Custom home theater series | Private Silicon Valley Residence with Gator Tech

last updated:
March 15, 2024
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As part of our custom home theater series, we sat down with Shai and Alex from Gator Tech Integration to chat about their work in the home theater industry. The project they chose to highlight is a stunning custom home cinema installed in a sprawling three-story Silicon Valley home. It features three rows of five Elite chairs and a subtle, yet elegant design.

Get the low-down on this Silicon Valley home theater and learn about the importance of automation and control. Gator Tech shares tons of advice for home theater builders: from unique customizations to the importance of good audio.

1. Can you give some background on the project?

We have worked with the architect for about twelve years. He likes our style and where possible, brings us in at the start of a project to design the theater from the ground up. We use different manufacturers for different projects which is unusual, a lot of subcontractors tend to use a particular brand every single time, but we prefer to use the best possible solution for each theater, and that often means a mix of different brands that fit the space.

2. What was the build like for this custom home theater?

It was a new build in Silicon Valley, and the theater was to be part of a 25,000 square foot home. We got to define the space and worked closely with the architect to build the room to spec. All the sightlines, sound deadening, internal acoustics and necessary platforms were in planned right from the start. Sometimes we don’t have the luxury of getting in quite so early on a project and have to convert spaces.

The room wasn’t a basement, but the house is three stories and built into a slope, so technically it is below ground. Another advantage it had was windowless. There are plenty of ways to control light if this isn’t the case and it’s always a good idea to check building regulations. Often, a certain number of windows will be required. In those situations, we use  Lutron lighting control systems  and shades to block outside light.

3. Do you work with designers to make sure their vision is fully functional?

It’s a close relationship built on mutual trust; we tend to work with designers for many years. Because we’re experts in home theater integration rather than just design, they tend to trust us, giving us sway when it comes to functionality over design. We’ll send over sample books from someone like Elite and let the designer choose the fabric and color that fits best with the design. That way they equip the theater with customized chairs that are comfortable and will stand the test of time, while still achieving the look and feel they want in the room.

4. Is there a lot of variation in budgets for high-end home theater design?

Budgets for home theaters are always a challenge. We work closely with the client to come up with a proposal, and from there figure out if the set budget is too much or sometimes, not enough. We can then ramp up some of the elements, or start making compromises. We want to guide them to the highest possible quality, so we have a list of manufacturers and products that are the best in class for each price point, giving us the flexibility to make compromises without sacrificing too much of the immersive luxury experience.

5. What are the three key elements to get right in a custom home theater?

1. Audio is one element where you get a longer lasting investment

In an action movie, the sound-editor steers the action, so having an audio system in place is crucial to becoming immersed in the film. Whether it’s two-channel or multi-channel audio, the physics of sound won’t change over time, speaker placement and room dimensions will always be the same.

2. Video is a moving target

Video is much more expensive to keep up with over time. It’s always changing, and there will be better signals and resolutions on the market every year. 4K TVs only went mainstream about three years ago, but most luxury home theaters are now looking at 8K screens. In the next ten years, it’s impossible to know how high the standard resolution will increase. New chips and tech are continually developing.

3. Control is key to a home theater’s performance

We don’t just mean automating devices, but connecting everything that happens in the home theater. Programming “Scenes” onto a handheld device allows theater owners to activate everything at the press of a button. Perhaps hitting the play button will drop the screen, turn off the lights, start the projector and recline the seats. It’s up to the owners, some people like pre-set scenes and others want more flexibility with their settings and are happy to mess around with the sound and lights on their control device.

6. What are some fun customizations you’ve included in home theaters?

Some home theaters do exciting customizations. Maybe they want to build a stage with karaoke installed so that the kids have a space to perform and invite friends round to see their productions. Those are always fun! We’ll also get requests for beanbags in the front row for kids, or once, we had clients that wanted a custom blanket box installed between their theater chairs. Elite were the ones to build the blanket box, and it’s not even in their catalog.

7. Why do you choose to work with Elite chairs?

We’ve been working in the industry for over thirty years, and have used a lot of seat companies. We’ve had our trials and tribulations with other seat manufacturers, but Elite is different. They’ve got great staff, meet deadlines, go above and beyond to customize, and it helps that getting on the phone with them is always a hoot!

If you enjoyed these insights into custom home theater design, check out this blog about building a guitar-themed home theater.

About Gator Tech Integration Inc.

Gator Tech offer services that include advice, consulting and design. They recommend solutions at different performance and cost levels. Even years after completion, they continue to provide service, upgrades, and additions in a timely and professional manner. Customer service is their top priority. They provide personal attention and friendly service that customer's deserve and employ professionals with decades of experience and knowledge.

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