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For The Home

Beyond the Cinema

Author: Carly Scholl
Issue: February, 2018, Page 35
Photo by Art Holeman

A muted color palette, cozy leather recliners and elegant details make this home theater a stylish place to congregate.
Today’s luxury home theaters are defying stereotypes and delivering a whole new take on a typical TV room

Whether you’re curling up to watch your favorite film, gathering the gang for the big game or seeking stimulation away from the summer sun, a home theater is the ideal place for rest, relaxation and recreation. But the fun doesn’t stop at the screen—now more than ever, you can elaborate on the classic theater template with endless options for at-home entertainment.

Home Theater evolution
While the traditional home theater only served one purpose—to host movie viewings—the contemporary take on these entertainment spaces is focused primarily on multifunctionality. “I’ve been seeing a trend with homeowners dedicating a space for a media room versus an ordinary home theater,” explains interior designer Claire Ownby. “These rooms are more casual—and feel more like a family room that is designed for optimal viewing and acoustics for movies and TV—but also allow the room to be used for game playing or family gatherings.” So, instead of your valuable square footage collecting cobwebs in between showings of your favorite films, your family and friends will have plenty of reasons to enjoy all your home theater has to offer.

A charming portable popcorn machine provides refillable snacks for the whole family. $370 (
These days, the sky is the limit when it comes to outfitting your theater. Incorporate elements such as an indoor golf simulator, poker tables, ample storage for board games and DVDs, or multiconsole video game hookups; or stick with the classic pool and pingpong tables that are always crowd-pleasers.

“Typically I try to design multiple types of seating for these rooms, such as reclining chairs, lounge-style sofas, countertops with stools, and casual floor pillows for the little ones,” says Ownby. “This variety in seating allows the space to function for many different experiences. I also try to incorporate a beverage and/or snack station into these rec rooms, which extends the entertainment value.” Consider taking your design a step further with a built-in bar or small kitchen located within your multipurpose theater. This will keep you and your guests centralized in one space with everything you need to have a good time at your disposal and create seamless convenience for you when hosting large gatherings.

A home theater in Sedona transitions into a game room, gathering area and wet bar just outside the main viewing space, allowing guests to enjoy all modes of entertainment in the same vicinity.

Get exceptional picture quality with Sony’s 4K SXRD home cinema projector ($25,000)
superior sound with McIntosh’s seven-channel home theater amplifier (price upon request). (
Sensory Elements
A crucial part of any good theater space is the technical equipment that will give you a true cinematic experience in sound and visuals. And if you’re going to dedicate an entire floorplan purely to entertainment, then skip the shortcuts. Invest in the right components, and you won’t regret it. “Home theaters need more than a just a TV and sound bar; there are quite a few technical elements that go into building and incorporating equipment into a space for the best result,” says John Akers of Scottsdale’s LMC Home Entertainment. “Everyone has to begin somewhere, but making sure that you have the most up-to-date processor, media player and display is a big start toward reaching your surround sound goals.”

If audio/visual engineering isn’t quite in your wheelhouse, consult a professional who can work with you to achieve the exact sensory experience you’re looking for. He or she will help determine speaker placement for the best acoustics, choose the right equipment for your needs and budget and even help you adjust your seating arrangements for sound quality.

“In a home theater, many people want to put the seating on a back wall or too close to the side walls, but doing so will cause the listener to hear more bass than usual, creating a ‘booming’ effect during scenes with louder noises,” says Akers. “Also, when seating is placed along the side walls, the surround channels will overpower the listener closest to the wall, and they won’t experience the full surround-sound effect the way it was intended.”

While sound is undeniably important in a media room, so is the visual experience, and nothing can ruin a great movie like bad lighting. Stick with dimmable sconce lighting as your primary source to cut down on unwanted glares and visual interference. Consider LED rope lighting along the outside of your seating area for extra illumination during midmovie trips to the popcorn machine. Also, small recessed lighting installed in the ceiling is a good option for multimedia theaters that need ample lighting for board games or gatherings.

This multifunctional theater space includes a golf simulator and miniature putting green for extra practice between tee times. Custom lighting allows both spaces to be used simultaneously.

From Hudson Valley Lighting’s Mitzi collection, the Angie ($221)
and Evie ($131) wall sconces add sophisticated sensibility while providing indirect light that’s perfect for movie viewing. (
Cinematic Atmosphere
Once you have the functional and technical aspects of your home theater worked out, it’s time to consider the creature comforts that will entice family and friends to countless movie nights.

“Home theaters are nice, dark, cool places to go when it’s hot outside where families can spend time together and be entertained at the same time,” says interior designer Isabel Dellinger-Candelaria. “When creating an in-home theater, comfort and noise control are the first elements I focus on. Usually, clients will either have a specific theme in mind, or they will want the space to flow with the rest of the house.”

An overstuffed sectional anchors the bottom level of this home theater, while traditional reclining seats perch behind. Colored LED lighting in the ceiling adds some whimsy to the room, and patterned wall panels prevent noise reverberation.
To achieve the right balance of fun and functionality, Dellinger-Candelaria suggests incorporating a slight incline or stacked levels within your home theater to achieve stadium-style viewing and more room for furnishings. Then, invest in comfortable, inviting seating that can fit a large party. Reclining theater seats work well, but they aren’t the only option. Wraparound sectionals and separate armchairs can also serve their purpose just as well and will open the door for more personality and creativity to define your space.

“Beauty and comfort are equally important in any room of the home, including your home theater,” says Dellinger-Candelaria, so above all, make sure your space is styled according to your personality and needs. Opt for plush carpet to cut down on noise reverberation, but consider a stain-resistant style in case of snack and soda spills. Likewise, upholstered acoustic wall panels can help control sound and add a sense of enclosed coziness to your design.

The modular Tetra Shelf is perfect for storing DVDs, board games and assorted equipment, such as pingpong balls and video game controllers. Starting at $10,825. (

The Turin sectional ($4,995) is a fun retro option for a home theater
more typical reclining chairs, such as the Duke Seats ($3,775), can create a luxe and authentic theater atmosphere. (

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