services header


Why Hire a Home Theater Designer?

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Home systems integrator Jason Voorhees recommends design firm Slayman Cinema to all his elite home theater clients. Here’s why: 

You know all the right and wrong ways to set up a home theater. You understand seating distances, screen dimensions, speaker layouts and all of the behind-the-scenes technology that makes a home theater tick. If you’re one of the fortunate few, you might even have your own in-house design team to ensure that all of those AV and control components blend in well with the architectural features and style of the room—all without compromising an ounce of performance. 

Most likely, though, you’re short on design resources. When you’re dealing with a high-caliber project, the decorative elements of a home theater MUST evoke elegance and sophistication. It might even need to convey a particular theme—hard to pull off if you don’t have the staff. And while you may have considered adding a designer to your employee roster, the fact is, these types of prestigious projects happen once in a blue moon. Having a dedicated designer on your payroll doesn’t make much financial sense. 

So, what’s the solution? As Jason Voorhees, owner and CEO of Costa Mesa, Calif.-based Cantara has discovered, collaborating with a specialty home theater design firm on a project-by-project basis can not only free up your time and resources, but bring your home theater projects to a whole new level. “We have never handled the interior design of a theater ourselves,” says Voorhees. “We always hire an independent firm, Slayman Cinema being our home theater designer of choice.” 

The decision to introduce his clients to Lisa Slayman for elite home theater projects was a no-brainer for Voorhees. “The higher the contract value of the theater, the more invested the client is in making sure all of the expensive AV gear they’ve purchased is done right. They want no compromise of performance and they want the room to be also drop-dead gorgeous—the type of place they want to visit frequently and include as part of their house tour when friends come to visit.”

According to Voorhees, Slayman Cinema brings a unique perspective to the table. Having practiced the art of home theater design for more than 20 years, Lisa Slayman has developed an extensive base of knowledge about AV technology and its relationship with interior design. Fabric, colors, textures, and furnishings are part of her repertoire, too, but it’s her passion for performance that positions her as a valuable asset to home systems integrators. “It’s rare for such a talented interior designer to be so collaborative and approach technology as being sacred,” Voorhees says. “We never hear phrases like ‘are you sure you can’t move that speaker or why does the screen have to be so big,’” from Lisa. “Instead we work as a team to develop unique, creative and functional solutions.”  

The result is a pleasing harmony of technology and design, where design is used as a tool to maximize the performance of the equipment while also making it look beautiful. Sometimes the technology is completely concealed, other times the technology is used as a decorative element to embellish the room design. But the overall objective is always the same: to exceed the client’s expectations.

Using Slayman Design as a resource has also enabled Cantara to dramatically reduce its engineering time and labor. One of Slayman Cinema’s claims to fame is the extreme detail of its home theater drawings. Every facet of the project is included in one comprehensive document—architecture, acoustical, and technology. “This saves valuable time for our engineering team and streamlines the process as we can all work off one set of drawings instead of three individual documents,” Voorhees explains. “Plus, Lisa manages the project completely from blueprints until the final touches, allowing us to focus on providing the best possible home theater systems for our clients.” The clients come out ahead, too, as Cantara is able to pass along the savings of its dramatically reduced engineering fee. “Thanks to Lisa and her team we were able to cut our bill for one particular client by as much as $10,000,” Voorhees says.  

Top 10 Home Theater Design Trends

Thursday, February 13, 2020

An inside look at what's hot in the world of home theater design from design expert Lisa Slayman.

Advances in technology have transformed just about every space of a home. Kitchens have become communication hubs, bathrooms have blossomed into spa-like retreats, outdoor areas have turned into popular entertainment destinations, and bedrooms have become private luxurious refuges. Technology has influenced not only how these spaces function but how they look. While kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, and even the outdoors have been impacted by progressively smarter technology, it's the home theater that's undergone the most monumental change. Brighter, bigger displays; smaller, sleeker speakers, and completely new ways to consume and enjoy entertainment content, as well as socioeconomic forces, have altered the home theater landscape. In the business of home theater design for more than 20 years, Lisa Slayman, principal of Slayman Cinema, recognizes the shift, with each new year and with each new crop of technology influencing her designs and creations, making home theater one of the most dynamic areas of a household to decorate. So, what's in store for 2020? Bold colors or neutrals? Huge videowalls or smaller screens? Speakers that stand out or ones that hideaway in the walls? Which elements of design should be incorporated today to stay on trend? Here, Slayman identifies 10 of the biggest trends shaping home theater design:

Multi-Use Entertainment 

Historically, a home theater was designed as a room dedicated to one thing and one thing only: watching movies. While this particular approach is still practiced today, what's become increasingly common are home theaters that facilitate other forms of recreation. For many families, a multipurpose entertainment area makes a lot of sense. They may not have the free space or the funds to allocate a large chunk of their homes to movie viewing, so designing the room to accommodate other activities—watching sporting events, playing video games, listening to music, practicing yoga, you name it--offers more bang for their buck. As forms of entertainment become more and more multifaceted, so must the design of the room. Rather than outfit the space with stadium-style seating, for example, it's become more important to provide a large, open floor space for exercising and interactive gaming. Lighting, as well, needs to be more multifunctional—bright during sporting events, soft and serene for music listening, and completely dark for movie viewing. 

Large-Scale Lounge Seating

Coinciding with the multi-purpose entertainment movement is the growing popularity of lounge-style seating. Families are spending more time at home than ever before, so comfort is crucial … right down where they rest their backsides in a home theater. Individual seats that flip down certainly evoke the look and feel of a commercial cinema, but today it's more in vogue to complement these traditional home theater seats with large, plush, luxurious couches, ottomans, and sectionals similar to what you'd see in a lounge. Together, the traditional and modern seating styles are the perfect marriage of form and function.  

Modern Design Elements

A home theater should reflect your tastes and style. If that's traditional, by all means, go for it. Outfit the space with ornate, indulgent furnishings and architectural details. These days, however, contemporary, modern design is resonating with more homeowners, and that's carrying through to the home theater. Clean, subtle, and with softer lines, the contemporary design concept evokes a sense of comfort and peace—an environment that befits a multi-use entertainment space of which home theaters have become. Practicing yoga or hosting a Superbowl party might feel awkward in an opulent, richly appointed home theater, but completely appropriate in a modern media space. 

Light, Neutral Color Palettes

Complementing the contemporary home theater design trend is the application of lighter, more neutral color schemes. Paint, fabrics, and furnishings follow suit, giving home theater owners a space that feels open and airy rather than dark and cavernous.

Family-Friendly Atmosphere

The contemporary influences, the neutral tones, the accommodation of comfortable seats and other modes of entertainment—it's all led to the demise of the once-popular "man cave." Home theaters of yesteryear used to be the domain of the man in the family—where they escaped to unwind from a hard day at the office. Those days are over, and, today's home theater designs reflect this evolution. Environments that cater to the interests and tastes of everyone in the household is now deemed most desirable. 


Hobbies, past-times, and passions come to life in home theaters. Usually set apart from the rest of the home, the space offers an open canvas on which to paint the portrait of your life. It's a chance to let your imagination and creativity run wild. Love Westerns? Turn your theater into a "saloon.'  Into skydiving? Ask your home theater designer to paint puffy white clouds on the ceiling. A favorite vacation destination, a penchant for coin collecting—just like your interests, theme theaters never go out of style.  

Bigger screens, Brighter Images

As technology continues to advance, so does the form and function of a home theater. Screens, for example, have grown increasingly larger and projectors increasingly brighter. It's an ideal situation for home theaters, as the objective during movie viewing is to evoke a similar visual experience as that of a commercial cinema. Total immersion and engagement of the presentation are trending, and big screens are leading the charge. Concurrent with epic screen proportions is the application of screen materials to ensure the reproduction of bright, vivid images regardless of the room lighting.  Ambient light rejection screens are a blessing for multipurpose home theaters, as the image retains its brightness in all viewing situations. You can keep the lights on while hosting a Superbowl party or completely off during a movie and the image is always crisp, clear and bright. 

Colorful Lighting

Now that screens and projectors can perform optimally under any lighting conditions, home theater designs are incorporating more light fixtures than ever before—and not just standard white light, but colorful LED lighting that evokes mood and ambiance. With the addition of these lights, and an easy way to control them, the atmosphere transition from that of a relaxing getaway with blue lighting to an energetic disco with yellow and orange hues. When the Packers play, get the whole room into the spirit by washing the walls in a bright green hue; add splashes of red during the holidays.


LED Video Walls

LED video wall technology offers a new, exciting option to the traditional projector-screen setup. Video walls suit a more dynamic home theater environment, where one minute you're using the screen to watch YouTube videos, the next to gaze at a stunning piece of artwork, and the next to take in the scenery along a hilly Tuscan bike trail as you jump onto your connected stationary bike. Or, maybe you're like to do two things at once: view the landscape while peeking in on the news. Images on video walls can be scaled to any size or shape so that multiple pieces of content can be displayed at the same time.  

Decorative Acoustical Treatments

Lifelike, three-dimensional audio in home theater environments has taken off, thanks to technologies like Dolby Atmos. The processor and speakers do much of the work to create the effect, but the audio quality can be optimized further through the application of acoustical paneling and other types of treatments by a professional acoustician. To raise no visual conflict with the room design, acoustical treatments had been largely concealed in specially constructed wall cavities covered with acoustically transparent fabric. This approach if falling to the wayside, though, as acoustical treatments are being professionally engineered, fashioned, and installed as decorative elements within the room, exposed to be admired for their beauty rather than banished to behind the wall.  

Home Theater Design—A Critical Part of the Home Entertainment Experience

Monday, January 27, 2020

There’s a saying in the home theater business: You can have the best AV equipment in the world, but if the room environment isn’t right, the AV will never perform to its full potential. Creating a space where the audience becomes fully immersed in the movie action requires more than just a collection of great AV gear. It also takes a room comprised of expertly executed architectural and design elements, according to Lisa Slayman, owner of Laguna Beach, Calif-based Slayman Cinema. An AV integrator is the best person to install and configure the home theater equipment; a professional home theater designer is the expert at molding the room interior. When these two professionals work together, the line between form and function blurs, resulting in a seamless integration of beauty and brawn in a special space that evokes excitement, emotion and an escape from the rigors of everyday life. 

New Technologies, New Designs

“The state of the home cinema is changing as technology is allowing for bigger screens, better picture quality, and lifelike, three-dimensional sound,” remarks Slayman. “What has not changed is homeowners’ desires for a room that makes a great impression when you walk in. The interior of a home theater is still very important to people. We meet with clients before plans for the theater are underway to get a feel for how they envision their home theater to look and feel, their priorities, and their budget.” Room dimensions, seating layout, screen and projector locations, walkways, wall thickness, and architectural and decorative features are all fully explored and discussed. Slayman’s initial meetings with clients may begin with conversations about design, but they always end with an explanation of the importance of the AV integrator to the project. “There is a lot of technical information clients need to be educated about, so they understand their options, and I always encourage them to speak with the AV integrator early on in the planning phase,” Slayman says.

Meeting of the Minds

After individually gathering information from the client, Slayman’s design team, the AV integrator, and the acoustician meet to draft a plan that satisfies both the design and performance goals of the project. Undoubtedly, some adjustments and compromises will be made.  Based on the number of speakers, wall thickness, size and style of screen, and other technological recommendations, the interior begins to take shape—creating more space where necessary and modifying the room configuration based on sightlines, screen size, and speaker locations. “Although the interior is important, most of the collaboration between the designer, the AV integrator, and the acoustician focuses on the shell of the room,” Slayman says. “Collectively, we determine the best solutions for making speakers fit into wall cavities, acoustical elements fuse with the space, projectors conceal above ceilings, and when there’s a challenge, we solve it together. There’s always some give and take and no two projects are ever the same.” For example, on one recent project a low ceiling prohibited a typical ceiling-mount installation of a video projector. By putting their heads together, Slayman and the AV integrator devised a clever remedy that would enable the projector to be stowed above the ceiling, using a slim mirror assembly to project images onto the screen. A “general” interior designer might have steered clear of these structural modifications, but Slayman recognizes the importance of teamwork between tech and design experts to the overall home theater experience. “Defining problems early on means more options for the right solution; it’s my job as a home theater designer to collaborate with all the experts on the project to accommodate the AV systems, acoustics, and equipment as needed with minimal impact on the room design.” 

Bridging the Tech/Design Gap

A home theater is the culmination of many individual parts and pieces. The room construction, the interior design, and the AV gear each plays a critical role. Engaging everyone involved in a project to focus on these elements collectively rather than individually is Slayman’s mission on each and every job. “We consider each and every one of these important components as we design a theater,” she says. “If I didn’t work closely with the AV integrator and the acoustician to understand the technology they planned for the space, the design would ultimately suffer and so would the outcome of the project.”  As home theater technology continues to evolve, so must the room design, and Slayman is helping bridge that gap. 

Slayman Cinema featured in Laguna Beach Magazine

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Click on the thumbnail to read the article

View the: Electronic Lifestyles 2013 (PDF)

Slayman Cinema featured in Digital

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

45-seat private home cinema redefines residential luxury

ATLANTA, GA – 8/31/2012 – Cantara of Los Angeles, CA, recently completed a massive 45-seat private cinema of such magnitude and quality that it raises the bar for private cinemas worldwide. The video system features a record-setting 18' wide Stewart Cinecurve paired with Digital Projection International’s award-winning TITAN Reference 1080p-3D projector. The audio system consists of a Genelec speaker array, which includes screen speakers usually found in the world's largest professional mixing studios. Ten high-powered surround speakers and sixteen 12" subwoofers complete the speaker package, all calibrated through a studio-grade QSC Signal Processor. 

No small project by any stretch of the imagination, this 8,000 square foot cinema addition dazzles the occupants and guests of the over 26,000 square foot California home. Originally conceived as an ordinary home theater, the scope of the project grew as initial discussions progressed between the client and Lisa Slayman, owner of interior design studio Slayman Cinema. Slayman, who specializes in high-end residential theaters, began to realize the client was looking for something remarkable, both in scale and in performance. Working with no direct specifications from the client, with the exception of a specific fabric that would need to be enlisted throughout the theater, Slayman began designing a space with the transition spaces, marquee and over all grandeur of a classic Hollywood-grade cinema. 

Slayman created a dramatic mezzanine level, two lobbies impeccably designed around the ‘golden age of cinema’ theme, and numerous visual punctuations throughout the massive space. There was no audio/video specialist involved in the initial stages of the project, so when it came time for acoustic consulting, Slayman turned to the client for initial suggestions. On the recommendation of one of the client’s family members, Cantara was brought in for initial discussions.

read more:

Slayman Cinema Wins! Lady Luck Theater takes Best Overall Home Theater at the International CEDIA aw...

Monday, August 27, 2012


Each year CEDIA recognizes the best of the best in the residential electronic systems industry. 2012 was a year of innovation, creativity, and technological advancement. Manufacturers, residential electronic systems contractors, and CEDIA volunteers were recognized for their achievements and contributions to the association. On Saturday, September 10 awards were presented...  read more...