We've all seen photos and video of the elaborate home theaters in multi-million dollar homes. They're furnished with plush theater-style seating, state-of-the-art projection equipment and high-end sound systems. While you might not have the budget to dump $50,000 to $100,000 into your own home theater, you can still enjoy a movie in style at home with these helpful hints.
First, figure out where you plan to set up your home theater. A finished basement is the ideal place — the less light, the better. A den, unused bedroom or even your formal living room can also easily be converted into your personal movie theater. Keep in mind that if you're using your living room you may need to add a door to keep the sound in the room.
Once you've decided on the room you plan to use, it's time to outfit your entertainment space. In addition to a nice big flat-screen TV (and maybe a wireless surround sound system), every fully functioning home theater needs the following features.
Room-darkening shades. Anyone who's ever gone to a movie knows the darkness only adds to the fun. If you aren't lucky enough to have a finished basement, hang room darkening shades over the windows. Make sure to choose something that fits with the room's aesthetic, because the space has to look nice when it's not being used as a theater. You can find both room darkening shades and curtains for under $30.
Dark-colored walls. Give your room the movie theater effect by painting the room a dark color — ceiling and all. To stay on-trend while still giving your room the theater vibe, try a hot fall color like Black Onyx from Glidden or Vintage Wine from Benjamin Moore. For more ideas on dark colors that aren't stark black, check out the Pantone website. Find a dark color you like, bring it to your local home improvement store and have them mix the color for you. A gallon of paint generally runs under $40, but with a dark color you'll probably need two or three coats, which will translate into several more gallons if you have a large room.
Comfy seating. Fancy home theater chairs are nice, but they're not cheap. Mid-range models can run you around $800 per seat. Instead of spending the bulk of your budget on custom home theater seating, scour Craigslist, resale shops and big box stores like IKEA for inexpensive recliners. The number of chairs you purchase will be dictated by the size of the room and the number of guests you plan to entertain. If you have a large room and want a true movie theater feel, arrange the seating in two rows. Build a platform and place the second row of seating on it, giving your guests in the second row a better view of the screen.
Sound quality. If you're more concerned about sound quality than the look of the room when it's not in use, paint some acoustic tiles black and hang them from the ceiling. It's inexpensive and will make the room feel more like a theater. To further enhance the sound, lay down an area rug if your room has a wood floor.
Once you have the basics, customize your room with movie posters, theater-style décor and even a popcorn machine. Stash a mini fridge in the corner to hold soft drinks and snacks, choose your favorite film and enjoy a night with family and friends in your new space.