Home cinemas - a star attraction
Make every night movie night with your own home cinema. Private cinemas are the latest luxury feature in today’s homes.
Bespoke cinema rooms are growing in popularity. Technology has never been better which means it’s possible to create a truly cinematic experience right in your own home. But how should it be set up and what’s the best kit? From type of room, to installation of specialist audio-visual equipment, lighting, sound insulation and seating – there’s a lot to consider and that’s before you find the perfect popcorn popper!
Set aside a room
If you have the space to spare, nothing beats a separate cinema room to bring the magic of movies or thrill of a major sports event into your home. Centred around a large screen, a well-designed home cinema can create the perfect entertainment space for friends and family. If you are converting a basement, garage or loft, why not take the next step and turn it into a sleek, stylish cinema? Make sure there’s a place for all the components and no unsightly cords or wires. Alternatively, you may be able to find space for a cinema room by reconfiguring the floor plan of your home. If you’ve run out of space, consider a custom-built garden cinema room.
Most people don’t have the space for a dedicated cinema room, but it’s still possible to create a similar experience. Home cinemas can be designed to be discretely integrated into your lounge or family/games room. Large projector screens can drop down from a recess in the ceiling, so they are hidden when they’re not in use. It’s not only the screen that can be concealed, but the projector itself. With a motorised lift, the projector can be tucked away in the ceiling while speakers can be plastered into the wall or even disguised as artwork. Check out the ‘cinematic lounge’ packages available to turn your living room into a cinema.
Projector, TV or both?
A large, high definition projector screen will give the truly immersive cinema experience if you are able to have the room as dark as possible. But if you don’t want to sit in darkness or can’t shut out most of the natural light, then a large TV screen may be a better option. If you’re not sure whether to have a projector or TV, consider having both. It can be an advantage to have a TV screen that can be used in brighter light for daytime viewing and a projection screen for family movie night. If you are considering a projector and screen, it’s a good idea to speak to a specialist professional. They can recommend the best screen size and projector tailored to your room. Plus, they can explain the latest tech, such as ultra-high definition 4K projector.
Surround sound systems in home cinemas make you feel like you are in the middle of the action whether it’s a fantasy flick or scary thriller. A surround sound system usually consists of three speakers around the screen (left, right and centre) plus two speakers at the rear of the room. This is known as a 5.1 surround. The point one refers to the subwoofer that handles all the low frequencies. There are variations on this set up such as 7.1 and even 11.2. But don’t assume more speakers necessarily mean better sound. Some experts suggest it’s better to budget for a good quality 5.1 system rather than buying as many speakers as you can.
Sort your seating.
What’s the point of having a home cinema without cinema-style seating? It’s even possible to have your seats vibrate with the action on the big screen. Modular furniture, including chairs that can be separated, often work better than long sofas which take up a lot of space. Remember a cinema room needs lots of soft furnishings. Hard surfaces, such as tiled floors, reflect sound so it bounces around the room. Dress the room with deep carpets, heavy curtains, plush cinema seating and and even upholstered walls.
If you want to stay friendly with the neighbours, make sure they aren’t disturbed by your home cinema blasting out the latest movie soundtracks. Be aware of what lies on the other side of a ceiling or party wall, especially if it’s a bedroom. To counter this consider soundproofing your cinema room at the construction stage with acoustic grade plasterboard and wall panels or lower the ceiling and fill the cavity with insulation.
To recreate that authentic cinema experience, add special touches like lights that automatically dim when the film starts or coloured LED lights around the screen. Some luxury home cinemas feature star ceilings that have been illuminated to look like the night sky. The ceiling is made up of black felt with fibre-optic stars that can be made to twinkle or change colour. For those on tighter budgets, dimmer switches can also create the perfect atmosphere for a film. A practical consideration is how to block out natural light from windows, glass walls or rooflights. Heavy curtains or blinds will be needed to get an effective blackout.
DIY vs professional installer
While it’s perfectly possible to design and install a home cinema yourself with the help of an electrician to do the wiring, it may make your life easier to appoint a specialist installer. They can work with you, your architect and builder to create maximum impact by taking into consideration everything from viewing position, room shape/size, wall construction, speaker positioning, lighting, ceiling height, decoration and cabling. Remember to integrate games consoles and music systems. Making sure you have the right kit and cables at the start could save you a lot of headaches in future.
How much will it cost?
At the entry level, you can get started for £1,500 to £4,000 for a TV and 5.1 surround system – prices correct April 2019. A mid to top-of-the range fully integrated and installed home cinema system could cost anything from £5,000 to £30,000-plus, excluding building costs. Will a cinema room add value? If you turn a bedroom into a home cinema, it may be difficult to recoup your investment. But set within a basement, garage or loft conversion or new extension, it could increase value and have a starring role in your home.