A home theater is one room you can turn into virtually any type of space you want. Typically set apart from the rest of the house in a basement or a bonus room, it benefits from having no visual tie-ins with your art deco living room or Country French style kitchen. This means you can give it a design all its own, whether it’s ultramodern or a throwback from the roaring twenties. All it takes is a good imagination, a bit of inspiration and an accommodating home theater designer to create a unique, eye-popping entertainment escape.
An Inspiration Item
Maybe you picked up a great piece of table art during a vacation in Morocco years ago. Or perhaps you’ve had your eye on a scarlet red chaise at your favorite furniture store. And then there are those great gothic wall sconces you stumbled upon during your last antiquing trip. In other areas of your house, these unusual pieces might stick out like a sore thumb, but in a theater, they can become the building blocks of a whole new decorating scheme. Take that beautiful Moroccan vase: You can carry that style through to the couches, the lamps and other decorative accents, giving the space the look and feel of a Moroccan palace. Cabinets adorned with ornate finials and moldings can hold your big-screen TV, speakers and components while complementing the decor.
Inspiration can also come in the form of hobbies, pastimes, even something as simple as a favorite color. If your passion is downhill skiing, for example, you could give your theater the appearance of a mountain lodge, complete with overstuffed couches and wooden beams. Broadway buffs, meanwhile, could add a proscenium underneath the movie screen and hang adjustable velvet draperies across the top and sides.
Seats and Screens
The two parts of a home theater that probably best reflect the personality of the space are the seats and the video screen. Large, comfortable couches, piles of pillows and plenty of space to stretch out on the floor says this is a home theater that’s comfortable and casual, where it’s okay to hand the remote over to the kids and to talk during a movie.
Tiered rows of flip-down style seats, on the other hand, suggest a more serious movie-viewing environment where the goal is to become totally immersed in the movie action. Because the seats resemble those used in commercial cinemas, they’ll make you feel like pulling out your ticket every time you step into the room.
The video screen can also set the tone for your theater. For example, a 110-inch display that sits out in the open is bound to be the focal point of the room, which is a good idea for a dedicated home theater. But when a screen stays hidden above the ceiling or behind cabinet doors, it evokes a completely different atmosphere where the room can function just as nicely as a family room, a place to host cocktail parties or a spot to relax with a good book.
Add Sizzle to the Standards
Like any room, your home theater will have walls, a ceiling and a floor. But that doesn’t mean you have to settle for regular old paint, carpeting and ceiling tiles. You can dress up the space with specialty carpeting featuring inlays that fit a particular theme. For example, if you’ve decided to model your theater after a drive-in, you could choose a fabric ceiling pinpricked with fiber-optic lights to emulate a starlit night. Hand-painted murals could evoke old-world charm, while fabric wall panels could complement a contemporary design. A carpet with turquoise- and terra-cotta-colored inlays could add flavor to a Tex-Mex design. The sky truly is the limit on how you can use special decorative touches to enhance the overall effect of your home theater.
There’s nothing wrong with admitting to a lack of creativity. You can still design a unique space; you just might need a push in the right direction. A number of companies, including Acoustic Innovations, Cinema Design Group, Cinematech, First Impressions Theme Theatres and TecStyles Cinemas, offer made-to-order theaters that can be tailored to the dimensions and acoustical characteristics of a space. You pick a style from the company’s portfolio, and they’ll put together all the pieces you need from architectural details like columns and sconces to necessities like chairs and carpeting. You can get the same great-looking theater by working with an interior designer and home theater designer, but these prefabricated styles are great for homeowners who need to get their creative juices flowing a bit before delving into a project.
View some extreme examples.
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Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.