Great Spaces: A Killer Home Theater

Now here's a fun use for attic space.

Photo by Morgan Howarth

After 10 years and several home improvements in their five-bedroom Colonial in McLean, Tara and Dave Della Rocca looked to their large, unfinished attic for the next project—a home theater.

“It was a very raw attic—joists exposed, insulation everywhere,” says George Bott, an architect with Anthony Wilder Design/Build in Cabin John, Maryland. By that point, Bott knew the house well. He had already helped the couple remodel their foyer, living room and dining room.

Before he and designer Keira St. Claire-Bowery could start work on the attic, however, Bott had to design a proper staircase to replace the pull-down ladder in the Della Roccas’ master bedroom. He did so by carving out space from a linen closet and two large bedroom closets belonging to the couple’s sons, Grant, 13, and Nick, 11.

Once the staircase was in, the design team finished the 365-square-foot attic in dark, moody colors, adding LED lights that resemble a starry sky. Hidden acoustic panels conceal a state-of-the-art audiovisual system, while thick rubber insulation and metal-lined drywall provide total soundproofing.

“They wanted to be able to listen to a movie at moderate volume and not disturb people who are sleeping down below,” St. Claire-Bowery says.

The soundproofing also makes the theater’s bar counter an ideal spot for Dave, an attorney, to use as a home office when the family isn’t hosting gatherings to watch films or sporting events.

“I feel like we gained a lot of square footage,” Tara says. “Our house is not huge [by McLean standards]; this has given us more space to entertain and be with our family.”

Project Credit: Anthony Wilder Design/Build |

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Categories: Home & Design