How To
How to Design a Media Room
Any room can be a media room. Discover tips for carving out your home's media niche.
media room
You don’t need a massive drop-from-the-ceiling screen, dark walls and flip-down seats to have a media room. Cozy rooms like this one often work better for families. Here the owners enjoy not only great audio and video, but a fireplace and a plush sectional as well. Electronics design and installatio
November 01, 2005 by Lisa Montgomery

Just about any space in your home can function as a media room. All it takes is a vision, the right equipment and possibly a few alterations to the room’s design. If your plan involves building equipment into the walls, having a screen descend from the ceiling and pressing one button on a fancy touchscreen to start the show, you’ll also need the help of a home systems installer. Even if your ideas are elaborate, it never hurts to start thinking about which room you’d like to convert, what type of equipment you’d like to incorporate, and how you’d like the room to perform. Are You Serious?

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to designing a media room. Your passion for watching movies will ultimately determine its makeup. For example, if all you want is a place to occasionally enjoy a DVD, a 27-inch TV, a pair of speakers and a DVD player positioned in your den might suffice. If your media room will be used as a place to host special movie nights, consider investing in a bigger screen and a 7.1-surround-sound system. Once you decide how you’d like the room to function, it’s time to start hammering out the details.

Find a Good Spot
Do you want your media room to be a private escape or something that’s open to anyone who stops by the house? For a bit of privacy, steer clear of the main living areas and consider smaller spots, such as the master bedroom or den. The family room, living room, breakfast nook or rec room, meanwhile, can be an ideal location for a family-friendly media system.

Make the Accommodations
The beauty of a media room is that it often serves many purposes. No matter how much audio and video equipment you pack into the rec room, for instance, you’re still going to use the room as a place to play pool, socialize with friends, and hold your annual family Christmas party. These activities may require ample lighting, a particular arrangement of furniture and maybe even a good view of the backyard—all setups that can clash with a media system. With a few simple alterations, however, you can make that space more accommodating of the audio/video equipment without impacting the overall look and feel of the room.

For example, the doors of a cabinet can hide every component until you’re ready to watch a movie. Most furniture stores carry entertainment units or you can hire a cabinetmaker to design a piece. Either way, you will need to know the exact dimensions of every component before bringing the cabinet home. If your plans are more grandiose, such as a massive cinema-style screen and a video projector, you’ll want to get a builder or carpenter on board before you start redoing the room. He can either tuck the components above the ceiling or inside soffits that are specially designed to complement the architecture and design of the room.

Naturally, you’ll need a place to sit. In some rooms, you may be able to reposition existing furniture and get a good glimpse of the screen. In other places, like a master bedroom, you might be better off buying a new sofa. In large multipurpose rooms, such as a rec room, consider adding a room divider to set the media area apart.

Sure, you might love the view from your big, gorgeous family room windows, but all that light will wash out the picture on even the best TV. Draperies are an easy solution to this problem. Find a design that can be easily opened and closed, either manually or electronically.

While you’re at it, replace the standard light switch with a dimmer. This will allow you to fade the lights out gradually before the movie starts.

More Than Movies
Watching movies is probably the first thing you’ll do in your new media room, but the space you created is also ideal for listening to music, reading a book or pecking away on a laptop computer. When you’re not enjoying a movie, the room can always go back to its old self as soon as you open the drapes and brighten the lights.

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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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