Listening room, before HT conversion. I was too stupid to take a long shot of the whole room.
Home theater room, after conversion.
What changed my outlook on HT was experiencing front projection first-hand. Once I'd seen it, I decided front projection is the only way to do true HT. I know it's been around for a while but I had totally ignored it. Now that it's affordable (a good projector doesn't cost any more than a big-screen HDTV), if you have the appropriate room, there's little reason not to go with projection.
I decided that the time was now to have a nice movie viewing environment. It was not a priority at all for me to have a true, full-on home theater with columns and stepped theater seating, etc. As a matter of fact, my setup is more like a very nice listening room/den that happens to have a big screen that you can pull down to watch movies, than a theater. The equipment is right out in the open, rather than hidden as in many installations. It's pretty much a geek's setup, and that's fine by me (since I'm a geek). However, I did set myself goals to hide all the surround wiring to maintain a neat appearance in the room, and to paint the room for better movie viewing (plus, it needed painting anyway).
Hiding the wires turned out to be the hardest and longest-running part of the project. I don't regret the solution I chose (WireTracks), but I sure wish I'd had some of the techniques and tools figured out before starting work. Maybe you'll learn something from my experiences.
Unfortunately, there was really only one way to organize the room, due to there being three doors on the right side of the room, with the attending traffic-flow requirements. Therefore, the front wall was pretty much set. A major problem is that the front wall is relatively narrow (just over 10ft), which affected my ability to place speakers optimally, and limited the maximum size of my screen, as well.
The front wall also features a typical high-placed basement window, when a blank wall is a much better "canvas" on which to work. My original, planned, solution to this problem was to install a fixed screen positioned just high enough to completely occlude the window. Upon further reflection, I decided to go with a pulldown screen. The pulldown screen allowed me to achieve a number of goals (some were more important than others):
There are three doors on the right side of the room. The CATV cable comes in from between the back two doors, and needs to be routed to where the equipment is installed (my previous hack was to just route it around the two front doors with cable staples).
On the plus side, the room is very long, so reflections from the rear aren't too bad a problem. Also, the room is in a basement with only two small windows, so light control is not a problem.
Dimensioned drawing of room and planned locations of equipment.
(not exactly to scale)
The diagram shows, in a very schematic fashion, the shape of the room and where equipment was placed.
Equipment snobs (I'm in recovery) go here: http://www.theaudiocritic.com/cwo/Our_Philosophy/
The painting was done to control light, as well. The room was originally painted a stark white, which would have let too much light bounce around. The new gray color, while not really that dark, does result in a much darker room with the lights off. I chose a flat finish rather than a matte finish, to further control ambient light.
I left the ceiling white, and this has not caused a noticeable problem.