Interior Design Plans Help Create Home Theater Bliss

Written by Jeff Sheats of Jeff Sheats Designs
Updated June 15, 2021
Great space planning always takes center stage for an interior designer creating a home theater area. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Steve W. of Dallas)

Skip the lines at the movie theater by designing a space in your home worthy of the red carpet.

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Many Americans admit that although they like the feeling of escape and the enhanced picture and sound quality that traditional movie theater provide, they find the comfort of their own home more gratifying when watching a film or sporting event. There are a multitude of factors for a professional interior designer to consider upfront to create a great home theater, but great space planning always takes center stage.

Will the TV be a focal point or will it be integrated into the room’s design with multiple focal points? The size, style and placement of the TV matters greatly, as well as the location of the media equipment that is driving the content and sound. Sound requirements, speaker locations and controls are very important. Ultimately the scale of the home theater space will dictate equipment needs and seating type, such as reclining versus stationary upholstery, which are key factors to select early.

Which theater style is right for you – and your budget?

To set up a basic home theater, it is important to determine how to allocate the space for comfortable and convenient viewing while allowing the room to function and serve other purposes as well. The absolute best way to do this within casual living spaces is to create a flexible seating plan that allows for TV viewing, but also for other activities when the TV is off.

In a more modest budget environment, the TV should be scaled to fit atop, inside or wall mounted above a simple media cabinet. The cabinet should be large enough to hold all your existing media components, including a DVR, DVD or Blu-ray player, a video game console, sound receiver and any components you might incorporate in the future.

A basic design plan will allow all your media equipment remotes to operate each device through glass front cabinet doors or via open shelves. Basic cable management can be accomplished through a back panel of a media cabinet to organize and bundle all cords.

Some mid-level upgrades to this basic set up might include adding in-wall or in-ceiling recessed speakers and an external subwoofer in a five channel surround sound arrangement. Today’s flat panel TVs still do not have great sound quality with their very thin integrated speakers. Another mid-level upgrade is adding an articulating arm behind the TV to angle the monitor as needed thus providing multiple viewing angles in a single space.

RELATED: Essentials for Building a Home Theater Room

Interior design and A/V go hand in hand

If your budget allows for an entire room to be designated as a theater, there are additional opportunities to create a remarkable viewing and listening atmosphere. Planning a home theater with an experienced interior designer and their preferred A/V specialist is a great approach to creating a masterful home theater.

Initial considerations for the design would again center on the space plan including where the TV and media components would be located with acoustical issues also addressed early. Wall mounting the TV or deploying a large drop down screen and projector, plus deleting all media storage furniture, can create a much cleaner aesthetic.

It is also simple to wire a remote rack of equipment to drive your television viewing experience and for easier updates of equipment later on. It is easier to prewire a new home during construction, but existing homes can more easily be accommodated as well these days. Adding a quality surround sound system throughout the theater adds volumes to the experience. 

RELATED: Home Theater Design Photos

Create the right atmosphere

Like a basic home theater, the premium starting point for a high-end custom theater room is space and equipment planning that incorporates furnishings that are flexible to the user. Reclining seats or sofas are both very comfortable and functional. Many current styles can be upgraded to feature cup holders, USB ports, power reclining, heating and massage options, as well as tablet holders and storage for remotes.

Laying out the room in rows allows many occupants to be seated and maximizes views to the screen. A theater can also act as a reading or study space when not in use. Another key component to control the atmosphere is dimmable and dramatic lighting.

The addition of motorized blackout shades or draperies provides natural lighting control and for optimal screen viewing. Consider acoustical wall and ceiling treatments, floor coverings and overall color schemes and evoking a certain feeling to create the optimum theater experiences. 

Another huge impact of component space planning today is the integration of your home and the Internet. Controlling the whole house, including your theater, window treatments, lighting, HVAC and security via your iPhone, iPad or laptop, is a current and exciting reality that requires additional planning and equipment.

Designing around all these technologies and components can be daunting, so consulting a professional interior designer early will always yield best results and will provide you an amazing home theater space!

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About this Angie’s List Expert: Jeff Sheats, Allied ASID, RID and principal interior designer, has been designing from his studio, Jeff Sheats Designs, for more than 20 years. The Indianapolis firm provides full service residential and light commercial interior design firm services to Indy residents and businesses.

As of June 10, 2015, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.

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