The term home theater is used quite liberally. When they first became popular, they really were theaters, mostly for movie viewing. They had projection and screens, and some entailed serious audio systems. Stair-stepped seating or theater seats were also common.
While this kind of an elaborate setup is still desirable for many people, we often see rooms that are, for lack of a better term, sort of “glorified” TV rooms. And they’re still pretty awesome.
Here is the disclaimer. I am no home-theater expert, and believe me, there is a ton a technical stuff that can be involved. But we’ve done our share in our home remodel and construction projects. So let me walk you through some of the options you should consider for making your home-theater dreams as simple or as grand as you like.
Hiring a theater professional vs. DIY: Let’s face it, there is so much tech stuff to know as technology evolves. A pro can help with all of those little details that you may or may not even be aware of.
Many people also enjoy researching and putting together this type of room, and the internet is full of their never-ending advice and tips. So decide where you are and how involved you want to be in the process.
TV vs. projection: Both options can be good, and it’s mostly a matter of preference. TVs are now larger and lighter than even, with incredible pictures. Projection offers incredible pictures too, and you can project onto a screen. Or, in some cases, we have seen smooth drywall with a specific sheen paint work beautifully in lieu of a screen.
Seating: Do you want true theater-style seating, or maybe something like larger, movie-style recliners? Another option that is common is a sectional sofa, with a regular sofa on a platform. Either way, having an elevated viewing area, about 10 inches taller, makes for a good seat for everyone.
Sound: You can go as simple as a surround sound system from the local electronics store to true theater-quality sound that the neighbors can hear. Decide how detailed you want it to be — when the volcano erupts in a movie, do you want to not only hear it, but feel it too? Keep in mind that higher-quality sounds systems may require a professional.
Lighting: When I think of a home theater, I think of a dark space, with no windows. While that is an ideal situation, it is not always what you have available to work with. When done properly, black-out shades are highly effective for completely darkening a room.
One of our clients had two sets of shades installed in a theater room that also has a beautiful view of the outside. One set is for day, to cut glare off the water. The other shade behind that offers complete blackout.
Overhead lighting should be dimmable. It’s also nice to have some step lights at your seating platform or along the wall to the doorway in the event viewers need to step out during the movie or show.
The fun stuff: Many theatres have some pretty cool accessories, like a bar, mini fridge or freezer, and the like. One theatre I visited had an old-fashioned candy case and a freestanding popcorn machine. You can also add the velvet drapes over the screen or other fun movie-theater-themed décor.
Whether simple or sublime, a home theatre is bound to get a lot of use. It’s a place where many fun memories can be made and the kids can hang out with friends — and maybe even their parents. A worthwhile investment, for sure!