Budget Home Theater Project

Budget Home Theater Project

Around the end of 2003, my wife made a serious mistake. She came up with a home improvement project where we'd remodel the basement family room into a home theater. I'd been looking at projectors and surround sound systems for a while and she'd wanted the basement remodeled for a while -- a "while" meaning "years." The agreement was that I had to stay reasonable in cost for the equipment. Thus, our personal entertainment area was born.

Room Preparation

The basement family room wasn't horrible really. It was just a plain wood-paneled room with carpeting and a rather uninspiring 27" color TV. We were already getting DirectTV service at the time and HD service was coming out soon. The DirectTV package we had included a TiVo DVR for this room (as well as several other set-top boxes [STBs] that didn't have recording capability). The room was large enough for a projection screen - about 25' by 20' - but had a couple issues to work around. The main one, since it is in the basement, is that the ceiling drops a couple feet in the middle of the room to allow for the main beam and duct work to that side of the house. Oh, and it also has a lovely bright red support post right smack in the middle of the room. Here are some beautiful panoramic shots of the room just as we were ready to start. (Click on any thumbnail to see a larger view.)

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Budget Home Theater: original room image 5 0f 5 thumb

The first thing we did was remove all the existing trim so it could be painted separately. Next, we taped over the counters and cabinets that were not being painted. Then we put a coat of Kilz 2 Latex Primer. Normally, I'm not all that picky about the type of primer used, but this was going over the fairly slick surface of hardwood paneling. We needed something the base paint would stick to and Kilz 2 is wonderful stuff though a bit pricey.

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The color needs to be pretty dark for a home theater where a projector is used. However, the area was so big, that just using a single dark color would be just too much of one thing. So we decided to try something a little different and something we've never done before. We used Behr's Faux Finish Venetian Plaster technique. This technique starts with a base coat of a solid color and adds a second coat of an accent color which will then be sponged or blotted with a damp towel to get the effect. For our purposes we needed a dark wall, so the which consists of a lighter base coat and a darker faux finish coat. If you look at the site, there's a section that talks about How to Create a Venetian Plaster Finish. Near the bottom of that section, it is mentioned that a water-dampened rag is used. We used Scott's Rags in a Box for this. They were perfect for this job. They are a little stiffer than cloth rags and removed the top coat very easy. We got a great effect. We were a bit worried that the glaze in the top coat would leave a shiny, reflective surface, but in reality, it dries to a very matte finish.

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Budget Home Theater: lighter base coat 4 0f 4 thumb

 

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Since we were running with a budget, we decided just to paint the baseboard and crown molding rather than buy new. We did buy a couple of pieces of baseboard and crown molding to cover areas not covered before plus some new cove and outside corner pieces. We bought got a couple fancy scroll work trim pieces, too. I was rather surprised just how good the old varnished wood looked with a coat of paint. That meant, I didn't have to cut it to fit either. Here again, the key was to use a dark color. I'm sure there are more pictures here than anyone would ever care to look at.

Budget Home Theater: painting the trim 1 of 4 thumb
Budget Home Theater: painting the trim 2 of 4 thumb
Budget Home Theater: painting the trim 3 of 4 thumb
Budget Home Theater: painting the trim 4 of 4 thumb

Once it was painted, it was time to start putting it back up. It really went up with no problems since most of it went right back where it came from. The fun part was touching up the paint over all the little nail holes filled with white painter's putty. Again, there's way more pictures here than you probably care to look at.

Budget Home Theater: installing the trim 1 of 6 thumb
Budget Home Theater: installing the trim 2 of 6 thumb
Budget Home Theater: installing the trim 3 of 6 thumb
Budget Home Theater: installing the trim 4 of 6 thumb
Budget Home Theater: installing the trim 5 of 6 thumb
Budget Home Theater: installing the trim 6 of 6 thumb