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Spare Bedrooms are Home Theaters Just Waiting to Happen

by Jon Nunan

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Home theaters are here to stay. A few years ago these remodels were talked about as a fading trend, but the recent changes in technology have not only made them and their components more available but also more affordable. Your home theater layout is a crucial part of getting the most from your widescreen TV, surround sound, and high-definition movies. Unfortunately, setting up your TV room for optimal viewing isn't as easy as it seems. From seating to lighting and from speaker placement to home network connectivity, proper planning before you set up your home theater area is often the difference between extraordinary performance and just another large format television.

Picking a Room for Home Theater Set-Up
While the living room has traditionally been the most popular place to put a TV, optimal home theater layout is often more difficult to achieve in such a room. Multiple entrances, a large number of windows, and constant competition for other uses are all factors that make living rooms a less-than-perfect setting for a true home theater. Even if you find solutions to these issues, many folks who put an enormous TV in their living room quickly find out that the once versatile space becomes a bit of a one-trick-pony that is no longer suitable for anything but TV viewing.

Taking the TV out of the living room and setting up your new home theater in a spare bedroom or basement has several benefits. Because these spaces are more secluded, the interruption to family members in other areas of the house will be minimal both during the construction process and afterward when watching films. Basements and spare bedrooms are also spaces where you can play around with your floor plan. Unlike living rooms that must accommodate many different activities, planning and rearranging your home theater layout is relatively painless in basements and spare rooms. With any home theater set-up, light control is of the utmost importance; in most cases, blocking out light completely is both difficult and undesirable in living room spaces.

Home Theater Seating
Though your home theater seating is not going to make or break your TV and movie watching experience, sitting down for a feature length film is a lot more comfortable if you choose wisely. Some home theater seating is designed to mimic modern theater seating, complete with fold-down chairs set at different levels to ensure there's not a bad spot in the room. Other home theater seating is designed to be more like a living room, using couches, recliners, and coffee tables to complete the effect. Few styles of home theater seating are completely inappropriate when planned well; in most cases, doing your homework when designing your home theater layout is going to provide you with a very clear picture of what type of seating is going to work for you.

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Professional Home Theater Layouts and Designs
Home theater layouts are the key to nearly every aspect of the space. It affects how your screen looks, how many people can view something at once, how realistic your sound system feels, and ultimately how much enjoyment you get out of your investment. Because of this, it is a good idea to at least consider talking to a professional about your home theater design and layout. Professionals will not only be able to add sound-proofing to your walls and keep the mess of wiring these systems require out of view, they'll also have excellent suggestions for additions and features you may not have thought of. While free home theater layouts are sometimes available online, no two households are alike. Just as hiring a professional to custom build kitchen cabinetry typically leads to a higher quality, more attractive finished product than buying stock cabinets, using a home theater layout designed for some other space is probably not going to get you optimal results.

DIY Home Theater Design
Whether you decide to go with a pro or go it alone, one of the most effective tools you have in home theater design is other people's home theaters. Take the time to look up the layouts and features of other people's home theaters in magazines and online; combine these images with your own personal tastes and create a space that suits your needs as well as your personality. This type of research will help you no matter who does your home theater design. If you hire a pro, you'll have a clearer vision of what you want and specific references to convey these ideas to a designer. If you do it yourself, you'll have the benefit of seeing how the professionals handle home theater layout, gaining a better understanding of what you can do and how you can do it!

Jon Nunan is a freelance writer who draws on his experience in construction, ranging from landscaping to log home building, for his articles on home improvement.