September 17, 2009 | by Arlen Schweiger

The leftover theater room from previous homeowners didn’t suffice, so it got a high-performance makeover.

After purchasing their beautiful new home, these owners realized their it had everything they wanted—except the theater room that was advertised on the sale sheet. Not happy with the work done by the company hired by the previous owners, it was time for the room to receive a facelift.

That would come courtesy of Onalaska, Wis.-based Audio Video Pros (and a little help from their woodworking friends), after owner Heath DeBernardi met the couple during a local Parade of Homes Tour.

DeBernardi says he asked the homeowners, “What about your current room would you like to change?” The reply said all he needed to know about where to start on the makeover. “It’s just really hard to understand what’s being said, the subwoofer is really boomy, the room has a lot of echo and we can see the heads of the people sitting in the front row of seats.”

AVP began re-building the theater by removed the entire existing system from the room. “The room had good bones,” says DeBernardi.

Tony Szak, owner of Empire Development and Construction, Onalaska Wis., was hired to give the room a much-needed aesthetic facelift, DeBernardi adds. “Since Tony has a custom wood shop, he fabricated, installed and painted the chair rail and raised panels now added between each of the wall columns. Custom-made acoustic panels occupy each of the locations above Tony’s new workwork. The original panel design called for a diamond in the center of each panel. Johannes Lemus, our installation manager, suggested that an off-set elongated diamond shape may be more unique and appealing. Upon showing the homeowners the new design they agreed.”

With the room’s decor and acoustics in tow, attention turned to the video quality. A 1080p projector from Epson was matched to a 106-inch acoustically transparent screen from Screen Excellence. AVP had Realwood Products of La Crosse, Wis., custom build the frame.

Other than the projector, none of the equipment in the room is visible, DeBernardi explains. The left and right speakers are concealed behind grille cloth in the woodwork, and the center channel is behind the screen to better present movie dialogue. All nine theater speakers are THX-certified Atlantic Technology models.

AVP added 4 inches of height and 12 inches of depth to seating riser so people sitting in the second row had better sight lines, DeBernardi says. A Furman surge/power conditioner protect the Integra THX Ultra2 Home Theater receiver, Integra Blu-ray disc player and DirecTV DVR. Meanwhile, the beautiful glow from the ceiling comes from the iSky fiber-optic drop-in ceiling tiles—they are made out of 2-inch acoustic material they add to the overall sound quality of the room.

True one-touch control over the entire system is handled by a Universal Remote Control MX-3000 Theater Master touchscreen remote. Overall the facelift was quite a success, notes DeBernardi: “While the original room may have changed, the owners’ new home theater ended up with a space that was far more enjoyable and simple to operate than they had ever imagined.”