How To Design an At-Home Movie Theatre

home theater with a sofa and large screen

Building Your Home Theater

The days of “going to a movie” have changed, and more families have invested in a home theater system. Is it the price of the tickets, the cost of snacks, or simply just an easier way for entertainment for the family? 

Maybe, it’s all the above and more! With the 2020 COVID quarantine, many of us found ways to entertain the kids and ourselves, and watching movies was one of the most popular. Whether a family member had COVID or the fear of getting COVID, many of us discovered a home theater may be a worthwhile investment otherwise. 

Still, for those that haven’t made the investment, there are concerns and questions, which we are going to address in our piece today. Like, what all do you need for a home theater? With a home theater set up, you want to make it the most enjoyable for your listening and viewing pleasure. 

That doesn’t mean you have to go full out with the latest and greatest equipment on the market. You can use your 32-inch LCD/LED television and simply add a soundbar. Or, if your budget allows, depending on the size of the room, you need to consider what you have or want of these things for your home theater: 

  • Ambient lighting
  • Carpeting or no carpeting
  • Replace paneling with drywall
  • Component cabinet or closet
  • Surround sound speakers, ceiling mounted or in the wall
  • Seating

Things you may have already or need to add can include: 

  • TV or Video Projector
  • Receiver or Preamp/Amp Combination
  • Loudspeakers, Subwoofer
  • Source Components – there are many different components to choose from, including: 
  • DVD player, DVD/VHS recorders
  • Blu-ray Disc player or Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc player
  • CD player
  • Turntable
  • Antenna/cable/satellite
  • Internet streaming device
  • Surge Protector or Power Conditioner
  • Connection Cables and Speaker Wires
  • Remote Control Options
  • Home Theater Furniture

What size should a home theater room be?

There isn’t a “perfect size” for a home theater, but if you’re wanting a fully immersed experience, experts recommend 20’ x 15’ with a high ceiling.  The number one important factor in deciding the size of your home theater room will be the viewing screen size. Each screen will have a recommended viewing distance. 

The next factor to consider is acoustics. You want speakers to provide adequate sound that fills the room, but the wrong shape can distort the sound waves. The Golden Trapagon is the most often recommended shape by home theater experts. There are no parallel walls to create a bounce with the sound waves, resulting in a clearer sound for your home theater.  This is the shape preferred by industry professionals for both audio and cinema.

The ideal dimensions of a home theater screen for those who like viewing towards the front with a 36-degree field of vision and a 16:9 screen, simply convert it to inches the multiply by .746 for the recommended diagonal size of your home theater screen. 

What type of lights should you use in a home theater?

Home theater lighting should be subtle, creating a theater atmosphere. However, you should have the capabilities to fully illuminate the room when needed too. The recommended lighting options for a home theater are remote-controlled and dimmable. Among the choices are:

  • Ambient lighting
  • Fiber optic or LED lighting strips on the baseboards
  • Recessed lighting
  • Wall sconces
  • Task lamps next to seats

Do you need a projector for a home theater, or are there TV’s large enough for an at-home theater?

A projector is not necessary, but one will bring the ‘real’ theater feel to your home theater. But they are more complicated than a television, requiring extra factors to consider when purchasing. Basically, if the room allows it, a 65” television will give you the same results. 

What type of screen is used for a home theater?

When it comes to setting up a home theater, the least technical element is the projector screen, but it is just as important as the other elements.  You can choose a fixed, portable, or retractable screen, each having pros and cons. Then there is the material used for the screen. 

This is the projector screen gain factor and refers to the amount of light reflected.  It is noted in a ratio number, like 1.0 or 1.5, which represents the lumens being reflected. A 1.5 gain reflects 1.5 times the number of lumens. What does that mean? That means the image is brighter.

Maybe you purchased a cheap projector, or you already have one that is outdated. You want to get a projection screen with a higher gain screen to increase the brightness and get a better-quality image.

How far should chairs be from the main screen?

Remember the days when your parents would tell you “You’re sitting too close to the television!”? Well, those days are no longer because of the technology used in televisions. But, when it comes to seating for a home theater, the standard rule is to have one and half times the diagonal size of the screen for the distance between the seating and the screen. 

young woman enjoying a movie and eating popcorn

Is A Home Theater Worthwhile? 

So, before you go to the expense of building or creating a home theater, you probably want to review the benefits of a home theater first. Some of the benefits you can look forward to as a movie-goer is the money that you’ll save from buying overpriced candy, drinks, and popcorn!  And, you’ll be in total control of the movie choices, and you can pause it for potty breaks too! Don’t forget the family time too.