Think you need to have the bank balance of Steven Spielberg or one of the Coppolas to have your own home theater? Think again!
It is a huge dream of many movie fans to watch their favorite flicks in their own home movie theater. Never again will you have to put up with inflated theater prices, yapping teenagers, or waiting in long lines.
And if you never got the chance to watch Jaws on the big screen? No problem! You can watch it on your own big screen!
Building your own home theater doesn’t have to cost a lot, but it requires planning, work, and a can-do attitude. If you are not sure where to begin, this is a step-by-step guide to turning your big-screen dreams into a big-time reality.
Table of Contents
Step 1: Choose Your Location
Basements are an ideal location to set up a home theater. They are often the biggest room in the house and the easiest to soundproof.
Plus, if your basement does not have any windows, then that is one less job to do later.
But you do not want a room that is too big with high ceilings. The sound is less likely to carry throughout the entire room and will get lost. If you do not have an adequate basement or spare room, a well-insulated and decent-sized shed in your backyard might work well.
Step 2: Prepare and Redecorate
Next, you need to prepare your chosen location so that the sound and light quality are the best that they can be.
First, focus on soundproofing. Home theaters can be very loud. Your family members might not want to hear the adventures of Indiana Jones through the walls when they are trying to sleep.
Plus, you do not want the sounds of sirens and motorcycles to interrupt your journey to the Temple of Doom and snap you back into reality.
Insulate your walls and floors with carpet, hardwood, drywall, and/or sheetrock. Bare cement and stone will echo sound and destroy the cinema experience. You could also use draft excluders behind doors for extra sound protection.
Next, think about natural light. If you have any windows, invest in great blackout blinds. You might also want to paint your walls and ceiling black or charcoal grey. This will ensure your home theater is in total darkness before the magic of cinema commences.
Step 3: Select a Home Theater System
Choosing a home theater system is the most important step. Without it, you will be sitting in a comfy chair staring at a blank screen in total silence.
There are so many home theater systems to choose from. First, start with your screen. You may have a go-big-or-go-home attitude and want a 120-inch ultra-HD TV as your home theater screen.
But a far more cost-effective route would be to buy a home theater projector. That way, you can buy a white screen that maximizes the size of your projection wall. And great HD projectors are available for around $1,000.
Don’t forget about home theater speakers. Choose a surround sound system with many speakers fitted around your home theater for the full movie theater effect. Start with a speaker at the front, four on either side of the seating area, and add more if you need them.
Make sure you can connect your projector to your media player (Blu-ray is preferable) and/or laptop.
Step 4: Install Home Theater Lighting
Bring your home theater to life with cinematic LED lighting. The right lighting can level up your home theater from makeshift to professional standard.
Small LED spotlights on the ceiling are a great idea to ensure the light will never be overbearing and kill the mood. They will create a simple starry sky effect that is common in many modern movie theaters.
You could also install sconces for that authentic movie theater aesthetic. If you have a small room, be mindful of installing too many lights. But if you have a large basement with many chairs, LED strips on the floor will help everyone find their seats.
Even in an at-home movie theater, people still need to go to the bathroom!
No matter what home theater lighting you choose, it must be on a dimmer switch. That is a non-negotiable. Nothing ruins the cinema experience more than flicking lights on and off.
Step 5: Plan Your Seating Arrangements
When planning your home theater seating, start with how many chairs you will need. It goes without saying to have enough home theater chairs for your immediate household members. You cannot make little Timmy sit on the floor.
If you plan on hosting big movie nights but do not have the space to install lots of permanent movie theater-style chairs, invest in fold-up chairs. They are not ideal for long-term use, but great for when you need to expand your seating capacity.
The best home theater chairs, if budget allows, are classic recliners with a cup holder. They will make your home theater look professional, plus soft furnishings improve sound quality. But sofas and loveseats will work well, too.
Step 6: Add Fun Extras and Concessions
A perk of building your own home theater is that you can decorate it how you like! Here are some home theater ideas for decoration inspiration:
- Hang large classic movie posters
- Invest in a popcorn machine with personalized popcorn boxes
- Keep a mini-fridge stocked with soda
- Build floor-to-ceiling shelves to display your movies
- Stick a sign saying “screen one” to the door
- Hang a red curtain in front of your screen
- Buy blankets and fluffy throw pillows for your chairs
There are so many ways you can put your own stamp on your home theater. You worked hard to save and build your cinematic oasis so have fun and go crazy!
Setting Up a Home Theater in Six Easy Steps
Setting up a home theater is not complicated, nor is it reserved for the filthy rich. All you need to start is a room, a home entertainment system, and some chairs.
From there, you can add personal touches and create a cozy movie theater for all your friends and family to enjoy.
Browse our other lifestyle and home articles for more tips and inspiration!