners may even convert a room that’s right beside their kitchen.

This New Jersey homeowner wanted a multiuse, high-performance home theater in a central area of the home where it would get plenty of use. The entire house got an extensive renovation and installation, including an eight-zone multiroom audio system and individual lighting controls for each room. The homeowner did consider the home’s lower level as a location for the theater. However, since it’s a “walk-out” with great views, he felt the room worked better as a playroom or game room.

Bob Gullo, founder and president of Electronics Design Group (EDG) of Piscataway, NJ, conceived the idea of a “gentlemen’s lounge” with dual screens. He fashioned the lounge from a family room in the back of the home off of the kitchen. The client only stipulated that the room needed to hide all of the equipment when they weren’t using it.

According to Gullo, there’s no question that multiuse rooms are a growing trend. “Many clients still love to do the dedicated theater in their basement, but now there are an equal number of clients who tell us, ‘I’m not a basement person,’” he says. “They finish off the basement for the kids, but then they want a room they can use every day. And they want it to be located in a convenient place in the house.”

With its two majestic pilasters, the fireplace is the focal point of the 285-square-foot room. For casual and daytime viewing, the room includes a 42-inch NEC 42XP10 plasma. When not in use, it hides inside a Media Dcor motorized art frame, which is positioned right above the fireplace. For night time viewing and serious movie watching, the homeowner can use the Digital Projection iVision HD DLP projector and 92-inch Stewart motorized screen, which is also located above the fireplace.

EDG says they found it challenging to find a top-notch projector that was small enough to remain unseen. Since the iVision projector measures only 9.6 inches deep, it fit the bill. The projector hides in the back of the room, inside a custom-built soffit with a motorized door. The room’s ceiling houses five built-in speakers. Gullo chose Sonance Ellipse Series left-, center-, and right-channel speakers for the room. Even though the Ellipse is a flush-mount design, its drivers are located behind a grille in an angled baffle. This allows you to easily direct the sound toward the listener. The room’s rear wall holds the surround back speaker, which is faux-painted to blend in with the wall covering.

The lounge is located next to the home’s living room, with a door between the two rooms. EDG calculated the cubic area of the entire space and determined that the theater would likely lose some bass response because of its location. To solve the problem, they installed two subwoofers behind the love seat. For some extra fun, EDG attached a Buttkicker system to the main couch frame to add some rumble and rhythm to action movies. And to further improve the room’s acoustics and aesthetics, Millwork & More (of Blairstown, NJ) installed custom rail details, recessed-style paneling, and molding throughout the room.

Interior designer Leslie Hyans (of Oakleigh Interiors in Morristown, NJ) kept the room’s tone masculine, yet cozy. Hyans found a wool paisley fabric with acoustical material on the underside, which she placed on the walls above the panel moldings to add acoustic warmth. All of the cabinetry is located low in the room so it will not be reflective. E.J. Victor provided all of the upholstered furnishings.

“It’s a hang-out-and-relax room, but with many options,” Hyans continues. “It can be more intimate or hold several people for entertaining purposes.” She also chose a palette of warm colors for the furnishings. “We went for an autumn tone. If you look out the glass windows, it all depicts nature, so we have lots of greens, golds, and reds in the room.”

To keep the space uncluttered, two Middle Atlantic racks in the basement house most of the theater’s gear. Also, the homeowner uses a living room that’s adjacent to the home theater as a high-end, two-channel listening room. The cabinetry in that room houses McIntosh equipment and B&W speakers for two-channel listening.

The listening room also conveniently contains the home theater’s Pioneer DV-45A DVD player, a Sony VHS VCR, and the homeowner’s entire DVD library. This way, he can load a disc without having to go down to the basement. As this homeowner determined, a home theater needs to be in a space where you can both use and enjoy it. Hidden technology and all the comforts of a family room combined to make this room one that everyone can enjoy day or night.

CONTACT Electronics Design Group, (732) 650-9800,