2009 Living room project / homage to some of AVF’s finest

FoooManChu

Active Member
Having been a member of AVForums for some time and been witness to some very inspiring self builds – I’d always wanted to have a go but never quite got it passed the missus. Now I’m not saying she must be mellowing with age :laugh: but to my surprise when I last plucked up the courage to broach the subject and show her a few pics from these pages she seemed quite keen…! :eek: :)

Once I got the green light I started to try and get a really clear picture in my mind of what I wanted to achieve with the refurb. I decided on these key objectives that had to be checked off:

  • Not a dedicated room so had to be ‘homely’ – not too bachelor paddish nor looking like a showroom
  • Cable free – Absolutely! Also wanted to find a better way of dealing with the increasing number of cables I have snaking round the outside of my house too… Looks like a patch work quilt!
  • Fully integrated gaming, media centre, first time projector setup and feature lighting
  • Probably most importantly it couldn’t break the bank!
  • To be as future proof as possible – with hopefully no need for any major reinvestment within the next 5 years.
With these in the back of mind I started to look round the forum for anything that floated my boat. Groove is a personal mate of mine so his floating wall was the first thread I dropped on. Stunning work mate! :thumbsup: I’ve since seen some very nice projector screens being integrated with floating walls but for me I couldn’t see how I could make this work so the hunt went on. Then I stumbled on Elootos’ perfect culmination of many different types of projects from the site and his thread quickly became the blueprint for my own project.

A big thank you for all your work on both your DIY and Gallery thread Elootos - its helped me immensely. :smashin: What spoke to me most about this build was how he had maintained an excellent cost/performance ratio. Proving you don’t always need to spend MEGA MEGA bucks to get a very high quality finish.

There were a few significant differences that I had to accommodate. Firstly, my house is all solid brick so channeling cables was going to be a bit more of an issue. I’m also a keen console gamer which meant my 360, PS3 and Wii had to be integrated into the system. I could get my HTPC and Sky boxes up in the loft but need access to the consoles. Therefore, it made more sense to keep the amp in the lounge and drop two sources down rather than extend three up… Planned to use the existing hole in the wall and chimney as my main route to the loft and build the false chimney breast on the other wall which was a more suitable place for the LCD and screen.

Downloaded Sketchup and came up with this as somewhere to start for my 3.70m square living room:




Total cabling setup should look something like this:


And quite a large diagram of the build itself should be like:


In summary my main purchases have included:
  • Philips 32PFL9603D (replacing my 9830 – Ambilight seems to be the Marmite of the AV world, sadly I can’t get enough of it!) – Main reasons for the upgrade included Spectra 2 Ambilight, 1080P, Smaller/lighter and VESA wall mountable compared to the 9830’s proprietary bracket.
  • Optoma HD65 – Only 720p but handles 1080p well and Anibap’s pics in the discussion thread convinced me of what this little projector can do. It is a little louder than what I would have hoped for but I still think that the HD65 offers the first time projector buyer (that’s not susceptible to RBE) plenty of bang for an intro to HD home cinema.
  • Onkyo TX-SR606 (replacing my old Sony HT-DDW880) – 4 HDMI inputs, Dolby True HD/DTS HD, Upscaling all inputs to 1 HDMI with an option of throughput for audio as well (don’t really like using the 5.1 for general TV viewing)
  • Followed Elootos’ lead and went with the Mordaunt Short 5.1. Including a perfect 309i sub that I managed to get off ebay for £100 – BARGAIN! Also not sure if it’s cause we were working at similar throw distances but I couldn’t find any better option of screen than the Leader lwe5002 neither.
  • Vista Media Centre – Total out of the box function (well except for the DVD library registry edit) Not even going to worry about HD content till MS decide to build it in – which I don’t think they will for business reasons – as I want to minimise going in and out of the VMC interface. I don’t have many blu-rays anyway what I really wanted was to get the racks of DVD/CDs boxed up and out the way. Had never built a PC before so kept it simple and went for the Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-S2H as it had everything I needed on the board. Ended up with an AMD Athlon X2 5000+ and TB Samsung Spinpoint. Works a treat for what I need it to do but I’m rapidly filling up that 1TB...
  • Logitech Harmony One – Needed something that pulled all this together so that the wife and child could actually watch the tele while I wasn’t there :D
Might look at upgrading to Sky+HD in the new year... As I'm not a Sport or Movie subscriber though I need a little convincing still that the content you're getting is worth the extra money...

Lastly, one of my greatest regrets to not going down the floating wall path is the lack of some real stand out feature lighting. There will be spots in the false chimney breast but I’m currently looking at including Mitsi’s light trough idea into the design… Need to do a little more work on this yet but its looking like a go-er!

Anyway I’m going to get Christmas out the way then start works early January when many pictures and hopefully shorter posts will follow! :rotfl:
 
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kudos2

Active Member
Awesome plan there. Love the way you have pre-visualised everything. What software did you use to make the drawings?

Knowing your cable runs in advance is vital. May I suggest you get all your cables in before you start building, don't make the same mistake i did :rolleyes:

Can we have a 'before' shot of the room ?

Cheers and all the best,
Kudos
 

MitsiTurbo

Active Member
Will keep an eye on this one, I feel like its gonna be a gooden! :thumbsup:

Good to see your planning everything properly. Nothing worse than doing all the work and realising youve missed something!
 

FoooManChu

Active Member
Awesome plan there. Love the way you have pre-visualised everything. What software did you use to make the drawings?

Knowing your cable runs in advance is vital. May I suggest you get all your cables in before you start building, don't make the same mistake i did :rolleyes:

Can we have a 'before' shot of the room ?

Cheers and all the best,
Kudos
Will definitely bare that in mind :) :smashin:

As for drawings the 3D renders are in sketchup and the 2D are all illustrator. The original diagram of the build is infact a 1:1 scale front elevation but I had to shrink it down as my PC didn't have enough memory to export the jpg :D

I've got all the Christmas decs up at the mo but once they come down I will be fully documenting it from start to finish with plenty of pics ;)

Will keep an eye on this one, I feel like its gonna be a gooden! :thumbsup:
I certainly hope so fella or my missus will make sure my lifes not worth living :rotfl:
 
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FoooManChu

Active Member
LOL just reading over my first post - I can see that as I've been thinking about this for too long now as I've already started referring to it in past tense when I haven't actually done anything yet... D'oh! :rolleyes: :D
 
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imjay

Active Member
Main thing is you understand that "Cinema" requires projection to a separate large screen. So many start to create a Home Cinema and end up with a tv with external speakers - how unfortunate that stores continue to tell people that Cinema is more of a ears/hearing experience instead of a eyeball/visual experience.

720p is perfectly capable of throwing HD television images and HD cinema images - just remember that when trying to stretch a standard dvd's 480 lines or resolution to a 120 inch diagonal you need up scaling to get a near HD image. You just cannot stretch 480 lines that much and still have an enjoyable picture on the screen.

Sooner the better to get it done - we are almost two years into Cinema in the Home and I still sit in simple awe at how much better and what a different experience our 720p projector and screen bring to our home - PLUS I can sit in soft pants - pause whenever I care to - reasonably priced refreshments including adult beverages are just a few steps away and everyone with a tv takes a look and listen and they go "WOW, this is just like being at the Cinema!!"
goodluck - great looking plan.
 

Kit

Standard Member
good build foo
your projector is capable of good images especially with an upscaler dvd player im just on my third build at the mo :thumbsup: wall and screen just been plastered today!
my screen is the wall:eek: and its a whopping 12 feet long :smashin:
good luck dude and keep posting them pics!
 

FoooManChu

Active Member
I'll be using the media centre for my DVD collection. It can output 1920x1080 and the tests I've done have looked pretty sweet just on my wall - can't wait to christen the screen though*. It's nothing close to 12 feet mind (that will be something special Kit!) but should offer a good level of visual immersion for my little living room :)

* Getting Dark Knight on Blu Ray for Xmas - might save it for the inaugural viewing! ;)
 
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Kit

Standard Member
small world dude im in cheshire too :rotfl:
second day of plastering to day my vogels screen paint turned up this morning.the paint looks like a normal wall when not used but has magnetic fibres in it so when you want to watch a film you stick a magnetic border on to the wall and you have an instant screen.
most expensive paint i have ever bought hehe.
Kit
 

Kit

Standard Member
I like the 360 etc shelf built in the wall how you managing that have you built a false wall looks quiet deep :eek:
i see your thinking of having sky hd but if your not interested in Sport or Movie subscribing, why not go for the humax freesat hdr ?
mine is being delivered today :clap:
 
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FoooManChu

Active Member
Yeah thats going to be the hub for the setup in the living room. You'll see clearly when I get round to putting a few pics up that there is already an ornamental hole in the wall there - would have been the fireplace originally but it has been cladded out. The actual real chimney breast is on the other side in the kitchen and the wall is just flat in the living room.

Sadly it's not quite deep enough for the Onkyo amp so I thought of building an mdf housing that will just fit into the current hole, allowing for the cables to be fed behind it (both in from down the chimney and out to the false chimney breast/speakers/projector...

To accomodate the amp the hub will need to be about 10cm proud of the wall but I think it will make a nice feature...

With regards to the to the whole TV setup I'm still debating pros and cons... May end up running everything through the media centre. Will more than likely end up sticking an S2 video card in the PC at some point... Not quite clear in my own mind what to do but Freesat will definietly be considered :smashin:

EDIT: Its not on the Sketchup render but the hub will also be where I recess the Optiarc DVDRW as Elootos did in his chimney breast. May need to bring the spot forward 3 inches and the drive will be set parallel to the back of the hub though - about half way between the light and the back...
 
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groove

Active Member
Wooo...found your thread at last ( well you did post a link for me elsewhere so i had no excuses !! )

Cant wait to see the real work begin fella.....its gonna look ace.

With regards to your Media Centre, all you need is My Movies, I run that and it really gives a great interface for all your films. My Movies - Home

Will play almost anything when the right codecs are loaded , and a copy of daemon tools. Fantastic and free addon to media centre you really shouldnt be without.

Damn im getting really itchy about putting a PJ in now ;-)
 

FoooManChu

Active Member
Hello pal! Nice of you to stop by ;)

Took a look at my movies but think I will stick with the built in [but for some reason not activated] DVD Library. Getting in my loft isn't the easiest so maintaining stability on the PC is paramount to me to limit this to only when necessary...

Anyway getting quite anxious now as work kicks off this weekend so you can expect the first update early next week :thumbsup:
 

albriscoe

Banned
Hi Foo

looks like it gonna be quite a nice little project this and nice to think you got some inspiration from the likes of Groove and Elootos.

I`m with Groove on the My Movies plugin as it just makes everything look good and proper when the time comes to view your DVD/BD library and as you say all the friends/family who come and "have a look" are godsmacked at what they see and I love to know what they are thinking later on.

Anyway will look in from time to time so keep the updates coming thick n fast

cheers Al :smashin:
 

hpoom

Active Member
I like to look of this, thnking about something like this myself at the moment.

One think I really like in your drawings is the TV appears to be the correct hight, there are a lot of people that seam to mount TV's very high, not sure why.

Anyway my only comment would be have you though about putting the front L and R speakers in the corners of the room instead of in the false wall. I know they look nice in the false wall and I have seen many picures on here where they have done that, but if I did this I would put them in the corners of the room to widen the stereo effect. What do people think?

Keep up the good work
 

hpoom

Active Member
pushing the speakers out into the corners will alter the bass characteristics.

hi btw :hiya:
Would pushing them out really effect the bass. I have B&W 602's and the frount so if I build a false wall they would not fit in it. Would I be better to put them either side of the false wall or put them in the corners. I am favouring the idea of the corners. What do people think?
 

FoooManChu

Active Member
Haven't even started and I've had my first casualty. The light trough has had to go. Try as I may I just don't have the space above the window to fit the curtain pole and the trough allowing space at the top... Its a big window and the lintel is quite high.

Looks like the spots and the Ambilight will have to be enough to provide the feature lighting.

To Al - Thanks for stopping by! Sometimes when I'm getting worked up about what I have to do on this project I just stop by your gargantuan effort to calm myself down! ;) Cracking work! :thumbsup: I'm not taking anything away from mymovies - it looks a great little plug in. For me personally though the DVD library interface just pips it. Can't wait to start putting up the picks of it that we've all seen before on other setups but can't help but just have another look! :D

To hpoom - I'm probably the wrong guy to comment on stuff like this. For me AV is very subjective - if it works for you then go for it :smashin: If you follow this thread you're probably going to see me making a few fidelity sacrifies to stay on budget that would make the purists out there weep! :rotfl: Hopefully the end result should make up for it though.

And hello to Neil as well nice of you to stop by fella :)
 
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IWC Dopplel

Well-known Member
Any pictures of before ;-) you'll regret not taking a few to show the results of all your hard work !
 

FoooManChu

Active Member
Any pictures of before ;-) you'll regret not taking a few to show the results of all your hard work !
All kicks off tomorrow - so would expect the first run of shots up early next week ;) Might have to have a little tidy before I take the before pic :rolleyes:

On the subject of photos if anyones got any tips for taking half decent low light level shots that would be great as mine always look a little naff... :rolleyes: :)
 
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albriscoe

Banned
On the subject of photos if anyones got any tips for taking half decent low light level shots that would be great as mine always look a little naff... :rolleyes: :)
so do mine, I think its to do with iso settings and my little old kodak doesn`t seem to have any :eek:

But my nice shiny new Sony one does :smashin:
 

FoooManChu

Active Member
I hope you're enjoying the fruits of that little purchase then Al :smashin: I'm going to have to borrow my work one which I think has ISO settings...

In the meantime I got started over the weekend and soon remembered how much I hate stripping wallpaper. After nearly a day of pratting around with some useless 'active' spray on wallpaper stripper I buckled and went and bought a steamer.

Anyway I get ahead of myself! Here is how it all started:


My camera doesn't have a very wide angle so I've tried to stitch two photos together to give a greater sense of the room as it was. My personal highlights included the rats nest behind the unit, HTPC crammed behind the chair and the speakers sat on the floor (surround left firing into the sofa) - Mmmmm lovely!

So all the kit got stripped down and taken up out of harms way to the spare room:



While I got stripping!


Just went for B&Q's own brand steamer:


The first one had a dodgy pressure release valve which capped the sloooow weekend off nicely :rolleyes: No bother exchanging it today though and got another wall done tonight so should still be on track to chase in the electrics and cabling next weekend... :)
 
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FoooManChu

Active Member
Had a plasterer round last night to quote on skimming the whole room including the ceiling. He quoted £350 which was a little over what I budgeted for... Especially as I've decided to overboard the ceiling and back stud wall that leads out to the hallway for a little extra sound proofing before the room is skimmed.

Also drew the plan for the false chimney onto the wall to get a feel for the scales, TV placement etc in the real world and it seems ok. So off to Wickes (bit sad but I'm pretty impressed with their C16 studwork timber plus I have a 20% voucher at the mo) to get all the materials ordered :)
 
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FoooManChu

Active Member
Bit of a duff weekend this week as work got a little crazy. Have booked Thursday and Friday off though and have all the timber and plasterboard being delivered so should see some real progress by next Monday.

Here's a few pics of where the rooms up to anyway with the skirtings off.




You can just about see on this pic of the back wall that the pipes are along the skirting board. This has always bugged me so going to take the opportunity to chase them into the wall for a better finish.

Lastly I knocked through into the existing chimney to make sure it will be suitable to drop all the cables down from the loft - should work fine :)


Might need to fashion some form of cover for the drive and spotlight to protect them from any possible debris...
 
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FoooManChu

Active Member
Had a 4 day weekend on the lounge refit and starting to make a little progress.

First of all I set to work on those pipes. Dropped them to 10mm which allowed them to be set back into the wall, deep enough to be skimmed over.



I then started on the first run of cabling. Drilled through into the real chimney (which to my surprise shoots off at an angle to the left) and fed the speaker and HDMI cables down to the hole that I made last week.



I then took a brick out in the loft space where the Vista PC and Sky boxes will be located and taped my club hammer to some old coaxial to drop a pull line down. The metal bar in the loft shot is to just stop any cables falling back down. Especially the USB extenders which are just long enough!





After this I made a start on overboarding the ceiling and back wall. Had to draft in some help for the ceiling which was an absolute swine of a job but managed most of the back wall myself with a nice little cut to get a full panel round the door.



Hopefully should add a little more sound proofing to the room and let my better half get some kip when my xbox live comms get a little out of hand :rolleyes: :D

The weekend was cracking on and light was fading (had no proper light since overboarding the ceiling) so made a start on the frame. After yet another trip to B&Q :rolleyes: for some 100mm screws for fixing the frame to the floor and walls I started to build it up. Just finished the speaker slots before my little girl had to go to bed and, therefore, couldn't use the drop saw anymore.





Still a bit to do before Friday when I've got the plasterer booked in to skim the whole room. A few late nights lay ahead of me this week I think...
 
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