Theater in the Air

A few years ago, my wife and I visited her brother’s home in Denver, Colorado. He had just finished constructing a home theater in his basement and we were completely captivated by the idea to build our own theater. Our only problem was that we were living in Southern California, where basements are rare.

We wrestled with a few different ideas, most centered on an extensive remodeling of our family room where we would lose much of its functionality. One day, we saw a Loft Masters truck at my neighbor’s house. Being nosy neighbors, we asked what they were doing. They were going to loft their living and dining rooms to get another bedroom, bath, and game room. The quest for the perfect location for our home theater had just ended. We decided to build a loft over our living room.

We used Loft Masters to build the bridge and loft areas. However, we incorporated ideas from many sources using the Punch Home Design software. We wanted the room to feel comfortable and open but also we had to deal with light control. We removed four of the upper windows in the old living room ceiling space. We used black out curtains on the exterior two windows and shutters on the windows and entry door to the theater. These only need to be used when viewing during daylight hours. We also wanted to use cabinets and equipment that we had in our family room, so we designed the stage and riser areas to accommodate these items.

My wife and I completed all of the sound and electrical wiring, stage, riser, star field construction, and painting. We thoroughly enjoyed doing the work and the reward of using the theater is incredible.

Two items that we are very proud of are our star field and the rear seat riser. Using information that we gathered off the internet, we designed a star field that includes an actual night sky over the equator. We had the star field enlarged to the size of what we wanted on the ceiling. We, then, drilled 240 holes in a light weight fiber board and inserted the fiber optics, which was hung from the ceiling.

The rear seat riser was also constructed using information found on the internet. The entire framework is supported on inch fiber spacers so that the unit is separated from the floor. Large holes were drilled on the front side of the riser and insulation was placed inside. The entire unit acts as a very effective base trap. My guests ask frequently if we have butt kickers installed in the theater seats.

We use our theater almost every night. It has been up and running for some time now. We continue to get rave reviews from our friends and neighbors along with requests for repeated invites to our “Come Over for a Pizza and Movie” night. It was the ultimate do-it-yourself project but well worth the hard work.

Equipment List
Existing gear from family room:
• Sony BDP-S1 Blu Ray Player
• Direct TV HR-21 DVR
• 3) NAD 2400 Amplifiers
• 1) NAD 2100 Amplifier
• B & W LCR 600 Center Speaker
• 2) B & W 603 Main Speakers
• 2) PSB Alpha S Side Surround Speakers
• 2) B & W DS6 Rear Surround Speakers
Additional gear to complete project:
• DaLite 119” Cinema Contour Screen
• Epson PowerLite Pro Cinema 1080 Projector
• Outlaw 990 Pre Amp
• Phillips TSU 9400 Remote
• Panamax M5400 Power Manager