Home Theater Basement Remodel

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Turning a finished basement into casual entertaining space with a featured home theater. The owners of this Chester, N.J., home had always planned on upgrading their basement.

July 01, 2007
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Thriving Theatricalities

 REMODELER: BDS Remodeling Services LLC, Chester, N.J. 
PROJECT LOCATION: Chester, N.J.
AGE OF HOME: 4 years
SCOPE OF WORK: Turning a finished basement into casual entertaining space with a featured home theater

The owners of this Chester, N.J., home had always planned on upgrading their basement, so when the home was built by BDS Group's new home division a year-and-a-half prior, the team included a high level of finishing. Metal studs and dry-locking the walls during framing reduced moisture issues, and sealing the space's concrete slabs with a polyurethane, foil-backed insulation became an additional barrier to outside elements — steps that eased workflow for the upgrade.

The homeowners decided to finish their 2,800-square-foot space with a bar area for entertaining and dancing; a casual sitting area; an exercise room; a full bathroom; and a home theater.

The theater has many of the "must-have" characteristics of theater rooms: stadium-style seating, recessed can lighting and a raised, 100-inch screen.
Photos courtesy of BDS Group

"Any time we build new homes, we always recommend that the homeowner consider whether or not they'd want a finished basement while we're in the construction phase. This way, we eliminate some of the columns, which are usually the biggest challenge in doing basement projects," says BDS Group Founder and President Barry Salmon. He also notes his crews had roughed in ejector plumbing for the wet bar and bathroom below the slab, and the foundation was designed with 15 courses to allow for 8-foot ceilings.

During the rough-in phase of the project, BDS brought in a specialty contractor, Advance Media Systems, to help create a home theater and also run in-wall speakers throughout the basement. The theater was especially important to the client, as it would not only serve as the crown jewel of the basement, but it would also distribute high-definition video signals to the plasma television in the bar area as well as to the television in the exercise room.

And while regular fiberglass insulation was sufficient to isolate the theater's sounds from the rest of the home, the homeowner also wanted the option of customizing the sound between the theater and the sitting area outside the bar.

"We had to take into account that he wanted to be able to watch sporting events while listening to music, so the different source materials needed to both work together but also be separate when he wanted them to be," says Advance Media Systems co-owner Colleen Mizerek. The homeowner controls the system via a wireless remote.

"The stage in the front of the theater houses the subwoofer, and all the speakers are mounted on the walls to give the space a clean look," she says. "The front speakers fire through an acoustically transparent screen so there is no signal loss, which is similar to a traditional movie theater. And stadium seat risers were also fitted with tactile transducers, which enhance the low frequency effects of the audio track."

When the finishes are taken into consideration, Salmon considers the theater to be mid-level, with between $10,000 to $20,000 being spent on electronics.

 

Products List

Columns: HB&G Doors: Masonite Faucets, Fixtures & Sinks: Kohler Flooring: Wilsonart Lighting Fixtures: Halo In-Wall Speakers: Niles Insulation: CertainTeed Kitchen Appliances: GE Appliances Paints & Stains: Benjamin Moore Projector: Sim2 Projector Cooling System: Active Thermal Management Screen: Da-Lite Surround System: Definitive Technology Wireless Handheld Remote: Phillips

Before

The tray ceiling which houses the projector, also conceals a main trunk line from the furnace.

Thriving Theatricalities

Industry research continues to project the increasing popularity of theaters/media rooms. The theater in this home has many of the "must-have" characteristics of theater rooms: stadium-style seating, recessed can lighting and a raised, 100-inch screen. But creating basement theaters presents considerations that are unlike what they might be like in an above-grade space.

For example, the room's tray ceiling — which, at first glance, seems to serve as stylish housing for the projector — is actually concealing a main trunk line from the furnace. Additionally, the projector is housed in a custom built enclosure with special ventilation and exhaust system to prevent overheating.

"When doing home theaters, it's very important to have a consultant come in who focuses on home theaters," says BDS Group Founder and President Barry Salmon, noting that almost 100 percent of the basement projects he does annually involve adding a theater. "There are issues of sight distance, distance to back of the room, sound issues, reverberation in the space and absorption. And there's also a pretty elaborate surround sound that keeps all of it in the room.

"Even though I usually know what needs to be done, we always review plans with the manufacturer to ensure there are no issues with any electronics and that we can properly advise our clients," he adds. "The good news is that each year, the equipment gets better at lower prices, so the technology is always improving, and they're more affordable."

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