Home Movie Theater Ideas: Your Ultimate Guide
Large projector screen in front of seating in a home theater

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 your favorite movies and shows on your own.

The COVID-19 pandemic makes having a home theater all the more desirable since most people are spending the majority of their time within the confines of their home. So whether traditional movie theaters are open for business or not, it’s much more convenient to enjoy a film in the safety and comfort of your 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. 

Components You Need for a Home Theater 

Here’s a list of the four basic components you will need to set up a home theater:

  • Display screen
  • Projector
  • Sound system 
  • Seating 

You can experiment with technical design, lighting, seating, sound levels, and aesthetics once you’ve chosen the room you want to use. Let’s delve into the details of each of these components. 

Choosing the Right Location for Your Home Theater 

Your first step is to choose a location for your home theater. You can create a home theater anywhere you want, whether that’s in your backyard, an attic, your living room, or — most commonly — a basement.

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

There are ways to adjust lighting if you only have the option of a room with windows. For example, you can install lighting control features and motorized window treatments to create ambience and minimize light interference. 

Display Screen

A large display screen is debatably the most important attraction in your home theater. Its size is as important as the efficacy of your projector system. 

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

It’s quite easy to determine the appropriate display screen size for pleasant viewing once you’ve decided on the room you want to use and your prospective seating arrangement. Remember that you can mount your screen on a wall, the ceiling, or even the floor depending on your preferences.

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

  • Your display screen’s height should be about one-third of the length of the distance between your screen and the closest seats. 
  • Your display screen should be installed between 24” and 36” above the floor, and angled 15 to 20 degrees down toward the audience for optimal viewing. 
  • 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 center of the screen 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 will save you space since 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 due to their tighter surface tension. However, they’re on the more expensive side. You can often find reasonably priced fixed screens, but they are almost always more expensive than pull-down screens. 

A fixed-frame screen is another budget-friendly option to consider. You can achieve a fixed-frame screen in your home theater by painting your wall’s drywall with matte white paint (your wall is essentially the screen). The image quality is often great, and it will cost you much less than both a pull-down screen and a fixed screen  — you just need to buy paint!


Consider your projector’s location before installing or setting up your display screen. A projector needs a proper amount of distance to deliver a quality image. 

If you decide to set up your projector yourself, most projector installation manuals include detailed instructions, including the appropriate distance you should leave between your 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 for whatever reason, consider using a projection calculator when determining the appropriate distance between your projector and display screen. Having a calculated or professional opinion is important before setting up a projector since their zoom and quality features vary depending on the model and manufacturer. 

You can also refer to audio visual professionals such as AV Smart Solutions when deciding on the best course of action during setup. Our team will help you achieve your home theater goals throughout the entire 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 and ensure there are no objects obstructing 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 lifespan of your projector’s bulbs. 
  • Mounting your projector on a ceiling or wall is ideal. However, if you choose to place it atop a table, make sure it’s in front of the first row of seats or placed 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, but you can opt for a 7.1 if local noise regulations permit. It’s unlikely that your theater acoustics will crank high enough for the neighbors to hear, but it’s helpful to take note of noise control parameters 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, possibly one on either side wall, hugging 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 then go toward the back of the seating arrangement, preferably one on either side wall. The remaining two speakers are considered side channels, which you should place directly behind the audience (ideally on the back wall). 

The addition of two side channel speakers creates a more immersive cinema experience. 

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

Additionally, it’s beneficial to consider getting gold-plated connectors before wiring your surround sound system. Gold transmits electricity better than other metals and will last longer.

Furnishings and Seating Arrangement

A truly enjoyable movie-watching experience is largely dependent on your furnishings and their arrangement. You should consider the number of people you imagine yourself routinely hosting before purchasing any furniture. 

There are various ways to arrange furniture to ensure everyone fits and sits comfortably regardless of the size of your home theater. Considering the size and shape of your room will determine the type of furniture that will work best. 

For example, you should try to furnish a round room with round furniture to save space for moving and walking around. Similarly, a rectangular room will accommodate L-shaped sectionals and other angled furniture better than a round room would.

Purchasing darker colored furniture is the best choice since white and bright, saturated colors are noticeable even with the lights dimmed or completely off. Black and dark-colored furniture will prevent distraction and allow guests to easily focus on the entertainment rather than the bright features around them.

You should also consider the age groups you plan on hosting. You may want smaller, custom seats with coverings to protect from spills and stains if you have small children. Or if you plan on hosting older folks such as grandparents, you may want to opt for adjustable, ergonomic seating that can bend and move to make seating more comfortable, as well as positioning more feasible for them. 

Additional Home Movie Theater Ideas

In order to create a room that’s fully immune to outside noise distractions, there are a few features to consider. 

Hard, smooth surfaces such as wooden floors or glass walls have a tendency to bounce sound waves. Installing carpeted floors and sound-absorbing walls is the best route 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 vast experience in setting up home theaters in an array of different types of homes. Whether your chosen room is on the smaller side, has windows and light interference, bad circulation, or something else, AVSS can help you create the ideal home theater. 

We offer a full-service Home Theater System Package that includes a surround sound system setup, display screen, projector, and either a Roku or Apple TV streaming device depending on your preferences. 

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

Additionally, our motorized window treatments provide full control over your home theater’s light interference. Completely cut out any natural light or block distractions from outside 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, or any of our other smart home system packages or custom residential service solutions, contact us today.

Call AV Smart Solutions at +1 (425) 655-5052 or complete the contact form below and one of our audio visual specialists will be in touch!

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