In-home movie theaters are now becoming somewhat of a standard in larger, custom homes. They are a one-of-a-kind spot to host guests, have family time, or relax and pop in your favorite flick. Taking on the task of designing an in-home theater can seem intense, but it doesn’t have to be. Here is a guide to help you get started on your home theater!

Picking the Room

  • Square shaped

  • No windows

  • Large enough to fit the desired amenities (no smaller than 10’ wide X 12’ long)

  • Minimum of 7’ ceilings

  • Various power outlets

  • Isolated area (basement rooms usually work well)

  • Internet access

  • Carpet flooring

Note: A square room is the worst shape for a movie theater due to the sound quality it produces. A good rule of thumb is to keep the width of the room at least 1.6 times the ceiling height and the length of the room at least 2.3 times the ceiling height.


Must Haves

Sound System: A quality surround sound system will make or break your experience. The most popular format is called a 5.1. Check out this link for some research on the best speakers for your space.

If you want a less dynamic speaker system, a sound bar is a good alternative. They range from $200-2000 dollars. The speakers inside of the sound bar are angled so that the sound projects at different angles to imitate surround sound.


TV/Projector: A TV or projector with HD (High Definition) is a necessity. You can even get one with 3D capabilities for an extra feature. A 4k projector is going to have the best picture, but the more affordable 1080p is a great runner up.


Comfortable Seating: Recliners or a sectional couch are usually the ideal seating arrangement. Bean bag chairs are also a clever option for additional seating that can be tucked away.


Dimmed Lighting: Dim lights allow you to move safely about the room, while still creating an authentic movie theater experience.


Storage: A built-in cabinet system is perfect for storage around your big screen. It can tuck away the technology and movies so that they are not a distraction.


Streaming Capabilities: You will want to get some sort of device like a Google Chromecast or Amazon Fire Stick so that you can stream videos. Technology like this allows you to access YouTube, Amazon Prime video, Netflix, Hulu, and many other applications. This way you are not confined to DVD or Blu-Ray.



The best spot for your seating is in the middle of the room, facing toward the screen. The screen should be centered on the long wall of the room at eye level for best viewing. All seats should be able to seat all parts of the screen with no blind spots.


The speakers should be placed facing in toward the seating area to generate the best surround sound. Be sure to leave at least 3’ of space between the speakers and the walls to give the speakers room to “breathe”. You also do not want to place them close to the seating because it will deplete the surround sound quality.


The fun stuff in the room like the bar or popcorn machine are most appropriate in the back of the room. This way they are not a distraction if anyone is using them during the movie.


Additional Features

You will want to add some extras to make your move theater as comfortable as possible. Some ideas are:

  • Raised seating for optimal viewing

  • Acoustic boards on walls

  • A popcorn maker

  • Snack cart

  • Built-in bar or beverage cart

  • 3D glasses

  • Blankets and pillows

  • Sound proofing

  • Fireplace

  • Side tables or cup holders

  • Video games

  • Massage chairs

  • Colorful light system

  • An elevated ceiling

  • Universal remote



Think about your favorite movie theater when designing your space. Does it have a modern feel? Retro? Classic? You can make this room very personal by hanging your favorite movie posters on the wall or picking a theme around that movie. To help inspire you, here are some examples off of Houzz:

English Pub Home Theater
New Technology Meets Old World
J Brothers Home Improvement, Inc.
Home Theaters
South Charlotte
Fun For the Whole Family