There was a time when home cinemas were the preserve of the very rich, often movie stars or directors themselves. Now they are within the reach of anybody who has a reasonably sized spare room and a budget of at least $1,200. It might be a bedroom left empty after kids go to college, it might be a dining room that you don’t need because you have a table in the kitchen. It might even be a garage or loft conversion. It can become a space where you get to kick back and enjoy your favorite movies with your loved ones in perfect comfort.
The first thing you’ll need to think about is your screen. Increasingly, people are choosing HDTV for this, and there’s no doubt that it provides the best picture quality, but if you prefer a more traditional approach or you want a screen bigger than your budget will stretch to, a standard film screen and projector may suit you better. Pull-down screens are best because they stay cleaner for longer. They start at about $200 and you can get them in all sizes, so you have the option of choosing one as big as the wall where you will place it.
Good quality projection equipment is much cheaper than it used to be. If your budget is really tight, you can pick up a serviceable old projector for around $800 and use your laptop or an old desktop machine to play files or disks through it. Modern digital projectors start at around $1,000 and you can get a high-end one with good resolution for around $1,900. Buying second-hand lowers the cost but if you do this, you should be aware that the bulb is one of the most expensive parts of the projector and you will have to replace it sooner.
To get a proper cinema experience, you will need a proper surround sound system. The ideal arrangement involves placing a sub-woofer underneath your screen in a central position, then having another speaker mounted high up in each of the four corners of the room. It’s usually easiest to run cables high along the walls and bring them down only where they need to connect to your projector or computer, thereby minimizing trip hazards.
It is possible to buy traditional cinema-style seating for your home theater, but for comfort and improved sound, sofas or beanbags are actually a better choice. Thick carpeting also improves the acoustics and provides a sense of luxury. Decorating the room in red, white and gold gives it that classic theater atmosphere, so window shutters are great for keeping out the light, while old movie posters with the right tones look fantastic on the walls. You can also consider extras like a popcorn machine to complete the experience.
A home cinema should be a space that everyone in the family can enjoy, a place where you can thrill visitors and really make the most of home entertainment.