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6 Design considerations for building a custom home theater

A home theater has long been considered a room exclusively for large luxury homes and mansions. However, as audio and video technology has progressed, a home theater has come into reach for many homeowners.

If you are interested in building a custom home theater for your space, you can pick up a home theater kit to get you started with adding surround sound audio to your TV or projector.

If you are interested in a more luxury approach for this space, you’ll likely need to reach out to the home theater experts at a reputable audio/video company.

There are many designs and configurations to consider for your home theater that go beyond your audio and video setup. Your home theater should be a place where you feel comfortable being for several hours at a time with minimal distractions.

Seating, accessibility of drinks and snacks, and lighting controls are all critical for creating an experience similar to visiting an actual movie theater.

If you aren’t sure where to get started with building your home theater, or if your home theater feels like it’s missing something, take a look through these six design considerations that can elevate your entertainment space.

Seating Options
Recliner-style seating is the most popular choice for home theaters, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there shouldn’t be a few seating options available for you or your guests.

Recliners are fantastic for individuals, but a loveseat or highbacked couch may be preferable for people that like sitting together. There are many loveseats and conjoined reclining seats available that retailers market specifically for home theaters.

Make sure your seating arrangements have a nearby place for storing drinks or food. Recliners for home theaters often have cupholders similar to the seats at your local theater.

You’ll definitely want to situate your home theater seats in the middle of the room, but you’ll also want to make sure they aren’t floating in separation from everything else within this space. A small side table between or nearby the seats is often the best option for improving your seating layout.

Sound-Proofing Panels
Sound-proofing panels are essential to home theater design. Including foam or felt panels on the walls and ceiling will optimize the acoustics for the entire room.

Most felt and foam panels are easy to install and come with adhesive stickers that prevent the paint from coming off the wall when pulled back.

Sound-proofing panels are also essential to keeping the noise from other rooms or the nearby street from entering the theater space.

Install sound-proofing panels along the sides of the theater space and in the middle section of the ceiling. Don’t go overboard when installing soundproofing panels. Too many panels can trap heat within your space and make it more challenging to regulate the room’s temperature correctly.

Most sound-proofing panels are relatively inexpensive, come in various colors and textures, and are fire-retardant.

Controlled Lighting
Smart home lighting systems from companies like Lutron and Control4 are a high-quality addition to your home theater that gives users complete control of the room lighting.

You can sync your smartphone to your home lighting system through the app and dim the lights just as the movie starts.

A smart home lighting system often costs less than most people think, but if you are looking for a less expensive option, consider a dimmer switch for raising or lowering the lights.

The front and rear of the theater should have differentiated lighting areas, so the space around the screen can remain dark while the back of the room is lighter.

There are many creative and colorful lighting options to explore for your home theater- recessed lighting and wall sconces are popular for luxury setups.

Neon blues and reds provide a stylish addition to this space, while floor lighting is a popular way to make your theater look more like the local cinema.

Mini-Bar and Drink Cooler
A small bar area for the back of your home theater can improve the functionality of your space and offers a comfortable space for conversation during a movie or sports game. Built-in cabinets or shelves for this area are a must-have for storing snacks and glasses.

A mini-fridge can also be convenient, but for storing wine or other alcoholic beverages, there are plenty of temperature-controlled cabinets that can give the bar area a classier appearance. You’ll need a few seats for this area as well- here are a few of the best bar stools for your home.

TV vs. Projector Screen
For uncapped screen size and the traditional theater setup, you’ll want to purchase a projector and projector screen instead of a new TV.

The projector should be mounted on the ceiling but easy to control with a remote or smartphone app if there is a drop in picture quality. Projectors require specialized light bulbs- projector lamps last anywhere from 2,000 to 5,000 hours.

A TV can serve in place of a projector but is often more expensive. However, the picture quality may be higher because of the dedicated screen.

Make sure to choose a TV with a high-resolution- 4K is the modern minimum for a home theater. An audio/video company can assist with projector installation and offer additional advice on the best screen for your space.

Audio System with Smart Home Controls
A full audio range with surround sound is a must-have for your home theater, but choosing between your audio options can sometimes pose a challenge.

You’ll need an AV receiver, subwoofers, a soundbar that fits beneath the screen, and all associated cables and wires.

Installing the audio system and optimizing the acoustics of your space is often the most challenging part of installing a home theater.

Once everything is installed, your theater’s audio controls can go far beyond the volume up and down buttons on your TV remote.

Smart home systems can give you complete control of your theater audio from anywhere in the house.

There are many audio/video experts available to assist with home theater installation and provide advice on optimizing your space.

There are many features beyond the basics mentioned here for customizing your space-we didn’t even mention a popcorn machine! With custom audio, lighting, and seating, your home theater will quickly become your favorite room in the house.

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