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Do you still go to the movie theater? I have to admit, I haven’t been or had the desire to go in years. The same is true for a lot of my family and friends. I think the biggest thing that has changed attitudes around going to the cinema is the ability to build your own private theater in your home.
Back in the day of MTV Cribs it was a big deal to see a celebrity with their very own movie theater. It was something only accessible to the super-rich.
Now, any Tom, Dick, and Harry can set up an amazing home theater.
Many new home builders even include a media room in their floorplans now. So, why not enjoy an awesome movie exactly the way you like it in the comfort of your own home.
No coughing strangers and throats clearing. No outrageously loud audio, no bad seats, no 40 minutes of commercials (sorry, “coming attractions”).
Quick rant: Why are we paying for a movie yet being forced to watch over 30 minutes of commercials for other movies? That’s crazy. And if you try to get there later to avoid having to watch all of that nonsense, all the seats are gone. Moreover, the lights are already dimmed so you’re struggling on stairs in the dark! All while trying to balance a tub of popcorn that’s one kernel away from an avalanche type spill.
Anyway, let me stop. I’m getting heated. This is not what this post is about. Let’s move on.
Home Theater Design Decisions
Okay, back to home theaters.
Designing one of your own will require you to make a few key decisions. In this post, we’ll take a look at what those design decisions to help you flush out your vision for a home theater.
Do I Need Raised Seating In My Home Theater?
The size of your room, screen size, and type of seating layout will determine whether or not you need to install a platform or riser to raise the back row.
Having to make a decision about raised seating only applies if you plan to have multiple rows of seats. If you aren’t planning to style your room in this manner (and you definitely don’t have to) skip ahead.
In general, if you plan to have more than one row of seating, you should add a riser.
This is especially important if you’re installing high back chairs or recliners. You can DIY your riser to save money, purchase one for around $250, or buy home theater seats built-on risers.
Snacks and Refreshments
If you really want to replicate a cinema experience, you may want to consider adding a snack station or bar trolley.
A popcorn maker, mini-fridge, and a basket of snacks is a good place to start.
Just make sure that you have room for your mini concession stand in your layout. The last thing you want is a cramped uncomfortable room.
Don’t forget to plan out how you will enjoy your refreshments during the movie. If you purchase seating that doesn’t have cup holders or attached trays, you may want to consider adding small end tables between the seats.
A back row with a counter like the one in the image above is also an option.
Home Theater Curtains
If you have a true media room, you probably won’t need to worry about curtains because it’s unlikely your room has windows. On the other hand, if you’re converting a spare bedroom or office into a home theater, you may need them.
Believe it or not, there are a number of decisions you’ll need to make regarding curtains. Each option comes with a different price tag, of course.
The budget-friendly option is to go for standard blackout curtains or drapes. The second option is to install heavyweight room divider curtains similar to those used in shared hospital rooms. These will likely require a special rail or rod to hold them up.
There are also blackout window shades sold by home theater shops as well as soundproof curtains.
For more window treatment ideas check out the post “Going Beyond Curtains: Window Treatments 101“.
Soundproofing & Acoustics
Yet another decision to be made in your home theater design is whether or not to install soundproofing or acoustic panels.
I found a thorough explanation of the difference between sound insulating panels and sound-absorbing panels at soundproofcow.com.
If you’re DIYing this project, you’re probably not going to be installing soundproofing in the drywall and ceiling, but it is an option.
It’s more likely that you’ll want to look into add-on options. For this, check out acoustic panels. There are a lot of different kinds including ones disguised as wall art.
Projector vs Big Screen
In addition to your sound system, you’ll want to decide between a large flat-screen television or a projector. Frankly, I think a projector is more hassle than its worth, but if you want to be able to control your screen size on a whim, then it might be for you.
Just keep in mind, that it’s not a stand-alone solution. You’ll need to make use of another device in conjunction with the projector to view or stream movies.
Regarding screen size, remember that bigger is not always better.
Keep in mind the dimensions of your room and the distance from your seating to the screen when choosing your television.
The last thing you want is to do all this work designing your home theater only to have an uncomfortable viewing experience.
Last but not least, let’s move into furniture selection. Here’s where you can get as creative as you’d like.
There is no rule that says your home theater has to look like a mini version of an AMC. The whole point is that you have the ability to customize your room to your liking. If you don’t like recliners and prefer to lay on a fluffy couch with pillows on your side, then put a sectional in your room.
If your kids love to climb all over the floor while they’re watching movies, then add those huge oversized floor pillows in the front row.
Furniture selection is totally up to you.
Combining a few different seating styles is a good idea if you’re looking to please the whole family.
You could place recliners on a riser in the back of the room and a sectional sofa down in front. Choose whatever makes you the happiest and what makes sense for the people who will use the room the most.
That’s it for this post. I hope this breakdown of home theater design decisions gave you some guidance and inspiration.
If you think I missed anything important, please leave your thoughts for everyone in the comment below.
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