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Design, Comfort Keys to Living Room Home Theater

Design, Comfort Keys to Living Room Home Theater
Interior designer homeowner helps shape theater with traditional living room look and tone to surround the 20-foot screen.

By Arlen Schweiger, CEPro June 14, 2013
Look at this room from one perspective and it’s not much different than what you’d expect to find in a modern, comfortable living room - some warm lighting, a plush sofa and chaise, built-in wall shelves and cabinets, earthy tones. On the other hand, there’s a 20-foot-wide projection screen that’s the obvious focal point.

It was a deliberate compromise and collaboration between Bethesda Systems and the room’s interior designer, Diane Shaw. And the designer needed to have everything just right; after all, she is also the homeowner.

Diane and her husband wanted the roughly 29-by-24-foot room to be a fun movie-watching destination without appearing like a typical dedicated home or commercial cinema, one of those rooms that must be dark for movie watching or limited to tight rows of theater seating.

“She was adamant about having a theater that wasn’t a theater, but she didn’t want to miss out on things that theaters had, like columns, soffits, comfortable seating, projection screen, lighting,” says Bethesda Systems’ Mike Wilson. “She wanted a living room that really was a theater. … Do you know how many rooms we’ve done in maroon and gold with a star ceiling? This room has just such a mass appeal, which is ideal at the end of the day.”

So instead of glitzy columns, fancy fabric and splashy sconces, these theater mainstays are more tasteful and subdued - yet just as functional - as if you’d find them within a traditional family room. The Lutron lighting system’s wallplates match the wood-grain finish that outlines the room. Wilson, whose team was responsible for basically the entire room’s build-out, says original plans presented to Diane were “very theatery” before she began to put her design stamp on the project.

Home Theater Includes
3 - James Loudspeaker 803 BE 8” LCR
4 - James Loudspeaker 802 BE 8” Surround Speakers

Among the challenges, according to Wilson, was creating a proscenium (the wall area for the screen enclosure, which also often incorporates the front-channel speakers) around the custom Stewart Filmscreen screen that didn’t look theatery and managed to hide three speakers and two subwoofers.

Click here to view photo gallery.

“If you look at the front wall, the whole thing is more like a big wall unit, with two cabinets on the left and right, shelves and a ‘TV’ in the middle,” Wilson says. Two more pairs of side and rear speakers are tucked into columns and two more subwoofers are installed in the back wall to complete the James Loudspeaker surround-sound package.

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