A home theater can mean different things to different people, but one thing is true for everyone: the layout is important for the experience.
A true home theater encompasses a wide range of elements, such as audio & video technology, furniture, lights, insulation, and more. So, the way you place each of these elements within the room helps build up the atmosphere.
Considering all these elements, nowadays you can actually hire a professional designer to build a home theater or a media room for you. Homeowners even have the option of selecting luxury home theater seating, which turns the room into a mini cinema with ultra-comfortable chairs.
Still, if you don’t have the budget for a professional job, you can turn this into a fun DIY project.
In both situations, you should know what you want from the experience, which is why we’ll walk you through some ideas that are important for the correct layout.
Choose the Room
If you want a home theater (and not a media room), here are a few features to consider:
- The room should be spacious enough to include seating and equipment (without getting crowded).
- You will need a large wall (that will stay blank) for the screen
- It’s best to choose a naturally dark room with as few windows and doors as possible
- The walls should allow you to install some sort of acoustic insulation
- A home theater room should be rectangular (just like a cinema)
Choose the Audio System
Once you know the room and its acoustic features, it’s time to select the audio system. Most homeowners want powerful bass, with good channel separation, and a nice balance between frequencies.
This is not difficult to achieve, but it usually means installing different size speakers, in different locations, which all bubbles down to a ton of wires. This problem can be solved with good cable management (which usually involves drilling the walls) or by installing a wireless home theater.
It’s important to understand that wireless does not mean there won’t be wires. But, there will be fewer connecting cables between the main system and its satellites, so you won’t have to drill as many holes in the walls.
Choose the Video System
And now, the biggest screen that fits the wall is not the answer!
Specialists in home theater design recommend measuring the distance from the wall (where the screen will be) to the back cushion of your first row of chairs (or couch). This is what’s called the viewing distance. Divide it by 1.5, and you’ll find the maximum size screen (its diagonal) that would work best.
Also, you should consider that the screen needs space on the sides as well. If the room is deep and narrow, don’t install a screen that’s wider than the overall room width.
Recliners vs Couch
Most professional home theaters will show you the image of comfy recliners installed in several rows, just like at the cinema. While this is a great idea that provides an extra pinch of authenticity, it may get old in time. It also doesn’t work as well in small rooms.
On the other hand, a couch and armchairs arrangement may be more comfortable for a family-style home theater. It also opens the room to other entertainment options such as video games or plain-old, music listening.
The elements mentioned above are the most important when it comes to a pleasant entertainment experience. But, to recreate the authentic cinema theater feeling, you’ll also need adjustable lights, proper ventilation (especially for California weather), and maybe a popcorn machine.
In the end, regardless of the fact that it was a DIY project or you hired a professional if you’re happy with the result, you can consider it a successful investment.