Seeing is believing when you go to a movie theater. You’re fully immersed in someone else’s story for well over an hour, and even though you know it’s fiction, it feels real.
An equally transportive and transcendent experience can be created right at home. To turn your movie space into a room full of wonder, decide on an at-home theater idea and add comfy seating, good lighting, and of course, don’t forget the snacks. The below guide will show you how.
7 at-home movie theater ideas
Among the most exciting at-home movie theater ideas you could start with are the following:
1. High-quality living room TV
Home theater design doesn’t always require a dedicated room—not everyone has that kind of space. Your home movie theater can be created right in your living room or family room. Doing so is easy: Just make a large flat-screen HDTV the focal point of your room. Orient your couches and comfy chairs around this TV, and flank your TV with high-quality speakers. Get window treatments like blackout curtains that can block natural light so you get precise control over the lighting scheme of the room.
2. Outdoor home movie theater
On crisp fall evenings, there are few better ways to enjoy the outdoors at home than with a movie night under the stars. Weather-resistant seats are key here, as are a screen and projector you can easily store indoors when not in use. Top it all off with side tables for popcorn and other snacks, and you’ll get to see your favorite movies in a whole new light – namely, starlight.
3. Basement home theater
A finished basement is a great space to use for solely at-home movie experiences. Go crazy with an in-wall sound system, screen, and cabinets that hide your devices. (This sort of setup also lends itself nicely to double as a video game room.) Best of all, since your at-home theater will be in the basement, it won’t get a ton of natural light. The result is a room where you have to do far less work to get things appropriately dark for movie night.
4. Tiny, wooded at-home theater
Living in a small apartment doesn’t mean you can’t have a gorgeous home theater. Elevate the usual apartment setup of a TV perched on an entertainment center: Select stands and floating shelves adorned with a stunning wood finish to add polish to this typical setup. Keep your TV and shelves on the smaller side, and add a few small pieces of home theater decor that complement the wood. When movie night comes around, close the blinds and watch as your ordinary apartment transforms into an immersive theater.
5. Fancy home theater
Reflect the upscale nature of a classic, and classy, film. Opt for wooden wall paneling in dark brown colors, and add decor pieces that elevate, not clutter, your space. Place seating fit for a king, with a recliner, cushioning, and pillows to lay in the lap of luxury. Top it all off with an immersive surround sound system and a screen or projector that takes up the whole wall.
6. Galaxy sci-fi theater
If you’re big into sci-fi flicks, let your movie theater reflect that. Fill your home theater room with interstellar images and starry skies, perhaps courtesy of home theater lighting such as a BlissBulb or app-controlled Sky Lite 2.0. Go big on your sound system so that you and your friends are fully immersed in galactic sounds as you watch Star Wars. Create an experience so immersive that it truly feels like you’ve entered outer space without moving an inch.
Sky Lite 2.0: Galaxy Projector (App Control)
Shine a galaxy of moving stars and a vibrant multicolor cloud.
7. Drive-in theater
Your garage can also make a great theater space, and if you pull your car into your garage theater, it makes an excellent drive-in. Set up your screen, sound system, and other devices at the far end of the garage, and don’t skimp on smart or remote-controlled devices. This way, when you drive up for movie night, you don’t need to get out of the car to put on your favorite movie.
Tips for building the perfect home theater
Ready to try out one of the above at-home movie theater ideas? Here are some tips to keep in mind as you turn your home cinema design ideas into concrete plans:
1. Create a dedicated space when possible.
No, not every home has space for a room that’s solely for movie night. However, if you do have such a space, use it. A dedicated space will prove helpful since movie theater lighting isn’t conducive to other activities such as reading or exercising. That said, as many of the ideas above show, you can still create an excellent home theater space without dedicating a room to your quest.
2. Cut down on shine
Anything that could reflect the light from your screen back at you and your friends is a no-go. Make sure to keep these shiny surfaces out of the space between the screen and your seating. If your shiny objects are permanent fixtures such as door hinges, cover them in a layer of dark matte paint. You should also place lighting fixtures such as lamps and laser projectors behind your seats, not in front of them.
3. Make it comfy
Nobody likes sitting in the front row at the movies, so don’t let discomfort happen in your space. Test out your seating at several distances from the screen to ensure that neck strain will never happen. If you’re installing rows of seats, avoid high-back chairs so no row’s view is blocked. If you can find seats of varying heights for your different rows, even better. Most importantly, don’t sacrifice comfy seats at the expense of a proper viewing arrangement.
4. Know where to place your decor
Home theater decor can elevate your space, but it can also distract you from the silver screen. Just as with reflective objects, decor is best kept behind the viewing area. In general, fewer decor pieces are better, as you’re using your space to watch a screen, not gaze at interesting tchotchkes. If you do add decorations, try to keep them relatively low-key.
5. Keep your paint colors dark
A basic principle of interior design is that most walls should be white, but this rule doesn’t apply in home theaters. White is recommended for most home uses since it’s reflective, but you want to minimize reflection in home theaters. Instead, use dark paint colors such as gray or black. You should repaint not just your walls, but your ceiling – even the space above you can reflect light down at you.
6. Install high-quality speakers
A large screen and comfortable seats don’t always guarantee an immersive viewing experience. You’ll need to pair them with high-quality speakers for maximum effect, as a dark, comfy room with a big screen won’t mask tinny sound quality. For a truly transportive event, you want the sound to surround you – that is, after all, why they call it surround sound. You might need to spend a bit to achieve this effect, but it’s worth it for consistently astonishing movie nights.
7. Design your space to support your sound and lighting.
Ample carpeting, soft furniture, and other plush items help retain the sound quality you want out of your home theater. That’s because sound doesn’t bounce much off these design elements as compared to hard surfaces. This distinction is key to achieving crisp home theater sound.
Your theater design should also incorporate highly controllable lighting elements. Connect your recessed ceiling lights to dimmers or use smart bulbs you can control from your phone. Make sure that all your lights are behind your seating area and that you can easily turn them off when the movie begins.
8. Use only the best lights
In some cases, you might want to enhance your movie experience with decorative lighting. And before your movie starts, you might want ample ambient lighting to chat with friends and bring out all the snacks and drinks. You can achieve this lighting setup with the following types of lights:
- LED lights. Replace your ceiling bulbs with smart LEDs for full brightness and color control alongside lower energy consumption. With LEDs, you can set the pre-film mood however you please and gradually dim the lights as the movie starts. However, bright LEDs aren’t great once the film is rolling. That’s where laser lights come in.
- Laser lights. The sci-fi movie room mentioned earlier gets kicked up a notch with laser galaxy projectors such as the Sky Lite 2.0. Any modern home theater room might look better under the soft but immersive touch of a laser aurora projector like the Ark Ambient Light. These lights can transform your space – and your mind – in just the right way to get you in the zone for movie night. Of course, you should keep them behind the seating area, but still, no home theater is complete without them.
ARK Aurora Light
Transcend reality with a moving abstract aurora.
Laser lights perfect your home theater
An at-home theater should be heavy on comfy seating and equipped with a sound system that pulls you entirely into the viewing experience. On the latter front, laser lights are a huge boost. These lights don’t lead to glare as with everyday lighting – instead, they elevate your space and shift your perspective with the flip of a switch. Find the perfect laser light for your movie space in the BlissLights collection – with BlissLights, you’ll see your at-home theater in a whole new light.
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