The only thing better than going to the movies is to enjoy them from the comfort of your own home theater. Also, as we spend more time in our own homes, we might as well optimize them for watching parties. If you’re ready to commit or are just starting to research the process, these 12 home theater design ideas, renovation tips, and decorating examples will help you create the movie viewing space of your dreams. Now sit back, relax, and enjoy the showcase of home theater features that rival reality below.
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Take it outside
Why limit yourself to indoors when you can watch a movie under the stars? Anything is possible with a portable projector and a blank sheet of paper, a flat exterior surface or a portable screen. Here’s our full backyard theater DIY if you want more details on how to bring yours to life.
Design advice: Hang string lights, stack pillows, and arrange suitable furniture outdoors for a magical cinematic experience.
Free up your basement
A basement is the perfect place to design a home theater since it is secluded and dark. This will make the sound performance and lighting easier to control.
Design advice: Try painting your walls a dark color and set up an extra large flat screen, like in this home theater designed by Elizabeth Roberts Architecture & Design. Then bring in seating reminiscent of classic plush movie seats, but with a modern twist and the ability to work in a variety of environments.
Examine sound options
There is a lot to think about when designing your audio system, how many speakers you will need, and whether or not to install surround sound. Certain design choices will also have an impact on sound quality. For example, a mat helps contain noise and prevent echo.
Design advice: A plush carpet, adjustable leather recliner chairs with integrated cup holders, and a sophisticated gray color scheme make this Heather Hilliard Design home theater perfect for moviegoers and families alike. A large sectional can accommodate more family and friends and the moody color story makes it feel like an underground living room.
Find alternative locations
If you don’t have a basement or space big enough, there are plenty of other ways to make a home theater work. Transform a guest bedroom or walk-in closet, where enclosed nature minimizes natural light. Other options include the conversion of a garden shed, a pool house and even an unused garage.
Design advice: If you can’t design an entire room to look like a black box-style theater, go for integrated seating for a scaled-down version of the experience, as seen in this corner designed by Studio DB.
Optimize your cabling
Another important step is to check your wiring. You will need the correct wiring for lighting, sound, and your projector and / or screen. It’s also a good time to mention that you’ll want to keep gear out of sight and hide your wires with inconspicuous tubing.
Design advice: If your home theater doesn’t have room for theater-style stadium seating, reproduce a conversation pit. Designed by Jamie Bush, this space feels like a private haven suitable for big night watching thanks to the full carpeting and modular seating.
Remember to isolate your space
Once you’ve selected the room you want to use for a home theater, you’ll want to define your remodeling needs. Do you just want to decorate a media room that takes a bit of inspiration from a movie theater or do you want to go all out? If the latter is the case, you may want to insulate your walls with drywall to create an acoustic barrier.
Design advice: Make it super soft. Comfortable sectional sofas (or large loveseats, depending on the size of the room) are perfect for romantic nights or family reunions, and overstuffed ottomans and stackable side tables that hang above the sofa, like those of this home theater from Dale Blumberg Interiors, are the perfect resting place for your bowl of popcorn.
Choose your screen
There are a ton of options and things to consider when choosing your display. Most importantly, the dimensions of the room. If it’s shallow, you won’t want to choose a screen that’s too big. Whichever you choose, make sure it has a Blu-ray player, satellite power supply, and a game console.
Design advice: While the silver screen in this Tracy Lynn Studio viewing room is set against a dark background, the rest of the space is decidedly light and upbeat. That’s thanks to the blush tufted wall panels and white leather reclining chairs. And you can still create a media room that looks like a home theater even if you don’t have the perfect basement space to do it (blackout curtains to the rescue!).
Configure control systems
Consider setting up a control system like a universal remote, iPad, iPhone, or whole house home automation system. It will help you control lighting, sound and everything in one place.
Design advice: This multimedia room by Catherine Kwong is perfect for family movie nights, but it’s also the perfect backdrop for receptions, afternoon naps and casual gatherings.
Think of the bells and whistles
Do you want 3D capability? Professional-level audio performance and a high-resolution picture? A hidden projector falling from the ceiling? There are many little add-ons that will make your home theater a truly immersive experience.
Design advice: If you have plain white walls, a projector will be your best friend. You will be able to watch your favorite movies on a big “screen” without having to install one on the walls of your living room, like in this apartment designed by Paula Guzman.
Think about the layout
And now for the fun part … once you’ve worked out all the technical stuff, you can think about the layout. Opt for cinema-style stadium seating with reclining lounge chairs or loveseats, or keep things on the same level with a sectional.
Design advice: The layout of this Studio Ashby designed home theater is a nod to the true cinematic experience, but with a sophisticated twist. Art Deco sconces and tiered seating evoke the golden age of Hollywood, while olive green seating and ottomans are fresh and contemporary.
Make it kid-friendly
And finally, you can start decorating your home theater. Pick a theme and use it, whether you want to channel your favorite movie frame, make it fancy, or feature a repeating pattern.
Design advice: If your media room is also a playroom, choose a dark wallpaper that will absorb the light during viewing evenings, but also talk about other uses of the space with a whimsical print. Adding floor cushions is also a good choice, as this media room from Regan Baker Design proves.
If you do not have a spare part, give another one for a second use. You can do this by painting it in dark colors, installing a sound deadening rug in the same shade, and outfitting it with lavish furniture.
Design advice: This GRT Architects lounge is optimized for meetings and aperitifs, but also has a projector so that it can be used as a theater when the mood strikes you.
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