|Posted on April 30, 2013 at 2:15 PM|
Since 1998, my full-time day job has been that of custom installer, and a frequent part of that job has been working with people on the design and installation of their new home theater/media rooms. And saying that I’ve been involved in over a hundred theater installs wouldn’t be an exaggeration. I’ve also had the opportunity to go on many jobs where another “installer” did the system and the homeowner was unsatisfied with the results—a lot of sudden “experts” sprang up overnight during the spend-now/pay-later early-to-mid 2000s, companies that have since gone out of business—and wanted me to come in and try and resurrect the project.
Now, I’m talking about “real world” home theater systems here, not the uber-customized six- and seven-figure rooms Theo designs. When you go to that level of design, you should end up with a system that reflects nothing but professionalism down to the last screw and connector. Sure, Theo might find design nits to pick—wrong colors, too garish or too restrained—but these are rooms that generally don’t have major design flaws.
The systems I’m talking about are ones costing between $10,000 to $50,000 where you can still get an amazing theater experience, but without the custom-fabricated millwork or exotic fabrics covering the walls. In short, the kinds of systems most of you probably own. And during my years as an installer, I've routinely run across the same basic design problems that not only keep the system from being great but frequently keep it from even being good.
Here’s Part One of my list of the Top 10 mistakes I see “amateur” theater designers routinely make. Many of these are simple things that wouldn’t take a lot of money to fix after the fact—or to have just done right from the start. These are also tips you can incorporate into non-dedicated media rooms to make sure you're getting the maximum performance from your system.
1) Trying to do too much in the space
I can’t tell you how many rooms I go into—or how many plans I go over—where the media room is chopped up so there can be some other completely disparate activity happening behind it. Often this is some kind of gaming table, bar, or pool table—or even an exercise/workout area. I get it: The home has a finite amount of space, and dedicating an entire room for movie watching is a good chunk of it. But you either want a media room or you don’t, and once you start cramming other stuff in there with it, you've compromised the experience. And, seriously, a pool table takes up a huge amount of space all on its own. If you commit to the theater—and a well-designed system and room—you likely won’t miss having a pool table or elliptical machine sitting right behind you. Now, before you start getting totally indignant and telling me how this works perfectly in your room, I’ll admit that I have seen some really well-designed theaters that incorporate gaming areas. But usually these rooms are fairly massive in size to begin with—far bigger than the more typical 14 x 20-foot room.
Click here to read the other four mistakes from Part One at Theo's Roundtable. Also, be sure to share your "favorite" design mistakes in the comments section...