Home Entertainment

 

Call of the Wild

August 18, 2008 By “De” Schofield



Click the images below for bigger versions:
Call of the Wild home theater
“The screen wall totaled 165 inches in width, so we fitted the main speakers at an angle flanking the stage and concealed an Ultra 2 THX Center speaker that is only four inches deep below it. - Photo by Grossman Photography
Smith and his design team conjured up a modified jungle theme with a bit of a Moroccan influence. The trademarked refreshment area—“The CineBar”—creates a sense of drama and procession. - Photo by Grossman Photography

Theater design luminary Jeff Smith collaborates with a style-savvy client in creating a glamorous home theater for a South Florida vacation home.

“Build a theater around this,” the wife said to First Impressions Theme Theaters’ founder and theater designer Jeff Smith, as she handed him a sample of animal-print carpeting.

“There was something about it that spoke to me,” she says. “I felt the tiger print motif would impart a sense of drama and elegance.”

Smith credits his client’s sense of style as the driving force behind the project that serves as an entertainment center for the grandkids, and a retreat where she and her husband relax and socialize with family and friends. “She wanted something fun and informal with a sophisticated theme that harkened back to the glamorous, old-style, traditional movie houses,” Smith says.

The owners, an active couple with eight grandchildren ranging from 4 to 22 in age, are avid golfers. Their desire for a warm weather getaway from their home in the Northeast led them to build a two-story, 10,0000-square-foot estate in a South Florida golf community. “We always planned to include a home theater in our vacation home,” the wife says. “It was a toss up between a home spa or a theater, and the theater made more sense because we could enjoy it as a family.” 

The side and rear wall panels along with the projector soffit are clad in First Impressions’ trademarked AcouSuede in black ostrich leather and gold tones. - Photo by Grossman Photography

To manage the technical aspects of the 500-square-foot theater, Smith enlisted Jim Pearson, founder and president of Creative Media Designs in Boca Raton, Fla. “We’ve worked with Jeff on numerous projects in and outside of Florida,” Pearson says. “It’s a great collaboration—Smith gives us his plan [on paper] when it’s about 90 percent complete, then we work together on the details to make sure everything works.”

As with all of Smith’s installations, the theater was designed and built at the company’s North Miami facility, then disassembled, delivered and installed in the home. “We begin with the space plan, proceed with specifying site lines, monitoring angles and aisle spacing, then add the embellishments such as the woodwork, lighting, furniture and accessories,” Smith says.

Originally one large open space, Smith carved out an 8-foot-by-10-foot vestibule in the entryway. The dramatic design scheme originates in “The CineBar,” Smith’s trademarked bar in which flooring of Absolute Black granite commingles with dark wenge wood cabinetry—finishes that are a precursor to what lies beyond the theater doors.

Smith and his design team conjured up a modified jungle theme with a bit of a Moroccan influence. The trademarked refreshment area—“The CineBar”—creates a sense of drama and procession. - Photo by Grossman Photography

An archway swagged in gold-toned French velvet drapery provides a peek into the theater, where tawny animal print tones and rich, textural fabrics imbue a comfortable, yet sumptuous appeal. A cozy configuration of two tiered rows of pillow-back CineLoungers—clad in black French velvet and caramel-toned piping with black Absolute Granite cup holders—accommodate seating for seven.

“The rest of the house is more traditional in style and features a neutral palette accented with soft blues and greens,” Smith says. “The wife’s carpeting choice clearly stated that she envisioned this space as a destination all its own, so we suggested more of a ‘wow factor’ here to set the room apart from the rest of the house.”

While the 400-square-foot theater didn’t pose any spatial restrictions, the location of a large air-conditioning soffit in the room’s rear created a stumbling block. Smith’s response was to rotate the plan from front to back, making the rear of the space now the front/stage area. He took advantage of the soffit by building the stage’s proscenium elements around it. “This is really a cube space with very high ceilings,” Smith continues.

“We created a place to house the projector by building a matching soffit at the back of the room, and then had it fitted into an insulated thermal box and hidden behind water-white optical glass.”

Initially, the decision to flip the floor plan created concern about lining up the projector and the screen. “The sight-line issue did pose a challenge,” Pearson states. “I realized that we needed a long-throw projector for the owners to enjoy the biggest screen possible.” The room’s dimensions required an 18-foot throw distance and necessitated the screen be placed high enough to be visible from the back. “We pushed the projector as far back within the ceiling soffit as possible, then increased the lens port for maximum efficiency,” Pearson says.

“The screen wall totaled 165 inches in width, so we fitted the main speakers at an angle flanking the stage and concealed an Ultra 2 THX Center speaker that is only four inches deep below it. - Photo by Grossman Photography

To accommodate Pearson’s selection of a 123-inch Vutec Fixed Screen, the team added proscenium elements to conceal the Sonance THX Ultra left, center and right speakers.  Meticulously detailed “columns” along the back and side walls house the system’s rear and surround speakers. “The columns were created for pure aesthetics and were detailed with corbels to give them an authentic look,” Smith explains. “Our goal was that the columns not protrude into the aisle space.”

That goal necessitated speakers that are only four inches deep.” To further enhance the audio effect, Smith’s team created base traps filled in the corners of the theater that are with sound baffling material; there are also base traps within the three rectangular areas of the projector soffit.

“The base traps act like pool table pockets in the sense that they prevent the sound bouncing all over the room, and they catch as much sound reflection as possible.” Above, an engineered diffuser ceiling, its elements hidden behind burnished gold ceiling panels, makes the room sound “voluminous.”

Notwithstanding the myriad of detailing in every aspect of this project, one of First Impressions’ many signatures is its high attention to lighting, Pearson says. “This theater has 12 automated loads of lighting, including cove lighting, chandeliers, CineBar lights, and numerous stage lights. There’s also a Hollywood light bar above the screen and downlighting in the stage area to spotlight the grandchildren’s karaoke performances. Twelve loads is a lot, but it gives maximum theatrical impact.”

As resounding testimony to the project’s success, the wife shares how they can’t keep the grandchildren out of the theater space. “The 9-year-old can be in there for hours with his Xbox 360,” she says. Overall, both husband and wife couldn’t be happier with the theater space. “We felt early on that Jeff was the best fit for the project and we would choose First Impressions again if we have the opportunity,” she says. “His expertise and creativity were certainly impressive, but more importantly, he and his team were totally gracious and responsive to our requests.”

Comments

Post new comment

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Images can be added to this post.
  • Glossary terms will be automatically marked with links to their descriptions. If there are certain phrases or sections of text that should be excluded from glossary marking and linking, use the special markup, [no-glossary] ... [/no-glossary]. Additionally, these HTML elements will not be scanned: a, abbr, acronym, code, pre.

More information about formatting options

Local Guides

 All Guides
   Alabama
   Alaska
   Arizona
   Arkansas
   California
   Colorado
   Connecticut
   DC
   Delaware
   Florida
   Georgia
   Hawaii
   Idaho
   Illinois
   Indiana
   Iowa
   Kansas
   Kentucky
   Louisiana
   Maine
   Maryland
   Massachusetts
   Michigan
   Minnesota
   Mississippi
   Missouri
   Montana
   Nebraska
   Nevada
   New Hampshire
   New Jersey
   New Mexico
   New York
   North Carolina
   North Dakota
   Ohio
   Oklahoma
   Oregon
   Pennsylvania
   Rhode Island
   South Carolina
   South Dakota
   Tennessee
   Texas
   Utah
   Vermont
   Virginia
   Washington
   West Virginia
   Wisconsin
   Wyoming