Just Add Popcorn to This Custom Home Theatre

No more braving long ticket lines: This Cherry Hills Village custom theater has everything a movie-loving family needs.


Photo by Susie Brenner

Watching a movie with hundreds of strangers, including the 6-foot-5 guy in front of you, in a theater that has sticky floors and stiff seats? No thanks, said the owners of this Cherry Hills Village home. Instead, they built an immersive movie experience using state-of-the-art equipment at home.

“The homeowners had a custom theater in their old house and definitely wanted to add a home theater to this one,” says Travis Leo, chief executive officer of Residential Systems, which built the new space. “It’s kind of touching: Father-son movies are a thing in their house. They had bonded over the years in their old home theater and it was non-negotiable to have one in their new house, too.”

Since the project was completed earlier this year with Haley Custom Homes, father and son have been hunkering down in a 311-square-foot basement room equipped with a 4K-optimized projector that casts onto a 120-inch custom screen, an AppleTV, cable box, the latest Dolby Atmos surround-sound system, custom upholstered walls complete with hidden speakers, subwoofers and acoustic panels that diffuse and absorb sound with the same technology as large-scale theaters—as well as a library of movies. “They had a very large collection of Blu-rays and DVDs they’d acquired over the years,” Leo says. “So we installed a system from a company called Kaleidescape that digitized all of their movies into a 4K-type format so they’re now stored on a hard drive.”

The whole system can be controlled via an iPhone, iPad or remote, thanks to a Savant app that controls lighting, entertainment and security. Eight custom-upholstered, reclining leather seats from Cineak and Lutron sconces picked with interior designer Jane Freking of JF Design complete the room.

Is it really like the real thing? “It’s absolutely a small-scale movie theater in every sense of the word,” Leo says. In other words, this set-up will do everything but make the popcorn. (Though if any adult gets thirsty, there’s a wine room next door.)

To create your own theater, Leo says, start by picking your price range and hiring a professional. (Home theaters cost anywhere from $10,000 to $250,000. This project, he says, cost about $100,000.) Next, choose the bells and whistles that would make the experience the most memorable. “We always talk about custom home theaters being about the suspension of disbelief,” he adds. “You have to believe that you are in the movie, and if you’re in a room where there are activities going on, daylight outside and sound bouncing off walls, it’s hard to believe you’re in the action. You build the right theater with the proper equipment and it creates a really, really exciting experience.”