In time for NCAA tournament, rooms with a view — of the big-screen TV

Some Central Kentuckians have created high-tech entertainment centers

ssloan@herald-leader.comMarch 16, 2012 

  • TIPS FOR DESIGNING A PERFECT HOME THEATER

    Mark Profitt, co-owner of Audio/Video Interior Design, or AVID, of Lexington, offered these tips for families interested in adding a home theater room to their homes.

    Details, details: Every home theater installation is one of a kind, because each is optimized based on numerous variables. From factors like the layout and design of the space to the smaller details, including seamless integration of speakers, components and wiring into the room, nothing is left to chance.

    Top of the line: For the true media enthusiast, a custom home theater is the premier option. It adds a unique element to any home. For homes that do not have a dedicated space for a true home theater or media room, an audio/video specialist can work with you to create an exceptional entertainment experience in a family or rec room.

    Think before you buy: There are nearly endless arrays of options, levels of integration and pricing when designing a home theater or family room. Before committing to a custom installation, spend some time considering your goals for your particular room. Are you converting an already finished, frequently used room for home theater use, or are you starting from scratch with a basement or empty room? Do you plan to use the room primarily for watching movies, or will the space need to facilitate multiple media uses, such as gaming or listening to music?

    In an existing family room, you must consider that the space might have other activities going on while the audio/video system is in use. With today's open floor plans, attention must be given to how the audio will carry throughout the home.

    Consult a professional: Once you have decided how your new home theater or family room will be used, it's time to consult a professional. An audio/video specialist will work with you on all aspects of the system and the environment. He or she will work closely with you in the selection of seating, lighting and room layout — and, of course, the components that will make up your system.

    Choosing components: The electronic systems are typically made up of separate components that run through a processor or receiver that delivers video and audio signals to a projector or TV and speakers. The number, type, placement and cost of these units and associated hardware are almost infinite. A specialist will be able to help you decide which products work well together and are right for your application and budget. A crucial piece of the puzzle is the remote control. There are many options today for remote controls, from traditional handheld remotes to iPads, iPhones and other dedicated touchscreens. Making your system reliable and user-friendly is important in ensuring that your overall experience is simple and enjoyable.

    SCOTT SLOAN

It's March Madness, and that means televisions across the Bluegrass State are tuned to basketball. Some people are low-key about their entertainment setups, but others invest heavily in making sure their home entertainment system is professional.

The Herald-Leader recently spoke to three area residents who have spent plenty of time and money to make their homes into entertainment hubs.

Partying at the Cats' lair

Tim Smith's first party in his basement-turned-entertainment area couldn't have come at a worse time.

The Wildcats fan and his wife moved into their new home on the Tuesday before the UK men's team played Connecticut in last year's Final Four.

"Of course, we lost that game," Smith said. "I have a couple of friends who joked they were never coming back to my house."

But the array of cool electronics would change the mind of even the most superstitious UK fan. A projector with a 120-inch screen — yes, that's 10 feet — and surround sound. Check. Apple TV. Check. Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and Wii video game consoles. Check, check and check.

"I wanted to go for the 150-inch screen, but my wife talked me out of that," said Smith, who works in medical billing.

The electronics are the highlight of a wide-open basement that includes a table for eating and playing cards, a small kitchenette, a couch and four theater-style chairs. There's also a 46-inch Samsung television in a corner.

"It's been a great place to entertain people and watch UK play," Smith said.

And controlling all the devices is a snap with the system that Lexington firm Barney Miller's installed.

"It's a home automation system that controls everything, and I can control it from my iPad or iPhone," Smith said. "That feature is really nice."

Donny Allan, a Barney Miller's sales consultant who worked with Smith, said the easy controls are a highlight of the room.

"It's a really cool multi-purpose system," Allan said.

All the cables are concealed but accessible underneath the basement stairs. Smith planned that out with Barney Miller's.

In total, Smith estimated that he spent less than $10,000 on the electronics. He already owned some items and did some of the work himself.

"I was a media major and went to Asbury," he said. "I guess I'm a little bit addicted to technology."

Family room for movies

When Shelly Ross and her husband, Terence, began building a house two years ago, they discussed their entertainment goals from the start.

"We didn't want our theater room to be in the basement, because we thought we wouldn't use it as much," Shelly Ross said.

As the cardiologist and the stay-at-home mom designed their new home with Jimmy Nash Homes, they knew they wanted the room to be attractive and accessible to them and their children.

"Our goal for that room was solely to have a very comfortable, warm, cozy TV room that was equipped when we wanted to do movies," she said.

The couple turned to Mark Profitt and Chris Greene, co-owners of Audio/Video Interior Design, or AVID, of Lexington.

AVID, which has been in business more than two decades, installed a 125-inch Sony projector system with 7.1-speaker surround sound, all flushed into custom cabinets, Profitt said.

The media system cost about $20,000, Profitt said.

The room is accented by lit columns, and the cabling for the components is accessible via a closet in the basement.

A touch-screen remote automates everything for the family, including the lighting.

"It really makes a room like that, that could be very complicated, into something very user-friendly," Profitt said.

Florida in the Bluegrass State

When Rich Ord was building a pool house a few years ago, he was thinking of a resort-style look.

"We were going for an open feel. ... The custom-made doors and windows all open up 100 percent," he said. "It's an indoor/outdoor room in the summer, and then we close it up at night.

"You feel like you're someplace in Florida."

Inside the open plan is a 65-inch television, video game systems and a surround sound setup with "numerous, numerous" zones to customize where music can be heard, he said.

"Mostly it's used for social gatherings," said Ord, who owns iEntry, an online business-to-business publisher. "Occasionally, we've had fund-raisers."

He estimated that the electronics for the setup cost $60,000 to $80,000. They were installed by AVID.

"It's an architectural system, meaning it's all built in," Profitt said. "There is lots of glass and other areas where you don't want the speakers setting out.

"It's really cool."

Scott Sloan: (859) 231-1447. Twitter: @HeraldLeaderBiz.

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