Building a Home Theater
I talk so much about board games and RPG’s that I often will neglect other nerdy hobbies or things that people do. There are so many nerdy movies out there that it feels bad to skip over them as often as I do. It doesn’t help that I tend to gravitate towards television shows as well because those fit into an evening better. But lately I’ve started a project at our house of getting our projector set-up in what will eventually be a finished space and a little theater room.
Theater Room Basics
When thinking about a theater room or even a dedicated TV room, there are a few things you need to think about. In particular for a room that we want to call a theater room, I have four primary things that I’ve thought about. Screen, sound, seating, and snacks, the four important S’s.
This decision matters on multiple levels. Firstly you need to decide do you want to do like I am, and have a projector set-up with a pull down screen or do you want to have a television and just go with a big flat screen. If I were to do it now, I might lean towards a large television simply because 4k projectors are not cheap. However, 1080p projectors, those are a much more reasonable price. I also like that I can go bigger cheaper. I think that the width of the screen I have is 8′, and that’s width, so it’s notably bigger than a 85″ television and those cost a whole lot more than the pulldown screen and projector. So the projector route is definitely better for the budget. Clarity will suffer slightly, but since I’m putting it into a basement room I don’t have much to worry about with light any time during the day.
Now, if you pick a television, you can just use the sound from the TV if you want. But we’re talking about a theater room, so you shouldn’t just have a normal sound system. I have a 5.1 surround sound, and I’d consider upgrading it, when we finish off the space to 7.1 surround sound depending on cost. This will give you more of a theater feel and it’s a lot of fun. This generally means getting speakers and a receiver. This now starts adding up in price, but you can get a solid sound set-up for $400 if you look at refurbished options as well as new. We’re really looking to get out enough sound so that it feels like you’re getting a bit of a theater experience with it. A solid sound bar and subwoofer would be another option as well.
Theater chairs are not that comfortable, though they have gotten way way better during my lifetime. But this is a home theater, so the seating should be comfortable. We have a nice quality futon as well as an arm chair and a 6′ long bean bag chair in our area. These are good items, though I feel like we will eventually want to get something better, some assembly required so we can get it down the basement, that will turn the room into an even more cozy spot to watch movies and television. What I generally look for is something that I can lounge on, we had a sectional at the old place and that was quite comfortable to stretch out on. Now we have an ottoman to use as a foot rest and a foot rest for the arm chair as well. Plus the bean bag chair can either go the long way for full body comfort for one person or two people can lean up against it the other way.
Every good movie theater has tons of over priced snacks, but snacks that you expect. Popcorn is of course the biggest. We picked up a table top movie theater style popcorn machine for our theater room. This was about a $60 purchase and it just gives the room a sort of aesthetic that I want in a room that is supposed to be a theater room. We also have a kegerator down there as well for when we don’t want to walk up the stairs to get a beer from the fridge. This is just a fun little feature that I really like with home brewing to have nice access to beer where I’ll be watching television and movies. But that isn’t needed, I think if you want to really lean into the movie theater room the popcorn machine and maybe a minifridge would be what I’d target for having snacks in the room. We, to complete the look, also got plastic popcorn containers that look like the cardboard medium sized popcorn containers you can get at theaters, or maybe the small ones, I don’t get popcorn at theaters all that often.
Taking It Over the Top
So for a good theater room, those four S’s are what I consider essential. Now, snacks could be argued, but at least some place to put out snacks easily is needed. Let’s talk about some things that can take your home theater over the top.
This is the easiest thing to do because you can pretty easily get your hands on movie posters. But getting some and getting them framed and up is nice aesthetically for a home theater. If you want to go really fancy, do a box of sorts with some light in there to shine onto the posters. This would give you minimal lighting for the room and also add to that theater aesthetic.
This could be done one of two ways. Now most theaters don’t open and close curtains around their screens, but if you wanted to go for that old time charm you could. Or you could get get a curtain to frame the screen. This is more common to what you see, it helps diffuse the light in the room by giving it a soft surface that it won’t reflect off of around the screen, and again aesthetically it’s like a movie theater.
We picked up this for our home theater room. A marquee light box seems like a really fun idea to have in the room. You get a ton of letters, I think the one I got came with 250 of them, so probably can spell out most any movie title. When we can have movie nights again, it’s going to be fun to throw up the name of the movie on the marquee for when people come down into the room. And it was quite cheap as well, I believe the one that I picked up was $20 on Amazon, you can find it here. This one is very simple, but you can get bigger ones that will really make the room feel like a theater.
Now, lighting is important. But for a lot of existing rooms where you are just adding to the room instead of remodeling it, you’re limited in lighting. That is my case as well. However, I am sprucing up the lighting in the room. The marquee itself will provide minimal lighting when on in the room. But we also have some curtain lights. Think about a ten foot strand of wire with ten 8 foot strings of lights attached to it. With just that much light in the room, and it’s a soft light, it is easy to see to move around, but not so bright as to diffuse the projector and create a faded image.
Now, this seems like a lot for a home theater, and to do one up so it’s really fancy isn’t a cheap project. I make mine cheaper by getting refurbished electronics whenever I can. Even then, though, with a XBox One and a Wii down there as well as the projector, it is spendy. All of that said, I love it for watching movies and television. There is something about the big screen that is just more fun, and having a place to spread out and watch and be cozy do an in home date night, all of those things are fun and worth it for me. You’ll need to decide how far you want to go with it, but if you do, show me pictures of your home theater set-up.