how to design a spectacular home theater

on 11.14.22

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A home theater can provide a luxuriously cozy spot to enjoy your favorite movies, shows, and sporting events. But the space must be designed properly if you want it to match the experience of going to a real cinema.

A big TV is a great start, but that alone is not enough to transform your space into a theater. To enjoy cinema-quality sound and video, you’ll need superior audio-visual solutions, combined with the right architectural elements to make your theater comfortable and aesthetically pleasing. 

If you want to design a spectacular home theater that you can enjoy with family and friends, here are a few things to keep in mind.

1) choose the right space

At AVDG, we can transform nearly any space into a home theater, including basements, family rooms, attics, unused bedrooms, and other environments. However, to create a fully immersive experience, you’ll want to make sure the space is large enough to accommodate all the A/V gear and to ensure there’s enough distance between your seating and the screen. 

As a basic rule of thumb, you’ll want your home theater to be at least 15 feet long and/or at least 10 feet wide. But if you want a truly cinema-like space with rows of tiered seating, then you’ll need a larger space – at least 40 feet long. 

If you’re worried about dimensions, our experts can help. We have designed and built home theaters in a wide array of spaces and configurations, and we have solutions that can work in nearly any space. 

2) select your screen: TV or projection

Which is better for a home theater: a large TV or a projector with a screen?

The short answer is: it depends. And it’s an ongoing debate that is constantly changing as technology evolves.

Both options can deliver stunning image quality to deliver an immersive viewing experience. But each has its own advantages and disadvantages. 

TV technology continues to get better and cheaper, allowing you to add stunningly large screens of 80 inches or more (for much less than what it cost just a few years ago). One top-of-the-line option that we recommend for high-end spaces is the B&O Beovision Harmony 8K OLED TV, which can be customized with a range of materials and finishes that cater to any taste.

For larger spaces, you may want to consider a projector, allowing you to create even larger screens. But to deliver the best picture possible (especially for displaying movies or shows with dark, dimly lit scenes), then the projector needs to be high-powered. There are numerous options to choose from, but one high-end consideration is the Barco Loki 4K DLP projector, which features a dual laser light engine for unparalleled picture quality. 

3) create immersive audio

Lifelike sound is a critical component of the home-theater experience. So you need to be sure to deploy the right audio processing technology, combined with high-end speakers positioned perfectly throughout the space.

This is another area where there are virtually endless options to fit every need and budget. But the key objective to keep in mind is creating an immersive audio experience. When you go to your local movie theater, you experience the sensation of sound coming from all directions. This is especially true for theaters equipped with the latest Dolby Atmos technology, which creates a spatial sound experience that draws you in deeper, so you hear more and feel more.

So, how many speakers do you need to achieve this, and where should they be placed? A common 7.1 surround-sound setup will include three front speakers (left, center, front), 2 side speakers (left, right), two back speakers (left, right) and a subwoofer. Dolby Atmos adds “height” to these configurations, such as with ceiling speakers, to create a 3D effect of sound traveling above and around you. 

However, not all home theaters need to use a 7.1 setup, especially if you’re using top-end speaker technology. Brands like B&O and Meridian, for example, can deliver an immersive experience with fewer speakers. Equally important is deploying the right audio processors, receivers, and/or amplifiers to power the sound.

For proper acoustics, you’ll need to choose the right audio setup for your space. Don’t worry – our experts at AVDG can help you with this, too. Request a consultation and we’ll be happy to go over your options with you.

Keep in mind, your speakers don’t have to clutter the space, either. We can discreetly install your speakers into the walls and ceiling if you want your home theater to have a sleeker, more minimalist aesthetic. 

4) soundproof your space

Proper soundproofing helps to improve the acoustics of the space while also preventing sound from disrupting the rest of your home.

A lack of soundproofing can make your space feel cavernous, especially in larger rooms. Sounds will echo off the walls and hurt the audio experience. But this doesn’t mean your walls need to be covered with ugly foam either.

Sound-absorbing materials can be incorporated directly into the build, such as with insulated drywall and other composite materials, for example. Additionally, there are a variety of specialized soundproofing and acoustic panels that can be added to existing walls without disrupting the aesthetic of the space. 

For flooring, consider a soundproof underlayment between your floor covering and subfloor. Pre-built soundproof doors are also a good solution for preventing sound from bleeding into other areas of your home.

Finally, certain types of draperies can be used to finish the space (such as with floor-to-ceiling fabrics), providing an extra layer of soundproofing while also creating the aesthetic you want.

5) design your preferred aesthetic

Do you want your home theater to look more like a modern cinema or a sports bar? Maybe you want it to match the aesthetic of the rest of your home, or create a striking contrast: a room that feels like you’re leaving home and entering a completely different space?

This decision ultimately comes down to personal preference. At AVDG, we can help you create any aesthetic you want, partnering with skilled designers and architects to make your dream home theater a reality. 

The important thing is to never feel like you’re being boxed into a design you don’t want. For your home theater to be spectacular, it should be designed around your specific wishes and needs, not based off a cookie-cutter template.

If you’re not sure about the aesthetic, simply let us know and we’ll present some options to help you choose a design you’ll love.

6) add comfy seating

The aesthetic you choose will largely determine the style of seating. For example, if you’re looking to create a traditional theater experience, you may want rows of plush reclining theater seats. If you want more space to spread out and snuggle up with loved ones, then you may prefer more traditional sofas or modular sectionals.

Don’t skimp on quality. Your home theater should be one of the most comfortable spots in your home – a place where you can retreat to whenever you want to kick back and relax. High-quality seating and furniture will ensure that you can enjoy luxurious comfort in this space for years to come.

Proper placement of your seating is also important. 

As a rule of thumb, the vertical viewing angle should be no more than 35 degrees, so that you’re not craning your neck to see the screen. When possible, eye level is best. 

Seats should be positioned away from the screen at about 2-5 times the dimensions of your screen width. For example, if your screen is 80 inches wide (not the diagonal length), then your seats should be at least 160 inches from the screen. 

7) control it all easily

To fully enjoy your home theater, you should not need to manage a jumble of remotes. Everything should be tightly integrated and controllable from a single interface – whether it’s a single remote, touchscreen display, or your personal phone.

In addition to your video and audio systems, this same interface can also be used to control lighting in the room, as well as motorized window treatments and other smart-home integrations. So once you enter the theater, you can sit down, unwind, and control everything in the room without having to get up from your seat. That’s the comfort and ease that a home theater should provide. 

get started on your dream home theater

Ready to bring your dream theater to life? AVDG is here to help. With more than 150 custom home theaters built to date, we have the experience and skills to transform any space into a spectacular cinema. Take the first step today by requesting a consultation.