Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Designing the Perfect Home Theater

The big movie houses are fighting a losing battle.  Every year they talk about losing money at the box office, they complain that people are going out to the movies less often than they used to, and their response to losing money is to raise the prices of their tickets and concessions.  The natural response of course is to make your movie night one you have at home.  The floors aren’t sticky, the snacks are cheaper, and any screaming baby or annoying cell phone noises are yours to deal with as you please.

With HD televisions, Blu-ray players, and surround sound systems widely available and at affordable prices, the tech is certainly there to create an amazing home theater experience.  Our focus here will be to look at the aesthetics of home theater design and offer design ideas that may help you design your ideal environment.

Here we have a wonderfully cluttered home theater.  This person takes a design approach akin to throwing wet pasta at a wall to see what sticks.  The presence of a dog adds a nice lived in touch and the nearby cola fridge can provide quick refreshment in a time of need.  The problems with this layout come from what is in proximity to the screen.  The bright color of the nearby fridge can be distracting to the eye and the media shelf also detracts from the viewing experience.  A high shelf that is occupied draws the eye away.

Consider this: in home design there are basically two approaches to a room, fashion or function.  If the function of your home theater is to comfortable sit and enjoy a movie then your focus should be on the screen and not drawn to other objects in the room.

This is an approach to an ideal home theater design.  The television is centered and is the obvious focus of the room.  There are two major design flaws in this.  The screen sits in an elevated position meaning that anybody seated is raising their head to watch whatever is on. If your goal is to simulate the experience of being forced to sit near the front row of the theater then this is easily accomplished by raising the height of the screen.  The second is the position of the seat on the right side of the image.  It isn’t facing the screen meaning that any person sitting there has to change their position to watch whatever is on.

Consider the dimensions of your room when you are designing a home theater.  You can take one of two approaches, design the room around your television or get a television that matches the room.  Sitting far away from a tiny screen means straining to see what’s going on while being too close can give your eyes screen overload.

Our next example is a stellar one indeed.  The aesthetic design is very pleasing.  This home theater uses the concept of stadium seating with ample spacing to allow for an incredibly comfortable seating arrangement. 

The darkened tones of the color scheme also reduce any reflective wash that occurs when watching a movie.  The seats in the front row even allow for one to take up a more relaxed approach in their movie viewing.  The size of the screen is adequate for the size of the room creating a comfortable viewing experience wherever you sit.

The only complaint to address would be the lights in the room.  Imagine staring at a screen for the two to three hours it takes to watch a movie and staring both at a screen and a bright light placed adjacent to it.  The corner of your eye is going to have flash burn after that long.  Dimmer switches are great for the lights in a home theater  allowing you to adjust and still get that theater feel.

The placement of lighting is important in a home theater much like it is in any other room.  Your movie screen is the focus of your room and ideally you don’t want any other light source overwhelming it.  Recessed ceiling lighting or track lighting is a great choice for lighting a home theater.  The light sources are well above eye-level and line of sight or can be directed to where they need to be.

This is closely approaching an ideal aesthetic design for a home theater.  Recessed ceiling lights, a dark room palette, a sizeable screen, stadium seating, and double seats in the middle of each row for one that enjoys watching movies on their sides.  The position of a lighting rig over the screen may be a bit of a distraction to the viewing experience but a simple dimmer switch can help you adjust the lights to an ideal setting.

The perfect home theater is actually quite subjective.  It really is up to you as a person how you design a room.  Consider the aesthetics of a home theater and remember that it ideally should be a room that accents the function over fashion.  Make it truly yours and you’ll find yourself having trouble remembering why you ever left your house to go to the cinemas.

Ross Donald is a freelance writer and interior design specialist with the light fixtures provider LightingSale.com.  Ross loves working with clients to design their ideal setting and enjoys the smiles on peoples’ faces when they can fully relax in their own homes.



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