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home theater lighting

12 Steps to Creating The Perfect Home Theater

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Ok, so you’ve admitted that you have a movie addiction, and now you’re committed to creating your own home theater – the ultimate indulgence for your addiction. When you consider how much you’re spending on your home entertainment equipment, it makes sense to create the best theater room possible for your budget. So here’s a 12-step program to help you and your co-dependent movie junkie get the greatest bang for your buck.

Step 1: Start out with what you envision the perfect home theater room to be. Does it look like something fabulous that would be seen on MTV’s “Cribs”? Or are you going more for a mini authentic theater look? Does it have to fit into your current home decorating style or will it be an environment all its own?

Step 2: Set a budget. Though you enjoy going to an imaginary world through movies, this is not the time to live in an imaginary world. Be real about what you can spend on your home theater equipment and furniture. Doing otherwise may be a less than pleasant reality.

Step 3: Even a genius like Orson Welles wouldn’t buy furniture for his home theater without measuring first. Measure everything in the room and make a diagram to take shopping with you so you know the measurements of the room and where windows, doors, etc. are. Unless you have Transformer-like powers, you want to be sure everything fits before you make any purchases. Home theater equipment and furniture are too heavy to move around several times until it’s in the right location and especially to lug back to the store if it doesn’t fit!

Step 4: Time for some R & D. Guys, there’s no way around it – you have to go shopping to make informed and intelligent decisions about your home theater equipment. If you have a spouse, family member, or friend involved, be sure you go together. Bring back detailed notes, pictures (when possible), prices, delivery information, fabric and paint samples.

Step 5: Time for some gut level honesty- discuss and/or decide what HAS to be in the room and what can be left out, what colors you love and hate, and whether or not you want the theater equipment to be visible when not in use. If you’re doing this with someone, this is where you begin the compromise process with each other.

Step 6: Every good movie needs a good snack and beverage to go with it. But who wants to run to the kitchen every time a food or drink is craved? Make sure your home theater is equipped with a snack and drink bar, maybe include a microwave for popping popcorn.

Step 7: How much of a techie are you? Again, this is not the time to be living in fantasy land. There will be plenty of time for that after the theater is finished. In the meantime, hire a professional who specializes in knowing where to place your home theater equipment for the best sound and who can set things up so your electrical circuits aren’t overloaded.

Step 8: Pay special attention to the seating. If you and your guests are not comfortable, not much else will matter. First, you will have to determine how many people you want to be able to seat and gauge that to the space you have to fill to get the actual seat size. In addition to complementing the décor of the room, keeping within your budget, and buying high-quality, you will want to make sure the seat offers both firmness and flexibility and that the armrests are wide and comfortable. A cup holder and a good foot rest are also nice options to have. Also keep in mind that the style of chairs you select for your home theater will greatly affect the sound. Shorter back chairs will allow the sound to travel to your ears with truer, clearer sound.

Step 9: You want home theater drama that’s not part of the movie? Any good cinematographer would tell you that’s where lighting comes in. Sconce lighting would make the room feel like a movie theater; track lights over the seats let people read and write; more lights on the sides of the theater room make light available wherever you are at. Make sure to install a lighting control system (with a remote, please!) that will control each section of lights separately, and will provide dimming options.

Step 10: Anything you put into your home theater has the potential to affect the sound (yes, even your kids). Not only do window coverings help dim the room and prevent reflection but they, along with other strategically placed fabric panels, also help to reduce acoustical distortion by keeping the sound waves from bouncing around too much.

Step 11: As previously stated, large objects will cause sound to bounce off of them, so your home theater room isn’t the place for that sculpture you did in your art class or even a coffee table. Express yourself with cool wall art, textures and textiles, have plenty of comfortable seating, and let the equipment take center stage in your home theater.

Step 12: You’ve reached the last scene of your home theater designing adventure – all that’s left is to carry out the assembly process. Once your room has the audio/visual components, seating, and other details in place, you will have your dream home theater available to feed your home entertainment addiction to your heart’s desire.