Defining A Home Theater

Since our primary focus here at 3-D Squared is Home Theater Design and more specifically, Decorative Acoustic Panels, it just makes sense to make our first blog about defining exactly what a Home Theater is.

I can’t emphasize this enough.

Many people and companies use the term “Home Theater” as a marketing tool to sell their goods and services. Indeed, we come across many A/V companies who use the term “Home Theater” in their advertising to just sell their electronic equipment. It’s great to install high-end speakers, amps, a projector and a wide screen in any given room. However, do these electronics alone create a Home Theater?

I humbly say “No”.

Let’s look at the term “Theater”. What do we think of when we hear the word “Theater”? We vision a room that has some sense of theatrics about it. Maybe a stylish curtain, a certain type of chair, nice carpeting and some kind decorative elements on the walls. The lighting tends to be a bit dimmer than a typical room. Combined all these items create a visual sense of being in a somewhat intimate entertainment hall.

Unbeknownst to most people, most quality commercial theaters have acoustic treatments on the walls. These may be covered by a solid fabric or have a large print, but underneath there is a sound absorption material. Sound control products are mandatory for any successful home or commercial theater. They control the way sound waves bounce off the surfaces in the room.

So, if we gather up all these elements and place them in a dedicated room in our home, we can then claim to have a true Home Theater. A dedicated Home Theater will have very good A/V equipment and many of the elements described above. If done correctly this room can easily outperform any commercial theater. If you have an appreciation of the movie experience, then you certainly would thrive in this type of Home Theater environment.

This sounds like it can get quite expensive and it certainly can.  If you have the budget and the love of movies (or TV, YouTube etc.) you should consider designing and building a dedicated Home Theater as described above.

I feel that your Home Theater is the one room in your home that you should have fun with. Let’s face it, many people with wealth tend to be on the conservative side (we’re not talking politics here). Their homes are beautifully designed, but I don’t know if I would use the words “fun” or “exciting” to describe many of the very large homes I’ve worked in.

My personal theory is to use your Home Theater as a vehicle to highlight your passionate hobby or interest. We’ve worked on incredible rooms that showcase Notre Dame and Dallas Cowboy football. James Bond is an awesome subject for Home Theater décor because it contains so many iconic images. If you are a lover of a specific landscape or city, turn your theater into a window upon one of these beautiful places. You should be open to the many options available to you.

Many people don’t want a theater with a theme. Their aesthetic is perhaps more Traditional or even Elegant. Fortunately, a Home Theater is a very pliable space. You can have a very intelligent design that compliments your home décor or you can create an opulent theater that pays homage to the old-style theaters from years gone by.

Now I know that many people would love to build a Home Theater that can easily cost more than $50K, but many of us simply can’t afford to spend that much.

What about the rest of us?

That’s a great question and believe it or not, most of our clients have a relatively low budget for their room. So how can we design a great looking and sounding room on a limited budget?  It’s actually quite simple.

  •  Start with the colors of the theater. Try using a rich color on the walls. Simply adding a great color to a room instantly transforms it into a much more interesting space.   The colors should be on the darker side. Light colors can become a distraction when viewing images of a screen. The light from the screen can bounce off the light colors of the wall, especially those areas surrounding the front part of the room where the screen is located. You should also consider painting the ceiling the same color as the walls or even black.
  •  Install a series of wall sconces. A typical sized room should have two sconces on each side wall (if possible). The sconces will divide the wall into hopefully three equal sections. If you have the budget for it, you can have columns with sconces in these locations, but a good sconce looks great and helps create a beautiful ambiance.
  • Now that we have sconces dividing the walls into several distinct sections, we can add acoustic panels into each one of these sections. The acoustic art panels can contain fabrics or prints. There are many acoustic friendly fabrics that are available in a variety of colors and patterns. These fabrics tend to be less expensive than prints. The prints can contain anything from original art to reproductions of movie posters. The prints can replace the art in any room but give you the added benefit of being a sound control panel.
  • Having painted our walls an awesome color. Added beautiful sconces and installed a series of decorative acoustic panels, we can now concentrate on the floor. Carpet can help absorb some of the sound waves, but more importantly, it can contribute to the aesthetic of the room. Plus, it feels great on the feet. Seriously, though, the carpet or rug can become the focal point of your design or it can complement your decor.

The best part.

A very nice looking theater that costs well under $10k. Of course, you still need to choose your equipment and home theater seating.  You can spend as little or as much as you want on both items. I tell my clients that you need to create a budget and divide it into three segments: Décor, Equipment, and Chairs. Think about how you want to prioritize the budget and then allocate the appropriate amount into each segment.


Well, as they say in Hollywood “that’s a wrap”.

I hope that I’ve helped you understand what a dedicated Home Theater is.  I also explained how you can design a great theater on a limited budget. If you are a lover of movies, or even just quality music, start working on your Home Theater today to maximize your viewing and listening experience.

Feel free to leave a comment below and ask questions.