Large projector screen in front of seating in a home theater

Home Movie Theater Ideas: Your Ultimate Guide

Date Posted:

January 3, 2022

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Creating a home theater is a common goal for homeowners. It’s great for hosting get-togethers with family and friends, as well as enjoying movies and shows on your own.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made having a home theater even more desirable because people spend much of their time at home. Regardless of whether movie theaters are open for business, it’s fantastic to enjoy a film from the comfort of home. Plus, you’ll still feel like you’re escaping to the cinema for a night out!

Here are some home movie theater ideas to get you started. 

Interested in automating your entire home one room at a time? Check out our guide to room-by-room automation.

Components You Need for a Home Theater 

You need four basic components to set up a home theater:

  • Display screen
  • Projector
  • Sound system 
  • Seating 

First, choose the room you want to use. Then, you can experiment with technical design, lighting, seating, sound levels and aesthetics. Let’s delve into the details of each component. 

Choosing the Right Location for Your Home Theater 

The first step is to choose a location for your home theater. You can create a home theater anywhere you want: your backyard, attic, living room or — most commonly — basement.

You’ll want an enclosed room, preferably rectangular in shape to maximize the sound levels. Your room should be large enough to accommodate your preferred display screen size, projector setup and available seating space. An ideal room is one that’ll give you optimal sound and minimal light interference. 

If you have only the option of a room with windows, you can still adjust lighting. For example, you can install lighting control features and motorized window treatments to create ambience and reduce light interference. 

Display Screen

A large display screen is perhaps the most important feature of your home theater. Its size is as important as your projector system’s efficacy. 

However, ensure your screen isn’t so big that you have to arch your neck and move your head while viewing. Imagine how difficult it is to watch a movie while sitting in the first row of a movie theater! 

Determining the appropriate display screen size is easy once you’ve decided the room and seating arrangement you’ll use. Remember that you can mount the screen on a wall, the ceiling or even the floor, depending on your preference.

Here are some tips for choosing the right display screen for your home theater: 

  • The display screen’s height should be about one-third of the length of the distance between the screen and the closest seats. 
  • The display screen should be installed between 24” and 36” above the floor. For optimal viewing, it should be angled 15 to 20 degrees down toward the audience. 
  • Consider mounting your screen on a wall that doesn’t receive any direct light from a window or lighting fixture.
  • Consider the gain and reflective properties of your display screen. Avoid high-gain models that result in bright-light hotspots in the screen’s center when viewing from the sides of the room.

If you’re looking to save money, consider buying a pull-down screen as an entry-level home theater option. They’re easy to hang on the wall and save space because they’re retractable. Pull-down screens are a great option for homeowners setting up their home theater in a small room.

A fixed screen is another home theater display screen option. Fixed screens allow a smoother, clearer image compared to pull-down screens because of their tighter surface tension. However, they’re on the more expensive side.

You can find reasonably priced fixed screens, but they’re almost always more expensive than pull-down screens. 

A fixed-frame screen is another budget-friendly option to consider. Paint your drywall with matte white paint to create a fixed-frame screen in your home theater. That way, your wall is essentially the screen.

The image quality is often great, and it’ll cost you much less than both a pull-down screen and a fixed screen — you just need to buy paint!


Consider the projector’s location before installing or setting up your display screen. A projector needs an appropriate distance to deliver a quality image. 

If you set up the projector yourself, most projector installation manuals include detailed instructions, including the distance you should leave between the projector and screen. Luckily, most modern projectors have adjustable optical zoom features. These features make it easier to adjust image quality if the distance between the screen and projector isn’t ideal. 

If you don’t have a manual, use a projection calculator to find the right distance between the projector and display screen. Having a calculated or professional opinion is important before setting up a projector. That’s because a projector’s zoom and quality features vary per the model and manufacturer. 

You can also consult audiovisual professionals such as AV Smart Solutions when deciding the best course of action during setup. Our team will help you achieve your home theater goals throughout the installation process. 

Here are a few tips to determine where and how you should install your home theater projector: 

  • Install your projector in the center of the room. Ensure no objects obstruct its light path. 
  • Make sure your projector is mounted or installed in a properly ventilated area. Projectors tend to produce heat, and overheating can reduce the projector bulbs’ life span. 
  • Mounting your projector on a ceiling or wall is ideal. If you choose to place it on a table, make sure it’s in front of the first row of seats or where furniture and people won’t obstruct its light path.

Sound System Arrangement

A high-quality sound system is vital to an amazing home theater. You can create a true cinematic experience with the right system. 

A typical home theater has a 5.1 surround sound system. However, you can opt for a 7.1 if local noise regulations permit. Your theater acoustics probably won’t crank high enough for neighbors to hear, but noting noise control parameters is helpful (just in case). 

Here are a few suggestions before wiring either a 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound speaker setup

5.1 Surround Sound System

A 5.1 surround sound system consists of five speakers and a woofer. It’s best to place the woofer and three of those speakers toward the front of the room.

You should place and install the remaining two speakers slightly behind the seating arrangement. You could place one on either side wall to hug the listening area of your home theater.

7.1 Surround Sound System

A 7.1 surround sound system consists of seven speakers and a woofer. Similarly, place three of those speakers and the woofer toward the front of the room.

Two speakers should go toward the back of the seating arrangement, preferably one on either side wall. The remaining two speakers are considered side channels. You should place them directly behind the audience (ideally on the back wall). 

The addition of two side channel speakers creates an immersive cinematic experience. 

Deciding whether to buy a 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound system setup mostly depends on the room size. A smaller home theater that has a 7.1 system often feels a bit intense and isn’t worth the extra money, especially because a 5.1 system fits nicely in a small setting. Investing in a 7.1 system may be worthwhile if your home theater is larger and you want robust sound throughout the room.

It’s also wise to consider getting gold-plated connectors before wiring your surround sound system. Gold transmits electricity better than other metals and lasts longer.

Furnishings and Seating Arrangement

A truly enjoyable movie-watching experience depends largely on your furnishings and their arrangement. Before purchasing any furniture, consider the number of people you imagine routinely hosting. 

You can arrange furniture in various ways to ensure everyone fits and sits comfortably, regardless of your home theater‘s size. Considering the room’s size and shape helps you determine the type of furniture that works best. 

For example, try to furnish a round room with round furniture to save space for moving and walking. Similarly, a rectangular room accommodates L-shaped sectionals and other angled furniture better than a round room does.

Purchasing darker-colored furniture is the best choice because white and bright, saturated colors are noticeable even with the lights dimmed or off. Black and dark-colored furniture prevents distraction and allows people to focus on the entertainment rather than the features around them.

You should also consider the age groups you plan to host. If you have small children, you may want smaller, custom seats with coverings to protect furniture from spills and stains.

If you plan to host older folks such as grandparents, you might opt for adjustable, ergonomic seating. Adjustable furniture is more comfortable and helps older guests position how they sit.

Additional Home Movie Theater Ideas

To create a room that’s immune to outside noise, you have a few features to consider.

Hard, smooth surfaces such as wooden floors and glass walls tend to bounce sound waves. Installing carpeted floors and sound-absorbing walls is the best way to create minimal sound distraction in your home theater. They’ll absorb sound and prevent echoing and other sound-bouncing distractions. 

AV Smart Solutions Will Ensure an Ideal Home Theater Setup

AV Smart Solutions has years of experience in setting up home theaters in an array of home types. Whether your room is small, has light interference, has poor circulation or has another issue altogether, we’ll help you create your perfect home theater. 

We offer a full-service Home Theater System Package. This package includes a surround sound system, display screen, projector and either a Roku or Apple TV streaming device. And we always work with your preferences in mind. 

We also offer custom residential service solutions as add-ons, such as lighting and climate control to ensure your home theater is comfortable and has the ideal ambience. Technicalities are easily adjustable through a remote control programming device, touch screen panel system or mobile device. You can quickly adjust overall room temperatures to regulate the projector’s heat and avoid overheating. 

Additionally, our motorized window treatments provide full control over your home theater’s light interference. Completely block natural light and outside distractions with motorized curtains or blinds. 

Contact AV Smart Solutions to Pursue Your Home Cinema Experience

If you’d like to learn more about our Home Theater System Package, any of our other smart home system packages or our custom residential service solutions, contact us today.

Call AV Smart Solutions at (425) 655-5052 or complete our contact form. One of our AV specialists will be in touch!

Featured image via Unsplash

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