Don’t you feel that the days keep getting shorter with every birthday? Time seems to fly so fast, especially when we are doing what we love or when we are involved in a pleasurable activity. Humans have always been looking for ways to make time pass in a pleasant manner, so as to fill the void and silence it leaves behind. A home theater room is like a time machine - it takes you either in the past or in the future.
But our ancestors had known how to have fun before the video camera was invented. As evidence, we have the theaters and agoras of antique Greece, the Olympic games, the Colosseum of the Roman empire, paintings of human and animal dissections, the hot air balloons, as well as the art of circus - people had been craving for “the sensational” centuries ago and still do. We continue to put one brick over another to build the giant we call today “the Entertainment Industry”. According to Statista, by 2020, Americans will spend $720.38 billion on entertainment and media products alone. Although the market is open to the new technological advancements, the TV is still the preferred device for home entertainment. Now, do you think your TV could use an upgrade? Or do you have an empty room that you have no idea what to use it for? Think about the following media room ideas on a budget or start budgeting for a home theater room.
Before we move on, let’s remember that the first cinema in the world had opened its doors in 1895 - the Berlin Wintergarten. At about the same time, first cinemas on American soil made their first projections. Even the famous Thomas Edison had gotten involved in the movie industry by purchasing the patent for the phantomat - the indispensable tool found in all cinemas until replaced by the newer and more sophisticated digital projectors. Today, the largest theater is Ashton Theater in Melbourne, Australia - it seats 1,150 people! (It was 550 seats larger when it first opened in 1936.) In the US, with 8,200 screens, AMC Theaters is the largest cinema chain. The number of cinema tickets sold in 2018 was over 1.3 billion and doesn’t show signs of an alarming decrease any time soon. So what is the point in having a home theater?
First of all, there is intimacy. You select your company! You choose who you want to watch a movie with. One day you invite your best friends over, and the next day you decide to have a movie night for two. You can cuddle in your partner’s arms, laugh as loud as you want and eat the most stinky potato or tortilla chips without anyone staring at you. Secondly, you can pause and rewind whenever you want to see a cool scene or hear a line over and over again. Changing the movie after a few minutes is also possible, without having to move to another hall and paying another ticket. Last, but not least, you can skip the ads. We all know that the first 10 minutes of a movie are commercials and movie trailers. At home, you can choose to skip those with the press of a button.
When we imagine the perfect media room we usually picture a spacious living room, with comfy armchairs and sofas, as well as a coffee table. A classic set-up that looks similar in most American homes, indifferent of their architectural style. Media rooms are great for socializing, while theater rooms, whether above or below ground, somehow have their limitations and impose a formal, almost ceremonious, attitude that discourages communication.
Between media rooms and theater rooms, a significant difference can be found only in the gadgets used. Of course, the interior design is different in every home, but the smart home devices are the same: TV, game console, speakers or surround sound system, and headphones. Some families have a large 75” flat screen TV - manufactured two months ago - and the latest surround sound system, while others have a 10-year-old 30” plasma TV and no extra speakers. If you find yourself in the latter category, you could use one of the following loan types to start a major living-room remodeling project:
Or, of course, you can always save money and pay cash. Depending on your financial wisdom, you can enjoy the latest technologies without tightening the belt for years.
When choosing between a media room and a home theater room, you have to take into account your age and plans for the future. For example, young couples with small kids do not have as much time to spend in front of the TV as their parents. Families with a child under age 6 had an average one and a half hours of TV time. Seniors 65 and older spend the most time watching TV, with an average of 4 hours a day, according to the 2017 American Time Use Survey. Most Americans become couch potatoes between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m.
A young family might be more interested in upgrading their open living room to a modern media room because in this way they can supervise their children while cooking in the kitchen. Home theater rooms are usually found in luxury homes or in larger houses where space is more permissive. Families with children would rather have more bedrooms than an in-house cinema. So, knowing the home buying behavior of each generation could help you make the best decision, just in case you’ll ever have to sell your house.
Given the fact that most home improvements increase the value of a property, it is up to you to decide how deep you put your hand in your pockets. The cost of theater room decor can range between a few thousand dollars to $50,000 for a fully-equipped theater room.
Besides banks and private lenders, funds for your home theater room could also come from a successful garage sale. Sell your old appliances, furniture, clothes, toys, and decorative objects to raise funds for the new media room or home theater. The funds won’t cover the entire project, probably, but at least you can get a lower loan amount and keep a manageable debt-to-income ratio.
Building a theater room from scratch would cost anywhere between $50 and $250 per square foot but if you have a finished room (like a spare room in the basement or above the garage), you can save a lot of money. Most people say that a theater room cannot be used as a guest room. But why not? Double beds have replaced the traditional chairs in some cinemas across the world, such as at Buda Bed Cinema in Budapest or at the Electric Cinema in London. Why can’t you do the same, if space allows? Replacing chairs with convertible sofas or beds will still allow you to be a great host for family and friends.
Nevertheless, your major investment will be in the acoustic treatment. Your average equipment could sound a lot better in a soundproofed room. Well, how to soundproof a room? Depending on what you want to achieve, you will have to use sound absorbing materials, soundproofing materials, or a combination of these two. The cost of these materials depends on the size of the room but could be between $500 and $30,000.
If you want to imitate a cinema, then you’ll want to invest in chairs - two rows of 4 reclining chairs cost about $5,000. But, why not invest in massage chairs if you really want to create a deluxe destressing home environment? Obviously, the sky’s the limit, but there are practical solutions for small spaces too. Two corner sofas would cost about $2,000.
Another important aspect of a media room or theater room is the carpet. Use carpets specially designed for media rooms and home theater rooms! Carpets, as part of the theater room decor, improve the sound quality and give the room a certain feeling… It’s like a revival of the Golden Age… of a bygone era. Moreover, it is known that when the sound hits a hard floor, it bounces back and creates an echo. The carpet absorbs the sound, thus allowing you to turn up the volume. The carpet costs about $3-4 per square foot.
And speaking of sounds, the cost of a 5.1 surround sound system is between $120 and $4,000. There is no need to overflood a room with “more sound” than needed. Sounds above 85 dB can cause permanent damage to your ears leading to hearing loss over time, while 120 dB sounds cause immediate damage, according to CDC. So, you should install a decibel measurement app or invest $20 in a decibel meter for your ears’ sake.
But what about the ceiling? Maybe you’d like to have a star ceiling above your head, made of resin-reinforced Fiberglass acoustic panels that are also flame-resistant. These panels cost between $375 and $1,450, depending on their size, without shipping and handling, but are a great theater room decor. Or you may use soundproofing tiles or acoustic foam clouds that cost only a few hundred dollars. If you want to add an Asian touch to your theater room, you may use bamboo for window-shades, for walls, as well as for the flooring. Bamboo floors should be covered with a carpet, though, because, when so tightly pressed together, bamboo is no longer absorbing the sound; instead, it creates reverberation.
Now, if money is really tight, you can replace an expensive smart TV with a projection screen and a projector. The good part is that the projection screen can be retracted with a flick of the hand. The screen can be attached to the wall or ceiling - or even suspended on a stand - and you can then store it away until needed. No need to invest in expensive chairs, either, especially if you’re house flipping. Look for used chairs!
Last, but not least, you may want to invest in a good vacuum cleaner. Since you’ll be eating loads of chips and popcorn, crumbs will fall on the carpet no matter how careful you are. Also, if you have kids, they’ll make a mess especially if they have friends over, so be prepared for an extra house chore.
Media rooms can still feel like home theaters if you choose the right window blinds or curtains. Watching TV in complete darkness, though, will make your eyes fatigue. The best advice would be to keep a lamp or a bulb on behind the TV, to have a larger source of light, thus keeping the iris more relaxed. Experts recommend using lighting fixtures that spread a diffused light at night, while during the day we could use some window curtains and blinds.
What height should you place a TV? For your comfort, find the level of your eyes when sitting down and make sure the TV is at that level. Your head should line up with the middle of the screen. There is quite a lot of science involved in a small home theater room. According to THX - a company specialized in consumer electronics certification - the size of the room and the viewing distance will dictate the ideal size of the TV or screen. For example, the ideal viewing distance from a 40” TV screen is between 5 and 8.3 feet, while to watch a 70” screen, you should be 8.75-14.6 feet away.
What is the best color for a media room? Dark colors work best - burgundy, royal blue, brown and black. Of course, you can combine them with bright colors or accent colors, however, keep it simple and clean, because the main focal point in this room will be the TV screen anyway. If you have a door to the home theater room, you don’t have to replicate the interior design of your house in here - you can go as crazy as you want, but it’s even better when the theater room decor reflects the personality of each family member.
Home to the biggest media companies in the world, the biggest and most expensive movie sets, as well as the birthplace of Google, Facebook and YouTube, America is never running short on entertainment. We are not only producers of high-quality movies, shows and documentaries, we are also exporters of entertainment. We love our TVs and with the advent of cable-free television promoted by YouTube and Netflix, it really makes sense to dig for more media room ideas on a budget or for state-of-the-art technologies for the ultimate home theater room. We do spend a lot of time in front of TVs and smartphones, but this only proves that we are a nation of hard-workers who have the freedom to choose how they spend their free time.