The Little-Known, Very Versatile World of Basement Movie Rooms

Not many of us live in a house that had an awesome basement when you bought it. If you’re in the minority and did have an awesome basement when you bought your house, congrats – we’re high-key jealous. Anyway, sometimes it can be hard to determine how much work you want to put into your half-finished basement. Is it better off being used as partial storage? Is it worth finishing? If you did finish it, what would you use it for? And is the increased home value (if any) worth the cost?

Basements generally have untapped potential because they can be used for so many things. If you have an unfinished basement, chances are the room is probably just bones as far as the buildout goes. They’re kind of like a blank canvas, though—they can be devoted entirely to so many things. Hobby rooms, lounges, bars, DIY entertainment rooms, and the list goes on.

That being said, there are tons of reasons why basements make for excellent finished rooms. First – every time you finish a basement, you create new living space square footage; so, we’re already on the right foot the moment you do wiring, drywall and flooring. Second – not every DIY basement renovation involves a bunch of construction. And third – that lack of natural light you’re fighting underground can actually be made into an asset. That is, if you choose to install a home theater room in your basement. Naturally, we’re a little biased, but we think basements make for pretty great home theaters with a little bit effort and DIY-savvy—just take a look at some home theater buildouts in basements online, and you’ll be getting all the inspiration you need for your next project.

Here are 5 reasons we love basements retrofitted into dedicated movie and recreation rooms:

1. Basements Actually Make a Home Theater Build Easier

Those cinder block walls and concrete floors in your basement are actually going to save you time, money and labor in the long run. Framing out walls to augment with drywall is a breeze. Plus, since you’re building from the studs out, setting up in-wall wiring couldn’t be simpler, as is filling the walls with soundproofing insulation, which is something you’ll want to consider for the acoustics of your theater room. All in all, there is very little teardown with basements when it comes to building out drywall and flooring, which is a huge plus compared to other areas in the home.

For those of you who have a big, open-style, unfinished basement, congratulations; you’ve hit the jack pot. As far as the actual furniture in your theater room goes, you won’t have to worry too much about layout restrictions with all of that open space. This is your permission to go crazy with your wildest ideas for your basement theater seating. Get two rows of theater seating that sits 4, create a couple of lounge areas with theater room sectionals, end tables, and wine caddies for your theater seating. Whatever you want to do with that room is more or less game.

As far as the flooring goes, any kind of floating floor can be installed in just an afternoon – less if you’re working with a small basement media space. Avoid tiles and other pore-less surfaces; they reflect sound. If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to help soundproof your basement home theater, carpeted flooring is also an option. While it’s usually snubbed in today’s age, there are a ton of fun looks you could play up with carpet flooring, especially in entertainment rooms. At the end of the day, wood-vinyl flooring, maybe with a rug or two, is going to be one of your best options for looks and use, plus it’s affordable! Basements make for perfect budget home theaters.

2. Lower Ceilings Don’t Have to Limit You

While some basements have it all, others have lower ceilings than the rest of the house, which could lead to some weird room proportions when you begin putting lighting into your home theater. Don’t let that intimidate you! We love canned, or recessed, lighting in any home movie theater. Not only do they take up zero space, but they allow you to design the lighting layout exactly the way you want – and light control is important in a basement media room. Do as little or as much as you want, but make sure they’re dimmable, and choose some Bluetooth ones you can control from your phone for maximum convenience.

You can also choose a ceiling-hugging projector to compensate for the low ceilings. When you save overhead space, you maximize the height of your basement. Sure, the ceilings are low, but you can make almost any basement that’s standing height into a great movie room. Everybody’s sitting in their movie chairs anyway, right?

If you have fairly low ceilings in your basement, maybe you won’t be wanting to make a raised row of theater chairs in the back part of your DIY basement theater renovations—after all, everyone’s got to see and not feel cramped. Instead, try a longer row of theater seating that’s slightly curved. Curved seating allows everyone to be facing the screen at the perfect viewing angle, giving you more seating options without having to put people in the back or think about theater chair platforms in an already vertically-small room.

3. Go Crazy with Colors & Unique Design

For some people, the fact that the basement is so separate from the rest of the house kind of kills their enthusiasm for finishing it. But it’s the perfect situation for a home theater: private, away from the commotion of the rest of the house, soundproof, darker than the rest of the house. And that privacy gives you something fun: total creative control over the design.

Your basement media room doesn’t have to reflect the rest of your house. In fact, it’ll probably be more fun if it doesn’t. In the same way that some people feel like they don’t need to finish it because it’s so separate from the rest of the house, you should finish it because it’s separate from the rest of the house. And you can do pretty much anything you want because of it! You could do any sort of theme, add bright pops of color or red leather seating – it’s a separate space away from everything, so go crazy with your seating, accessories, audiovisual tech, and everything else. Why not? 

If you get online and look at theater seating and room inspiration in basements, you’ll be wowed at what others have come up with. Some have a dedicated, dialed-in theme—think neon lights, outer space décor galore, swanky theater and bar setups, you name it. The nice thing about home theaters in basements is that you can really go all-in. So, start thinking out of the box, and let this room be separate from the rest of your home aesthetic-wise.

4. Multi-level Seating is Possible even Underground

Dealing with 7-foot-tall ceilings? While we just talked about working around potentially using home theater chair risers in a smaller space, guess what? You can still do elevated rows of stadium-style seating. Well, maybe just one – but still. Home theater risers and riser platforms are only about 8” tall. Your 6’4” friend might have to duck a bit if they sit in the back elevated row of seats, but how many people are almost 6 and ½ feet tall, really? If you do regularly entertain larger groups of people at home, it might be worth getting the extra back row of theater seating with a riser just to have the seating numbers for when family or friends inevitably come over to check out your awesome new basement theater setup. 

This is another area you can get creative, especially if you don’t want more than a 3 or 4 seat row of movie recliners but want an additional seating option that still has a good view of the projector screen. Consider a riser platform you can place a couple multimedia couches or entertainment room sectionals on. It’s the best of both worlds.

5. Mix-and-Match Seating for Multi-Use Media Rooms

Speaking of combining different pieces of furniture in your basement movie room, you can get as creative with seating layout ideas as you did with that “Underwater” themed room design you decided on earlier. We told you that basement home theater design can get a little eclectic, and we meant it. Take this as your opportunity to play around with different styles of furniture and décor for your home theater and mix up the seating layouts.

Combine different pieces like couches, convertible loveseats and chaise lounges. Use pieces like curved entertainment seating to your advantage and recoup some of that extra space they offer at the ends for another piece of seating or some other fixture for your home theater. Mixing different pieces of furniture can allow you to create layouts that work with media rooms that have strange dimensions or weirdly-angled walls. Like we talked about above, don’t forget to be a little creative with the colors too. Maybe you have a two-toned blue and purple theater couch on one end of the room and some contrasting green and yellow media room chairs on the other side.  

So, when we talk about the untapped potential of an unfinished basement, we’re talking built-in solutions for literally every obstacle one encounters when undertaking a DIY project like a dedicated movie room: very little light intrusion, easy soundproofing, easy wiring, versatile seating options, design potential, and home equity improvement. Sort of seems like choosing your basement as the site of your home theater build is kind of a no-brainer, right?