While always intriguing, one wonders if homeowners eventually tire of highly specific themed theaters. One-off theaters, like those designed by Mario Panelli Studios, never grow old. They are inviting and welcoming spaces that reflect the design and lifestyle sensibilities of the homeowner. You are wowed by the timeless beauty and fine detail, which effectively captures the homeowner’s tastes and personality.
In order to create such a personalized space, it’s necessary to develop a very close relationship with the client. “All our designs are one-of-a kind, which start with an extremely thorough client consultation,” says Aaron Clowes, CEO and Co-Founder of Mario Panelli Studios. “The client reviews 100’s of colors, patterns and textures ect. to help us determine their likes and dislikes. In this case, we discovered the homeowner liked abstract art with an affinity toward modern contemporary stylings.”
This relationship that begins with the consultation, and is carried out well beyond the completion of the project, is paramount to ensure that all aspects of the project are not only visually stunning, but that they met all the acoustical requirements needed to make the room sound as terrific as it looks.
This latest theater from MP Studios was built into a new gaming annex that was added to the backside of the property, with the theater portion being 16’ wide by 19.5’ deep. The unique ceiling concept was presented to the client as a physical scale model. Due to the level of trust developed between the client and designer, many elements were altered on-the-fly during construction without further client approval. The theater’s ceiling is a totally self-supported structure and is not connected to the actual ceiling except at the sides of the soffit.
The room design took a month to design and engineer, with another 10 months to build it out and install all the AV gear. The theater itself is independent of the other home systems, except for the smoke detector and intercom. The equipment rack is hidden behind one of the back wall sculpture panels and contains all the electronics including a NAD 775 7.1 Surround Receiver and several source devices. Axiom Speakers were used throughout with M60 V3’s used for the main left and right speakers, a VP180 for the center and QS4’s for the sides and surrounds.
The passive SVS PB13 Ultra Subwoofer coupled with it’s 1000-watt digital amp was so sensitive that even the slightest adjustment, resulted in drastic changes in the room’s sound balance. “This is where the experts at El Dorado Home Theater made such a difference in the overall performance of the room,” explains Clowes. “Without their knowledge of proper room calibration, the end result would have just been average, rather than amazing.”
The video side of the equation included the pairing of the Runco LS-5 DLP Projector and a Dalite Pro Imager screen with horizontal masking. The screen is 54”x126” and configured in the ever more popular 2:35 format.
The room was outfitted with 54 light fixtures (total of 7000 watts) using Lutron Homeworks Lighting Control system. The fixtures were grouped into 12 dimmer switches for extremely selective lighting control. Creating a more informal atmosphere, only the front row of the theater has four theater seats. The back row is essentially a wall to wall couch, for a more cozy interaction between friends and guests.
Perhaps, the biggest challenge was the entry door, which was designed to disappear when closed and there’s not even a visible handle. A sound dampening panel was hung from the inside of the door. Two lighting fixtures were added to match the other five panels on the sides of the theater. To complete the effect, a down-lit baseboard was placed at the bottom of the door, which was no easy task according to Clowes. Spring- loaded conduit was used to assure the wires would work for many years without requiring maintenance.
“Nothing in the room, including all the light fixtures were purchased out of a box”, concludes Clowes. “Everything is original and hand-made from raw materials and nothing was machine lathed. Every architectural element is a first time, one-of-a-kind design by us, including the 53-feet of down-lit baseboard. Our clients know that what we offer are the most exclusive and unique theaters in the world because each and every one of them is completely personalized.”
Photography – Joseph Ziser