Building Your Home Theater: A Step-by-Step Guide

Home theaters are more than just an of-the-moment home trend; home entertainment systems have been evolving for most of our lifetimes. Finally, the technology for home theaters has caught up to what the big budget film companies are able to create. Wide screen, high definition, and 3D have moved beyond science fiction to regular household concepts. Now, with the rising trend of luxury home building, the home theater has become an integral home fixture. So whether you’re designing your own luxury home, adding on to your existing structure, or giving your home the update you’ve always wanted, here’s a quick guide to the process of getting your own home theater.

1. Decide your budget. Home theaters are versatile. You can have a fantasy theater that resembles Chalmun’s Cantina at the Mos Eisley spaceport or a classic movie house look with posters and lounges. You can opt for classy-but-functional, focusing on a comfortable entertainment room. Or maybe you don’t have the budget for a dedicated room and instead plan on installing quality screen and sound to your living room (or bedroom…or bathroom, for that matter). Once you know your budget, you can see how much room in that budget you have for the opulent extras.

For a dedicated home theater, you want to focus first on your audio/visual side of the budget, and then your seating and your interior design + acoustic treatments, including acoustic panels.

2. How big is too big? The next step in home theater design is to decide how big you want your dedicated home theater to be. This isn’t a factor in a room conversion, in which you have the size already determined. But you will need to figure out what kind of screen size you want to have, and how many seats you want to fit (and if you’ll go chairs, lounges, couches, or a combination). A simple home theater with two rows of seating, without any extras, might only need to be twenty one feet by fourteen feet. Do you need enough space for lounge seating, or a bar in the back? How much space will you need for storage? Do you need space for a live performance by Figrin D'an and the Modal Nodes? Remember that as you add length to the room, you will need to compensate by making your screen wider.

3. Audio/Visuals. This is where you factor in your home theater priorities. You want to have a screen that is suitable to the size of the room, so ideally, you want the viewing distance to be one-and-a-half times the diagonal length of the screen. For your sound system, you can have wall-mounted speakers or opt for speakers that are installed in the walls or ceilings, then covered with acoustic panels.

4. Bringing your dream design to life. You can keep your design simple so that it blends seamlessly with your home design, or you can make this the fantasy room, an homage to your favorite film scene. Maybe your home theater is more of your home game-watching room, and you want your room to have the touches of your team’s stadium. Or you can have a dark ceiling with led lights for a “cinema under the stars” effect.

5. Planning and Installing. Work with licensed professionals or designers on the architectural drawings for your home theater, including HVAC and lighting integration with the rest of your home. Make sure the plans include electrical and construction drawings, including any rise in the seating, design elevations, floor plan, ceiling plan, and a sight line study (so the people in the back aren’t looking at the fancy chairs in front of them). Once this is done, the installation can begin, including all the internal wiring for the audio/visual elements, as well as the room lighting. These installations should be done by a licensed professional with experience in home theater systems. Once everything has been constructed and installed, the final step is for the audio/visual dealer to make any necessary adjustments to accommodate the sound in the room, checking for annoying echoes or sonic dead zones.

6. More than just projectors. You’ll also have to decide if you want a device such as Apple TV (recommended even if your TV comes with apps), or one of the more elite systems such as PRIMA Cinema, Kaleidescape, or Runco. These are high-end projectors and movie-playing devices that stream current theater offerings in your home.

There are many different packages for your home theater experience that Modern Home Systems offers, so come into our store, visit us at http://ModernHomeSystems.com, or give us a call at (858) 554-0404 for more information—or if you’re ready to design your basic home theater or fantasy screening room.

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