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Designing Your Home Theater

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Three-quarters of all adults would rather watch a movie at home than in a theater, according to a recent study by the Pew Research Group. Today's home theaters range from a simple flat-screen and some recliners to elaborate, custom-designed theaters like the $6,000,000 one that Jeremy Kipnis of Kipnis Studios designed and built for himself. While you may not have a budget quite that large, the basic principle is the same – create a movie-watching environment that is unique to your style, taste and available space.

This article does not delve into the technical details of laying out a home theater room. It is much more concerned with the aesthetic of your home theater space. Whether you envision a kitschy retro design, classic movie palace look or something inspired by the sets of your favorite movie, there are many resources on the Internet to help inspire your vision and bring it closer to reality.

Designing Your Home Theater

The best thing about the design stage is that you can build a home theater that encompasses your unique tastes. Your home theater does not need to look like everyone else's. Whether you want to make a tribute to your favorite movie, design your home theater like a classic drive-in, or recreate the movie palaces of old, you are only limited by your imagination and budget.

One thing to keep in mind before you get started is that while you are designing your fantasy theater, you are living in the real world. Before you attach a complete replica of the queen's nest in "Aliens", consider what you are doing to the resale value of your home, or to your landlord's blood pressure.

Once you've got all of those technical details worked out, the first and most important step in designing your perfect themed home theater is to choose a theme.

Vintage and Retro

Gathering for family entertainment dates back to caveman days when we grunted stories around the campfire, and as technology has advanced, so have our entertainment needs. The earliest home theaters were simply a radio with chairs for mom and dad and plenty of floor space in front for the kids.

Your home theater can be as simple and goofily retro as a recreated, classic 1950's living room. Antique radios, Danish Modern side tables and atomic-themed fabric patterns add to the ambience. And while most homes of that era didn't actually have their own popcorn and hot dog carts, small tabletop versions can also add to the fun. Here are some links to some great retro design sources to get your creative juices flowing:

Movie Theaters

custom-home-theaterDressing your home theater up to look like, well, a theater may not feel too creative, but if you have ever been to a fabulous old-time movie palace or a funky avant garde art-house, you know that they are much more than a bunch of seats all facing the same way. Just because you can't afford the opulence of La Fenice in Venice or even the down-home glory of the Grand Ole Opry doesn't mean you have to settle for the sterility of the local multiplex. Plush seating, rich colors, velvet curtains and a touch of gold in the accessories can go a long way toward turning your themed home theater into a classic. Use photos of famous theaters to recreate one, or borrow from several to design one that reflects your idea of the perfect movie palace.

Favorite Movies

pirate-hatWhere better to watch a movie than from the middle of one? Whether your favorite flick is "Aliens" or "Zoolander", you can create a themed home theater that takes you right into the movie. If you have a small fortune and prefer watching movies from the deck of a pirate ship, you can have a custom home theater built complete with rigging and a mast. For those on a cabin boy's budget, putting together a schooner – or spaceship or submarine or medieval castle – is a matter of artful choices in décor and lots of imagination when it comes to choosing accessories. They key for making the most of your money is to go with the heart of the theme rather than getting every detail exactly right.

Other Locales

Movies take you to another world, and there is absolutely no reason that your themed home theater can't do the same. Choose a real place like Paris, a classic imaginary one like Oz, or create your own. Recruit artistic friends to paint trompe l'oeil murals, and use a mix of silk plants and real foliage to create an outdoor feel. Carefully chosen accessories pull the entire theme together, and they don't have to be perfectly true to life.

Celebrity Home Theaters

Barry Bonds Italian Inspired Home Theater

Why not look to your favorite movie stars or sports heroes to see how they enjoy movies at home? Celebrities have tons of cash to spend, so they tend to go all-out with home theater spaces that can only be described as breathtaking. While most celebrity home theaters don't follow a movie theme, they are certainly eligible for a Best Dressed Oscar.

 

 

Once you've chosen the theme for your home theater, you don't have to put it all together over a long weekend. The best collections are gathered over time, so take your measurements, set your budget, draw up your plans and then put it all together a little at a time. If you need a little inspiration, TheaterSeatStore.com offers a line of fun and fabulous home theater accessories to get you started: Theater Seat Accessories.

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