With all the static about new digital technologies, more and more people are looking to design their very own home theaters. To make sure your new media room is a hit, lead design consultant Davis Remignanti of www.furniture.com offers do-it-yourself solutions for all budgets with these helpful hints:
Lights! Create the fitting atmosphere for home entertainment by choosing the room with the least amount of light, usually the basement. Face the TV away from windows and use window treatments to prevent picture washout. Place a light with a 10- or 15-watt incandescent (or 5-watt fluorescent) bulb behind the TV to further reduce eyestrain and glare, and choose a white light rather than pink to enhance the quality of onscreen color. Use a neutralizing, flat gray paint behind the TV to maximize onscreen color quality for a movie theater feel.
Camera! Home theater design basics include a speaker system, AM/FM receiver, DVD/VCR player and, most importantly, a TV. The ideal screen size for your TV depends on budget, available space and viewing preferences. High-definition is a more refined picture, without the visible scan lines of an analog TV, letting viewers sit as close as they want without harming their eyes. But small screens or small spaces shouldn't be discouraging. Many people find that sitting close to the screen gives them a more theater-like experience, so a small screen and small space could be all viewers need for edge-of-the-seat, lump-in-the-throat entertainment.
Places! In home theater design, the best seat in the house depends on the type of TV. A good rule of thumb is that the larger the screen, the farther away viewers should sit for optimum picture quality. For analog sets with a regular 4:3 ratio (4 inches of width for every 3 inches of height), sit a distance of 3 to 6 times the diagonal screen width away from the TV. For high-definition, wide-screen sets (16 inches of width for every 9 inches of height), position yourself at a distance of 1.5 to 3 times the diagonal width of the screen.
Action! A home theater would not be complete without its supporting cast, the furniture. There's an abundance of padding, motion and size choices available in the quickly growing category of home theater seating. Soft, comfy designs can give double-feature luxury while absorbing sound waves to improve audio quality within the room. When choosing a home entertainment center, viewers should keep two shady characters in mind: dust and poor ventilation. A unit should be large enough to avoid stacking electronics, which can block vents and reduce performance. Adjustable shelving will allow enough room to frequently wipe components clean, and shutting cabinet doors when the system is not in use will keep dust under control.
And, cut! That's a wrap. Of course, the focus of home theater design should be what's on screen. But regardless of whether the screening is a Cary Grant classic or a Hugh Grant romp, with just a bit of planning, any homeowner can create a home theater that's sure to rate five stars.