10 Tips to Make a Family Room Look Like a Theater
Tricks that’ll make your family room have that home theater vibe.
This family room has light colors, but it also has a lot of stealthy A/V, including the dropdown screen and projector.
January 16, 2014 by Lisa Montgomery

Not everyone has the luxury of dedicating a room solely for big-screen movie viewing. More often, that space is shared with a family room, a den or a guest bedroom.

And that’s OK. Your family room is already finished and furnished. Plus, it probably already has a good-size TV and modest surround-sound system.

If your family room is like most, it may not look or feel much like a theater. What it’s likely lacking is ambiance - something in the arrangement and design of the room that gives off a theater vibe.

You can go as simple or as complicated as you want to produce the desired cinematic effect. Here are 10 ideas to consider.

1. Re-paint: Dark, rich colors like burgundy and navy blue scream theater. Plus, because light doesn’t reflect off dark colors like it does off light colors, the video on your TV will look better.

2. Rearrange the Furniture: The screen at your local cinema sits directly in front of the seats; your TV should, too, which may require a slight adjustment of your family room furniture.

3. Add Architectural Details: Decorative moldings, pillars and other theater-inspired details are widely available at home improvement stores.

4. Incorporate New Lighting: Most of the pre-show lighting in a commercial theater is produced by sconces on the wall. Put a few on the walls of your family room for additional lighting that looks like the real thing. Rope lighting is also very theater-esque.

5. Install Dimmers: If you don’t want to run new electrical wiring for the sconces, at least swap your existing light switch for a dimmer. You’ll be able to fade out the lights before the movie starts.

6. Hang Drapes: Nice, thick drapes like the ones that cover the screen at the movie theater evoke the look and feel you’re after. As a bonus, they can block out incoming light and improve room acoustics.

7. Hide the Components: Remove all the audio and video components from the room and place them somewhere else in the house, like a closet or utility room. Trade in your existing infrared remote control for a radio frequency-based remote. It’ll be able to transmit commands to the equipment through walls, floors and doors. 

8. Build a Riser: You can enjoy the same stadium-style seating of your neighborhood cinema in your own family room by having a riser built. Marc Huebner of Enhanced Home Systems in Eden Prairie, Minn., recommends constructing two steps that are each six inches high. The top step should include a platform at least six feet deep so that chairs can fit comfortably on it.

9. Pick New Seats: Invest in theater-style seating, especially if you’ve built risers. These seats can be ordered in a color to complement the new wall paint. They can include features like reclining action and built-in cup holders.

10. Attach Fabric Wall Panels: The walls in most theaters are covered in fabric. You can do the same in your family room, although you don’t have to do the entire space.

“At $100 to $200 a panel, it’s an inexpensive way to improve the acoustics,” says Ryan Herd of One Sound Choice, Pompton Plains, N.J.

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Lisa Montgomery - Contributing Writer
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.

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