Are you thinking of turning your den, spare room, or even basement into a home movie theater? Taking on a media room project can be challenging, but with some planning, it’s within reach. The important elements are picture, sound, lighting, seating, and décor.
Getting a Great Picture
Projectors with 1080p playback are becoming less and less costly. A good quality 1080p projector will cost around $1,000. The Epson PowerLight Home Cinema costs about $1,300 and does the job very well. Higher end home theater projectors can cost up to $5,000 and more — your budget should determine how far you want to go when choosing a projector. It’s easy to find low- and high-end home theater projection systems at electronics stores and online.
For the screen, you can either purchase a home theater screen or simply leave one wall painted white. A bare wall isn’t the best surface for showing movies, but if your budget is limited, it can work in a pinch.
Home Theater Sound Tips
A 5.1 surround sound system is standard in a home theater system. I like the sound quality of Onkyo, because the highs and lows are pretty even. If your budget is a little higher, you might want to look into a 7.2 system. If you’re looking for a sound system with deeper lows, look into Bose. Bose is a bit more expensive than Onkyo, and its quality is arguably higher. The quality of a speaker system rises significantly with its price tag, and for good reason too. Sound is half the experience, and not-so-great sound quality can prevent a home theater room from feeling immersive and authentic.
Lighting Your Home Theater
In a real movie theater, the lights dim when the show begins. Use dimmers on your lights to make your home theater experience realistic. Slowly dim the lights to a very low brightness when the movie begins, to allow viewers’ eyes to adjust. Leave one dim light illuminated near the door to help viewers find their way to the restroom or other parts of your house in the middle of the showing.
Your room will probably have some overhead lighting in the room already. For a truly authentic theatrical look, add theater-style sconces along the walls. Bowl sconces will direct light towards the ceiling, so your viewers won’t be blinded by glare in their eyes. For those who place elegance at the top of their priorities, clean sconces with an opening at the bottom are a great idea. Not only do they project light up, they also reveal a path of more intense light below. Corner lights, on the other hand, aren’t a good idea, as the corners nearest to the screen could wash out the picture even if they’re very dim.
Creating Comfy Seating
Consider the size of the room, the size of your family, and the number of guests you’d like to invite over for screenings. If your home theater is just for you, you could go all out on a gorgeous, comfortable recliner. To entertain a few people, a couple loveseats should do the trick. To create a movie room that can accommodate larger groups, plan to have rows of chairs or, for a casual feel, beanbag seating. Ideally, row seating should be installed at different heights, just like in a real movie theater.
The best theaters are the most comfortable ones, so investing in comfortable leather seating will pay dividends. If your budget allows it, look for reclining seats and cup holders.
Decorating a Media Room
Use cool, dark colors to paint the walls. Dark blue, green, brown, and grey are all great choices. If you don’t want to invest money into a screen (which you should definitely do), you could leave one wall white. Avoid glossy paint to minimize glare and reflection, and allow viewers to focus clearly on the projected picture. Don’t forget the final touches: movie posters, memorabilia, and other keepsakes on the walls. Hang curtains around the screen and consider creating a “concession stand” with a small fridge for soda, some shelves for candy, and a popcorn maker for the most classic movie treat.
Don’t forget to stock up with classic movies, because without them, none of these tips will matter!