6 Tips to Planning for your Media Room or Home Theater

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Is 2014 going to be “the year” you get that home theater or media room you have been wanting? Or are you scrambling to set it up for Superbowl Sunday, just two short weeks away?

You might still be deciding which entertainment room is going to be best for you and your family — a media room or a home theater? Today, we’ll give you 6 steps to choosing the right one for your home and help you start the planning process.

Space & Dimensions

Contemporary Media Room by Bethesda Architects & Designers SBK Partnership, LLC – Architecture

Naturally, the first question to ask yourself when planning for a home theater or media room is where you are going to put it in your home. This will help you determine just how much space you have to work with. According to DSI Entertainment, you room’s specifications are extremely important because mathematically you have to make sure everything lays out properly from the couch and television location to the audio performance and acoustics during the show.

Can you update an existing room in your home to make a media room, by installing a flat screen television and well-integrated surround sound? Or are you ready to make a much larger investment with a complete remodel or addition? Home theaters, unlike media room, must incorporate more technology, specialized sound control, a larger than life television, and multiple luxury seating units for the complete “theater” experience.


The next step is to consider the purpose of this new room. Do you want to incorporate the full HD, blu-ray surround sound experience into your living room to make movie night, the next SuperBowl or simple entertaining, just a little more exciting? Or do you want to mimic the entire cinema experience?

Will you be using your media room/home theater for more than just movies? With the advancement of gaming systems like X-Box 1 and Wii, worldwide collaboration technology for gamers, and amazing visual effects of the games available, you can take gaming to an entirely new level – your teenager will thank you!


Traditional Media Room With Hickory Wood Floor
Traditional Media Room by Baltimore Home Media Design & Installation Gramophone

The technology you will need for your media room or home theater will be a big decision.

Let’s start with the size of your TV. For a true home theater experience, you are looking at a television at least 6′ wide and normally a maximum of ten-feet wide according to Theo Kalomirakis, of Theo Kalmoarakis Theatres of New York, in a recent interview with HGTV Remodels. Or in place of a TV, you may even want to consider a projector and retractable screen.

For a media room you probably don’t need (or have the space for something that large. To determine the ideal screen size for your room you should be able to sit back from your TV 2-3 times the screen size of your television (measure it on a diagonal) and get optimal viewing performance. So take the time for space planning to map out where your television and seating are going to go.

For home theaters or media rooms, you want to select your screen size based on “aspect ratio” or shape of your television. The right aspect ratio may depend on what kind of programs you like to watch, it can vary for sports fans or Star Wars followers.

Contemporary Media Room by Newmarket Interior Designers & Decorators Olga Oreshyna

Next up is sound. You should install a 5.1 surround sound system, as a minimum for your space whether it is a home theater or media room. 7.1 Surround Sound is also available for those die-hard home media fans. If you want to know about the difference in your surround sound options check out Crutchfield. According to DSI Entertainment skimping on the audio system is not recommended, it is even more important than the picture (television/screen) that you are going to display on. Be sure to budget accordingly so you invest in the screen and the sound for optimal satisfaction.  Professional home theater companies can optimize sound by not only equipment but also room size and placement of audio devices.

Decor & Comfort

Trufig on the Carlisle Wide Plank Floors Blog
You can even find outlets, like these from TruFig, that blend in with the wall decor, for a seamless look.

The decor of your media room or home theater is all about comfort and relaxation. For a media room, you are considering a comfy couch and recliners with some accent tables to store drinks and snacks. These rooms can flow with the rest of the decor in your home if you so desire including the same colors, wood flooring, and overall design. Why not motorized shades and drapes from companies like Lutron, to draw down the lights when you need to.

You can even incorporate design elements to diffuse sound in your new media room. These can include window coverings, area rugs, artistic sound panels, or audio diffusers like these wood panels from Olga Oreshyna in Toronto.

In a home theater you can take comfort to an all new level with luxurious home theater seating, loungers and sectionals, most with built in footrests, cup holders, massagers and/or heat.  Home Theaters often boasts luxurious wood paneling, customized lighting and wall coverings ranging from wood paneling to heavy curtains.  Wall colors tend to be in dark, bold colors.  This replicates the traditional theater experience.

If you are creating a media room think about how your television will fit in with the overall decor. Are you going mount it on the wall or place it on a media unit? Do you want it visible all the time? Will it obstruct other views from the room that it is in? Do you want it to look like a television when it is not turned on? Advanced technology and construction allows you to retract, move or otherwise hide your television from view when not in use. Companies like Seura make televisions that look like mirrors when not in use. These are ideas you may wish to consider.

Odds & Ends

There are a few odds and ends that you might want to splurge on for your new room. Think popcorn maker, soda machine, refrigerator, candy bar. The options are endless depending on how much you want to splurge.

Maybe you are incorporating your media room into an entire game room like in this home from CBWS New Home & Land in Cincinnati, Ohio. Notice how you can transition from dark wood flooring to area rugs under the pool table and in the media room.

Find an Expert

traditional basement with wide plank flooring
Traditional Basement by Cincinnati Architects & Designers CBWS New Homes & Land

Whether you are setting up a media room or designing a complete home theater it pays to hire an expert. You aren’t just installing a new television, you want to get the most value for your investment. The only way to do that is to work with an expert who knows all about the design, construction and installation of all the components for your new home theater. They can probably even help you set everything up for home automation. With the use of wall mounted touchscreen, iPhone or iPad you can control televisions, select movies, watch shows and more.

Another valuable or invaluable service is after you have invested in your new home theater or media room you are going to want to hide 90% of it! No one wants wires or speakers handing from the ceiling or leaking out from under a media unit.  With the right audio/video expert you can create a seamless, and clean design.

If you are looking for more ideas check out our blog post “Home Theatre Design and Set up Tips“.

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What would be the most important part of your home media room or home theater?
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