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Doing up the Sitting Room & a DIY Pelmet

sjackson

Well-known Member
OK I thought I'd record the progress of doing up my sitting room including a pictorial of the DIY pelmet I'm building as there's lots of before and after photos of pelmets but very few during construction.

I'd say I'm a 'lite' DIYer - I'll give anything a go and always learn on the job. Sometimes things work and sometimes they don't....

We renovated our current house between November 2013 and March 2014 when we moved in. Every room got painted white so we could grow into the house before proper decorating. The sitting room is around 14ft by 20ft so a good size. I have a Draper Linea Screen being projected upon by a Sony HW40. The AVR is a Yamaha 3040 with Monitor Audio Apex speakers.

Most of the kit I got between September and December 2014 and so in the rush up to Christmas I more or less threw it together so we'd have the use over the holiday period. Now is time to sort out the sitting room.

A couple of photos of when I quickly put the gear together in the run up to Christmas.





So first up I'm going to build the pelmet around the room apart from above the fireplace. The pelmet will house the projector, screen, 6 x Philips Hue GU10 bulbs and 4 x Monitor Audio CT265-IDC speakers for Dolby Atmos. Below is a Sketchup of what I think (hope) the pelmet will look like



I'll divide the DIY pelmet into three parts.

1. Rear frame
2. Front frame
3. Wrapping

At this stage I'm not sure how I'm going to wrap/cover the frame. Initially I was going to use MDF but I'm starting to veer away from that now. Obviously the best finish would be plasterboard and a 3mm skim but due to cost I think I'll give that a miss. My current thinking is 12mm pine board.

More to follow.....
 

sjackson

Well-known Member
OK so I've started and figured it would be time to update this thread with my progress. At this stage I've made a small change in that I don't think I'm going to build the pelmet part between the alcove and the front. Essentially the part at the top right of the Sketchup that had the two Philips Hue bulbs. I may come back to it at a later date. I'll also not put in the part between the chimney breast and the front.

As for finishing I'm definitely going to wrap the front (screen) part in 18mm MDF for ease and the fact I can take it apart if need be. The main part housing the projector and speakers is still up for debate. I'm thinking 12mm MDF but the wife want's it slabbed and plastered.

One thing I've really noticed is the walls and ceiling are all over the place. Theres a couple of cm height difference over 3m on the ceiling and I'm not sure any wall is at 90 degrees to another. So lots of spirit level use and guess work!

All frame timber is 44mm x 44mm as it's the only size I could find in my local builders providers which came in 4m lengths. One thing I would say is that I think this is a two person job. As I'm doing it alone it's taking far longer than I thought it would.

So first up is building the rear frame. I started above the curtains as I knew this one area dictated everything in regards the height of the pelmet. I had to go above the curtains but below the plugs. In hindsight I probably should have raised the plugs up 6 inches.



You'll see in the left and right corners of the alcove I have a couple of holes where I ran speaker cable to during the house renovation last year. This cable will be pulled up to power the TR Atmos speakers. Also in the above photo you can see the black Monitor Audio RXFX speaker. That speaker cable and the matching one on the right hand side will be pulled up to power the TF Atmos speakers. I'll then channel down the wall a bit further back and lower for the side surround speakers.

In the below photo you can see where the projector was hung from the ceiling and the plugs / CAT6 just behind it. Spirit level getting lots of use....



Below, to get the baton level on the right wall I used some support timber. Using a lot of things like this to level things as cannot take any measurements from the ceiling. I've also cut a channel out of the piece of wood to the right of the plugs as I'm planning to run a few HDMI cables up there, CAT6 for external CCTV cameras and things like that.

That plug hanging down and white telephone cable is the 12v trigger for my projector screen.

 

sjackson

Well-known Member
The next job was find a joist and attach a frame to it. From here a lot of the structural work around the rear frame will be based.



With the joist matching frame batons up I temporarily added another one as a guide. This is where the front of the pelmet will be and it's a perfect distance from the projector screen (according to the Projector Central calculator).



Next I built one of my forward frames which will be the right hand side of the projector opening.



Followed by the one that'll be the left side of the projector opening.



It's around 60cm wide so should be big enough to accommodate most projectors.

It's also not very accurate. The bottom of the right side is about 1cm higher than the left so I'll need to sort that somehow.
 

sjackson

Well-known Member
Before I go any further I had to make absolutely sure the projector was at the correct distance from the screen and also that the right side of the pelmet wouldn't block the beam.



I'm delighted to say it's perfect if a little wonky (due to the right frame being a bit too high). The projector itself will sit a little lower eventually.

Next built a further frame to the left of the projector



And then a longer frame piece that will be wrapped and hold speakers and lights



Matching right hand side frame



And then the frame at the front to finish it off.

 

sjackson

Well-known Member
Ok so the bulk of the work as been done at the back so I'm going to do some work at the front.

First job is to find the joist and run a baton along it. I'll be adding a second baton to the front of this "joist baton" to give me another 44mm of space from the front of the pelmet to the wall.



You can see all the holes in the wall that held my top height Monitor Audio Apex speakers and the original heavy duty shelf bracket that held up the screen. Also the speaker cable outlet which I'll need to raise up a foot or so.

Below you'll more or less see all the same holes on the left as on the right. Here I have a problem plug which in contrast to the rear of the room, I'll actually raise 6 inches.



Plug raised and filled with expanding foam. Also speaker cable exit raised and filled also. Pencil marks on the ceiling represent the screen mounting location.



While I have the can of expanding foam out I might as well do the other speaker exit holes



As you can imagine this work is taking me an age. So much so that all the framing timber I bought is warping in the garage as it's too long to lay flat.

I'm hoping the below will "un-warp" it.... Cut to length and clamped to a straight piece in the hope the warped length will straighten. Also this is where the second piece will be screwed to give me more distance to the front wall and make the pelmet 44mm deeper.

But for now I need the straight lengths so I'll come back and add that piece permanently.



Last photo for now. Excess expanding foam cut and some Polyfilla over it ready to sand.

 

KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
Good to see some progress. I'll be following this with great interest as I plan to do some thing similar myself, but will have to wait until we have some messy building work done first (French doors).

Re the finish; you could cover it with MDF first and try painting it as we discussed in another thread. If it doesn't work out then just stick the plasterboard on top of the MDF with liquid nails/plasterboard screws, then get it skimmed.
 

sjackson

Well-known Member
Re the finish; you could cover it with MDF first and try painting it as we discussed in another thread. If it doesn't work out then just stick the plasterboard on top of the MDF with liquid nails/plasterboard screws, then get it skimmed.
It would be possible to do that around most of the pelmet except for the part on the left hand side that meets the chimney breast. Plasterboard on top of MDF would make the pelmet around 12mm (inc a 3mm skim) wider than the chimney breast so I'd have to strip the MDF first.

Still an option though :thumbsup:
 

sjackson

Well-known Member
So not much progress since the last instalment. I've been mainly concentrating on getting the front lower pelmet on-wall support up but it turns out my front walls are made of chocolate. As with the on-wall supports around the rest of the room I've been using 8mm x 100mm frame fixing screws (it's a 6mm x 100mm screw inside an 8mm wall plug). These have been sufficient for all the others but not up front as they started spinning in the holes. I took out the screws and tried 6mm x 120mm coach screws but with the same result. Finally I went and bought some 10mm x 135mm frame fixing screws and they seem to have done the job.

The lower wall support is now up and holding.





And finally for today I started preparing my screen support bars. With my walls and ceiling so uneven I couldn't trust either to attach the screen flush to. My solution is to fix two bars, one at either end of the screen, between two joists in the hope that the joists are all parallel to one another. The bars will be attached to the joists with 10mm x 160mm coach screws and will hang down from the ceiling around 50mm. With this solution and using a spirit level I can ensure that the screen is level on two axis. So if the ceiling on the left of the screen is 10mm lower than the right, I can adjust the two right coach screws to level the screen. Likewise if there's a slight difference in height between the two joists I can adjust either of the coach screws on a particular bar to level it off. So essentially I have 4 points on the screen where I can adjust to get a perfect level.

That's the theory anyway.....

So here's the two bars ready to go and already you can see that the screen left hand bar (on the right below) is 30mm longer than the screen right side - shows how off the wall is compared to the joist.



I'm a bit suspicious as 30mm seems an awful lot for the wall to be off so if it looks wrong I'll just put another hole in one of the bars. The bar itself is 30mm x 6mm rolled steel from B&Q. Cost around €9.
 

Picko

Novice Member
Hello SJ,
Looks like you are working around the problems really well and not getting stumped. It's really useful for me to see the level of detail you are posting in your pictures for the pelmet.
Good luck with everything mate!
Steve
 

sjackson

Well-known Member
Yes I'm getting there and encountering problems along the way. I tend to try and think 3 or 4 steps in advance but when I hit and issue I sit on the couch and stare at the pelmet/issue until I have a couple of solutions and then see which one is best. Working so far!

I'm getting close to the point where I'm going to put the screen back up but this is going to be the difficult part. With the idea of the two bars I'll need to be almost mm perfect when installing them. Also my joists are not that thick, maybe 30mm so I need to be quite accurate to get the 10mm coach screws centred.
 

sjackson

Well-known Member
Are you using a device to find the center of the joists?
Unfortunately I don't trust any electronic device to find the joists - I've tried some and read reviews of others but none made me comfortable enough.

What I am using is one of these and they are brilliant
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hanson-03040-Magnetic-Stud-Finder/dp/B000IKK0OI/

It's a really powerful magnet that sticks to points in the ceiling where there are metal screws. So I'm finding the screws holding the plasterboard up and then a few small pilot holes either side to detect where the joist starts and ends. In a few places I've put a 20mm hole on the inside pelmet side of the joist to get my finger up there and feel where the joist is.

It's a brilliant little tool and the kids are amazed when I can magically make it stick to the wall or ceiling. Put it on a radiator and it's hard enough to remove with the strength of the magnets.
 

Yaka

Active Member
Ah I have that as well found it handy when putting shelves up. will be putting a pelmet up at some point and your pilot hope ideas makes sense
 

sjackson

Well-known Member
Yes the pilot holes do the job as they won't be seen inside the pelmet and on the other side the wood should be covering them.
 

sjackson

Well-known Member
So today I got the first (right hand side) screen support bar up. I think I hit the front joist pretty bang on but I had to go at and angle to hit the rear as it's quite far back. It seems pretty solid and I put a lot of my own weight on the bar and it held. I think the screen is around 38kgs so really each bolt only needs to take 10kgs which is nothing for a 10mm x 160mm coach screw.

I put two 20mm holes in the ceiling so I could feel where the joists were with my finger.



Level enough for now. I'll level everything off once the screen is up.



That was the easy bar to put up. Next I need to measure the exact distance to the millimetre between the mounting holes on the screen to make sure everything lines up. I don't think it's going to be an easy task.
 

sjackson

Well-known Member
Great day today as the screen has gone back up and it's holding. I expect the bolts should be fine so hoping I don't hear a big bang at 3am!

At this stage I've just put it up and tested up/down. I'll do some levelling this evening once the kids are gone to bed.

Next I'll put the lower front frame on and get my two sheets of 18mm MDF to wrap it.





Here you can see some extra holes in the corner, one of which goes right through. This is where I'll run my CAT6 for an external CCTV camera. I might run an extra couple of CAT6 cables to the pelmet should I need them. I don't think there's any point running any speaker cable to the pelmet as I already have cables for height left/right & centre.





I'm happy with today's progress as getting the screen back up was a big step.
 
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KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
Looking good already. :) I don't think you'll hear any bangs at 3am as it all looks to be fixed in place securely. Is that a ReAct screen you have? I can see that it's 2.35/2.40:1 (unless the camera is playing tricks). How do you plan to switch between aspect ratios; lens memory, scaler and/or A-lens?
 

sjackson

Well-known Member
Yes correct it's a 130" or so ReAct 2.1, 2.35:1.

The majority of my personal viewing is almost always within the scope of the screen apart from when we're watching big budget, multi-gigabyte TV shows (anything not in good quality gets watched on the TV). So the only time it's an issue really is when we're watching TV. In that case the picture overflows top and bottom of the screen and tbh it doesn't bother us at all. Admittedly the kids TV and older movies are nearly all 16:9 so the picture again overflows but they are so much in awe of the massive screen they don't notice it at all.

The projector is a HW40 so does not have a motorised lens and I've not really investigated the other options available as I'm not too pushed.

All that said though I do have this screen advertised in the classifieds as I have a chance to buy the same screen in 16:9. While the 2.35:1 doesn't bother us, if I can change the screen within budget then I will. But I have to say I will miss the 2.35:1 borders as they really frame a movie.
 

KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
I wouldn't be without a 2.35:1 screen now myself after 5-6 years with one, though I did make up some black velvet side panels for when I watch 16:9 content (mostly concerts). I just like the image being crisply framed.

I very nearly bought a ReAct myself (or rather I was going to demo one with a view to buy) but I've found out that I can buy a retractable AT screen. I'm going to improve my room with motorised black velvet side curtains and an AT screen instead, plus I can raise my speakers a bit higher than they currently are. I think my JVC might struggle with a big ReAct (current screen is 1.3 gain 112" wide), but it should be OK with the AT screen.
 

sjackson

Well-known Member
Yes I think an AT screen would work well in your room especially as you can move the speakers up a bit. I presume you'll be able to fully black out the windows so no light is getting through the screen?

I think you have an X500 now, correct? I bought this screen off AidenL and he was using an X500 with it - the picture was spectacular, even without the room fully darkened. So perhaps your projector could handle the bigger screen.

I agree with having the picture nicely framed as I think it adds something to the movie. Maybe if my screen doesn't sell I should look into other options but whatever solution I go for must be automated. I want everything as user friendly as possible and hence I have two media players - a Mede8er for the wife to use and a KODI machine for myself.

I must actually look to get more concerts as they can sound amazing when done right. Although not a fan of the band, ACDC in Buenos Aires sounds amazing and usually the first disc I put in after a speaker change.
 

KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
Yes, I've already got black out curtains behind the screen, though they will be replaced with new ones as we're adding French doors so they'll need black out curtains too. It is the X500 I'm running. I know it could handle a bigger screen at the same gain (or perhaps just a little bigger at lower gain) since I run in low lamp and I'm only at -7 aperture after 250+ hours on the lamp, so I think it is stable now. I could run in high lamp if I needed to as it's far enough behind me for the noise not to be a problem.

I really enjoy concerts on my system. We usually watch Glastonbury on the projector and other outside broadcasts (though we're slumming it in the conservatory this year on the 'screen 2' system. :)

The Lumagen can be set to automatically change aspect ratio based in the incoming signal, though you lose resolution for 'shrunk' 16:9 content (it is effectively 1280 x 810 with black bars all round, but the top and bottom are off your screen of course). You might find a used Mini3D for under £500 which will do this (and a much better calibration of your projector than the built in controls allow). However I'd have thought that there would be PC based options too, just that I tired of fiddling about with the HTPC, perhaps they've improved these days (and I don't work with them during theday either now which helps).
 

AidenL

Well-known Member
Great work Sacha, you are a handy man with a saw!

That will be super when finished, have to say is live to be able to tackle that kind of project myself, but I don't have the skills.

I'll watch with interest!
 

sjackson

Well-known Member
Great work Sacha, you are a handy man with a saw!

That will be super when finished, have to say is live to be able to tackle that kind of project myself, but I don't have the skills.

I'll watch with interest!
No skills here! I've never done any woodwork in school and as you know I'm a keyboard warrior by trade so have no experience building things really. I just give it a bash and over-engineer where possible (and of course YouTube helps).

As long as you have good tools, you're set. I had to buy a powered mitre/chop saw recently as I can't even cut a 2x2 square by hand.
 

sjackson

Well-known Member
@KelvinS1965 Is something like a Mini3D my only option down the line should I decide to shrink the 16:9 picture down to fit on my 2.35:1 screen? It's not something I'm thinking about right now but maybe in a year or so.
 

KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
It's the cheapest option, but TBH if you're going to wait a year or so then it's debatable whether you spend too much on a 1080p processor (though perhaps the prices will fall further?). You can buy a DVDO Edge, but I don't think they do the shrink function with a much control to the exact size of the image, plus support from DVDO is very poor in my experience.
 

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