What Lies Beneath - ResidentialSystems.com

What Lies Beneath

Stone-Glidden creates Tuscan Magic in a Bucks County, PA, Basement
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The Tuscan-style theater, with electric leather seats by Premiere Home Theater Seating, features a Marantz projector, Da-lite screen, and JBL Synthesis audio system.

Too often its that nebulous space left in limbo, an underworld relegated to storage or an ersatz guest room. But even a mere basement can have a drab before and a spectacular afterlife, transformed into an entertainment fantasy quite apart from the rest of the house or its geographical surroundings.

Such is the case in a two-story Bucks County, Pennsylvania, cottage-style family home, near Washington Crossing, where systems integrator Stone-Glidden has created a Tuscan cocoon, complete with turret, in the 1,000-square-foot basement. The project, at a cost of about $105,000, features a seven-seat dedicated home theater and a media room with pool table and bar, all of which had to be designed for an unusual Z-shaped room.

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ndheld controller, and three CLSC6 Crestron iLux lighting controllers.The Crestron system includes an MC2E processor, RF Gateway, ST1700C touchpanel, ML600 Handheld controller, and three CLSC6 Crestron iLux lighting controllers. The project also features HD cable, Marantz DVD. The basement has some 18 lighting loads including six in the theater.

Stone-Glidden, with offices and showrooms in King of Prussia, near Main Line Philadelphia, and in Doylestown (Bucks County) Pennsylvania, specializes in mid- to high-end residential systems design and installation. With 14 employees, the company is headed by Tom Stone, principal, and co-principal Mark Glidden.

Retrofitting in a Theater
In the Bucks County basement project, a contractor previously had roughly finished the space, Glidden said. When they came to us they wanted a dedicated theater. They had visited retailers from New York to Philly, all of whom considered that job to be too small for them and who wanted to sell them boxes of acoustic panels, out-of-the-box solutions, he explained.

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A basement's Crestron system includes an MC2E processor, RF Gateway, ST1700C touchpanel, ML600 Handheld controller, and three CLSC6 Crestron iLux lighting controllers.The clientit was the wife, not the husband, who took charge of the project, a phenomenon that Glidden said is happening more and morefound Stone-Glidden through Web searches. We brainstormed and when the client told me that Tuscany was a passion, it just stuck with me.

Stone-Glidden brought in builder John Gemmi of Gemmi Construction, Doylestown, who, in turn, introduced them to Wes Carver Electrical Contracting, of Telford, Pennsylvania. Both were instrumental in the projects success, Glidden said.

John took our ideas and came up with everything necessary to execute and enhance them, he said. All the walls are of hand-pulled plaster, and the plasmas are in niches, so they are beautifully framed.

Finishing the Project
When you come around a corner into the theater at the back of the basement, your jaw drops, Glidden said. There were, of course, challenges; the base of the stairs had 90-degree corner angles so the builder added sweeping walls and arches. The original support columns were crooked and there were four different ceiling heights. We had the builder open the theater ceiling and raise it eleven inches. The cove in the center of the theater created a feeling of openness, and by up-lighting the cove we made the room look even more expansive and taller.

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Two 50-inch plasma displays installed in the poker/bar area allow the user to view the theater presentation, play video games, watch a DVD, or watch a cable station. The theater, with electric leather seats by Premiere Home Theater Seating, features a Marantz projector, Da-lite screen and JBL Synthesis audio system. An 18-inch-deep space behind a cloth Novawall wall hides suspended speakers, and the stealth location allowed Glidden to place them exactly where they should be. Two hand-built louvered Tuscan-style wooden shutters hide rear speakers.

Two 50-inch plasma displays installed in the poker/bar area allow the user to view the theater presentation, play video games, watch a DVD, or watch a cable station. Extensive video switching ensures that game playing is available for plug-in and can be routed to displays throughout the basement. The clients Playstation3 can be directed to any of three viewing screensthe two plasmas and the projection screenvia the Crestron controller.

A re-circulating fountain, mounted on a wall near the poker table, satisfied the clients desire for a water feature. We installed Crestron buttons at the top of the basement stairs. One is for a preset lighting scene which also turns on the fountain, and the bottom button turns everything off.

A party at the clients home has already added a new customer to the Stone-Glidden roster. The clients referred us to a friend, Glidden said. When we called them, they said they had just seen a theater that they loved, not realizing that it was our work. Were currently designing a huge project for them, with an Irish pub theme.

Karen Mitchell is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado.


Rules of Engagement

Ladies and gentlemen, draw your weapons of choice. The way forward in these uncertain economic times is not to deny but to engage, said Stone-Glidden principal Tom Stone.

The economy is affecting us all across our industry, not in the numbers yet, but in the lowering of the opportunity pipeline, he said. We see people who normally would just say yes getting a lot of alternative quotes and putting off decision-making which causes problems in production. Theyre conserving cash, its a change in attitude.

Typically, Stone-Glidden has approximately $1.2 million in potential projects at any given point in time, Stone said. Currently, we are tracking up 25 percent in contracts for 2008, but our opportunity level is down by half.

He noted that he and his team are working like fiends, reaching out to subcontractors and professionals in related fields to ensure that every opportunity is fully explored, and doing so in a smart selective way.

It makes no sense to spend a ton of time talking to custom home builders, so we contact them with the light touch of an email every couple of months, Stone said. We also joined two local chapters of the National Association of Remodelers and established deep ties with them.

The importance of these ties is exemplified by a 2007 project in which a home theater client hired Stone-Glidden despite having two substantially lower quotes from other integrators, he said. We brought in the painting contractor and suppliers for carpeting, acoustic treatment and electrical needs and the client went with us.

Stone-Gliddens website features a Design Partners section linking a plethora of professionals and vendors. In a recent effort to reach out to associated trades, company salesman Herb Smith assembled a list of 140 outdoor tradespeople such as landscapersmusic outdoors often is a client afterthoughtand invited them to a showroom Meet and Greet complete with burgers, beer, and outdoor sound demos.

It was a blast, Stone said. Eleven firms came and six of those have committed to referring work to us. You have to engage; as long as youre persistent they will remember you when the time comes.

Stone-Glidden makes it a point to engage with its existing client base by way of a bi-monthly e-newsletter, and has recently initiated newsletters for architects and designers with some cross pollination, Stone said.


Karen Mitchell

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