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Most of us don’t have an unused space that’s set aside from the rest of the house to build a dedicated home theater. But just because you don’t have a massive basement or extra “wing” of the house to design a theater, doesn’t mean you can’t replicate a cinema-like experience in your home. With a few tactful tweaks, you can transform any living room into a home theater.
5 Tips to Go From Living Room to Home Theater
Whether you’re planning on transitioning your living room to a full-time theater that you can escape to at the drop of a hat, or you’re simply interested in optimizing the space so that you can enjoy the occasional Friday night flick, the following tips should give you more than a few ideas to work with.
1) Start With the Screen
If you have the means to invest in a projector (and the proper space/layout to make it happen), that’s great. However, you should know that projectors are only practical when you’re able to eliminate and neutralize virtually all ambient light. So we aren’t going to recommend this option for most living room-based home theaters. Instead, we recommend opting for a high-end TV.
When it comes to choosing a TV, there are two factors to consider: picture and size (in that order). While you ideally want both a big TV and a high-resolution picture, the former is less important than the latter. A really big TV with a fuzzy picture won’t do much for you.
While you may very well end up purchasing your TV online, we recommend going into the store and looking at the picture before purchasing. This will help you see what you’re getting.
2) Deal With Lighting
Lighting is a big part of what makes the movie theater experience so unique. And while a living room is certainly unique when compared to a basement or secluded room, there are still quite a few tricks you can use to optimize lighting, including:
- Invest in thick blackout curtains that can be used to block out natural light during the day.
- Dimmable, customizable LED lighting is a great choice if you want to be able to control the mood of the room. (Many LED strip lighting options now have the ability to change colors and brightness with an app on your smartphone.)
- To replicate the classic cinema experience, install soft, warm lighting behind your TV. This accent is excellent for when you’re watching a movie but don’t want it to be totally pitch black.
3) Address Sound
Movie theaters are known for having loud and boisterous sound that amplifies the viewing experience and brings the screen to life. The best way to replicate this is by installing a surround sound system.
“There are several surround sound systems on the market today that you can set up and install yourself, or you have the option of having the system professionally installed and the speakers mounted on or into your walls,” one designer explains. “This will help you to not only feel all of the sound throughout your living room, but it can also add vibrations so that you really feel like you are in the movie theater watching a movie.”
If you get the picture, lighting, and sound right, you’re 99 percent of the way there!
4) Think About Your Theme
Many home movie theaters have a theme. What will yours be?
If you’re not ready to commit to a theme – such as “Las Vegas Casino” or “1950s Cinema” – you can always leave your options open. If you have a fireplace in your living room, you can use this as your ever-changing thematic exhibition. Decorate your fireplace for Christmas during the holiday season and then switch over to a Valentine’s Day theme in February, a St. Patrick’s Day theme in March, etc.
5) Get the Seating Right
Finally, you must consider seating. Once again, this comes down to two factors: style and comfort. It’s easy to find one without the other, so it could take some time to find the right option for your living room. Take your time and choose something you’re going to enjoy for years to come.
Lights, Camera, Action!
At a time when going to the theater is less practical than ever before, being able to transform your living room into your own version of a cinema is amazing. And as you can see, there’s plenty of room for creativity and flexibility – no matter the budget! It’s time to start planning.