Home Theater Design Ideas and Advice
Good home theater design can be an elaborate endeavor that captures the look and feel of classic commercial theaters of a bygone era. Or it can be a fairly simple design the creates a comfortable movie viewing environment for you and your family. But no matter how fancy or plain your home theater design might be, you will need to get several things right so that your home theater or media room will perform the way you want it to perform.
A home theater can be the perfect addition to a home. It will add value to your home and is often a home design feature and amenity buyers are looking for. Simply put, a good home theater can help a house sell faster and for a better price.
As you begin your home theater design, you must first determine how you plan to use your home theater or media room design. That decision will influence many aspects of the design. Will it be used exclusively for watching movies? If that’s the case, do you want to capture the feel of a commercial movie theater, but on a more intimate scale? A commercial theater is a special place, isolated from the rest of the world, where you expect to be transported to the magical world of the silver screen. The “movie-only” home theater might be placed a distance from the main living spaces in your home to help reinforce the sense of isolation and to also control sound. It might have a décor that is reminiscent of a vintage theater from long ago. A home theater design like this would have a different set of design criteria than one that is intended to be used both for viewing movies and regular television.
A home theater design intended to be used for both movie viewing and television might be less isolated. In fact, it might be best if it is immediately adjacent to the family room rather than placed far away. A home theater design like this might be more properly called a Media Room. It might have windows, so it does not feel like a cave when watching the big game. But those windows could be fitted with black-out curtains to convert into the “isolation chamber” that is more conducive to movie viewing. Media rooms need to be chameleons, of a sort, and adapt to several types of viewing experiences.
Once you have decided on the type of home theater you want, you need to plan the room size, shape, and location within the house. Whether you are designing your house from scratch or if you are choosing the perfect room to convert into a home theater, it is usually best to avoid rooms with a lot of natural light, even with black-out curtains. Lots of outside light can be difficult to control and will interfere with the visual quality of your movies. This means no skylights and minimal windows. The best place often is in the basement for a true, movie only” home theater.
Don’t neglect the acoustics. Of course, a home theater or media room should have sound insulation if its walls, floor, and ceiling to keep the booming bass from disturbing other parts of the house and noisy kids and flushing toilets from interfering with a dramatic moment on the screen.
But acoustics is not just about sound transmission. Good acoustics can improve the sound quality within the room. Room that are too lively and reflect sounds off hard walls, floors, and ceilings, can be uncomfortable. Movie dialog can become unintelligible. Movie watchers can become exhausted and uncomfortable. Soft finishes, like carpet and padded wall coverings can aid in getting just the right amount of sound reflection, but not too much. If you really want the maximum movie experience, hire a specialist to advice on the proper sound system and room finishes to produce perfect audio. Nothing makes movies more special than perfect sound quality.
Don’t get too far ahead of yourself, though. First settle on the room dimensions and location within the house. Once that is determined, you can dig into the “nuts and bolts” of the design and start making decisions and choices about Home Theater Design Plans, Home Theater Seating Layout, the home theater screen, a projection television, or big screen LED or plasma television, acoustics, lighting, audio systems, automation, and interior design and finishes. For a quick reference, check out our Home Theater Tips. If you get all of this right, you’ll be sure your home theater design or media room design makes the most of the space available and creates an amazing theater experience.