Dream DIY Media Room

Shopping Guide is at the end of the post
DIY Media Room Home Theater
Before & After

The transformation of our rarely-used bonus room into a media room/home theater with 100-inch screen is complete. My goal was a Candice Olsen-style space for a lot less than she spends. I surprised my husband with an HGTV-style big reveal, and from his reaction, I knew he hadn't peeked during the 3 month reno upstairs.

Boring "before" is below...

BEFORE: We never used this upstairs bonus room

IKEA CTU lampSherwin Williams' "Toasty" flat paint warmed up the 17 x 19 foot space and made it seem even bigger. Tony Soprano and Jack Bauer "24" posters flank the 100" screen. I did all the work myself, with some heavy lifting assistance from neighbors.

For "24" fans, the desk lamp from IKEA was the official lamp of CTU and my tech hero Chloe at left.

BTW, both men and women love this room.

The Gameday setup video above shows how the Panasonic LCD projector + Stewart Firehawk screen combo allows game viewing with ambient light in the room. But also how the 1080p picture is awesome at night, when the dark room is more like a theater.

DIY Home Theater Media Room club chairsTwo colorful club chairs from Rooms To Go tie in all the colors from the posters from AllPosters.com. They're the perfect size for the space. We don't have room for theater-style recliners.

Before: Snack Bar Wall

DIY Media Room Home Theater Snack BarThe snack bar is 2 IKEA kitchen cabinets and a 15" beverage cooler. A granite remnant forms the countertop. Three puck lights above are controlled by Z-wave technology with a Harmony 890 universal remote, as is all lighting in the space. This is a retrofit anyone can do.

DIY Media Room Home Theater Snack BarMicrowave for movie popcorn. Cabinet on right conceals a trash/recycling center, & storage.

DIY Home Theater Media Room seatingLeather cube ottomans turn the sofa and chairs into recliners. We slide the club chairs over on either side of the sofa and use tray tables for drinks and snacks.

Before, DIY Home Theater Media Room
Before: My Messy Workspace

workspace in DIY Home Theater Media RoomMy workspace is still in the room, but it's neater now.

workspace in DIY Home Theater Media RoomGlass makes the workspace less visually dominant in the room. The sawhorse desk hides in the adjacent storage room, allowing a second row of seating during football games (See gameday setup video above).

workspace in DIY Home Theater Media RoomWhite IKEA cabinets provide storage and a place for the projector. Puck lights spotlight the movie posters on the picture ledge.

workspace in DIY Home Theater Media RoomIKEA's Trollsta cabinet conceals the printer, modem, router, and hard drives connected wirelessly to the Mac on the desk.

Stewart Firehawk screen in DIY Home Theater Media RoomThe gray Stewart Firehawk screen looks like a plasma TV when the projector is off. Daylight washes out the screen, so you need window coverings to maximize your picture.

A Slingbox PRO-HD lets me watch TV on my Mac or iPad. I don't run the projector while working. Replacement bulbs are pricey.

Shopping Guide
I ordered most of the items linked below from Amazon, with free 2-day shipping for Amazon Prime members. Hovering your pointer over the links should bring up details/prices. This reno was in winter 2009, so some products have been replaced by newer models, as noted. *Asterisk-marked items are no longer available.

Snack Bar:

**IKEA Ramsjo is close to the doors/panels I used, Tidaholm, which appears to have been discontinued.




  • Walls: Sherwin Williams SW6095 Toasty, flat
  • Ceiling: Sherwin Williams SW6126 Navaho White, flat
  • Woodwork: Sherwin Williams SW7008 Alabaster, high gloss
Geek Stuff

HarmonyI researched everything for weeks before making my first purchase - the projector. This helped me decide on what size screen to buy.

Room is 17 feet wide x 19 feet long. The ceiling is 10 ft high. The screen is 100" diagonal, 55 .6" high x 93.6" wide; 1.78.1 aspect ration (16:9). Mounted 29" above the floor.

The main viewing position on the sofa is 11 ft from the screen. Throw distance from projector to screen is 18 ft. A long HDMI cable runs from A/V receiver to projector on the back wall. I didn't ceiling mount the projector because we use the ceiling fan. If you stand up in front of the sofa, your shadow hits the screen by a foot, but we don't mind.

Floor is carpeted; no acoustic treatment on the walls or ceiling, but the 7.1 surround sound is great. We aren't audiophiles, so this is a fine family room system.

Some reflection, in bright scenes, off the wall of white shutters at night. For the best picture, ideally you want your entire room including trim to be painted dark, but this is not meant to be a dedicated theater.

The Harmony 890 remote controls all the A/V components and the lighting, connected via Z-Wave switches and plug-in modules. I did all the home theater wiring and the accent lighting myself. The 6 ceiling cans were already installed by the builder.


Southern Savvy said...

Fabulous job! If I was your neighbor I'd have to always think of excuses to come visit you when my favorite shows are on! :) Your room is a great inspiration!

Desiree said...

Hi Mary Kay!
Good to see you again...and WOW! great job on the media room! I thought about you today and typed in your blog address...you did not come up. I decided to go to RMS and type in Marykay...and there you were with a new post two hours ago! We must be on the same wavelength!
Anyway, great job on your room, I bet you really enjoy it.
Keep showing us your great do it yourself projects!

pattylh said...

Southern Savvy - I am the neighbor and love the room. We've watched our beloved NY Giants, 24, American Idol, movies, etc.

My friend is truly talented!!!!!

Lynda said...

Worth the wait, for sure (I've been waiting for the reveal since March)!
You're my hero; I don't even know what all that stuff is, let alone how to buy or install it!

Just amazing!

JeanetteS said...

You've been working hard! What a marvelous job you've done. We have the same logitech universal remote but have yet to activate it. I'm now motivated to do so.

And I'd love to have Apple TV in my craft room.

I'm truly inspired by your project. Outstanding!!

nicolette said...

Great work. If you take away the color, the decor, you have most people's house. But once you put it in, it creates a totally different atmosphere.


Rod said...

I love your sense of style, you created a theatre within a living room enviroment. It's alot harder to design a theatre within a living room. You have to think of creative ways to deal with obstacles such as windows, projector placement , speaker placement of surrounds. You have given me inspiration to create my own theatre based on your ideas. The projection on top of the ikea besta cabinet hidden between the plants is pure genius. I have to ask, where did you get the faux marble pillar columns ?

Mandy said...

wow, You got the same projector I want. You really went all out on the screen, that's a real pricey high quality one.

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