Putting the Tips for
“home” in your media
By Christianna McCausland
MEDIA ROOMS WERE once the domain of
movie producers and wealthy technophiles.
Thanks to more affordable technology, setting up a room solely for the enjoyment of
movies and TV shows is within reach for any
homeowner. With a little design know-how,
you can transform a room in your home into
a theater that may even surpass the quality of
the experience provided at the local cinema.
“When you are in a media room and you
start a movie, you are transfixed and transported by the movie in a way that just doesn’t
happen if you are watching a movie in your living room,” explains Robert Harley, author of
Home Theater for Everyone: A Practical Guide to
Today’s Home Entertainment Systems (Acapella
Press, 2000), editor in chief of The Absolute
Sound magazine and a Costco member.
According to Harley, a media room
should ideally be in a spot such as the basement, where there are no windows. If no
basement rooms are available, you can control light with a few tricks. Those include
blackout shades, sconces to keep lighting
from competing with the TV picture and
dimmers that can be controlled by a remote
for true dramatic effect.
The advantage of creating a theater at
home is the chance to make a comfortable
environment that expresses your personality.
“You want to take the best of ‘home’ and the
best of ‘theater’ and combine the two so you
have comfort and drama,” says Patrick
Sutton, principal of the Baltimore-based
design and architecture firm Patrick Sutton
Associates. Sutton recently designed a media
room with an oversize, U-shaped sectional
sofa, an enormous ottoman (that doubles as
a footrest and a coffee table) and a shag rug.
“Everything you would want in a movie
theater should be on hand in your home,” he
continues. This includes a bar for drinks, a
small refrigerator to store snacks and even a
Ask yourself how you want to use the
room to determine the type and amount of
seating required. If the guys will be hanging
out watching football games, consider a large
sectional sofa. If the kids like to play video
games, have beanbag chairs on hand that can
be tossed in front of the television, then tucked
in a closet when not in use. If you are a diehard movie buff, set up banks of home-theater
sectional seats complete with cup holders.
“Let’s face it: Everyone wants to put their
feet up, so it’s all about reclining furniture or
ottomans,” says Davis Remignanti, a Boston-based design consultant and Costco member.
HERE ARE TIPS for optimizing the
home theater experience.
■ Use neutral colors on walls and
furniture to reduce reflections on the
■ Use soft materials—mohair, chenille,
velvet—on furniture and floors to
absorb sound and for long-term viewing comfort.
■ Measure the diagonal width of the
TV screen. Three to six times that
number is where seating should start.
■ For the best sound quality, your ears
should be even with the tweeters of the
speakers. Low seats may not be ideal.
Beyond the TV, the most notable piece of
furniture in a media room is the entertainment center. According to Remignanti, many
fashion-forward options are available to fit
“The biggest mistake people make is getting an entertainment center that the TV just
barely fits into,” he says. Instead, he advises,
buy a center that has some flexibility for TV
size: “The likelihood is that you’ll have that
piece of furniture longer than that TV.”
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The Costco Connection
Costco warehouses and costco.com
have a variety of items to outfit media
rooms. Members can find items such as
lamps, sectional seating, entertainment
wall units, TV mounting systems and even
popcorn machines. Both Costco and
costco.com sell wide-screen and plasma
TVS and game consoles, along with a wide
variety of DVDs and video games.