Skip to main content

Project 1 - Home Theater

The living room of our new house has plenty of room for a high end home theater, but really, none of the required elements.

When we're done, I'll have a 55" LED TV mounted over the fireplace, with high-speed HDMI cabling running through the walls, directly to the set for our various components:
  • DirecTV HR34 Genie
  • AV Receiver (on the ARC HDMI channel)
  • Apple TV (1080p)
  • Blu-Ray Player (with 3D)
...and potentially, a HTPC running XBMC, or (less likely) a videogame system.

We'll need to install built-in shelving on either side of the fireplace, which will provide storage for each of our components, and also provide visual interest in that it will be displaying books and art objects.

This built-in system cannot run wall-to-wall, due to the windows on the adjacent right-hand wall. The system also cannot (or should not) run floor-to-ceiling, due to the fact that we've already got crown molding in the room - and a built-in topped with crown that's a foot or two lower than the room's crown will look pretty great.

(UPDATE - Our contractor was able to seamlessly blend in a floor-to-ceiling built-in wall unit. See below!)

Speakers are, and will remain, an issue. At the moment, we use a Bose Acoustimass 5.1 surround system. It's nice, it gets the job done. And we'll certainly be able to put the speakers on top of the built-in shelving. But we've never been fans of the front-speaker stands, and if I'm ripping the walls up to run cabling anyway, I'd like to look into built-in front speakers, potentially (if we get very adventurous) in the ceiling.

(UPDATE: We purchased some wall-mounts for the Bose cube speakers. They look great, and hey - we already own them. Ultimately, if the mood strikes, we could switch to built-in speakers.)

While we previously assumed we were going to run cables through the floor and across the ceiling of the unfinished basement, discussions with contractors have convinced us to cover the lateral space between the components and the TV by taking the shortest possible route - laterally behind the drywall. The built-ins will do most of the work in hiding any cut-outs and drywall repair.

This will also give us a chance to hide the cabling for surround speakers - although we will still have to go through the basement in order to install the final 2 surround speakers, and bump up to a true 7.1 system.

We'll update this space with photos as the project proceeds.
The initial rough plan for the built-in cabinet expansion.
UPDATE: February 2014 - We decided to go with a craftsman contractor, as this is a pretty high-profile part of our house. His designs were fantastic:

It incorporates our existing fireplace and shelves, and adds some additional storage - while still working around the windows in the right-side corner.

As of now, the design is approved, the first payment has been made, and the install date is set for the last week in March. We can't wait.

UPDATE: April 20, 2014 - Complete!

It turned out every bit as good as we'd hoped. And frankly, it looks almost EXACTLY like the original 3D rendering!

The left-hand cabinet holds the components, and a PVC pipe runs from that cabinet to behind the television. It acts as a conduit for our RedMere ultra-thin HDMI cables.

We purchased a cheap TV mount from, and I handled the TV install after our contractor was finished.

Because the components are completely hidden away from sight, we rely on the DirecTV RF remote control, and Bravia Sync, in order to use the home theater without opening any of the cabinets.

We may have to incorporate a better plan for power / surge protection and cable management inside the cabinets at some point - but for now, this gets the job done with style.

I'd also like to add an Ethernet connection, so that our system isn't so reliant on wi-fi. That said, it's not necessary. Everything is working, and working well.

Call this project COMPLETE!

Update 2017  

We're cord-cutters now, so that Ethernet connection became a necessity. When we finished the basement, we ran CAT-6 wires to each of our HDTVs.

The 55" Sony was banished to the basement, along with the kids' videogame systems.

Our current home theater has a 65" 4K Sony - so we still get that HDMI-CEC Bravia Sync action.

However, EVERYTHING is run through the AppleTV now, except for the occasional Blu-Ray. 


  1. Big plans! Hurray! I think it is going to look and sound good. I hope that you are able to make all the changes without too much fuss. Sometimes one or two glitches come up in terms of wiring or the weight of equipment that slow down the process a bit but I hope you and yours enjoy it.

  2. You organize your living room in a pleasant way to enjoy theater like experience. I am also having home theater system and i am in planning to organize i like a theater to enjoy theater experience.

  3. I have just completed with sound systems installation at my new home with the help of ‘DBN DSTV’ professionals, and I am sure that setting up a home theatre is going to bring a smile on the faces of my children.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Not All AirPort Extremes are Created Equal (UPDATED)

I'm looking for a used AirPort Extreme. In all the usual places - eBay, Craigslist.  I'll probably get one this week. Why? It's a long story.  A while back, I picked up an AirPort Express A1084 router on Craigslist, and found that it was incompatible with my AirPort Utility and wireless-n network, even though it looked *identical* to the current model of AirPort Express.  So, I wrote a post on this blog about the different types of AirPort Express routers, noting that if you're looking for used Airport Express routers to extend your AirPlay network, you'd better seek out model A1264. In the months that followed, Apple updated the AirPort Express again, changing the form factor (it looks like a little white AppleTV now), adding simultaneous dual-band support, and giving it model number A1392.  ASIDE: I'm not totally convinced that the form-factor change was an improvement. The A1264 plugged directly into the wall, which was incr

Review: NuCore Flooring from Floor & Decor

This NuCore flooring review will also function as a Basement Update: We're finally, officially moving forward on the Phase 2 finish work.

Review - WOW Ultra TV vs. DirecTV HR34 Genie

Here in the Chicago suburbs, we had two options for whole-home DVR services. We initially went with WOW Ultra TV, and after about 4 months, we switched to DirecTV's HR34 Genie system. (Neither Verizon FIOS nor AT&T UVerse were available in our area, so we can't review those. I haven't used Dish's Hopper, either. This is a straight compare/contrast review of WOW vs. DirecTV.) Both Ultra TV and Genie have their plusses and minuses. Both offer 1080p output, but that's primarily for the menus, as most TV content is provided at lower resolutions.  Both systems have a similar design architecture - a central hub, with multiple tuners and a large hard drive, recording and storing all TV shows, and distributing them to televisions around the house upon request.  Both systems also bring a number of "add-on" apps and have ways of accessing "on demand" content.  We've had each system for enough time to really put them through