Refined Elegance in Essex

L

largechris

Guest
(I've taken an executive decision that there wasn't that much DIY in this project, no false walls etc. so although I've posted some info below I thought the gallery section of the forum was more appropriate)

Having lived in Hertfordshire most of my life I've just moved to Essex and taken some of that acquired taste and style with me.
The day after we moved I took sole possession of the lounge, locking the door and telling the wife I was doing some, er, decorating. The room measures 4.7 x 3.6m with a fireplace in one long wall and patio doors in the short wall opposite the room entrance.
Maybe this doesn't look like a very promising room, the colour scheme as you can see is very dodgy with dark green lower walls separated by a wood dado rail from white upper walls, with a light green carpet. I knew that I wanted to use the main end wall at the opposite end to the patio doors for the screen, rather than the previous owners who used a traditional spot left of the (working) gas fireplace.

First up was fitting the tv wall bracket, a quick study of amazon produced a simple slim line model. Wall construction turned out to be plasterboard over block work, so although the original length bolts would have worked I went for the nuclear option and purchased bolts 30mm longer. No way is that bracket coming off, and it will accommodate a larger screen in future.
Predictable problem in that a spirit level showed the wall to not be straight and level, and visually this would be accentuated by the dado rail I didn't want to remove, so I ended up aligning to the wall rather than true.
I could have removed a screen sized section of plasterboard to recess the whole thing a little, but I wouldn't have gained much with a 46 inch screen at a fairly reasonable viewing distance of 12ft already. I was also a bit worried about access to the switches on top of the Sony tv, looked like the sort of job which could easily be botched so I left it. If I ever upgrade the screen size or get a projector screen then I can still take this option.

The speaker package are the 2005.3 Kef eggs, I did have a look at the same price Mission speakers, but I think the Kefs are as good looking a set as is reasonably possible, so for reasons of style over substance that was my choice. I found the wall hanging for the kefs questionable, in that you are only hooking the base over screw heads, rather than being able to tighten the screws down. They are thus far too easy to knock off, and the centre speaker stand design doesn't work either because the weight acts off centre of the base and causes the speaker to droop - I solved this with a cable tie behind the base to hold some tension in the speaker wires, a quick solution but a better design wouldn't require this.
Thus a couple of minor irritations with these Kefs, but they look and sound great, and I don't really see anything comparable in the market. It is quite a wide wall so I have a good separation left to right and the centre speaker sits just under the screen. Rear speakers are out of the way high up to the sides of the patio doors.

I started off with d line trunking everywhere. I have no complaints with d line, it is really quick and neat to do, and when the room is painted it would have looked better, but I then decided to have a go chasing cables behind the plasterboard instead. Tricky and required holes drilled every 500mm or so, but eventually using a wire coat hanger I succeeded In getting all the front cables hidden. I then used a single strip of trunking running along the skirting board to neaten things up for the cables that were then to be fed under the new wooden floor. When it was all painted it was difficult to spot
Sony had managed to deliver a broken tv first time round, so that caused a delay, and I'm not impressed that they only supply a 2m mains cable with their bravia sets. That and the general flimsy feeling build quality was a bit of a let down as well. I can just about get away with the 2m cable length by positioning the smoothing socket behind the sub woofer in the right hand corner. All the rest of the cables from the front wall gather here before going under the floor.

I spent ages looking for AV racks and nearly brought a neat wall mounted tiered shelf arrangement, but at this point my other half got involved and we've got a nice mahogany glass fronted cabinet instead. It is positioned midway along the long wall, so as to keep the screen wall clean and simple looking, but still works fine for the remotes from the sitting positions.

Amplifier is the Denon AV1909 brought in a reasonably priced package with the Kefs, plus Sky HD and a Panasonic BD35 blue ray player.
Having previously owned a chunky, slow and ultimately unreliable Panasonic DVD-RAM player I'm pleasantly surprised with the BD35, quick to fire up, very slim, handles all formats and a simple set of connections.
I suppose with both this and the 1909 a more exciting display (like OLED for example) would look better, and as others have said the onscreen menus for the 1909 look 20 years out of date. Interconnects won't please the purists, decent thick unbranded speaker wire, short unbranded HDMIs, and a shielded subwoofer cable. Still trying to get the optical out working on the Sky HD into the 1909 to get DD, just a setup issue I think.

Seems like ceiling mounted halogen down lighters are popular on projects, I've got them elsewhere in the house but I didn't really fancy them in this room. I feel they generate a lot of heat, can be harsh and aren't very efficient. I might go for some low Wattage lighters in future, in particular when there are some more LED developments released

The room originally had some unusual wall lights (painted, like everything else, dark green), so we had a go at repainting these in the wall colour and I think they work very well.
The whole room has been redecorated and floored with solid oak, all the cables hidden underneath. A few finishing touches and we're good to go (before and after):
 

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