How to Create a Cinema Room

Cinema rooms (or ‘home theatres’ if you’re American) can be the most exciting and luxurious room in your home, and can be made in any size on any budget, from comfortable rooms for a small audience based around a large television, or a full-blown cinema experience with a projector and aisle-style seating. Home cinemas are great for young families who may not have time to go out to the cinema themselves, and these projects can add significant value to a house through “wow factor” alone.

Finding a space for your cinema room is your first step. The room ideally needs to be large enough to provide adequate seating for your intended audience, but can be in a space that might not lend itself easily to other uses (for instance a basement or cellar without windows will provide the darkness and quiet that is ideal). If the room is to be located in the main part of the house or on a floor near or below bedrooms, a consideration should be given to sound proofing or well insulating the space so sound doesn’t disturb anyone else in your house or your neighbours, especially in a terrace.

Once a location has been chosen, the next step is to look at the technical side of your cinema room. Insulation is a vital part of most cinema rooms, as it will improve the sound quality both inside the room and prevent sound from leaking out and this improved sound is what gives a truly cinematic quality to the room.  Most cinema rooms will need a surround sound system, a large screen or projection space and lighting – look into where all of the wiring will go so you can hide it strategically in either a dropped ceiling (also great for soundproofing) or in the furniture which will be required to house some of the equipment. Surround sound systems will have upwards of 7 speakers, which will again need to be incorporated into your design.

The most popular choice for a cinema room is a projection system which will be installed on the ceiling. This will need a few wires and cables which can easily be hidden in the ceiling itself, usually as part of a drop down central section, which can also incorporate subtle lighting, perfect for creating the cinematic experience.

Once you have the technical aspects covered, decorating your home cinema is where you can start to inject your personality into the space. You may want to go for a classic art deco style with aproscenium arch or something more modern and minimal. The colour scheme in a cinema room is generally darker and richer than most rooms so that the main screen remains the focus of the room.  Also darker colours add to the dimly lit quality that is found in cinemas, giving them a snug and cozy feel and allowing you to lose yourself in a film.

Lighting is an integral part of the home cinema experience. For an authentic experience, dimmable lighting along the walls leading to the seating area means you can enter the dimly lit room comfortably and alongside recessed ceiling lighting, it is easy to navigate the space to get a drink or go to the toilet. Lighting on the floor or your seating (or along the aisle created between your seats) can work well for bigger and grander cinema rooms, but can add considerably to the cost. Finally, if you connect the lights to the central remote of your system, you will even be able to set your lights to dim automatically when a film begins – adding a touch of cinema magic to your home.

As for seating, you can find full-blown, sometimes vintage cinema seating (complete with cup holders!) online, or there are several companies that will make replica cinema seats for home use. These can be installed in rows with either a raked floor or on increasingly higher platforms so that no one has an obscured view. Fully upholstered, these seats give good support and often include a headrest, which is worth considering if you are sitting upright to view. Probably more popular in home cinemas, however, is a more informal large sectional sofa and bean bags for the children.  These sofas allow a more lounging type of viewing experience, which suits families with very young children and also works well when the room may serve as a dual daytime TV room.

Finally, don’t forget proximity to a small kitchen space for the preparation of drinks and snacks vital to film viewing. Portable popcorn machines and small freezers for storing ice creams or even small bar areas are all desirable where space allows.

The only drawback to having a cinema room? EVERYONE will want to come over!