Home theaters can vary greatly from enhanced entertainment to extravagant entertainment. It is a space where you can spend a little just to get the proper technology and systems in place and leave the design to a minimum, or go to the extreme and design the space down to every last detail. To help you determine what the best home theater space is for you and your house, I have put together a checklist of a few options that will help you decide what your space can look like.
#1 Screen or Projector?
First off...A Big Screen TV versus a Projector? This decision may significantly affect how much you spend on your home theater space. Often you can find a high quality flat screen, wall-mounted TV for much less than you will pay for a projector and mounted screen. However, the TV offers less of a theater environment compared to the projector screen. This should be your first decision because your design will depend on what you are watching your movies on. It will be the focal point of the space and dictate how the rest of the design fits together.
# 2 Location
The second item on our list is the location. There is the saying, "location, location, location, " but in this case it really is one of the most important decisions to make. Where you place you home theater in your home will highly dictate how that space looks and functions. One of the most common locations for a home theater is in the basement for the main reason that it does not often require you to deal with the issue of natural light. In a basement you are limited on windows but want functional space, so why not use the space for a function that thrives without natural light interference. You can use this as one function, along with a rec room and a small home bar (two spaces we will talk about in later blogs) to turn your basement into an entertainment retreat for your home. It would make your basement an ideal location for friend and family gatherings, birthday parties, or any other occasion worth getting together for. If you decide to go a different route and place your home theater on your main or upper floor, just keep in mind that black out curtains on any window will need to be integrated into your overall design concept. Also consider how your are going to wire your theater for sound. The last thing you want is to create a beautiful theater space to watch your movies and then not be able to hear anything. An easy way to get the surround sound experience is to mount speaker in the four corners of your room and face them towards your viewing area. Just be careful not to over design for the size of your space. If it is a small room, two speakers on either side of the screen facing the audience would probably suffice.
Our third item on our list is seating. If you have every flipped through a furniture magazine or gone to a furniture store, you know that there are almost unlimited choices when it comes to seating options. My suggestion is to narrow your search down starting with this question: Do I want built in permanent seating or pieces of furniture that can be rearranged or reused for another purpose. My recommendation is to go the furniture route. Purchase some comfy chairs or couches to place in two or three rows (depending on the size of the space and how many you want to seat). Keep in mind that you still want everyone to be able to see. Consider building up the floor with one or two platform steps (4"-6") to add a bit of additional height to the back rows. Or consider chairs or couches for the adults and bean bags or smaller chairs for the kids in front.
Forth on the list is lighting. The complexity of the lighting you install is completely up to you. Recessed can lights on dimmer switches are always a safe and efficient way to go. These can be accented by wall sconces that throw light up and down a wall like in traditional movie theater. Floor lighting can also help create ambiance and safety for walking in the dark, especially if you choose to raise or step the floor.
# 5 Decoration
Your final decision on the checklist is how to decorate your space. This is where you can go simple or extravagant in your design. Simple paint (typically in a darker shade) and some accents on the walls and you could be done. Or you can create a whole built in proscenium, stage, and curtain for your screen. The sky and your budget are the limit on how intricate you design your space.
To start planning your home theater, start with an inspiration board, then give us a call! We can help you plan the rest!