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Home Theater Design Notes 

My goal was to create a room that had a "cigar club" feel (but without the cigar smoke). I wanted lots of wood paneling, and very dark colors. This was motivated in part by the feel of the room, and in part by the practical consideration that, the darker the room, the better the movies would look. The biggest part of the project was the paneling, so those notes are separate. I also have separate notes on lighting

Projection Wall. I like the effect obtained by painting the projection wall flat black. The screen itself does a nice job of framing the movie, but when the projection wall is painted black, you eliminate a lot more visual distraction. The black wall also looks cool!

[Hand sketch of the stage area (TBD)]

Wall and Ceiling Color. The next step after painting the projection wall black is to make sure the walls and ceiling are also dark colors. I painted the projection wall black almost a year before I began the big part of the project. When I first painted the ceiling dark red instead of its original light color, I was pleased at how much darker the room seemed. I hadn't been aware that I was noticing all the reflected light on the ceiling, but when it went away, I noticed the improvement.

Raised Seating Area. I wasn't sure how high to make the raised seating area. I ended up using 2x8 joists with 3/4" plywood for the sub floor, and that has worked fine. I think 2x6 would not have made the platform high enough. 2x8 give the platform a very solid feel, while not making it seem like an unnaturally high step up.

One thing I did that I'm sure will come in handy is I didn't run the plywood sub floor all the way to the walls. I left about a 1" gap between the plywood and the walls. My thought was that I'm sure there will come a time when I want to run more wires from one side of the room to the other. I'd originally thought of putting conduit under the platform, but that seemed like a lot of work, and leaving a gap between the flooring and the wall seems like it should leave me plenty of room to run any low voltage wires that need to be run.

Stage. I wasn't originally planning to build a stage, but the more books I looked at, the more I thought the stage was needed to give the theater a finished look. I also thought a stage might be fun for home talent shows, and could also help keep the kids from accidentally bumping into the screen, so I decided to do it. I used 2x6 joists for the stage and ran the joists the short way on 16" centers. I then put blocks in front to keep the joists upright and to provide a semi-curved front edge of the stage.

The stage is curved, and getting the curve right was a little challenging. The span is 13', and I wanted a 6" difference between the depth of the stage on the edges and the depth at the stage's center. I did a little math and computed the length of string I would need to swing an arc that met my design criteria. I then laid out some masking paper (the green kind you use for painting) in my garage. I draw the arc on the paper, then transferred that arc to the stage area.

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