3 Mistakes People Make When Designing a Home Theater

There are home theaters that feel like a private version of the public theater, providing the same quality of audio and video without the crowds, popcorn on the floor and lines. And there are home theaters that end up with the worst of both worlds, putting lousy quality video up on the screen and shoddy audio that makes you wish it wasn’t in surround sound. Here are three mistakes people make when they design a home theater so you can avoid making these mistakes yourself.

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Ignoring Acoustics

When you bring up acoustics as part of a discussion about a home theater, they think you need more speakers at an even higher volume. The reality is that you want the surround sound if you can get it, but the accurate replication of sound from high quality speakers is more important than the volume – either in terms of decibels or the number of speakers. You also want to control the flow of external sound into the room. A home theater down the long, echoing hallway from the kitchen or bathroom suffers interference with the noise from those spaces. You can lessen that problem by installing an acoustic plasterboard ceiling in the hallway. This has the side benefit of preventing the immersive audio from the home theater reverberating through the house or even bothering the neighbors.

Tolerating Lousy Lighting

Let’s be honest – you shouldn’t rely on the TV or screen as the only source of light in the home theater. You need other lights in the room. However, the light sources themselves can distract from the show. If the home theater has windows, the TV shouldn’t be on the opposite wall. You also don’t want bright lights in an alcove or wet bar, much less bright jarring lights reflected around the room by mirrors intended to make the small space feel larger. Matte surfaces and recessed lighting that doesn’t affect the screen is ideal.

Putting in Poor Seating

If you’re going to spend hours lost in a multi-media experience, you can’t do it in a lousy seat. You want clean, comfortable seats. This doesn’t mean you have to buy luxury recliners, but the seating needs to be nicer than a couch pulled in from the guest room. Also, you’ll want to think about the location of your seating. While you will want to place the seats where they have a clear and straight line of sight of the screen, you also need to consider the travel path. Don’t put seating where someone going to the bathroom or kitchen blocks the line of sight for others.


Invest in quality sound equipment and put them in the right places to generate good sound. While darker is better while the screen is on, you need some lighting that doesn’t interfere with image quality. Consider the quality of the display whether from a projector or TV screen, and don’t do anything that hurts that image quality. Finally, get comfortable seats for your entertainment room.