The Right Furniture for Your Home Theater
A narrow room like this calls for a careful seating arrangement. The Douglas Furniture chairs were angled and placed on tiers to fit the skinny space. System design and installation by The Home Theater Store, Kennesaw, GA
Home theaters aren't just about big screens and speakers...comfy seats and ample storage are also a must.
No entertainment room is complete without furniture—for your body and for your audio/video equipment. Both will be an added expense, so it’s important to choose these items wisely. Furniture stores may be the first place you’d think to look for these products, and many now carry at least one line of specialty cinema chairs, cabinetry and shelving. However, be sure to also shop at specialty audio/video retailers in your area. You may discover new options and clever room arrangements that resemble a commercial theater, albeit on a much smaller scale. Specialty audio/video retailers may also carry accessories like movie posters, decorative wall panels, themed carpeting and marquees that can jazz up your entertainment space.
Take a Seat
If you’ll be turning an unfinished area, such as a bonus room or basement, into a theater, your options are wide open: traditional couches, barstools, even bean bags will work. but as long as the room needs to be constructed, you might consider putting in some tiered flooring for a stadium-style seating effect (if your budget permits it) like you’d find in a commercial theater. Common arrangements are two or three rows of four seats, giving you plenty of seating for a fairly large group of people. That’s the beauty of a tiered theater: You’ll be able to fit in more seats than you would if you’d left the floor flat, making it a good option for small rooms.
Any type and style of chair can be fitted onto the tiers: loveseats, couches, even wingback chairs. However, you may miss out on some of the cool features found in specialty theater seats. Many such chairs feature cup holders and snack trays; some have articulating headrests and storage compartments for remote controls. You may even be able to find a seat with a built-in tactile transducer that shakes the chair in synch with the movie, giving action flicks a whole new dimension of realism. Most cinema chairs come in leather or fabric and are available in colors of your choice, making it easy to find something that’ll complement the room design. You’ll also be able to choose from styles that range from authentic flip-down seats and traditional club chairs to something more contemporary.
No matter what type of seat you go with, be sure it’ll fit into the room. Measure the width of the seat, and check to see how much space you’ll need for the seats to recline—if that’s your preference. Some seats can be coupled with shared armrests, or you can curve a row of seating with “wedge” units between the seats to allow more than one arm to rest. Above all, go into your search knowing how many viewers you want your room to occupy.
Unless you live in a college dorm, you’ll want somewhere attractive to put your new TV, speakers and components. There are many storage options: large wooden entertainment cabinets; sleek, modern shelving units; and articulating wall mounts, to name a few. An entertainment cabinet is ideal for multipurpose entertainment rooms when the room is being used for activities other than watching movies, you can close the doors to conceal the TV, DVD player and speakers. If you’d rather show off your gear, go for an audio/video stand consisting of open shelving. Because all the equipment is exposed, the signals from your remote control can get to the components, something that’s tougher to accomplish with a traditional wooden cabinet. (You may need to add an infrared repeater system or swap your current infrared remote for a radio frequency–based clicker to get the signal past the wooden doors.)
Regardless of which style of A/V storage you select, there are a few key features to look for. First and foremost, make sure that the cabinet or shelving unit can comfortably accommodate your equipment. Measure the width, height and depth of your TV, DVD player, and speakers (if you plan to tuck in the front left-, right- and center-channel speakers). Extra storage space is a good thing too, in case you ever add new components to your system. Finding the perfect-size storage unit can frustrating, so if your budget allows, have a cabinetmaker craft something for you. You or your home theater designer will need to supply the cabinetmaker with the dimensions of every component and request that adequate ventilation and wiring chases be incorporated into the design. While you’re at it, have him build cavities for the front three speakers. Acoustic grille cloth can be applied over the front of each opening so the speakers disappear but the sound filters through.
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Once you have these basics in place, you can start adding accessories to your viewing space. Consider decorative sconces for the walls and tiny pin lights to define the perimeter of the room. Hang posters of your favorite movies, add a few throw pillows and blankets or display a favorite collection of memorabilia. These items will give your home theater a feeling of warmth and help express your personal style.