For the past two years, remote work has eroded the separation between our professional and home lives, introducing stress into spaces meant for comfort and recuperation. To counter that, consider creating opportunities to “get away from it all” in your own home.
Movie and music fans have long created home theaters and listening stations where they can fully enjoy their passions. These days, we could all use a place for pure entertainment. With a spare room and a modest budget, you can create an all-in-one media room for enjoying music, movies, video games and TV — and sharing the fun with guests.
With a dedicated screen and sound system, a turntable, some comfortable furniture and a bit of storage space, you can create an entertainment oasis that contrasts nicely with the office across the hall. These steps will help you create a basic setup.
Pick the right room
The unique acoustics of square-shaped rooms can distort sound waves and create echoes so, if you can, go rectangular. Rectangles are easier on the ears and use the space well by placing the screen and audience on far sides of the room. Avoid hard surfaces like tile, hardwood and concrete because they echo, whereas drywall and carpeting absorb sound. If you must use a concrete basement, install carpet, drywall and/or acoustic paneling.
Choose your screen
For deep blacks, sharp contrast and colors that pop, OLED TVs are the way to go. LED and LCD monitors offer a brighter, less-rich image, and they work best in spaces with more natural light. For larger spaces, consider a digital projector for a big-screen presentation. Note that the space between the screen and seating should be 1.5 times the screen’s diagonal length for the best viewing experience.
Get the most out of sound
A true cinematic experience requires a multichannel surround sound system. Ideally, it will include a dedicated receiver for all sound inputs and a 5.1 or 7.1 setup — five or seven speakers, plus a subwoofer, placed around the room to create immersive audio. Wireless sound systems and speakers are improving by leaps and bounds, and the days of wires and USB cables will soon be history.
Create an entertainment center
Keep all of your components — audio receiver, disc player, cable box, streaming device, wireless hub and gaming console — together on a rack or shelves near your screen and next to the wall with your cable and internet outlets. You can control all of these components with one universal remote. Just make sure you keep your entertainment center well-ventilated, dry and at room temperature to avoid overheating.
Showcase your turntable
A sleek record player, perhaps with Bluetooth connectivity, on a dedicated stand away from other devices, can add visual flare and makes spinning LPs easier.
Display your media
In the age of streaming, we no longer need exhaustive collections of boxed media. But for those who like to collect and display music and movies, built-in cabinets and shelves are a must. Whether you hire a pro or do it yourself, built-in shelving is a fantastic way to display movies, albums, video games and oversized art books, adding a colorfully eclectic, eye-catching point of interest for guests.
Furniture should be comfortable
This is especially important if you plan to watch a lot of movies. Comfy chairs and recliners are essential for the complete moviegoing experience. A couch, a couple ottomans and small, easily reachable tables for drinks and snacks is a practical setup for smaller spaces.
Light should be subtle
Create ambient mood lighting with well-placed LEDs or dimmable overhead lighting, and use task lighting to illuminate devices and storage as needed. If you’re going for a home-theater vibe, decorative safety lights to direct guests to their seating is a nice touch.
James Slone is content strategist at the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBAKS). If you have a home improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of MBAKS’s more than 2,600 members, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.