The Media Room
This Old New House

This would traditionally be the Living Room in any ordinary house. When we first bought it we had plans to build a partition and make the south end Linda's craft and sewing room and make the north end an office/computer room. In the interim while working on other rooms in the house we had the big screen and a couple of couches in there temporarily. However, the more time I spent there the more I realized that the family room (now library), which I had originally planned for the media room was not only not really suited in layout for home theater, but wasn't really big enough, either.

The living room, however, is ideal. Originally 14' x 24'—with modifications, 14' x 21'— it's really a very nice size for home theater. We've already painted three walls a deep wine color called Bordeaux. It's a fabulous light sponge. When we get theater curtains and doors in place it'll be theater dark in there (and it already is at night).

Development plans called for reducing the southeast arch and installing a conventional door between the media room and the kitchen/dining area, both to cut down on sound transfer (both ways) and to limit light incursion into the media room. After considering the four possible swings of a standard door, a pocket door seemed the ideal solution, even though I don't particularly care for them. The door itself is a 30" six panel door just as the media closet will have.

text This is the original view to the southeast from the foyer. The wall to the right of the archway is where the closets will be built. The big screen will be in this end. The hideous carpet was gone in the first week. text This view is to the northeast, 180° from the first picture—the foyer is through the archway. The main couch will be in that end facing this way. The hideous drapes were gone shortly after the carpet. text Framing for the pocket door between the media room and the kitchen/dining suite. That will close up the arch in the picture above left.

text The same archway from the dining area has been framed for a pocket door for light mitigation. Note the polyisocyanurate insulation in the frame—for sound mitigation. text Rocked, taped, mudded, painted. Yeah, it looks that good. It's probably the best drywall job I've done, and I was pretty happy with the library.

In order to provide closets for the bedroom, I built a wall about 36" out from the old south wall of the media room (shared with the master bedroom). There are two closets in the bedroom (one for each of us) approximately 31" x 54", and a closet in the middle roughly the same size that opens into the media room.

text The media room closet (center) has a 30" pocket door and the bedroom closets (left and right) have a regular six panel door. text The media room wall is now taped and mostly mudded, and nearly ready for paint. text This is the view through the door above to the finished south wall of the media room. The camera isn't tricking you—the cinnamon of the kitchen/dining room is several shades different from the Bordeaux of the media room.

Further planning called for a dark green carpet (for sucking up even more light, and for sound softening—done), and closing off the north arch with French doors (done).

text And the final paint. The door and trim yet to be installed, as well as interconnects and electrical. text This is how the green carpet looks with the Bordeaux paint. text The equipment closet. My surround processor is out for repair so I'm using my original tuner/preamp. All the amps (and speakers) work, though, including the subwoofer. The sound is great.

SWMBO and I are fighting over window treatments—I'd like something like theater curtains for blacking out the room at the height of day—she'd like plantation shutters.

text Curtains won. Here's one window treatment (open) with sheers. The fabric is a damask (alternating vertical bands of satin and flat fabric in a similar shade). text This is with the curtains closed. These are off-the-rack curtains (Linens 'n Things closeout)—isn't the color match incredible? text Here are the French doors with matching damask cafe curtains.

Again, we're thrilled with the effects. Although the window curtains aren't 100% light blocking, they darken the room sufficiently during the day to make almost any medium watchable, even with the two-hours-before-sunset light hitting the windows. At night, it's like being in a cave. The French doors were remarkable at mitigating foyer/laundry room noise even before the curtains went up. Now they're even more sound absorbent, plus they knock down virtually any foyer or utility hall light.

On the electrical side, I have a dedicated 20 amp circuit for all the media stuff and beaucoup receptacles for same. There are three can lights over the south wall so that I can have some serious light for those times I need to wire or rewire some equipment—also for selecting movies or CDs. There's alse a can light in the media closet. I also need to run wire up in the attic for the rear speakers (done).

I've already replaced the two 3-way switches with electronic dimmers with a remote. So far the system controls two outlets on the east wall, but I'm hoping to half switch them for some more versatile lighting options. It's the perfect lighting solution for the table lamps. At the touch of a button on the remote, I can dim or brighten the lighting, double tap the button for instant high beams, turn the lights on and off (yawn), and by holding the button for a few seconds, the system does a theater dim of the lights all the way to off. I love it. I'm considering installing some dimmable wall sconces and/or some path lighting, but that may be more detail than I really want or need to pursue. It's good now as it is (sadly, I need to replace it—it took some kind of voltage spike and didn't recover).

Last updated: 06 February 2009

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