What started as a 24” x 36” wood cabinet with a 18” x 18” inch glass screen insert, i.e.the TV, has now grown into a design event. Rooms created just for its sole purpose, the "Home Theater.” Although movie viewing has always been a social event shared with family and friends, movie viewing today has moved from simple and understated to elaborate and theatrical.
There are several important design elements one should consider upon designing their home theater -- what I refer to as the "Fabulous Five."
1. How and Whom
Once one has decided how they want to use their media room it will become clear how they want to approach the design. Private screening for two or an elaborate second living room for the extended family? Furnishings can range from luxe Italian leather recliners to oversized sectionals with children and pet-friendly fabrics.
2. Shape and Size
Once one knows their viewing needs, the space can then be defined. A rectangular deep space is preferred for sound distribution, but if you are looking to incorporate large plush sofas and a bar area, a square space would be more workable. Screen sizes can vary, but we like seating to be a minimum of 9 feet from the big screen, with the center of the screen at eye level while sitting.
Lighting sets the stage for the home theater. It can create a grand entrance or a quiet walkway. We like to address a home theater space with multiple lighting levels -- one level that provides general lighting through the application of concealed light sources in the ceiling and a secondary level introducing low-wall lights for pathways. No big screen star wants competition with eye level lighting. Incorporating a bar in the media room also provides an excellent lighting opportunity.
Sound is everything! If you can’t hear it, you can’t get the story. Having a A/V specialist on your team is a must. They will specify the appropriate equipment and speakers based upon the design of the media room. We like to provide the A/V specialist with a solid base to build upon -- we design the floors, walls and ceilings to have acoustical properties included in the finishes. Introducing various levels to the ceiling helps trap and bounce sound waves. Upholstered walls provide sound absorption as well as creating a luxurious feel. High bounce wool carpet also provides sound absorption and provides soft comfort for floor lounging.
Last but not least, color. Medium to dark colors work best. Neutral, gray and earth tones work nicely and do not interfere with the colors being projected from the big screen. Warm amber glows make for a soft transition to the eyes, when the lights go back up.
In the end, fun is the bottom line for a media room. Whether it is simple and understand, or over-the-top, the room should be a place for fun, laughter, screams, and tears -- just like the movies.