Home Theater Design Ideas
Home theaters have become more commonplace in recent years, whether tucked away in the basement of a cozy bungalow or as an elaborate wing of a palatial estate. These custom entertainment spaces can add to a home's enjoyment factor, not to mention its resale value. If you're considering adding one to your home, you'll want to browse some home theater design ideas for inspiration.
Beam Me Up, Scotty
Walking into this unique home theater feels eerily similar to walking aboard the Starship Enterprise or Voyager. Equipped with computer-controlled LED lighting, this virtual spaceship can change from color to color at the touch of a button even to "red alert" if problems arise. The room has 11 seats, a large screen and state-of-the-art electronics. Designed by Audio Advisors, Inc. in West Palm Beach, Fla., the room is so impressive it was named best overall themed theater in 2007 by CEDIA.
Under the Sea
A 360-degree custom oceanic mural was the springboard for the design of the theater pictured here. An asymmetrical ceiling creates the impression of a smooth rolling wave, and the screen seems to float before the audience (they're actually attached to custom-made quarter-inch steel brackets attached to the back wall). Dimmable LED lights glow behind the screen and spill down the walls, providing the sensation of being in an aquarium. The thick-pile carpet and pad absorb some of the sound energy in the room.
Retro Hollywood Style
Go back in time and spend a night at the movies with this Hollywood-inspired media masterpiece. The audio system features eight powered woofers, 10 surround speakers and three massive screen speakers. That equals 8,400 conservative system watts. Design by by Cantara Design, Interior Design by Slayman Design Associates
Lonely Space Becomes Popular
An unused shell above a garage became a multifunctional media room to a include access to the house-wide DVD and music server, in addition to the home's security cameras, the Internet and house-wide lighting controls. Rather than hang the projector from a pole in the ceiling, technicians used a cantilevered wall mount to install it sleekly at the top of the rear wall. Photo courtesy of Genesis Audio & Video
Rockin' Around the Theater
It's impossible not to have a rockin' good time in this 1950s diner-inspired entertainment center. Not only does it feature a theater screen surrounded by a mural of the classic drive-in scene, but it also includes a private bowling alley and incredible decor. Audio One Sound and Video Inc. in Miami also amped up the theater system with 12 speakers, two subwoofers and a high-end front projector.
To the Batcave!
The Batcave is the perfect place to watch a flick. This home theater is designed for the ultimate Batman fan, and it also features cozy details from Wayne Manor and a life-size replica of the Batmobile seen in The Dark Knight, which sits in an adjacent room. Photo courtesy of Elite Home Theater Seating
Entry-Level High End
This media room represents what you might get at the entry level of high-end home entertainment ($20,000 to $30,000). It features a relaxed, open environment, suitable for watching movies and playing video games. The 133-inch screen creates an immersive environment, while media equipment is stored out of the sight, though still easily accessible. Dynamic A/V, Inc. of Granger, Ind., worked to incorporate all the homeowner's desires, including a projector that provides great audio performance and a clear picture in any light.
User-Friendly Home Theater Controls
In this lower-priced ($30,000 to $75,000) professionally designed home theater, the control system provides easy, full-featured use, and a custom screen allows for an optimum viewing experience in a room that is shallow in depth. The seating is arranged in tiers, and the room is completely blocked off from light and outside sound. Photo courtesy of Dynamic A/V, Inc.
Beneath the Garage
This upscale ($150,000 to $300,000)theater room is built in a large, enclosed concrete space below the home's garage. The room's design mimics that of the home, which features tons of dark cherry wood. This classy space seats at least 12 people. Photo courtesy of Home Technology Systems in Wichita, Kan.
This high-end ($500,000 to $1,000,000) theater features a 180-inch screen, exclusive projector, star-field ceiling, 15-person seating, surround channels for each row of seating, custom-built speakers, and audio/video components that rival the real theater experience. The projector is concealed in an imitation ticket booth. Photo courtesy of Admit One, Inc. in Edina, Minn.
High-Dollar Home Theater
This stunning million-dollar-plus home theater is a world-class screening room. It features two-and-a-half-inch-thick acrylic windows that look into the 98,000-gallon pool. The chairs are from Radio City Music Hall, and the carpet and wall materials were custom dyed to match. Design by Future Home in Los Angeles, Calif.
This high-end ($300,000 to $500,000) modern home theater was designed to create a high-performance space for movies and sporting events. Isolated acoustically and equipped with complete surround sound, the room provides a high-quality, immersive experience. The sound system features 20 discrete channels: the main left, center and right speakers; four side surrounds; two back-wall surrounds; and 11 subwoofers. The room also has an independent cooling system to provide ultimate comfort. Photo courtesy of La Scala in Vancouver, B.C.
$6 Million Theater
Dubbed the $6 million theater, this media room leaves almost nothing to be desired. Designed and built by Jeremy R. Kipnis of Kipnis Studios, the theater offers a 22-foot state-of-the-art screen. The theater also includes a double-story balcony, orchestra section and special acoustic materials that help make the room completely noise isolated.
His and hers HD DVRs as well as two additional DVRs for guests takes this charming living room to the next level of entertainment. Homeowners have access to four DirecTV HD DVRs, Blu-Ray movies, AppleTV content, ROKU content, a computer and dual Mirage Media sources such as Pandora, Rhapsody, LastFM, XM radio, iTunes music and an iPod dock.
Framed Artwork TVs
In the 2013 HGTV Smart Home canvas artwork retracts to reveal flat-screen TVs. When not in use, TV covers scroll down to create a framed art experience. The media system is controled by a smart tablet or Web-enabled device
Multipurpose Entertainment Room
Moore Audio Design used window treatments to help eliminate natural light, while a Screen Innovations 97-inch Black Diamond Zero Edge screen amplifies light coming from the projector. Aside from the main screen, homeowners can view either of the 40-inch Samsung LED TVs if they are playing poker or getting a snack in the back of the room. Photography by Jim Schmid Photography
In the 2012 HGTV Green Home a 59-inch flat-screen TV, mounted above the fireplace, is a family room focal point. When mounting a TV above the fireplace make sure seating is located far enough back to avoid irritating neck strain.
This media room is any NBA fan's dream come true. Equipped with more than 20 plasma and LCD displays, a bar/kitchenette, bathrooms, and billiard and poker area, basketball lovers have no reason to leave. HomeTronics, Inc., of Dallas, designed this sports paradise, which even includes motorized telescopic poles around the poker table that lower screens from the ceiling, allowing each player to watch whichever game they want. This room took home CEDIA's 2006 best overall media room award, and for good reason.
For Art's Sake
Disguised as a stunning art gallery, this home theater features a stealthy but innovative design. It is adorned with beautiful works of art but also boasts a retractable 14-foot multimedia screen, drop-down plasma screens, and a hidden gallery kitchen and guest quarters. Designed by Baumesiter Electronic Architects of Niles, Ill.
Lord of the Theaters
Inspired by one of the most popular movie franchises in history, this Lord of the Rings themed home theater offers a unique flair with its cutting-edge technology. Equipped with a wireless touch-screen monitor, huge theater screen and comfortable chairs and bar area, the theater brings the movies to life. Silver Screen & Sound, Inc. of Towson, Md., designed this beautiful one-of-a-kind room.
1920s-Style Home Theater
The pinnacle of class and elegance, this home theater was designed to resemble a 1920s movie palace, complete with 12 plush chairs with custom-patterned fabric, a chandelier and wall sconces to add warmth. The space also features a coffered ceiling treatment with custom moldings and an embossed copper ceiling. Photo courtesy of Elite Home Theater Seating
A Movie Gold Mine
This unusual home theater is the ultimate underground experience made to feel like a mine shaft. The home is located in a town known for mining in the 1800s, and the experts at Aurant in West Valley City, Utah, made sure the theater reflected that atmosphere. From the long entrance hall leading down to the dark mine that doubles as the theater, every detail stays true to theme.
Beneath the Stars
A work of art itself, this French country chateau theater was inspired by French architectural design. Its emphasis on lavish interiors and close attention to detail bring viewers out of the theater and into the countryside. Aurant in West Valley City, Utah, turned this room into a beautiful star-studded home theater.
Accurate Sound Stage
The front speakers in this theater are hidden behind an acoustically transparent screen, an arrangement that provides a very accurate sound stage and optimal visual impact. The entire room is treated with just the right amount of absorption and reflection, completely disguised behind sound suede fabric attached with an invisible track system. The 12-inch riser for the rear row of seating is filled with insulation and framing running from the front to back of the room, with the front face left open to act as a bass trap; the carpet hiding the opening allows low frequencies to be absorbed under the riser.
Room for a Buffet
This theater achieved an architectural consistency with the ornate trim and plaster details in the rest of the house while maintaining a subdued level of finish that wouldn't detract from the video presentation. And moving the right wall in 30 inches allowed room for a buffet that blocks the entry door from view in the seating area.
High-mass materials and mechanical isolation were used on the walls, ceiling and floor of this theater to create a sound-isolation envelope. All trim, acoustic materials, platforms and stage materials were chosen based on their soundproofing qualities. Acoustic materials included specialized diffusion and absorption products, some of them custom-designed for the space. Surround speakers reduce seat-to-seat variance in sound, and the seating platform was designed to function as a bass trap. The design of the solid mahogany ceiling facilitated high- and mid-frequency diffusion while also preventing image reflections from the screen.
This mountain-chalet theater features decoupled inner-wall and ceiling construction to minimize sound transmission into and from neighboring rooms and the floor above. The interior acoustical materials offer a balanced sound field despite the small size of the space. The variegated acoustical palate is neatly concealed behind a stretch-fabric system.
This extravagant home theater was designed with comfortable theater-style seating to accommodate young children and a large extended family. All amenities contribute to the true movie theater experience, including a candy counter, popcorn machine and refrigerator for cold drinks. Copyright CEDIA 2011. Used with permission.
Form and Function
This visually stunning theater is large enough to accommodate friends and family and also rivals the audio-visual performance of the best commercial theaters. The space features comfortable seating, a huge screen, 3-D capability, theater-quality audio and high-end decorative elements, which add to the luxury. Copyright CEDIA 2011. Used with permission.
Acoustic Wood Detailing
A cabinetmaker was called in to help create a design in which the hard surface detailing on the wood in this theater would disperse sound and minimize the wood's impact on audio performance. Significant sections of the walls are covered with fabric, and rich cashmere with excellent acoustical properties conceals the surround speakers and acoustical treatments.
The design possibilities are endless when it comes to creating an elegant, inviting dedicated media room. In this urban space, a custom frame and a welded-steel support "float" the backlighted screen in the urban condo pictured here. White LED lights create a custom glow around the screen. The spiral staircase leads from the media room to an upper-level living area.
Before you decide on the type of home theater design that's right for your family, you'll want to think about location. Two important things to consider for any home theater are light and sound—you'll want to choose a location where you'll have as much control as possible over these key elements. For this reason, many homeowners considering a home theater installation naturally gravitate toward the basement—often the home's most self-contained space, as well as its quietest and darkest. There's no reason not to consider a living room or spare bedroom for a home theater installation, but it's possible these spaces will require more customization to ensure proper lighting and sound control.
Once you've chosen the appropriate location in the home, it's time to start thinking about your home theater's technical, audio-visual and design requirements. The first thing to investigate in your location is the ability to wire the room for lighting, video, audio and internet access. Lighting, audio and video wiring are essential, while internet access is somewhat optional but recommended and a feature of most modern home theaters. Homeowners increasingly want to stream video from the internet or via set-top boxes, or connect for multiplayer gaming or web surfing on the big screen. In terms of wiring, you'll also want to confirm that you can hide the wiring for lighting and electronics in the walls or in discreet tubing throughout the room—a wild nest of wires is probably not the design you're looking for, and it can be a potential electrical hazard, as well.
Once the wiring situation has checked out, you'll want to turn your attention to the audio-visual and electronic equipment you'll install for your home theater. Your choices here are just about infinite in terms of cost and complexity, but one guiding factor you can use initially is the size of your home theater room. The room's dimensions will go a long way toward determining things like the size of the TV or projection screen needed, the number or speakers required for your sound system, and the lighting system. Other considerations for AV, lighting and electronics include whether you want to be able to control the entire home theater system via one universal remote, wirelessly via smartphone or tablet, or via an existing whole-home automation system.
When the inventory list for your home theater is complete, it's time to begin thinking about interior design. Again, the scope and configuration of the space will be a factor when it comes to the amount and type of furniture and decorations you'll choose. For example, larger home theaters sometimes feature cinema-style stadium seating, with large armchairs provided for each guest. Conversely, homeowners with smaller home theater spaces may opt for simpler seating arrangements of couches and chairs.
The last design consideration for any home theater is thematic—as you browse existing spaces for inspiration, you may notice that many homeowners with the space and resources to do so opt for a design that features a nod to the modern cinema experience, with curtains, carpets and even popcorn machines. Other homeowners opt for a more understated design that reflects the home's prevailing style. Ultimately, the choice is yours as the opening credits roll on your home theater project.
See Also: Planning Your Own Home Theater
- Home Theater Surge Protectors
- Home Theater Remote Controls
- Home Theaters Make a Splash
- Home Theater Popcorn Machines
- Stylish, Comfortable Home Theater
- Home Theater Furniture & Accessories