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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 home theater
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For those homeowners who don't want to panel their walls, select a paint color that creates the atmosphere you want. Paint the room yourself or hire a professional.

Lighting is very important for a media entertainment room in your home. Options range from recessed mood lighting, where crown molding meets the ceiling at a 45-degree angle and drops down a bit so the lights can be hidden. The lights shine toward the ceiling. Another choice is lights that shine on the floor and, of course, wall sconces can set the tone for a relaxing, enjoyable evening at home. "Don't worry about the room being too dark, especially if the room is primarily used for watching movies. Your purpose is to prevent any glare on the screen," Sopata says. "Dimmer switches need to be placed on all the lighting in the room. You must be able to see the aisle when you get up." These choices work in both traditional and contemporary homes, she says.

One of the newest things is preset lighting systems that can create lighting moods at the touch of a button. Press "movie" and the lights dim to your pre-determined level. Press "party" and the lighting adjusts to another preset level. A preset system allows the homeowner to avoid having five or six switches on the wall. Instead, there is one wall switch with programmed buttons.

Audio speakers can stick out like a sore thumb. Sopata recommends hiding speakers in your walls or in the space behind false columns, which work best in traditional homes. Speakers are now sophisticated enough to recess into walls and can be painted to match the color of your walls.

Some of them can be installed and plastered over so you don't even see a grill, says Goff. Always consider buying a subwoofer, which creates the lower-register sounds, then a center speaker with two more at the front and then four more -- two in the middle and two at the rear of the room. "This is the gold standard. We always work to hide them and integrate them into the cabinet work," Goff says.

Sopata notes that most homeowners hide components in wall cabinets. However, with some newer systems, components can even be placed in another room, a control room the size of a closet for all visual and audio entertainment equipment.

-- Posted: April 4, 2007
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