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All in One - CEDIA Award Winner

February 19, 2010 By Brooke Lange



Click the images below for bigger versions:
A JBL Synthesis sound system—seven Synthesis speakers, two18-inch subs, two amps, a digital surround processor and digital equalizer—are hidden in the woodwork. The system extends into the family room across the ceiling, from front to back.
The rear-projection TV is a major element in the room, so it had to be visible from the bar, the card table and the other areas. They use the space to entertain and watch a lot of sports—mostly NFL games.
The rear-projection system’s double-mirror set-up and custom mount maximizes the distance between the projector and screen in a very tight space.
All in One - CEDIA Award Winner

2009 CEDIA Electronic Lifestyles Award Winner

Best Media Room: Overall Winner

Electronic Systems Consultant: Starr Systems Design—Baltimore, Md.

This client wanted it all.

We want home theater capabilities—a big screen and great sound—but the room can’t look like a theater. We want a living-room area and real theater seating. If guests are talking in the living room during a movie, can we leave the lights on there? Let’s include a bar and a billiard table, too, and we love the natural light—so we’d like to keep the glass doors on the back wall.

It’s always a challenge to turn every aspect of a client’s vision into a practical solution that accommodates the best audio and video systems possible, says electronic systems consultant Sean Weiner of Starr Systems Design. “In this case, the client didn’t want a closed-off room with a single entry door—they didn’t want it to look like a basement or a destination room,” he says.

And the design had to accommodate different activities—from movie-watching to pool, conversation and cards. “It was no easy feat to make it all come together,” Weiner says, “but the client is thrilled with the end result.”

A JBL Synthesis sound system—seven Synthesis speakers, two18-inch subs, two amps, a digital surround processor and digital equalizer—are hidden in the woodwork. The system extends into the family room across the ceiling, from front to back.

The team, including the home’s architect and interior designer, devised a 2,000-square-foot space that’s divided into several activity zones: a cozy family room with comfy, oversized sofas and club chairs, an Oriental rug and matching lighting elements; a billiard area with a pool table, bar and card table; and a semi-dedicated theater with eight mustard-colored leather theater chairs. The space is tied together with stained cherry wood flooring and paneling.

Compartmentalizing the room into activity areas also maintained a consistent ceiling height. “Between lead designer Alexander [Baer], the architect, the client and myself, we devised a step-down area for the theater,” says interior designer Kathy Slayton of Jenkins Baer Associates. “This multifunctional, multilevel approach creates a new look for home-theater design. We create a lot of multifunctional rooms similar to this, but this open concept is a first for us.”

The upper-level living room-like space provides just enough privacy for conversation, yet the layout allows guests to interact with those watching a movie in the theater below—or enjoy the film at hand without having to relocate. Likewise, guests can shoot pool in the billiard and gaming area, or they can partake of the movie or sporting event at hand with ease.

“You can see the screen from the pool table, from the bar and from the seating area,” Slayton says. “It’s a great space to play in.”

 The rear-projection TV is a major element in the room, so it had to be visible from the bar, the card table and the other areas. They use the space to entertain and watch a lot of sports—mostly NFL games.

Here, a 3-chip Runco DLP projector pairs with a 138-inch projection screen by Stewart Filmscreen. “It’s basically a giant, custom TV,” Weiner says. “Dedicated theaters have the ability to control artificial and natural lighting. This room has that capability, but the clients chose not to [darken the room] all the time.” That means when there’s more light in the room, the blacks on the projection screen become a lighter shade of gray. “That’s why rear projection is the better application,” Weiner adds. “It gives them much better than theater-level brightness on the large screen—and you need a lot of light on this screen to look bright enough.

“Stewart is the leader,” Weiner continues, “and this screen and projector give the best optimization of brightness and contrast.”

For Weiner and his team, building a custom rear-projection system is doable when you have enough space. For this project, however, adequate behind-the-screen space was an issue.

“Although the media room backed up to unfinished mechanical space, a concrete block [that supports] the fireplace upstairs limited the amount of depth available for the system,” he says. Thankfully, the unusually high basement ceiling helped maximize the distance between the projector and the screen—with the help of a custom mount and two angled mirrors. “The result is a very large screen with a bright, film-like image,” Weiner says.

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