Rooms To Make Your Home Your Own: Home Theaters

We can’t think of another room that attracts people’s attention quite like a home theater.  Home theaters (sometimes called media rooms) have become quite popular in custom homes.  If you think incorporating a home theater into your new log home is out of your price range, think again.  Thanks to an increase in demand and technology that has become more affordable, your dream theater could be yours.  With the proper planning and execution, going out to the movies could be a thing of the past.

Home Theater Rooms

Step 1:  Choose a location

Whether you are including a home theater room in your custom home’s blueprint, or you want to turn an existing room into a media room, you need to plan accordingly.  It is best to keep your home theater away from the areas of the home that see the most activity.  In other words, you don’t want to set your home theater up right next to the kitchen or underneath the baby’s room.  You want to plan on locating your home theater in an area of your home that will cause the fewest disruptions to the rest of the family.

Ideas include:

·      A room above the garage

·      An section of the basement

·      A theater “wing” off the master bedroom or great room

Wherever you choose to have your home theater, make sure the room is sufficient to hold all the audio-visual equipment and furniture you will need for maximum effect.  We suggest a room that is 12’ x 12’ at the very least.

Step 2:  Prepare the room

Now that you’ve decided on the location for your home theater, the next step is to frame the room and install some insulation.  If you are building your home theater as a part of the construction of your new home, you will frame the walls as you would any other room.  If you are turning an existing space into a home theater room, you will need to remove any existing drywall or sheet rock before going any further.  If your existing room has windows, you may wish to consider eliminating them by boarding them up and hanging drywall over them.  (One note on this:  You must comply with all building codes, so two exits remain necessary.)

Once your framing is in place, you will need to pack in some insulation between the studs.  While R30 is the standard insulation used in ceilings and floors, you will want something to deaden the sound between your home theater and the rest of your house.  R11 insulation, packed loosely between the studs, is a good choice.  If you want to get maximum sound proofing, there are companies that have designed products specifically for that purpose.  Quiet Barrier, Quiet Batt, and Auralex are just a few of the products on the market today that can be applied inside the walls the reduce sound emissions.

Step 3:  Wiring

Find a good electrician, knowledgeable about installing home theaters, to do this job for you.  You will want to run all the necessary wires before putting up dry wall and additional sound barriers.  This may sound like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how many people hang their dry wall, only to discover they forgot wiring for the video projector or some other major component.

You will need to run wires for:

·      Surround sound—Most home theaters use a 7.1 surround sound system.  This includes seven speakers (center, left, right, two sides, and two rears) and a subwoofer.  It is important that you know where you want to house your receiver and AV equipment before running your wires.  All wires will need to be connected at this “hub.”

·      Video projector—This should hang down from the ceiling at the back of your theater.  You will need to run both HDMI and CAT5 cables here.

·      Lighting—To create the ambiance of a movie theater, you might want to consider special lighting details, such as floor lighting and wall sconces.

·      Make sure you run wires for cable or satellite and high-speed internet at this time, as well.  These wires should also be run to your hub.

·      Make sure you include plenty of electrical outlets for all of your components.  You will likely need to include additional outlets close to your hub.

Step 4:  Hanging the drywall

After you’ve checked and double-checked that all your wires have been run correctly, it’s time to hang the drywall.  You may choose to hang ordinary drywall and then attach foam or vinyl paneling as an extra layer of soundproof protection.  Another option is to hang acoustically engineered drywall, which is fabricated with a special compound that absorbs sound and vibration.  Some products you may wish to consider include Sound-Engineered Drywall (SED), QuietRock, and Gold Bond SoundBreak XP Gypsum Board.  While these products come with a heftier price tag, it may be well worth it to keep your movie sound effects contained in your home theater, instead of permeating the rest of your house.

Step 5:  Considering your floors and additional sound barriers

At this point, it’s time to think about floor coverings.  Concrete, tile, or wood floors are not ideal for a home theater.  They allow too much sound to bounce around without being properly absorbed, and this can take away from your theater experience.  Plus who wants the sticky movie theater floor feel?  Consider installing carpet or laying down area rugs to help with sound (and liquid) absorption.

Step 6:  Selecting components and setting up your system

While there are hundreds of variations our there, your basic home theater components will be:

·      Projection screen or TV (If you’re going for the authentic theater feel, you will want the screen.)

·      Video projector

·      DVD player (Opt for blu-ray for a better picture and sound.)

·      Speakers (You will need at least seven.)

·      Receiver

·      Amplifier (Most receivers come with an amplifier.  If your receiver does not, you will need to purchase one separately.)

·      Universal remotes

Other, non-essential components you may wish to add are:

·      DVR (These are digital video recorders.  One such product is TiVo.)

·      Gaming console (Many of these can be used for live web streaming, also.)

Once you’ve purchased all the components, set up your system.  To make your home theater realistic, set up your screen or TV at the front of your theater in the center of the wall.  Arrange your speakers properly.  For optimal results, place your speakers on stands or mount them on the wall, at or above ear level.  Locate your subwoofer at the back of theater for best results.

Step 7:  Install seating

If an authentic theater feel is the goal, you may wish to opt for theater-style seats, complete with cup holders in the arm rests.  If you will have more than one row, consider building a platform to elevate your rows of seats.  Perhaps you want to keep the cozy, spending-an-evening-with-the-family feel, instead.  You may decide some comfortable recliners and love seats are the best option for you.

Step 8:  Bring on the popcorn!

Now, you can reap the benefits of your planning and hard work.  It’s time to sit back, relax, and enjoy the show!