The Many Potential Pitfalls of Media Room Design

A DIY home theater project requires coordinating a lot of things at once. You have the three big things: the theater seating, projector/screen, and sound system, but there’s a lot at play between all three of those. Where should the speakers go? How big should the screen be? How many rows of theater seating can you fit? You end up taking more measurements for things that have nothing to do with the theater seating, even though that’s the biggest floor space real estate by far. Here are the 10 most common mistakes we see with intrepid DIYers building their own home theaters, to help you avoid making them yourself.

1. Not planning the electrical setup along with the seat layout.

So, we’ve obviously got to consider the power for the audiovisual setup. But something that often gets overlooked when planning the electrical setup for your home theater is all the other places you need access to power. A big player here is the theater seating and its layout. Where should there be easy access to outlets – for both theater chairs and accessories? Where would floor outlets be best utilized? Overlook this feature of your home theater and you’ll end up bummed out at the sight of extension cords and power strips all over the place once it’s set up.

2. Failing to consider the viewing cone when settling on a theater furniture idea.

Sometimes you get inspired, and you have an idea for your media room furniture that you’re absolutely in love with. Like, unhealthily attached to. But before you get married to any theater seating option, take into account the viewing angle of each seat to the center of the screen. The basic rule is a screen: seat distance that places the viewer within the 45-degree range of the viewing cone.

3. Going too hard on the sound system setup.

Don’t get us wrong – we love a good sound system. Surround sound and bass shakers seats take any movie experience to the next level. However, everything in moderation. Do you really need 8 mounted speakers in a 12’x12’ room? Is some of the media room furniture so close to a speaker that it’s uncomfortable to the ears? Make sure your sound system is tuned and balanced to the acoustics of the room; more isn’t always better.

4. Choosing the wrong size of screen.

This is in the same vein as #3. Everyone wants a huge screen to dominate their vision when they look up from their theater chair. But there is such a thing as too big. The size of screen you choose for your home theater should be proportional to the room, keeping the majority of the theater seating within that optimal placement in the viewing cone.

5. Skipping the soundproofing.

It’s not even hard, but it’s so often overlooked. And then you’re at the quiet part of a horror movie one night and hear the neighbors fighting outside. Or the cars on the highway. Soundproofing your home theater is worth it; it completely isolates your audio experience, making the movie more immersive. There are insulator options, acoustic panels, sound-dampening carpet, heavy curtains, etc. that can help you easily soundproof your room.

6. Failing to consider light intrusion and screen placement.

This is one place where basement home theaters carry an advantage, as most basement seating ideas won’t require you to consider where the windows are – because there are none! Or, more likely, there’s a couple, but they’re really small. DIY’ers with basement home theaters risk less by skipping this step. But for those building a home theater room in an above-ground space, don’t forget where the windows are when designing your media room furniture layout and screen placement. First of all, we’re covering all the windows with dark blackout curtains – that’s a given. But even so, make sure you place the screen in the opposite direction of the light intrusion, with the theater seating facing towards the light intrusion. It will minimize glare should any light get in during the movie.

7. Not planning and ordering the theater seating ahead of time.

You ordered custom-built, luxury home theater furniture. It’s carefully-crafted and well-built – it takes a while. Once you settle on a theater furniture idea during the planning stage, design and order the home theater seating. That way, by the time you’ve done everything else, you won’t have to wait weeks for the most important part to arrive.

8. Choosing the wrong colors of theater seats and other finishes.

This one is really simple. If you’re going for that authentic movie-theater feel, which means the design foci should be (1) dark, and (2) matte. Dark, flat paint colors, black leather theater seating, matte fabric blackout curtains, and a dark carpet will all reduce glare and draw all the focus to the movie on the screen.

9. Going in with an out-of-balance budget.

Many people begin planning a home theater project with a budget in mind. The audiovisual setup is usually at the forefront of people’s minds when considering the bigger expenses. But dedicated home theater furniture isn’t like your typical living room couch. Specialized media room furniture is one of the most important parts of a great home theater, so it should take up a proportion of the budget that matches that importance.

10. Choosing not to have a comprehensive audiovisual control system.

Zero out of ten people like having to use three remotes and a smartphone to just watch a movie. It’s 2022; integrate all of your equipment – screen, projector, speakers, bass shaker seats, etc., into one control system, like on a tablet. Then grab a theater seat accessory like a tablet holder and make controlling your media room as easy as can be.

Sometimes the devil’s in the details, but if you make sure you don’t skip any of these steps in your home theater journey, you’ve got nothing to worry about.