Budget Theater - Dedicated Home Theater on a Budget
The carpet is in! I was very excited with how the steps came out. but here is one last shot before the front stage construction begins.
Front Stage Construction begins! I wen ahead and took off all the speaker grills of my speakers. I then created the false wall. I ended up building 4 frames. The first frame was a mini wall that stood 23" tall. The next 2 stood on each side and were about 7" wide. The last frame was two 2x4's that span the whole way across the top. I painted the 2x4's with black spray paint and then wrapped them in black speaker grill cloth. It makes everything acoustically transparent and looks nice.
Budget Tip: When building a false wall you don't need much. Just a few 2x4's paints black and some speaker grill cloth. The whole wall cost less than $50 and that includes the speaker grill cloth. Just make some basic frames and cover the cloths. Once the wall is anchored you do not have to worry about anything.
Here is the big reveal of the front stage! These are pictures of the Jamestown screen installed and the entire false wall up. Now that the screen is up, you cannot see anything behind the screen or the speaker grill fabric.
P.S. I put a screenshot of us playing Need for Speed Most wanted from Steam. It is not a perfect representation of the picture quality, but it gives you and idea.
Let me see if I can explain it. Unfortunately I did not take a lot of pictures, as I had help who were in a hurry to get finished I went ahead and built it in sketchup. I hope this helps.
There are 4 pieces to the false wall.
1. The bottom frame - is framed just like a wall (except for the whole 16" for each stud. My wall is approximately 124" across. Therefore, I took one 124" 2x4 on the top and one the bottom. In between I put 4 - 2x4's (20" tall) on either side of the wall and on either side of the subwoofer.
2. The Top Frame - The top frame is once again 2 - 124" 2x4's. This time they are just screwed together with 3 inch screws. There are also smaller 2x4's each screwed up into the the sx4's above it. This just gave me enough room to hang the french cleat on. The french cleat is what supports the screen. One half is mounter to the screen with the other half mounted on the 2x4.
3. The left and Right side pieces - The left and right side pieces have two of the same length boards on either side supporting the top frame with 2 smaller 2x4's screwed into the sides to keep the board equal distance apart from each other.
4. How the fit together. The top frame is friction fit, meaning you need to rubber mallet hit it in. This keeps it from falling over. In addition, you can run a screw into the drywall at the top if you want. Both side pieces are screwed into the top frame and the bottom frame as well as the wall they are joining (ie either side wall). This just makes sure the wall does not fall forwards. You do not have to hit a stud.
Before I assembled the boards, I painted them all black and wrapped them in speaker grill cloth. Then I screwed them together. I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions.
I didn't get a lot of time to work on the Theater today, but got a chance to do some trim work today. I originally planned to put some wood in between some faux columns. I ended up scraping the wood idea. It is a great idea, but I felt continuing the speaker grill cloth would look nice.
So I stapled some speaker grill cloth to the half of the wall I already painted black. You may notice what looks like the cloth has been stretched. You can't see that in person, but either way it will be covered by some 3.5" MDF on the top and bottom painted with the same Behr Broadway black paint I've been using elsewhere. I also spray painted the Hvac vent cover high heat black. I plan to run a roller over it with the same Behr Broadway when I paint the trim work. This way the vent will match the trim perfectly.
Budget Tip: When trying to add the finishing touches to your room look for cheap alternatives that will look high end when you finished. In this case, use MDF baseboards instead of pine. And look to see if you can add a cheap boarder. I plan on using this black speaker grill cloth. For about $50, I can do the entire room. By then end, I hope it has a higher end feel at a fraction of the cost.
I ran into a couple of problems. First, we had bad snowstorms. Getting new material from getting new materials was out of the question. Luckily, the snow has passed and I was able to get the material. Although, this brought apart my second problem.
I went to Home Depot to get my original planned 1/4" Oak Plywood. While at HD, I noticed a lot of the wood was damaged, but after sometime looking I finally found 1 piece I thought was suitable. Now I do not have a table saw (at the time I originally wrote this), so I planned to use HD. Here in lies the problem...it was broken! Since this was unplanned, I went home to think of alternatives and measure. I knew the counter currently was 1.5" thick and 17" wide. After some deliberation, I came up with the idea of using 1 inch thick pine boards. This meant I could use 1x10 (actual 3/4 by 9.5) a 1x8 (actual 3/4 by 7.5) and two 1x3 ((for trim)actual 3/4 by 2.5)) and they would fit perfectly! The best part is it came out to be $3 cheaper ($27)! Here are some dry fit pictures with the hole cut in the top to run wires. I ended up using my Kreg Jig to join the pieces together.
Here are some more pics of it assembled. I went ahead and used Liquid Nails to glue it to the bar, I then added a few Finish nails to keep it in place. I did the same with the trim pieces. You may notice that at first there were some gaps where the wood would not go flush. I went ahead and added some wood putty to fill in the cracks. It now looks like a solid piece of wood. I plan to sand it a little once the putty has dried and then stain it.
I ended up applying 3 coats of Dark Walnut Minwax Stain to my pine wood. The poly is still drying, I ended up having to do 3 coats of that as well. Here are some pictures as it is drying. I also was able to hook up the underside of the bar. Instead of drywalling it, I decided to save space and use 1/4 inch plywood ($13 a sheet) that I painted black and then wrapped in speaker grill cloth. I still have to finish the trim around it, but I really like it. Underneath the bar I ran an outlet, usb hub and a conduit to run wires through the bar. Here's a few pictures.
Note: The pictures make the speaker grill cloth look odd. In real like, it just looks like a nice black sheen. Also the poly is reflecting lights off of it making pictures hard to get accurately.
The bar is complete. I even ran the Harmony through the conduit and plugged it into it's charger. I must say, it works great! Now I just need to finish the trim and make some bar stools. Yay!
Now that the bar is complete, I have moved on to the bar stools. Now the bar stools are tricky. First you need to know the height of your counter to make sure you get the right bar stools. Typical bar stools come in the range of 24 or 30". Anything over that is pretty custom, although they do make a 36". Here in lies the problem. First you do not want to build your theater room around the max height of the bar stools. If you do, you probably will not be able to fit them behind a riser. Second, the cost of 36" or custom bar stools are extraordinary (around $250 on up for each stool). So instead of spending $1,000 on bar stools I spent $50 for all four. I simply followed these directions from DIY Pete and made them the custom height I needed. In my case it ended up being 34" or 4" taller than his diagram called for.
Also, he gave some typical placements of boards. I would measure what feels good for you. I have a few bar stools in my kitchen and like the placement at the bottom for my feet. I simply measured the distance from the top of the seat down to the foot rest and made these the same length. Now they fit my feet well.
How did I do it? I just used 16 2x4's some leftover paint and stain. Here is the first one complete:
I am thinking of shrinking them by 1 inch width in order to make the seats fit a little better without any overhang. Although I haven't decided how that would change the stability of the stool. I also haven't decided exactly how I plan to finish them. I am thinking of painting them completely black except for the seats and the top cross beams. Those I'll stain to match the bar.
Budget Tip: Instead of buying expensive custom bar stools - make you own. These were made from common 2x4 (around $3 a board) which cost me about $12 a stool. That means I spent under $50 for 4 bar stools! That is a steal. If you want, you can change the plans, by using a high quality cedar 2x4 and even stain them. Check out DIY Pete for the instructions. Also, before you cut the boards make sure to maximize each boards length. Write down on a piece of paper all your measurements and add them up to around 95" (assuming 8ft - 96" board). Do not make the mistake and measure out 96" of cuts. Your last cut will be short. Remember the saw takes off a few millimeters each cut.