This is Jonathan Marshall. He’s a New Zealander and the president of the XBMC Foundation, and right now he’s standing in his crawl space. You may note the lack of a floor in his house.

Jonathan Marshall in his basement

Jonathan Marshall in his 2 feet deep basement

Jonathan has been with the XBMC  Team longer than almost anybody currently on the team, so when he and his wife (and, of course, their two cats, Chilli and Thyme, and dog Jet) bought a house back in 2006, it was a given that they were going to have a pretty nifty little entertainment system.

The house Jonathan and his wife (and cats and dog) bought was built back around 1916 and came with a lounge equipped with a beautiful pressed steel (sometimes called “pressed tin”) ceiling and a large bay window with stained glass at the top. It was clear from the beginning (particularly to the cats) that if this room was going to be a dedicated XBMC room, it would need to be a bit more refined than your traditional man cave.

pressed steel ceiling

With a ceiling like this, you'll REALLY need a room to match.

When the room renovations started, the first order of business was the removal of the faux fireplace with the ugly gas heater, to better make space for the entertainment system. Also, to get rid of an ugly gas heater.

lounge faux fireplace

The previous owner's cat blurs in embarrassment over the faux fireplace

Construction commenced in the lounge. Speaker wires were strung under the floor in the crawl space. The entire fireplace was torn out and replaced.

lounge construction

Jet the dog is taking a break from doing all the real work.

Et voila, with the combined magical might of Jet the Dog and Jonathan the XBMC Guy, we’ve got ourselves a beautiful home theater with next to no visible cords.

lounge completion

Jet relaxes after a job well done. Thyme the cat relaxes because there's nothing better to do.

Now let’s go through this room, step by step, to see all the things Jonathan’s done with it, starting with the speakers and entertainment center.

entertainment center

The Entertainment Center

As you may note right off the bat, both the entertainment center and the speakers appear to be made of the same wood. This is primarily because they are. Both are constructed of reused and recovered Rimu wood, a wood native to New Zealand. Jonathan, being something of a handy fellow, built the speakers back in 2003, using an MDF base with a 6 mm recycled Rimu veneer applied to the outside.

unfinished speaker

Note the MDF on the inside.

The media center was built using Rimu wood taken from the pulled up and replaced skirting in the various rooms of the house during the renovation.

The other electronics visible in the above picture include a previous generation Mac Mini running XBMC for OSX, a NAD T752 receiver (which is remarkably difficult to find these days), and a 40 inch Samsung television.

The really remarkable thing you CAN’T see in that picture, are the drawers pulled out.


Notice anything unusual in this picture?

For those of you with good spatial sense, you are not seeing a lens illusion. Those drawers are quite a bit longer than the media center that surrounds them. Or, to put it slightly more accurately, the media center doesn’t stop at the wall. It actually dips into the area under the stairs that are behind the wall. The media center is about 2 feet deep, but only 1 of those feet is visible! Craziness!

Now, if we look straight down, we’ll see the floor. Under that floor are the cords that lead to the back wall. And on that back wall are the rear speakers that Jonathan also built.

rear speakers

More of somebody's (probably Jet's) handiwork.

To accomplish the look back here, Jonathan built two angular floating shelves to rest his handmade speakers on.

Finally, to round out the room (and to keep it warm in the winter), Jonathan had to replace the heater that he’d ripped out. His simple solution was to install a beautiful woodburning stove in the unused corner of the room. Then, to finish things off, he put Jet the Dog’s bed before the fire and allowed Chilli the cat to immediately steal Jet’s bed forever.

wood fireplace

Poor Jet!

That’s Jet, Chilli, and Thyme’s (I mean Jonathan’s) XBMC room. It’s a more civilized room from a more civilized age. And that wraps it up for us this Feature Friday. For those curious, Jonathan also renovated the rest of his house, and yes, it also looks pretty fantastic.

Stay tuned next week, when we stop talking about boring XBMC Team members, and start talking about you all again. And, as always, feel free to send in your setups to natethomas AT xbmc DOT org or @natedrives or @xbmc on Twitter. And for all you NZ folk, feel free to tell us how you feel about the movie Goodbye Pork Pie in the comments!