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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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Goff is seeing a new trend among his clients on the West Coast. Because high-quality projectors are now smaller, they are being installed in media rooms. You can buy them cheaply at warehouse stores and even big-box retailers. The projector is placed in the ceiling, where it can be hidden until it drops down when used. "Push a button, and it drops out of the ceiling and turns on. Push another button and it goes up to the ceiling and is hidden away," Goff says.

Some homeowners like the projector system because you can have a 9-foot to 10-foot screen that lowers for viewing, more like what you'd see in a small movie theater. With a plasma or flat-screen television, you get a maximum 60-inch viewing area.

If you are determined to have the latest in sound and visual equipment, check out the big-box stores. Some homes are installing wireless systems that can be controlled with a remote and some remotes have a small computer screen from which to control DVD players, blinds and lighting. The hub is a small computer room in your home.

What about comfort?
For the best seat in the house, Sopata recommends theater-style recliners that are more comfortable than what you'll find at movie theaters. These recliners are fully outfitted with cup holders as well as massage and vibration systems that work in conjunction with your film to create a realistic adventure. However, you don't want oversize chairs if there is hardly any walking room. When you need to get up and go the kitchen, there should be enough space to get by. An interior designer can help configure the space properly.

Sometimes, Goff recommends couches because some people like to watch TV or eat while lying down. Small tables can be placed in between for plates or snacks.

If you have young children, purchase smaller, kid-size chairs for the front row. Older people or people who have limited strength or mobility may have a hard time getting in and out of soft home theater seats. They will need a chair with a firmer seat and arms to help get up or down from the chair, including "lift chairs" with motorized lifts that gently push a person out of the chair.

Flooring and window treatments
Both Sopata and Goff prefer carpeting in a media room. Carpeting provides comfort and intimacy. For the windows, a two-layer system is the best treatment to block out light. Use a blind or under shade with a block-out lining. Then use a floor-to-ceiling drapery treatment to help create that theater experience.

-- Posted: April 4, 2007
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