Small Challenges Don’t Stop Big Theater Experience

Electronic House

Building anything as significant as a high-performance home theater is going to involve some challenges. Troy Cuvelier, owner of Integrated Smart Technologies in Jackson and Kalamazoo MI, has worked in a lot of challenging situations, and he's gotten very good at getting home theaters into small basements with low ceilings and odd shapes.

We get all kinds of challenges says Cuvelier, but fitting a big screen with a powerful sound system into a small basement is the most usual. "People tell me they have a space for their home theater, and then they show me it's 12-feet by 15-feet."

In a log cabin, Cuvelier built a theater in a 12-foot wide room with 8-foot ceilings and a window (see slideshow for images). Left alone, the window would have impacted both the image quality and the sound, so rather than sealing it up or just covering it with curtains or shades, Cuvelier built a cover out of acoustic material and attached it with Velcro. This solution solved the light and sound issues, blended nicely with the room and was easily removable if the owner wanted to use the window. The solution also fit the customer's budget, which is always an important factor.

The room also included a structural bump in one wall from the fireplace in the floor above. Cuvelier used this feature to build a small storage area the family could use for Blu-ray discs or anything else they wanted to put out of the way. "Those are some of the fun James Bond things we did in the house he says.

To match the rustic look of the house, Cuvelier used earthy colors, stone and faux columns that look like logs.

In another challenging basement renovation, not only did the crew face low ceilings, but pipes and support beams that could not be reoriented lay in the way of the projector light path. For that room (see slideshow for pictures) he selected a long-throw lens projector placed on the back wall, rather than hung from the ceiling. With the seat risers in place, anyone near a ceiling-mounted projector would have received a head injury. "When you're working with a seven foot ceiling, you've got to be careful," he says.

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Tags: design, theater