There’s a fine art to installing the latest big-screen technology in your living room without overwhelming the decorative scheme of your interior design. David Woodward has ways of insuring your house stays more home than cinema
Traditional TVs are on their way out. No more dusty grey boxes taking up space in the corner of the room. No more tinny sound, no more TV stand, no more widescreen option cheerily scalping the cast of your favourite soap opera. With the latest home-cinema systems, proper wall-filling widescreen is now standard, as is eardrum-bursting, neighbour-rattling surround sound. Plasma or projector screens can be neatly wall mounted, sleek speakers strategically arranged, and everything controlled from one fancy LCD control panel which also looks after your central heating. It’s a film junkie’s paradise.
But it’s not a good look for your living room. Unless, that is, you’re happy crowding out your books, pictures and worldly ornaments with enough cables and speakers to power a small gig. If you happen to live in a period property, the challenge is even greater. Twenty-first century technology doesn’t sit comfortably on an 18th-century Chippendale cabinet. But there is help at hand. Former Bang & Olufsen designer Kim Donvig and his wife, Patricia Ljungberg, an interior designer, have combined forces to set up Artcoustic. The company produces handmade, top-quality speakers with special “acoustically transparent” screens which can be designed to blend into the background—or even double as works of art.
“The screens are interchangeable,” explains Ljungberg, “so you can end up with a personalised collection of prints that you can swap around at will.” The company has a collection of options—modern, minimal and classic—sourced from the Getty Images library, and also encourages customers to provide their own designs. In traditional homes, fabric screens tend to work well, and can even be selected to match the cushions or drapes in your room.
If you prefer to specify your own speaker brand, plenty of independent hi-fi stores will install the system for you, sub-contracting the tricky parts out to builders and interior designers. “Some people are prepared to spend considerably more on hiding the equipment than on the equipment itself,” says Alex Radford, founder and managing director of Radfords, an electronics retailer. “We have worked with bespoke cabinet designers, putting in lifts that enable the plasma to emerge from a piece of period furniture. The integration of new into old is something that’s currently really popular.”
If you intend to conceal as much as possible, the key is to install the equipment before you redecorate—preferably before you’ve moved in. Not surprisingly, creating the ultimate home cinema can be a disruptive process. But when it ends up looking and sounding this good, who’s complaining?
Option 1: Budget
Hitachi 42in Plasma
Denon AVR1905 AV Receiver
Denon DVD1910 DVD Player
Elac Cinema 2 Surround Sound Speaker Package
15m Atlas 1.25 Speaker Cable
Atlas Element Interconnect and Ixos Scart Lead
Optimum PN3 Plasma Stand
Option 2: Mid-range
Sim2 HT300 EVO Projector
Sim2 8ft Electric Screen
Denon AVC-A1XV AV Amplifier
Denon DVD-A1XV DVD Player
Monitor Audio Gold In-wall Speakers (x 3)
Monitor Audio Gold In-ceiling Speakers (x 3)
REL Stadium III Subwoofer
Appropriate cables and interconnects
Option 3: Top-end
Sim2 HT500 EVO Projector (screen size up to 9m)
Da-Lite Cont T 58 x 119in Tab Tensioned Electric Screen
Linn Unidisk 1.1 DVD Player
Chord DSP 8000 Processor n Chord SPM3005 5.1 Power Amplifier n PMC MB2-P Loudspeakers (2 pairs)
MB2-P-C Centre Speaker
TLE Subwoofer (x 2) n AMX Control with 7in Touch Pane
Appropriate cables and interconnects
Suggestions and prices supplied by Radfords.