The Grotto

Welcome to Joe’s Bar and Theater

Category Archives: Framing

Theater Entrance

Theater Framing StartedIn our last house, we didn’t have a dedicated theater—it was a media room that included a bar. It wasn’t that I didn’t want a dedicated theater, but I didn’t have the room to build what I really wanted. In the end, it worked well, and we enjoyed the room.

In the new house, I’ve got room to put in the dedicated theater I really wanted. Sure, I don’t have the size or scale to do a Theo Kalomirakis theater, but I can still do a room with tiered seating and matching, hidden speakers mounted at the optimal placement around the room, instead of having the surround speakers hanging from the ceiling.

Doors FramingBecause it’s a dedicated room, I wanted an entrance that would show that what lies beyond was not just a bedroom. And because the most logical place to put the entrance was on the riser, I decided on a curved stair in front of the doors.




Doors and RiserOf course you can’t exactly go into Home Depot and buy a curved stair kit. Or if you could, I’ve never seen one. I didn’t want it sticking out too far in the room, otherwise I thought it could become a tripping hazard while shooting pool. After a number of drawings, I settled on a curve with a radius of 24″.



stair01The bullnose stair trim has an inner radius of 22″, and outer radius of 25″. I rigged up a template from ¼” plywood and trimmed some leftover walnut from the bar using my shaper.





stair02I used the inner 22″ radius to mark the correct curve for the bamboo flooring on the stair. Once Mary poly’d the walnut, it took on a similar tone to the bamboo.

Category Archives: Framing


maryceilingingMary has been (im) patiently waiting for a task she can tackle in this rather huge project. Fortunately for me, one of those tasks is stuffing insulation everywhere—I hate dealing with the stuff. I still have to staple and trim it, though. Fortunately, as most of the basement is above grade, the exterior walls in the back of the house have already been insulated, which saves us time and money.

By insulating the ceiling, sound transmission between the floors will be minimal, especially with the 2×3 stringers partially decoupling the ceiling from the joists.

barinsulationAll of the walls in the theater are being insulated, with the exception of the HVAC return channels, and the walls where the pocket doors are. While the insulation here will help with sound transmission, I’m not going for a soundproof room. In our last house, the number of times the wife and I weren’t watching a movie together could be counted on one hand, so I have no concerns about keeping the sound in the room so as not to disturb other people in the house. While the noise floor would be significantly reduced in a soundproof room, improving the room’s performance, the aesthetic compromises that would be necessary are unacceptable to me due to the space/size/placement constraints I already have. And of course upon resale, as we’d never recoup the cost that goes into soundproofing, I’d never get the dollars past the family CFO—and I’m already sandbagging the budget on several fronts.

dobryscreeninsOur 16 year old son, who’s a bit taller than me, is standing next to a mock up of the 120″ wide screen that I’ll be putting in.

Category Archives: Framing

Framing is Done

Bar FramingThe framing is done. Electrical still has to be finished, including a bunch of low voltage stuff, not only for the basement, but because I want all the audio/visual gear for the house in one location, I’ve got to run all cables back to the rack, including cables to transmit IR signals for remote controls.


Framing from BarI have a half wall between the bar room and the billiard room, connecting an existing exterior inside corner to the column boxing in the supporting posts, to better define the spaces, and to mirror the half walls on the main floor of the house, making it look less like I’m trying to hide the posts.

Category Archives: Framing

Ceiling Framing

Ceiling Framing StartThe beam and column are boxed in, as are the snorkels in the theater. The ceiling in the theater will be stepped and coffered so that there isn’t just a low-hanging box in the middle of the room. I’ve got 2x3s screwed to the joists to give space to the sprinkler system. This will also partially decouple the drywall ceiling, making for less sound transmission between the floors, especially once the space between the joists is stuffed with insulation.

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