I have recently finished my winter long project of renovating my basement into a theater room and though I would share in case it may inspire some ideas for any of your. Feel free to message me with any how-to questions. Just a side note, there are a lot of guides out there on how to build a room to bring out the best image quality or acoustics - this is not one of them, it is just a journal of what I did. It was just a low budget in-house project I did with the help of my girlfriend to paint and plaster and my dad to help with the electrical. The total budget for this project was under a grand (not including the projector) and was meant to be something I could throw $20-50 at here and there, over the course of the long winter.
Some before shots of the basement. At this point all I have done is moved the projector from sitting on top the dogs kennel behind the couch to mounting in on the ceiling, I have also out down 1-3 coats of primer on the projector surface wall and installed black out blinds on the basement's egress window. In this current setup, the Nintendo switch is sitting on a cart out of frame connected by a rather long HDMI cable, and my streaming is being done through a Roku stick plugged directly into the projector. Some other notes, the dry wall had been put up by the previous owners. Also, note the large gap in the far wall between the edge of the basement and the bathroom, this gap was not flush and would not be able to fit a door in it. Through the gap is the water heater for the bathroom as well as the circuit breaker for the house, which meant how ever I decided to conceal it, it needed to remain accessible.
First things first, I decided to run two 30ft HDMI cables through the ceiling and drop them through one of the walls, adding an HDMI socket/faceplate to the wall and moving my bookshelf to sit nicely along the side of the couch.
Once that hot mess of HDMI cables and extension power cables was cleaned up it was time to get cracking at the walls. I decided I wanted to do something special to put my own unique stamp on this room, and since I had all winter to work on it, we went for a fairly time consuming plastering technique to create a faux stone wall look. To get the looks I wanted, we started out with taping the joins and slapping down a quick and thin first layer of plaster. Once that was on both walls the fun began and I got to get creative with the tape. My girlfriend and I worked as a team, her being the OCD one put down the straight horizontal and vertical tape rows for the brick; and I being the creative one, came through with more tape and a sharp knife, cutting and taping her lines into a more natural and sporadic look.
Once the tape was done, a second layer of plaster went on top and the tape was pulled while the plaster was still wet. This created the stone/brick shapes. After that, painting could begin. This photo shows all stages of the process at once.
The original plan was to paint within the square lines with the brick colored paint and leave the natural plaster color as the mortar, but we quickly realized we didn't care for the color and the work was overly tedious trying to stay in the lines without painting the mortar. So instead, we decided to just get sloppy and buy a contrasting stone grey to paint the lines with brushed once we finished.
With the walls finally done and the paint dry, it was time to call in the electrician (my dad) to help me run lights. I knew all along that wanted to move the ceiling lights to wall fixtures to give it more of a movie feel; but once the walls were finished I decided to throw a small curve ball and purchase outdoor patio lighting to keep with the ambiance of the walls.
At the same time as we mounted the new lights, we also when and used up the left over dark grey paint on the ceiling. While it is still very much unfinished it helps to draw your eyes forward rather than up making it less noticeable that the ceiling is still unfinished. It also helps darken the room. Overall, the paint made a drastic difference in the picture clarity.
Just as soon as the walls were finished I received my tax refund. with this money I was able to finally order a movie theater couch off of wayfair. This wasnt part of my original budget but it was hard to pass up the opportunity when the timing fit the project perfectly. With what little remained of my refund after the couch I was able to use to finish up the walls with some framing on the doors and get a nice clock that matched perfectly. I also at this time added several more layers of primer to the picture surface. I cant say s to how many it took to complete. At the end I was using unmixed cans, dumping out the water, and using the plaster knife to spread the thick primer putty onto the walls to seal up all the pores. I also used a file to sand down any bumps. It isn't perfect, but it was cheap and it was easy.
This had me feeling pretty close to finished with the project. The only thing left bugging me was what to do to fix the gap that was still in the corner of the room and how I would put a backdrop to the theater. I also wanted to frame the picture to help with light bleed. I was leaning towards curtains to solve all three of those problem, but I was a bit worried about cost (and finding tall enough curtains). I eventually ordered one curtain off amazon to conceal the corner. Once I had the single curtain up I knew I had to finish the wall with them. I also decided to leave the back of the theater open. it helps make the area feel larger. To help tie it all together I got paint to color match the curtains and decided to paint the workout room in that color. I had already in my head pictured painting this room red so this wasn't much of a deviation from the original plan, I just hadn't planned on the paint alone helping to tie off the area. Fortunately with the red curtain up front, the red wall behind just helped create an illusion of being in a movie theater with curtain draped walls.
The final three curtains were on hold for budget reasons for a week until I could order more which left only one loose end which was not going to be in budget for this project at all, and that being the floor. The carpet squares i had down there were torn out of my sisters basement when she decided to put down laminate flooring. They would do the trick but I knew I wanted a nice oak flooring down there when ever I could afford it. Fake oak flooring of course seeing as this is a basement. When I say things had an impeccable timing with this project I really mean it. Just as I was sitting around waiting for the next payday to finish off my curtains, I got a letter in the main from the bank telling me I had 60,000 points saved up on my credit card that could be spent. A bit of shopping online and 5 days of waiting on the mailman later and i had myself an amazon gift card to use on the curtains and a freezer bag full of home depot $50 gift cards. I grabbed the girlfriend, hopped in the truck, and headed down to the store that same night, buying up every box of plank laminate oak that they had. All said in done I only had to spend $60 out of pocket for the flooring, underlayment, and utility knives I purchased. Two days later, she was complete!