It’s the dream of many to have the time, money and space for a home cinema. However, we’re big believers in making the best of whatever you have, and even if you don’t have the largest house, there’s no need to miss out on a dedicated viewing experience. You might have to cut a few corners and make a couple of compromises, but the results can be worth it in the end. A lot of personal opinion goes into the design and build of a home theatre system, but a few tips can go a long way towards getting it right first time.
1. Try to Decide on a Specific Space
A home theatre never feels quite right when used for multiple purposes – you might as well just put a bigger screen in the living room if this is the case. You’d much prefer a room where you go to watch your choice of movies, television shows and any other entertainment you enjoy. With a quick clean after each session and no regular foot traffic, you can focus on what the room was built for and keep everything else outside.
2. Lighting is the Enemy
Whenever we design a room, we like to let in as much natural light as possible. Brighter rooms feel more significant, and you feel better being in them – but the home cinema room is different. If possible, you’d prefer to block out light completely, filling in as necessary with a more artificial option. That’s part of the reason why cellar space is so popular among home cinema enthusiasts, as there’s no need for curtains or other ways to block out the sun. If that’s not possible, you should look into curtains and blinds that block out as much light as possible while closed.
3. Keep Out Sound
As with light, the ideal home cinema would be one that doesn’t let in any sound at all and would be completely silent were it not for your surround sound system. Again, this can be impractical, primarily as we’ve written this feature for those that occupy a reasonably average home with kids running around, chores being done and everything else that makes up everyday life. There aren’t many cheap, permanent ways to deal with sound, but you should start with some form of soundproofing, potentially by making walls and doors thicker.
4. Choose the Right Position for your Tech Hub
One of the benefits of technology is that you no longer need massively expensive equipment and racks of videotapes or DVDs in your home theatre. Nevertheless, you don’t want to run the main feature off an old laptop and dusty projector. The primary considerations for positioning are that the tech is near as many electrical sockets as it will need, and also near an ethernet cable if you’d prefer not to rely on the temperamental Wi-Fi.
5. Keep the Tech Cool
You probably wouldn’t want to put up with such an untidy approach anyway, but there is more to the ideal tech hub than stacking a computer, DVD player, streaming box and anything else directly on top of each other. These things get hot in use, and warm electronics are far more likely to fail. If you reach the end of the budget and it’s a choice between ventilation for your electronics or another component, go with the ventilation every time.
6. Personalise the Look and Feel
You probably want your home cinema to resemble a real theatre somewhat, but they have changed so much over the decades that this brings up considerations of its own. Budget and taste will both play a part, but we always encounter better results when the room looks entirely unlike any other in the same house. The whole point is that it feels like an experience and whether that means a few movie posters on the wall or tiered seating on the floor, you should always make an effort.
7. Get the Ambience Right
It has never been easier to recreate the feeling of the lights dimming in the cinema when the show is about to start. Only a few years ago, you’d need to have gone to the expense of a dimmer switch and would then need to either get someone to do it for you or do it manually to achieve the right effect. Those days are gone, and there is nothing better than a smart lighting system like the Hue setup to get this right. With so many additional options, you’ll have no trouble finding a setting that works for you.
8. Don’t Neglect the Viewing Area
Your home cinema might just be for you, or you may intend for the whole family and all your friends to cram in. Once again, your options are somewhat limited by the size of the room, and you should decide which seats will go where before you settle on a position for anything else. The seats themselves do not need to be professional, but they have to be comfortable enough for you to want to sit in them for hours on end.
9. Design with Audio in Mind
You want a little more than what you’d get from a soundbar in the lounge in your home theatre. While we’ll leave the choice of speakers and amps until another time, we did want to suggest that you consider wall to wall carpeting if it’s not there already. It reduces audio bounce and makes for a better auditory experience, and the same focus on soft over hard should apply to everything from the floors to the seats where possible.
10. Don’t Go Overboard
The last thing you want in a home cinema is clutter. If there comes the point where you question whether there are too many posters, remote controls or DVD cases, the answer is almost always yes. Less is more, and what is shown on the screen must always be the main event.