How this Cork woman built a cinema in her back garden

DIY enthusiast and interiors buff Angela Lee tells CHRIS DUNNE about the joy of building a home cinema in their back garden, in a Cork housing estate, during lockdown
How this Cork woman built a cinema in her back garden

DIY enthusiast, Angela Lee in her back garden. Picture: My Home_Lee_ home

PICTURE a warm evening. Drinks clink, popcorn rustles, toasted marsh-mellows melt, while the hamburgers sizzle on the barbeque.

On the screen before you and the sky beyond it, the stars come out to play.

All the joys of a trip to the cinema have come to the back yard of Angela Lee.

She is mother to four children, Chloe, Darragh, Jamie, and Mia, ranging in age from 16 to 29, and is a very creative imaginative lady. Her instagram page is called My Home_Lee_ home, which features amazing home interior ideas.

The home cinema is an example of that.

“My grandson Mikie, aged eight, is big into his films, so he’s a very happy chappy now he can watch his TV shows and films in the garden!” says Angela. With her creative mind and can-do attitude, she thought outside the box.

“I thought, why not make a room outside to chill, do a bit of entertaining and socialise right here in the back garden in our house on the estate now that a number of people can meet outdoors,” says Angela.

She thought of a novel idea to keep all the family entranced by transforming the back garden of her house into a stunning home cinema for the whole family to enjoy.

“The neighbours get use out of the home cinema too,” says Angela.

The fabulous venue beside the seaside is ideal for summertime when the living is easy.

“Gathering in front of the fireplace for a movie night outside with good company, nibbles and refreshments makes for a brilliant night in,” says Angela.

Or out?

Angela laughs.

“Yes, out this summer for sure!”

Everyone can come to the garden party, adhering to government guidelines.

“My mother lives nearby and she loves coming over to us to watch a good film, especially if we are having a girlie night.

“Older people were particularly isolated during Covid so she’s really happy to come over because she was stuck inside for so long.”

She must feel like a VIP?

“Yes, she does!” says Angela smiling.

Her lockdown project was a piece of cake for her because she is naturally creative and she set up her own Instagram page featuring home interiors.

“I love upcycling and renovating. I’m addicted!” says Angela, who drafted in her neighbour Kevin, who is a builder, to get the project underway.

“I had some good ideas from Pinterest,” says Angela.

“I showed Kevin a few pictures that I had been looking at and we worked together on the outdoor project.”

She had the right man on the spot for the job.

“Kevin is my neighbour and he’s a really talented builder,” says Angela.

“So I took on the project with Kevin’s help. After we laid it out it out, it all began to come together as we worked together. We even got the fireplace lighting in the centre.”

Angela's home cinema. Picture: My Home_Lee_ home
Angela's home cinema. Picture: My Home_Lee_ home

Was there a big financial lay-out?

“The costing was €2,500,” says Angela. “And that included dealing with an unexpected drainage issue.”

You don’t have to be in Costa del Sol or Puerto Rico to indulge in the great outdoors and the natural wonders around you. The beauty of the great outdoors and the wonder of nature, is often right on your doorstep.

“We live in a housing estate here in Youghal,” says Angela.

“We just have a regular garden, but working together we were able to create a lovely space, a ‘room outside’ for everyone to enjoy. All we need now is for the sun to shine!”

Angela’s creative talent shone through.

“A black-out blind doubled as the cinema screen,” says Angela.

“We all love the movies, and we loved going out to the Regal cinema in Youghal. The Regal is a state-of-the-art cinema and it is beautifully decorated.”

If the weather isn’t beautiful this summer, now Angela has a plan B.

“The next step is to build a pergola so we’ll be under cover in case it rains while we’re sitting outside and watching films.

“We take out the Sky Go box which is connected to a HD cable into the back of the projector. It works like a dream.”

The Lee’s friends and neighbours are in dream-land too, escaping to the beautiful back-drop of the home cinema during Covid when entertainment and gatherings are scarce.

Angela’s hubby had an input into the exterior decor.

“My husband, Teddy, did all the wood that is all around, but Kevin did most of the work.”

They sang from the same hymn sheet?

“They did,” says Angela. “And they worked well together.”

Kevin doesn’t sing his own praises.

“He is very modest and doesn’t like taking the credit!”

He takes everything in his stride.

“The fireplace had some water issues,” says Angela.

“So we had to put a drain in which was included in the price. But if you take that out, the home cinema, the total cost comes in around €2,000.”

Did the family stoke the interest in the home-cinema for opening night?

“We lit the fire just once to see what it was like,” says Angela.

“We did use the smokeless coal due to our neighbours as we’re in a housing estate and there are houses at the back of it too, so we were mindful not to cause concern to anybody.”

Safety is well in place.

“We also bought a fire extinguisher to store at the back of the fireplace,” says Angela. “I think most people are really impressed with the cinema screena.

“We had originally used the screen that came with the projector when we bought it last year,” adds Angela.

“But if you were watching a film on it in the evening, it would be hard to watch. So basically we keep the screen in the garden shed and take it out when we want it. It clips in, so we clip it into the top and roll it down. And it clips into the bottom as well. So it does the job.”

Necessity is the mother of invention.

“When the projector is hooked up to the SkyGo box, all you need to do is plug that in with a HDM1 Cable, and then you can watch Netflix, Sky, or whatever you want.”

Who has control of the TV remote?

“That’s a joint decision!” says Angela.

There is big demand for movie night and Kevin is in big demand now too from people wanting to get in on the act.

“He’s getting loads of calls,” says Angela. 

“He’s completely booked up until the end of August!”

Angela’s outdoor cinema with its own built- in fireplace is sparking joy and is a home-from-home.

“We’re thrilled with it,” says Angela. “Home was never like this!”

Can I get a viewing some-time?

“Come along anytime,” says Angela.

I’ll bring the popcorn.

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