How to Build a Home Theater

Get that bowl of popcorn ready.

Snacks on deck, a big screen, and your favorite film: There's nothing quite like going to the movies. Unless, of course, you're able to recreate this experience in your own home. Especially now, when many production companies are offering streaming tickets for their latest releases, settling in for an at-home movie night has its draws. The only thing you really need is the space. "A home theater is more than just a place with a larger than average screen for movie-watching," notes Vivian Torres, the lead designer at Havenly. "It's a place to connect with family and friends interactively or get fully immersed in the latest binge-worthy show." Ahead, learn how to carve out some room for your own home theater, whatever your size restrictions.

Start with a big screen.

Arguably the most exciting part about going to the theater is watching a film pan out on a larger-than-life screen. When it comes to your home, Torres says that a 50-inch screen is a good starting point to recreate this experience, but you should choose one that fits your budget, personal visual preference, and its designated room. "In terms of whether you go with a flat screen LCD, plasma TV, or a projector type of display, you'll definitely want it to fit the particular aesthetic of the room," she says. "Projectors generally enhance vintage or retro-inspired designs (think a drive-in movie theater aesthetic), and they work well in tight spaces when they come with a pull-down option." If want something larger than 50 inches, a projector screen like this Havenly White Frame Electric Projection Screen ($141.63, is "often the better value for your money—just don't forget to buy the actual projector, too!" notes Torres.

Alina Kharina, the chief marketing officer at Cinemood, recommends a portable projector for a cord-, Wi-Fi-, and installation-free option, like Cinemood TV ($395.10,; this also allows you to turn any room into a theater. "This particular projector works with popular streaming platforms, like Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, ESPN, CBS, YouTube, and more," she explains.

glass bowl of popcorn and remote control
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Get comfortable seating.

Comfort is key when crafting your home theater. Torres' advice? Add adjustable seating with reclining capabilities that not only makes a room cozier, but also maximizes its seating capacity. We suggest the Latitude Run Wide Faux Leather Home Theater Seating with Cup Holder ($1,212.49, Keep an eye on how you arrange the furniture, too. Try to keep all of the pieces facing forward towards the screen for an easy, enjoyable movie night.

Don't forget a sound system.

"Sound is one of the most underrated or overlooked components of a home theater setup, but it's just as important as the screen," Torres says. "As such, you'll want to spend as much time on this component as you do selecting the screen to create the perfect acoustic environment." She explains that a basic sound system includes at least five speakers and a subwoofer for surround sound. Consider the Yamaha YHT-4950U 4K Ultra HD 5.1-Channel Home Theater System with Bluetooth ($549.95,

Adjust your lighting.

Dimmable lights are a must, regardless of if you you have recessed bulbs, wall lighting, or a combination of the two, Torres notes. "This is key because once the screen lights up, you want to be able to set the mood and create a wow moment for guests by recreating the subtle glow of a movie theater," she says. "You can do this via a universal remote if you have compatible light switches or by incorporating app-controlled smart bulbs throughout the space."

Switch up your setup for a smaller space.

"In a small home, you'll want to take advantage of any and all square footage available to accommodate a theater, including the vertical wall space," Torres says. To create a movie room in a smaller dwelling, she recommends installing a wall-mounted media system with closed storage, so your equipment and cords are hidden. Consider the Rigby Natural 55" Small Floating Media Console ($1,199, Try installing wall lamps that have dimming capabilities, too. This way, you'll be able to free up floor space. Another tip? Avoid buying and installing a clunky pull-down screen—a blank wall works just as well, Kharina explains.

For additional floor space, Torres suggests adding taller legs to your sofa or seating area. From there, she says to put a subwoofer or other sound-enhancing equipment under it, or simply install a wall-mounted sound bar (which is also more budget-friendly). "Consider adding sound-absorbent décor because it will improve the overall sound quality and visually expand the room. Hang curtains high above the top of your window frame because not only will it elongate the room, but the fabric of the curtains will help your sound system convey ambient and other background noises," Torres adds. "Similarly, a large area rug will help define the sitting area while also absorbing sound."

Incorporate a home theater into an existing living space.

If you want to transform your living room for family film night, Torres recommends focusing on upgrading the equipment you already have. "If you have a TV that's on the smaller side, consider sizing up or investing in a drop-down ceiling mounted projector to increase the total size of the display without having to disrupt the existing layout," she explains. Then, make those aforementioned changes to bolster the room's theater ambience. Add dimmable lighting, thick curtains, and a thick area rug, and you're well on your way to the movies—without moving an inch.

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