There’s nothing quite like a night at the movies to let your hair down and unwind. Sinking into a plush cinema chair with a box of hot popcorn, an ice-cold cup of soda and a slab of chocolate add to the palpable sense of excitement as the lights go down and the opening credits start to roll.
If you are blue because lockdown has put a stop to your regular sprinkle of silver screen magic, cheer up, there is another way… Build your own home movie theatre! This will not only add to your home’s resale value but also dial up the enjoyment factor.
“There’s no business like show business and I tell you it’s so. There’s no people like show people, they smile when they are low”Irving Berlin.
Home Movie Theatre
Whether you and your family are movie aficionados, sports fanatics or serial binge-watchers, investing in a home movie theatre is sure to bust the lockdown blues. Who knows? For some people, going to a cinema or a crowded sports bar may be a thing of the past, making a home theatre room a non-negotiable when house hunting.
A cinema-style snack bar complete with beverage coolers generously stocked with a variety of sodas, ice machine and popcorn guarantees a 100% authentic movie experience. Don’t forget the ice shaver machine if you want the kids to enjoy their favourite slushies. ( Or frozen margaritas for the grownups!)
Have fun designing your home movie theatre by choosing a theme – such as vintage Hollywood (think collectable movie posters), 1950’s rock ‘n roll, opulent luxury or Disney – and adding props and décor.
Requiring technical elements such as soundproofing, acoustic panels, correct flooring and lighting and the setting up of video and sound systems, building a home film theatre can be a complex project.
How to Build Your Own Home Movie Theatre
To help you get your head around the task at hand, we’ve outlined six essentials to consider when building the ultimate home movie theatre for the ultimate cinephile.
1. Select the best location for your home movie theatre
Less is more – to get the best out of your home film theatre set-up, one wants to keep the confines fairly snug. A 20 × 13 feet space that is relatively isolated from the rest of the house is ideal. This could be a spare bedroom, a closed-off area off the living room or a portion of the basement if you have one.
2. Soundproof your home movie theatre
To maintain peace in the household, soundproofing is absolutely essential. Sound should ideally not be able to enter from the outside or escape from inside the theatre room, so walls, the door, floors and the ceiling need to be insulated. The best (and most expensive) way to stop sound frequencies in their tracks is to use the double framing technique (also called decoupling). Essentially it involves building two walls separated by an air gap.
3. Think About Acoustics
Even the most high-end surround sound system can sound lacklustre if the acoustics of the room are off which is why carpet is king when it comes to designing a home film theatre. Hard surfaces like laminate, tile and wood increase reverberation, while on the other hand, the soft fibres in a carpet absorb sound waves and prevent them from bouncing around like a Ping-Pong ball. In addition, the carpet is warm, soft and kindles an authentic movie house ambience.
Install acoustic panels to cushion background noise and reduce reverberation and echo in your theatre space. The acoustic panels serve a dual purpose and can also be used to disguise speakers for a seamless look.
Top tip: If adding movie posters as décor, keep them unframed as glass frames can affect the sound quality of your movies.
4. Pick good sound and video projector systems
Audio is central to any theatre experience, so it’s worth spending a little extra in this department. The majority of home theatres use 7.1 surround sound, which includes one subwoofer and seven-channel speakers (left, right, centre, two sides and two rear). A 9.1 surround sound system elevates your movie experience to the next level by adding two additional speakers high up in the front of the room for the sound of aircraft and birds flying overhead.
Although it is perfectly acceptable to build your home movie theatre with a flat-screen TV, a projector system will give you that nostalgic cinema experience. The type of projector and quality of the screen will have a significant impact on your cinema experience, so choose wisely.
5. Add lighting to set up the mood
Lighting doesn’t need to break the bank, but the more features you add, the better experience you and your guests will enjoy. Set your creativity free with recess ceiling lighting, sconces, LED strip lighting for marking walkways and bias lighting for backlighting the projector screen.
Lighting systems can be operated via radio frequency enabled remote-control, Bluetooth, a mobile app or a voice-activated home assistant. If you are planning on using stadium seating, floor lighting is essential to help guests safely navigate the room when the lights are dim.
6. Plan out seating arrangements
If you are going to have more than one row of seating, you will have to construct a riser for the back rows so that people sitting in the back can see over the heads of people sitting in the front row.
Depending on personal preference and budget, you can furnish your home movie theatre with plush sofas and love seats or authentic theatre-style seating. A 20 × 15 feet theatre room comfortably accommodates two rows of four theatre seats.