The only thing better than going to the movies is enjoying one from the comfort of your very own home theater. Besides, since we're spending more time in our own homes, we may as well optimize them for viewing parties. If you're ready to commit or just starting to research the process, these 12 home theater design ideas, renovation tips, and decorating examples will help you create the cinematic viewing space of your dreams. Now sit back, relax, and enjoy the feature presentation of home theaters that rival the real thing below.
A basement is the perfect location to design a home theater since it's isolated and dark. This will make sound performance and lighting easier to control.
The Design Tip: Try painting your walls a dark color and install an extra-large flat screen, as seen in this home theater designed by Elizabeth Roberts Architecture & Design. Then bring in seating reminiscent of classic plush movie theater seats but with a modern spin and the ability to work in a variety of environments.
There's a lot to think about when designing your sound system, from how many speakers you'll need and whether or not to install surround sound. Some design choices will also impact the sound quality. For example, a carpet helps contain the noise and prevent echo.
The Design Tip: Plush carpet, adjustable leather recliners with built-in cupholders, and a sophisticated gray color palette make this home theater by Heather Hilliard Design perfect for cinephiles and families alike. A large sectional can fit more family and friends and the moody color story makes it feel like a subterranean lounge.
If you don't have a basement or large enough space, there are plenty of other ways to make a home theater work. Transform a spare bedroom or a walk-in closet, where the enclosed nature minimizes natural light. Other options include converting a garden shed, pool house, and even an unused garage.
The Design Tip: If you can't design an entire room to feel like a blackbox theater, opt for built-in seating for a bite-sized version of the experience, as seen in this nook designed by Studio DB.
Another important step is getting your wiring in check. You'll need the right wiring for lighting, sound, and your projector and/or screen. This is also a good time to mention that you'll want to keep equipment out of sight and hide your wires with discreet tubing.
The Design Tip: If your home theater doesn't have room for cinema-style stadium seating, replicate a conversation pit. Designed by Jamie Bush, this space feels like a private haven fit for big viewing parties thanks to the full carpeting and modular seating.
Once you've selected the room you want to use for a home theater, you'll want to map out your renovation needs. Do you just want to decorate a media room that draws a little inspiration from a movie theater, or do you want to go all out? If it's the latter, you may want to insulate your walls with drywall to create a sound barrier.
The Design Tip: Make it ultra-plush. Comfy sectionals (or big love seats, depending on the size of the room), are perfect for romantic nights or family gatherings, and upholstered ottomans and stacking side tables that hang over the sofa, like the ones in this home theater by Dale Blumberg Interiors, are the perfect resting spot for your bowl of popcorn.
There are a ton of options and things to consider when picking your screen. Most importantly, the room's dimensions. If it's shallow, you won't want to choose a screen that's too large. Whichever you choose, make sure it's equipped with a Blu-ray player, satellite feed, and game console.
The Design Tip: Though the silver screen in this viewing room by Tracy Lynn Studio is set against a dark backdrop, the rest of the space feels decidedly light and upbeat. That's thanks to the blush tufted wall panels and white leather recliners. And you can still create a media room that feels like a home theater even if you don't have the perfect basement space to do so (blackout curtains to the rescue!).
Consider setting up a control system like a universal remote, iPad, iPhone, or a whole-home automation system. This will help you control lighting, sound, and everything else in one place.
The Design Tip: This media room from Catherine Kwong is perfect for cozy family movie nights, but it's also the perfect backdrop for entertaining, afternoon naps, and casual get-togethers.
Do you want 3D capability? Professional-level audio performance and high-resolution picture? A hidden projector that drops down from the ceiling? There are plenty of little add-ons that will make your home theater a truly immersive experience.
The Design Tip: If you have plain white walls, a projector is going to be your best friend. You'll be able to watch your favorite movies on a big "screen" without actually having to install one on your living room walls, as seen in this apartment designed by Paula Guzman.
And now for the fun part... once you've worked out all the technical elements, you can think about layout. Go for cinema-style stadium seating with reclining loungers or love seats, or keep things one level with a sectional.
The Design Tip: The layout of this home theater designed by Studio Ashby is a nod to the real cinematic experience, but with a sophisticated spin. The Art Deco sconces and tiered seating evoke the golden age of Hollywood, while the olive green seats and ottomans are fresh and contemporary.
And last but not least, you can start decorating your home theater. Choose a theme and run with it, whether you want to channel the setting of your favorite film, make it sophisticated, or feature a repeating motif.
The Design Tip: If your media room is also a playroom, choose a dark wallpaper that will absorb light during viewing parties but also speak to the space's other uses with a whimsical print. Adding floor cushions is also a good call, as this media room by Regan Baker Design proves.
If you don't have a spare room, give an existing one a second use. You can do so by painting it dark colors and installing sound-absorbing carpeting in the same shade, and outfitting it with plush furniture.
The Design Tip: This lounge by GRT Architects is optimized for meetings and after-dinner drinks, but also has a projector so it can be used as a theater when the mood strikes.
Why limit yourself to the indoors when you could watch a movie under the stars? It's all possible with a handheld projector and a white sheet, flat exterior surface, or a portable screen. Here's our full backyard theater DIY if you want more details on how to bring yours to life.
The Design Tip: Hang some string lights, pile on the pillows, and arrange some outdoor-friendly furniture for a magical movie experience.
Always look for the fool in the deal. If you don’t find one, it’s you.