How They Did It: Basement to Custom Media Room

Apr 15, 2016

Encore Custom Audio Video’s primary objective was to turn this underutilized basement into an extraordinary home theater/multipurpose space while still keeping an open feel.

Encore’s finished project was named a Finalist in the Media Room category in the 2015 CEDIA Awards


The homeowner did not want a dedicated room just for watching movies — they wanted much, much more. They envisioned an open space that used part of the basement for movie watching, with the feel of a home theater, but augmented with a full kitchen area that included a wine racks, a tasting area, and a table that seats four.

One of the other objectives in designing the space was that the homeowner wanted a ski lodge feel — a space where they could get away and have the feeling of being completely immersed in the viewing experience.

Technical Features

The finished room includes a 138” 2:35.1 Vutec Vision X automated vertical masking screen, twelve zones of Crestron centralized lighting, and two automated Crestron blackout shades. Custom acoustic (TAD, hybrid, diffusers, and absorbers) panels were used with tracking and stretched fabric. Custom oak beams in the center of the room were added for a lodge feel along with stained oak trim and baseboards surrounding the room.

The room features three tiers of seating using 15 United Leather custom suede powered chairs as well as a custom made teak table that seats an additional six people. The whole space is open, and all viewers can see the screen, even if they are in the kitchen area. The space can seat 26 people comfortably, all with a sight line to the screen.

The kitchen area features custom tile, stone walls, and backsplash with the all the appliances needed to make for a one-of-a-kind basement kitchen: ice maker, wine fridge, sink, and dishwasher. This area also features a wine rack holding 124 bottles of wine. All the counter tops were custom made. Above the wine rack, the wall is stone with pockets featuring LED wax candles controlled by the Crestron lighting system, adding a wow factor to the overall space and ambiance.

The Crestron gesture-driven app allows the room to be controlled from an iPad, while two lighting keypads allow individual control of lighting if the media room is not in use.  The old kitchen area was turned it into a dedicated AV closet with cooling and features two 43U space Middle Atlantic racks that are freestanding in the middle of the room. This allows for someone to walk around either side of the racks with no visible wires for a clean, easily serviceable installation.

Lastly, a custom barn door was installed in the room entry give the homeowner a sense of entering a lodge. A Sony 4K projector was used, with a Crestron DM system with sources such as cable, Apple TV, Kaleidescape, a karaoke machine, and two HDMI laptop inputs. A 4K projector sits enclosed behind non-reflective glass and is cooled by an Active Thermal Management Cool Cube device with its own ductwork. Finally, a 13-channel Dolby Atmos system was installed, with four ceiling speakers for Atmos and two large 15" subwoofers behind the front wall to the left and right of the screen.


The main challenge was taking an open room that wasn’t designed to be an isolated theater and crafting a home theater within the space, while incorporating other areas that were important to the client and providing a high level of performance.

The original layout was not compatible with the initial design, so the original basement kitchen was removed and relocated. This provided the framework for an ideal setting and opened up a much-needed space for a dedicated AV closet.

Encore recessed the front screen wall and framed it with a double 2-by-6 wall, giving room to install the Pro Audio Technology speakers, baffle wings/treatments, and two 15” subwoofers. The back of the room included an open area to add a third row of seating.


The room acoustics were designed with the help of Media Environments. A proprietary software was used to set up parameters such as SPL and other frequency changes determined by the software’s generation tool and mic. After stabilizing the system, Pro Audio Technologies software was used for the speakers to correct any unbalanced curves. The video calibration was performed with a Spears & Munsil HD Benchmark (2nd Edition) Blu-ray video calibration disc.

The 2016 CEDIA Awards competition is now accepting entries! Learn more at cedia.net/awards.



CEDIA blog posts are intended to provide general information and should not be regarded as legal opinions or advice.

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