HGTV’s Million Dollar Rooms recently featured home-theater-design Jedi Theo Kalomirakis showing off one of his classic designs, The Ziegfeld. The entire 3,000-square-foot theater space was, of course, gorgeous, with a nearly six-figure custom-made neon and fiber-optic marquee, custom carpeting costing more than most people’s cars, and custom woodworking costing more than most people’s homes. And all of that design was meant to lead people into a gorgeous theater space driven by $600K worth of the highest-end electronics. (You can read my interview with Theo here. We spoke at length about his love of movies and design.)
If you’ve got the room in your house and a couple extra mill you just can’t figure out what to do with, then by all means hire Theo to handle your design! You’ll end up with an incredible theater that will be magazine and TV worthy in every regard and feel like magic every time you step through the doors and into the lobby.
But, for those of us who aren’t tripping over the stacks of gold bullion lying around, there are a few things you can do to make your home theater system look and sound more like a million bucks, all of which can easily be done for well under $10,000.
GO BIG AND WIDE
When people tell me they have a home theater and then tell me the centerpiece of their setup is a 42-inch TV, I die a little inside. I’d almost rather you just took out a white glove and slapped me with it.
“Home theater” used to mean something special, like the media palaces Theo builds. Of course, beyond the grandeur of hand-applied platinum leaf and custom millwork, a large part of the cinematic experience is a big, engrossing picture—and the best way to experience that at home is with a front-projection system.
Projectors used to be big, bulky, finicky, light-anemic, and expensive. But technology has improved to the point that Optoma, JVC, Sony, and Epson all make terrific, full-1080p HD projectors that can be had for prices starting around $1,000. Pair the projector with a decent screen and you can create a 100-plus-inch video experience for under $2,000. Increase your budget a bit—the cream of the crop is in the $5,000 to $8,000 range—and you can get a projector with lens memory that automatically zooms/focuses/aligns the image so you can enjoy widescreen movies the way they’re supposed to be seen…larger! (To read more about viewing widescreen, anamorphic movies at home, check out my blog on the subject.) I remember Theo saying in our interview that movie like Star Wars should not be smaller than a movie like Dude, Where’s My Car? If you can argue with that logic, then I’ve got a white glove I want to show you…
Want to add a Theo K touch to your room? Install a motorized curtain in front of your projection screen. The closed curtain creates drama and allows for a cinematic reveal as the movie begins.