Home Entertainment

 

Stylish and Streamlined

September 26, 2008 By Jean Penn



Click the images below for bigger versions:
Stylish and Streamlined Home Cinema - The louvered ceiling with ice blue LED lighting conceals the HVAC system. “Some of the louvers can be removed to access the mechanical systems above,” Smith says. “You can dim it down to about 5 percent for a movie.”
Stylish and Streamlined Home Cinema -  Four rows of motorized seating can accommodate 19 guests. The cushy loungers with Black Granite drink holders and trays cost about $4,000 each. Each chair features in-arm storage for blankets, controllers and phones.
The theater has a “floating floor,” which means the floor doesn’t touch the walls or the concrete beneath. “It expands and contracts with air pressure, so that when the subwoofers kick in, you can feel everything coming up from base of seats,” Smith says.

A Kentucky client modifies First Impressions Theme Theatre Inc.’s showroom theater for his own private screening room.

A single man building a three-story riverside home in Bowling Green, Ky., decided it would be fun to be able to entertain his friends in a custom-built home theater whenever the Tennessee Titans and Western Kentucky basketball and football games are on television.

The next step in creating this dream space involved stumbling across a magazine story about First Impressions Themed Theatres Inc. and its custom-designed home theaters.

Soon enough, the future home theater owner and his buddy took a detour from their Florida golfing vacation to meet with company owner Jeffrey Smith in North Miami.

Stylish and Streamlined Home Cinema - The louvered ceiling with ice blue LED lighting conceals the HVAC system. “Some of the louvers can be removed to access the mechanical systems above,” Smith says. “You can dim it down to about 5 percent for a movie.”

The house had been under construction for more than a year, said the client, and the space allotted for the theater was not built out. It totaled a little less than 600 square feet in size. Smith determined that his client wanted his theater experience to be a “guy thing,” so he suggested the addition of what he calls a “buddy bar” in the back of the theater with two extra café tables for overflow seating during sporting events. Adjacent to the kitchen would be a fully equipped catering kitchen, a billiard/game area and a gymnasium.

After putting together an estimate, Smith provided a ballpark estimate of about $300,000 and said he could deliver the theater in less than four months—and before Christmas. The client was happy with Smith’s proposal. “I knew if I was going to get something nice, it would be pricey,” the client says.

Much to Smith’s delight, the client fell in love with his company’s Art Deco-style demonstration theater known as the Starlite Electronic Video Theatre, and chose to replicate many of the features in First Impressions’ demo cinema.

“The form follows function demands of home theater design are perfectly suited to the fluid Chrysler car look that came out of the industrial ’30s,” says Smith, alluding to his showroom theater.

After completing the interior design plan, Smith’s team drew up the elaborate technical drawings. Factors such as the video projector throw distance for screen visibility, the appropriate screen size for the room, and the placement of loudspeakers for optimum acoustical performance were factored into the blueprints before the interior design touches were added. “Only once we know it will work, do we decorate,” Smith says.

The theater has a “floating floor,” which means the floor doesn’t touch the walls or the concrete beneath. “It expands and contracts with air pressure, so that when the subwoofers kick in, you can feel everything coming up from base of seats,” Smith says.

Knowing there was enough of a budget to do something extra special, Smith incorporated custom-made torchieres and an elaborate ceiling treatment that’s illuminated with ice-blue LED lighting.

Smith chose a color palette of olive green and cranberry, and integrated those colors directly into the custom-made wool carpet that bears an Art Deco pattern. Quarter-round columns are bathed in First Impressions’ trademarked Acousuede, an acoustically transparent fabric; each is topped with a lacquered satin nickel-finished trim. Within the linear trim are the concealed bass absorbers, omni diffusers and strategic deflectors, which enhance the audio presentation.

An inviting custom chaise lounge—named the CineRodeoLounger—is front row and center, and is flanked by matching theater chairs on either side, all of which are fully motorized and feature double-wide arms, Black Granite drink holders and condiment trays.

Behind those two rows of seating stand the “buddy bar”—a green marble-topped counter where guests can enjoy chicken wings and a beer. Smith’s “Sky Lounge” lies beyond the bar—an area equipped with two round 42-inch-high tables where guests can eat and talk without disturbing those seated in the theater. Four hydraulically adjustable chairs, which provide the perfect customized sightline to the video screen for every guest, can be moved in and out of the space. People can circulate in and out to grab a hot dog from the adjacent kitchen during games. “The lights can be on 25 percent and not disturb the video picture,” Smith says.

About $80,000 was budgeted for the audiovisual equipment. “There was ample room to do something special,” says Zachary “Zak” Deily, executive vice president of Definitive Electronics in Jupiter, Fla. “You can easily get a real nice audio and video system under $100, 000.” Definitive Electronics has worked with First Impressions on several high-end home theater projects. “First Impressions’ rooms look beautiful and are built around making it sound good,” he says.

Thirty days after the client signed the contract, Smith overnighted his realistic-looking three-dimensional renderings for the theater, which included the final mechanical and electrical drawings and a contract inventory for all furniture, furnishings and electronics for a little more than $300,000.

After modest negotiation with the client by phone, Smith closed the deal for the contract, which included interior construction, interior design materials, audiovisual components, programming and remote programming services through Internet, after-sales service and the installation.

After the initial house call is made to measure for electrical wiring and other specifications, the “movie theater in a box” is fully built and assembled in the First Impressions facility. Once completed, it’s checked out, prewired, tagged, disassembled, and transported to its new home in Kentucky (leaving only the baseboard and door casing to be finalized on site). Then, like a gigantic puzzle, the theater is reassembled piece by piece. The audiovisual equipment is ordered and delivered to Definitive Electronics’ office, where the racks are assembled, test wired, boxed, and picked up by the First Impressions semi on its way to the client’s home.

The design team arrived in Kentucky after Thanksgiving, and wrapped up two weeks before Christmas as promised. Josh Pressley, Definitive’s project manager, arrived on site with the equipment, along with Definitive’s programmer Alec Smarev and four First Impressions installers and a supervisor to assemble the theater. Smith coordinated every aspect of the project, and made all of the final inspections; Deily handled the client demo after everything was in place.

To prevent theater noise from leaking into the rest of the house, First Impressions built an acoustically sound enclosure around each subwoofer. The company’s technicians also created a mounting bracket for each speaker’s soffit surround so each could be positioned at a pitched angle. This allows the sound from each speaker to be fired with pinpoint accuracy at the viewers’ ears.

The theater, which was the first finished room in the house, was sealed up while construction continued all around it. This didn’t prevent the client from sneaking into his private screening room several times before moving into the finished home a few months ago. “They did a nice job. I especially enjoy the Blu-ray quality,” he says of the audio produced by the Sony BDP-S1 Blu-ray Disc Player.” Though the client is a man of few words, he does notice details.

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