Now I really do have a “home cinema”

I say “now”, I’ve actually had a proper home cinema for coming up 2 years now! I’ve just never got around to writing about it.

I am very difficult to buy Birthday/Christmas gifts for. If I want something I just buy it! Not that I buy an awful lot, but if I do want something I know what I want, I research it and get it. That, together with wanting expensive stuff makes Christmas/Birthday time tricky for those around me!

Anyway, a couple of years ago I mentioned I was annoyed with my pull down projector screen having a “bump” in it. So, my girlfriend said she’d get me a new screen for my birthday. We figured we get the long HDMI cable hidden in the ceiling and walls to. So, we called someone in the area specialising in home cinema installations and they said something that changed out thinking completely. He said “it’d be much easier if we had a clean slate to work with”. Things were getting complicated with me wanting an acoustically transparent screen, which then meant it had to be electric, which opened up a whole new can of worms!!

I’m not quite sure how we thought of using the garage, but we did. Once we got that idea into our heads there was no stopping us. I spent many weekends clearing out all the accumulated “stuff” that had found it’s way in there over the years. We got a few quotes to transform our garage into a little cinema. We still need some storage space at both ends, so the first thing to do was to replace the up-and-over garage door with a barn door style one. The reason being that we’d lose too much space because of the mechanism and also that we wanted to make use of the loft space above the garage and we’d be unable to access it with an up-and-over style door.

So, we ended up with a metre of space behind the new door where we keep our bikes, tools, etc. I have to say the 30/70 split barn door is brilliant, so much easier than an up-and-over. All houses should come with them as standard.

Next, the builders came and put in the new walls and floor, finishing off with putting in a new door to access the room from our hallway. I didn’t take many pictures of it all being done as it seemed to happen pretty quickly.

Stud work 1

We, also ended up with a cloakroom with loads of hooks for coats, hats, etc. The tumble dryer also lives in there, only just though as the room was made to measure. It’s about 650mm deep, and standard appliances are 600mm wide! We had a kitchen worktop that was in the garage before, so that was cut down and formed a useful work surface above the tumble dryer. I eventually put up another shelf in there and now my TVServer PC and Drobo live on that shelf, with the networked printer and UPS sitting on the kitched worktop. So, it’s a cloak/laundy/computer room. We do prop the door open when the tumble dryer is on otherwise it gets very hot and humid in there. So, far there haven’t been any issue with the computer gear in there.

We project managed it all ourselves, if you can call it that with it being just the one room.

Once the builders had got the stud work in place we got an electrician in to do the lighting, move the circuit box a little and put in all the power sockets in just the right places. 4 doubles at floor level, and a double high up on the large shelf we were having installed. I then wired up all the speaker and network cabling. Since all the AV gear was going to live on a big shelf at the back of the room, there was no need for video cabling.

Once all the wiring was done, the builders came back and put the high density sound insulation in the stud walls, floor and ceiling. We also had acoustic plasterboard installed, a thick black (obviously!) carpet and a fire door. Normal internal doors are very light and don’t cut out much noise at all.

We painted it ourselves, using a very matt charcoal colour, which just seems to absorb light! The skirting board, architrave and door were also paint in a very similar matt colour.

Once that was done the large shelf was installed, which we eventually covered in black material. We had a long struggle to find something suitable. I had to allow a feminine touch in there somewhere, so it’s patterned instead of plain. I used the same material to cover a small frame I made to conceal the circuit breaker box.

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I’d got the builders to feed the speaker wire through the plasterboard in just the right places, so it looks quite neat.

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We bought a couple of Lazyboy power recliner chairs, which are awesome. I’ve had no discomfort sitting on them for 3-4 hours straight. Originally we were going to get a sofa, but that would have been a little awkward when having mates round, as we’re not “that” close!!

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It took me quite a while to get all the wiring done for the Mitsubishi HC6000 Projector, PS3, XBox360, HTPC and Denon AV-1910 Receiver. I did manage to get the projector setup with zero keystone correction and almost perfect geometry. It took a long time, but with the aid of a laser level and a tape measure I managed to get the screen exactly in the centre of the wall with only 1mm difference in one dimension. Which all means it looks perfect to me!

I used goo systems paint rather than having a fabric screen. It’s taken a few more top coats than recommended, but it looks amazing now. I did have a few “sparklies” for a while, but a couple of extra coats of top coat sorted that out. I think there is one that I notice occasionally, but I can live with that.

Since there is no ventilation in there it can get quite warm in the summer and cold in the winter. So, I’ve added one essential “gadget” to the room …

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… an oil-filled radiator!

I’ll finish off with some more pictures …

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The pictures don’t show the screen with the flock tape applied to form a border. I’ll post another picture of that soon.

I always used to say I was “into” home cinema, even when all I had was a 29″ CRT TV and a VHS player. Now I can say it and know I’m not exaggerating. Even though it’s only got 2 seats, it’s still a “home cinema” 😀

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