There is no greater joy in life than having a large home theater in the comfort of your home. Why brave traffic, stand in lines for movie tickets and deal with noisy movie-goers when you can watch the best feature films and TV shows at home on a luxurious recliner while devouring buttery popcorn?
Now that you’ve decided to bring the cinematic experience at home, it’s time to design your home theater. This is much easier said than done since there are a variety of things to consider before building a home theater system. It’s essential to plan your set-up, do adequate research on the available TVs and sound systems in the market and select the best décor to enhance your viewing experience.
Fortunately, we’ve compiled a handy-dandy list of home theater design tips that you should take into account while bringing the big screen home:
1. Size of the room
Before doing anything at all, it is important to choose which room you’d like to convert into your personal home theater. Most of the time, TV is watched in the living room, kitchen or bedroom. However, these rooms have windows. Windows not only allow sunlight to seep into the room, but dim the viewing experience. Glass windows reflect sound and light. Which means, hearing Norman Bates knife Marion in “Psycho” may not seem horrific with sunlight.
The basement is the best room to setup your own home theater system since it has the ideal room size, can be rewired easily, has few or no windows and the sound is unlikely to travel to the neighbor’s home.
The ideal room is large enough to seat several people, has one door and no windows.
2. Height of the Ceiling
Typically, a high-ceiling room is excellent for watching Khaleesi ride her ginormous dragons in “Game of Thrones.” Nevertheless, you can setup your personal theater even in a room with low ceiling such as the basement. Just opt for a large LED or LCD TV over a screen and projector.
Now that you’ve selected the room, it’s time to use this super-useful home theater equipment checklist to see if you have all the devices necessary to binge-watching the new season of “House of Cards.” The checklist includes LED and LCD television, surround sound, Blu-ray DVD player, an Internet connection to stream your favorite movies and shows, a digital video recorder, cable and many other things.
While you may be tempted to splurge on a good surround sound system and a high quality audio/video receiver (AVR), it’s important to compare and contrast different brands before shelving more money. For example, surround sound seems like a good idea on the surface but it requires you to invest in expensive wireless speakers or lining speaker wires under the plush carpet. In that case, a budget-friendly subwoofer would be a wiser purchase.
Even AVRs are priced anywhere between $280 to $3,000 on Amazon. Is the additional money worth the price? Does it offer more features that you will use extensively?
Unless you’re comfortable with your neighbors frequently complaining of noise or waking up your child while you watch the latest “The Walking Dead” season at night, it’s vital to soundproof your home theater. That means installing acoustic wall panels to block out the noise and carpeting the room from wall-to-wall in order to kick back and enjoy a disruption-free viewing of the latest comedy flick.
Good old drywall is also a good way to soundproof your swanky new home theater. Add in some plush drapes, a nice long carpet and you’ve got yourself the perfect home-based cinema.
4. Screen distance
No amount of palatial furnishings will enrich your viewing experience like setting up the TV at an ideal distance from your seating area. If your plasma is too close, you’ll begin to see the pixels on the screen. If it’s too far, you’ll squint your eyes and miss out on the finer picture details in the movie. The thumb rule is that screen distance should be 1.5 to 2 times the diagonal width of the screen. So, if you have a 48-inch LED HD TV (diagonally measured) then you should ideally place the seating area no more than 8 feet or 96 inches from the screen (two times 48).
The screen distance can also be used the other way around – You can take measurements of the length of your room and calculate the size of the TV you need to purchase. If you want a more accurate calculation of your room’s size and the screening distance, head over here.
Furthermore, the display of your screen should be at your eye level. Too high and the TV hovers over your head, too low and you’ll be craning your neck. It’s just common sense.
Also, it’s essential to note that many retail store’s lighting might trick you into thinking certain TVs give clearer picture quality than others. Plasma TVs are good but in store lighting their picture quality seems dull. Instead of just talking to an employee itching to reach his sales target, consider comparing specs of various TVs online. An 4K ultra HD is very different from a plasma TV. Here’s an extensive buying guide to help you out.
5. Comfortable Seating
One of the best part of watching a movie on a large screen isn’t just taking in the magnificent performance of the actors on a massive display. It’s seeing motion pictures come to life on a lavish, cozy and slightly over-sized recliner.
Investing in a three, six or nine-seater recliner with metallic cup holders and a storage space for magazines will do wonders in refining the 360 degree viewing experience. That and no one wants to watch a movie on sturdy, uncomfortable chairs. You can browse through some super-comfy recliners here and cool types furniture for home theaters here.
Related: 21 Home Theater Seating Options
As stated earlier, glass is a big no-no because it reflects, rather than absorbs, sound and light. You may be tempted to flaunt fancy art framed in glass. Don’t do that. The dialogues will tend to echo.
If you do have windows, it is a good idea to black them out completely. Of course, you could use curtains and drapes to block sunlight but you’ll have to close and open them all the time. Blacking out the windows is a better long-term solution.
7. Wall colors
You may be tempted to paint your walls red or add a splash of yellow to make the home theater room lively. While bright colors do wonders in up lighting the atmosphere of a room, it does nothing for improving the viewing experience. Bright colors reflect light and distract you from truly admiring the movie’s setting.
Opt for neutral colors such as cream and shades of browns over occur yellow or bright purple. If you need to see how neutral colors can still make liven up a home theater’s décor, scan through over thirty mind-blowing home theater design ideas here.
8. Surge Protectors
It is pertinent to buy a high quality surge protector. These useful devices protect your home-based cinema from electrical spikes and surges. Thank about it: You’ve got more than five electronic devices fitted in the room. A spike in the electric current or a sudden power outage could destroy your TV, surround sound or projector. If your home isn’t fitted with a surge protection system, it’s time to find one for your home theater.
Surge protectors block excess electric current by sending it to the ground. For more information on the amount of joules and the standards you should look for while buying one, head over here. Remember, power strips are not surge protectors.
9. One remote control for everything
Last but certainly not the least, a single Logitech Harmony remote control can be used to control all the devices in your home theater system. Why have five or six different remotes when you can have one. Moreover, you can set it up on your phone or laptop and use voice control to activate or deactivate devices. Bonus use: It can be used to regulate your thermostat and gaming consoles as well. Check it out on Amazon here.
10. Wireless network
In an age where streaming movies via Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu and HBO Go is the norm, investing in a strong wireless network can go a long way in making it an envy-worthy home theater. Wi-Fi can allow you to use your mobile or laptop to connect to your home theater system and catch the newest season of “Orange is the new Black.”
Of course, a popcorn machine, a cool sign saying “now showing” and little mini-bar would certainly take the indulgent movie experience up a notch. Don’t hesitate to customize your home theater room with a plethora of nifty decors and products out there. It would certainly make it more enjoyable to watch Rey battle Kylo Ren with light sabers in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Most importantly, take your time in planning, researching and handpicking devices and furniture to fill your home theater with. It’ll be worth the wait.
Next: 20 Types of TV Furniture
Katie Porter is an aspiring writer, movie lover, and part of the team at Seatup. In her free time, she enjoys exploring her home state Colorado and plays in women’s amateur rugby league.