Creating a Home Theater

Home TheaterHave you considered creating a home theater in your personal home?

If you have, it’s actually easier than you may think. If you have an extra space that you’d like to utilize as a home theater, I will show you some great ideas to get you started. In tried and true fashion, we were looking to create home theater in our space cost effectively so my goal is to share some of those tips with you.

The Inspiration:

If you start searching for home theaters or media rooms, you will find some over the top options out there. Even though the inspiration photos below are so different, you’ll notice some common themes among them.

Family Room, Home Theater and Bar traditional-home-theater
Drayton Hall 2915 transitional-home-theater
Contemporary Media Room rustic-home-theater
Homes I have photographed transitional-home-theater
steve Woolridge rustic-home-theater

The Common Home Theater “Features:”

  • Large Screen Televisions / Projector Screens
  • Comfortable Seating
  • Theater Themed Decor
  • Low Level Lighting

Where to Start:

Well, we were able to start from scratch on our current home. If you’ve ever built a home you have probably experienced the phenomenon where things just “mysteriously keep getting added” as you go! For us that was certainly true. What showed on the original floor plan as “unfinished space” started evolving into what is now our home theater.

*Truth be told… I’m really glad we did it during construction! The idea of having to come back after the house was completed to install another entire room sounds terrible.

Anyway, back on track. To start with, you really need to find a space that will fit all the necessary items for a home theater. In my opinion, the most important things are the TV/Projector and some big ol’ comfy furniture! Most folks will end up converting their finished room over a garage, a basement, a den, or even a spare bedroom if it’s large enough.


If you are going with a BIG SCREEN televison… be prepared to put down some serious cash. You can get your standard sizes upwards of 65″ relatively cheap these days but if you’re going for a true “home theater” movie type screen a tv will be a huge investment.

Our solution was to utilize a projector. My husband headed up the electronic selection department and we ended up with a 3D projector that we could prewire for and mount to the ceiling.

There are so many projectors to choose from but we opted for an Optoma HD27 unit that displays in 1080p and has 3D capability. This unit came in just over $600 so it made sense for what we were trying to accomplish.


*Some important things to consider when selecting a projector: 

  • The maximum width of the screen the projector will provide
  • The recommended distance from the screen wall to the projector (make sure you have enough distance between the two)
  • What type of functions are you looking to achieve: 4K picture, 3D capability, etc.
  • What necessary wiring and electronics are required

The Actual Screen:

There are all different types of projector screens you can have installed. You can choose a high-tech retractable screen, a permanently mounted screen, or the BUDGET version like we did (hint: it’s your wall!).

Disclaimer: we did actually purchase a roll of projector screen material with good intentions but after a couple failed attempts to put it up, we quickly shifted gears. 


What we ended up with was a picture frame made out of primed door casing material that we measured and cut to the screen dimensions of the projector. To make sure this was the correct size we actually hung the projector during construction and plugged into the temporary power so we could install the framework and have it painted with the rest of the house. If you look closely you can see the marks on the wall where we measured the projection on the wall.

Even though our walls were originally painted a very light color (Benjamin Moore OC-46 Halo) we used the trusty “Google” and discovered that Sherwin Williams SW-7006 “Extra White” was recommended to paint actual screen area itself. We went with an eggshell finish and it seems to work just fine.

The Surround Sound:

Again, because we planned this project while the house was under construction it was very easy for us to get the wiring installed before the drywall went up. We opted for a 5.1 in-ceiling surround sound speaker package that came with a subwoofer and connected into our receiver.

If you are converting your space to a theater room in an existing home, a great product that you can basically “plug-and-play” is the Sonos system. They have several different sizes and the sound quality is second to none. *Side note: If we built again, I would consider the Sonos instead of in-ceiling speakers (they really do sound that good)!


The Comfy Furniture:

For me, watching a movie, curled up on a big sofa with a cozy blanket is what I consider “living my best life!” Seriously though, in a home theater, you need to be able to lay back and put your feet up. If you have the space to create a stadium seating feel in your space, it is a very cool effect.

We didn’t have that much room so we opted for a big sofa and two chairs for additional seating. Even the coffee table / ottoman doubles as a movie watching “bed” for our kiddos. The guy that worked at HomeGoods who helped me load this up even said “You sure you want this, you do realize IT’S BIG!”


If you are limited on space, I have even seen some home theaters (like one of our inspiration photos) take advantage of bean bags for additional seating. The goal is to make a comfortable space you and your family to spend at least 1-3 hours!

If you’re looking for some furniture options that won’t break the bank, check out our guide to our top 15 sofas under $750.


The Home Theater Decor:

As I mentioned above, the walls originally were painted Benjamin Moore Halo OC-46, but we realized it was way too bright for a home theater so we repainted them Dolphin AF-715 for a richer feel (shown below).

Even in the inspiration rooms you’ll see movie posters displayed as artwork in the custom home theaters. My husband found some really cool vintage inspired movie posters on Etsy that we framed ourselves with the barn wood frames from Hobby Lobby. Sometimes posters as art can look cheap, but if you keep the framing consistent you can create a gallery effect and it will really pull the room together.

The Lighting:

Because our theater room had several windows on the side walls we did not go with traditional theater room sconce lighting. We installed standard recessed lighting in the ceiling but we also wanted something to provide light while we were watching movies.

We did find these cool electrical outlet cover plates that double as nightlights. By installing those on the outlets in your theater room, you can get that isle lighting look without having to do any special electrical work. Plus, if you have anyone that needs a mid-movie break they can see their way to the door without interrupting everyone else.

These lights are so easy to install (you literally unscrew one screw, swap the faceplate and tighten the screw back) and they come on automatically when it’s dark. You can see the tiny circle on the bottom left corner. That is the light sensor to activate the LED’s below.


The Equipment Storage:

Depending on how your space lays out, you will most likely need some storage for your electronics equipment. We had our trim carpenter build us essentially a big bench that spanned the wall underneath our projector screen. The center compartments have doors that house our electronic components (receiver, video game consoles, apple tv, etc) and we left the other spaces open as cubbies.

I found small upholstered storage boxes that could double as kid seating that fit in the cubbies.  The boxes are what we use for our dvd and game storage. Of course I ran across the cuties at my local TJ Maxx and they only had two at the time. I bought them and figured (worst case) I could leave the other spaces open or find something different. Fortunately a couple weeks later I found two more, so I scooped them up too. (You know it’s just the luck of the draw!)

You can see the wires we pulled for the equipment. We had the electrician run HDMI cables through the ceiling to connect the projector to our receiver and other equipment. They are the wires on the left, the wire on the right are the speaker wires pulled from the ceiling. You cannot see that we also had the electrician install a double outlet as well. We still have a surge protector but it’s always nice to have extra outlets if needed.

The Final Product:







  1. Tim
    June 26, 2019 / 6:32 am

    What is the size of your framed projection screen?

      June 27, 2019 / 8:26 pm

      Hi Tim, it was approximately 120” diagonally for reference (I don’t have the exact measurements). However, we mounted the projector first then built the frame based on the picture size once we had it in focus.

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