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Home Improvement Guide 2007
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Ideas and suggestions for your next project, from simple plans to designing extensive renovations.
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How to design and equip a media room

Thinking of making your own home theater experience? Slow down, there's a lot think about. A true media room isn't the old family room with a plasma television hung on the wall. Yet that's what many people do. If you want instead to build a true, state-of-the-art media room, you could spend up to $50,000 for equipment alone and $50,000 more on furnishings.

OK, most people don't have $100,000 to blow, so here are some suggestions for turning any room in your house -- garage, basement, attic, spare bedroom or family room -- into a reasonably nice media room.

"It always comes down to how the client envisions their use of the room," says Bruce Goff, principal of the Domus Design Group in San Francisco and Reno, Nev. "Is this a client who will use the room every night -- have dinner in the room --- or uses it after dinner."

Goff is seeing three types of media entertainment rooms being created. The first one is used all the time. It's the family room turned into a media room. The homeowner adds a large-screen TV, audio-video components and all the technology. "It is no longer just the TV set," he says. "Part of this is due to the growth as well as the affordable price of flat-screens."

For those homeowners on a tight budget who want to turn a 15-by-20-foot family room into a media room, budget $7,500 to $10,000 on equipment. This gives you the speakers, a flat-screen TV, a DVD player and controllers -- something to watch and listen to. Depending upon what you purchase, the furnishings may cost an additional $5,000 to $10,000.

The second type of media entertainment room is in a home large enough so it is actually a separate room and may only be used every few days. The third type of media room is a true in-home movie theater.

The walls
"Wood paneling of various widths, different than the paneling of the 1960s, is back in style for media entertainment rooms," says Hilary Sopata of Interior Visions Designs in Park Ridge, Ill. "Rich, medium-to-dark woods, such as cherry and oak [stained dark brown], can create an intimate theater setting. Even pine is being used to create a different look," she says. "This wood paneling doesn't have the dark grooves of yesteryear." However, Sopata recommends wood paneling not be used in a basement.

-- Posted: April 4, 2007
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