Home cinema install: Twin-screen living

Stunning stealth cinema room caters to its owner's AV needs both day and night...

In this eye-catching multipurpose room delivered by CEDIA-award-winning installer Cyberhomes, the emphasis is on discreet multichannel audio, simplistic control and everyday use. It's a good example of how to combine a regular living area with bigscreen entertainment.

Okay, maybe it's not exactly a regular living area – not everyone has a room large enough (7m wide by 15m deep) to house a pool table as well as a gargantuan corner sofa! But the hardware here isn't from the cost-no-object AV catalogue. Rather, the cinema uses eminently affordable kit, neatly installed and controlled.

For HD visuals, both a 65in Panasonic plasma and Epson EH-TW9000W projector are employed. The latter, when not needed, resides in a ceiling void, dropping down via a Future Automation PD2 projector lift. Similarly, the 2.5m screen from Screen International is also motorised. The system is handled by a Control4 setup. Selecting Blu-ray automatically turns the TV off, kicks the screen and projector into life, and dims the lights. (There are four lighting circuits integrated into the system: downlighters around the room edge, colour-changing LED strips, freestanding reading lights and 'disco lighting'.)

The room features a 7.1-channel system using Bowers & Wilkins models. All, including the subwoofer, are mounted in-wall, as the owner, Trevor, didn’t want freestanding cabinets. The solution – building a false wall to accommodate the front speakers and sub – also enabled built-in cupboards to accommodate DVDs, Blu-rays and hardware.

Cyberhomes admits it would have preferred a dedicated rack, as it makes AV management easier. 'Consideration had to be given to how everything could be accessed for maintenance and future upgrades, and as well as the AV equipment we also had to find space for the Control4 system and the lighting packs. Therefore we made the built-in cupboards wider than originally intended with continuous access between all the units.' They also added an access cupboard at the far left of the front wall for lighting and mains power control. 'Along with ceiling voids behind the false wall, this ensures we have maintenance access to all the cable runs (including the motorised screen) should it ever be required.'

Trevor tells HCC he did a lot of research into what he wanted before approaching any specialist AV integrators – and that Cyberhomes were the only company he spoke to who seemed to ‘get’ what he wanted to achieve. He had preconceptions about the hardware he thought would be suitable, but allowed the installers to suggest alternatives that would be a better fit.

Unsurprisingly, he's chuffed with the end result. 'It was a brand-new room - freshly decorated – so I had some concerns but they pulled it off with no issues. The system is above and beyond expectations, and comes with the wow factor. The 3D projector is outstanding!'

Typically, at least two movies are watched in the cinema each week. When friends come around for a movie night who haven’t experienced the room before, Trevor loves to demo the opening coach crash scene from Fast & Furious 5, admitting he gets a thrill from seeing his guests duck for cover, or spin round to look behind them, as the sound effects come from all directions.

Blackout, no doubt

There will be further modifications to the space once other refurbishment work in the rest of the house has been completed, reveals the installer. 'The next stage is to include full blackout blinds to allow more use of the PJ during the day. Having said that, the Epson projector is more than bright enough to be run in daylight, and was used extensively for watching World Cup matches in the Summer.'

And with the 65in plasma, the room gets used every day – despite there being another living room in the home. It's obviously become the place to be!

Installer info

0845 094 2718 (Thame) / 0845 519 4318 (London)

Kit list

Epson: EH-TW9000W Full HD 3D LCD projector
Screen International: 2.5m motorised projector screen
Panasonic: TX-P65VT30B 3D plasma TV
Onkyo: TX-NR1009 AV receiver
Onkyo: BD-SP809 Blu-ray player
Bowers & Wilkins: 4 x CWM7.4s; 3 x CWM7.3s; 1 x ISW-3 in-wall subwoofer
Sky: Sky+HD satellite receiver/PVR
Control4: HC-300 home control processor
Future automation: PD2 motorised projector lift