Your home should be your own paradise, a place where you can relax. With this in mind, who hasn’t dreamt of building themselves a swanky home cinema room? The chance to enjoy endless hours of movies on a big screen from the luxury of your own armchair already sounds good, but not having to pay £10 for a bucket of popcorn and then listen to everyone else’s crunching would basically be heaven for any film lover.
While you could easily spend thousands on a plush home cinema fit-out, complete with a decent screen and surround sound system, the good news is that you really don’t have to. If you’ve got a room going spare, here’s how to turn it into a blockbuster-worthy theatre on an indie-flick budget.
The perfect screen
Screens: obviously, bigger is better. The downside is that, unless you already have an insanely good high-definition TV, buying a brand-new one is going to eat into your budget in a big way. Your first saving? Pick a projector, instead. Home projectors start at around £250 and you can get a pretty decent one for only £500 (the BenQ ones are reviewed particularly well). Plus, the larger screen size provides a more cinematic experience.
Of course, you’ll need something to project onto. A blank white wall or plain vinyl blind can do the job on a budget, but a proper projector screen will massively improve the image quality. You can pick these up for anywhere between £50-£1500, so try to choose one that matches the capabilities of your projector.
Custom cabinets (sort of)
When money is no object, annoying essentials like speakers, games consoles, streaming devices, and other entertainment paraphernalia can be neatly embedded into walls or hidden away in beautifully bespoke units. While a limited budget doesn’t necessarily stop you from having these things, you might have to be a little more resourceful.
For example, there’s a whole community of DIY-enthusiasts that chop up IKEA furniture and turn it into unique pieces to suit their exact needs. If you want a striking, custom-built storage for your cinema room, it’s entirely possible to create it yourself.
Would you believe that this unit is all made from IKEA units? Image: The Spruce
Presuming you’ve got a fairly average-sized home cinema room, aim for 5.1 surround sound – that’s five satellite speakers and one subwoofer. The satellite speakers should be positioned with three around the screen (to the left, right and center), and two in the back corner of the room.
Although it might seem like a faff, decent soundproofing really is the key to controlling the quality of your sound, not to mention essential in keeping the neighbors happy. Invest in sound-absorbing wall tiles and use soft furnishings and fabrics to help dampen sound, too. Things like thick carpets, squashy armchairs and heavy curtains.
Don’t underestimate the power of lighting in your home, especially in a home cinema room. Styles that throw dramatic shapes around the room work best, like spotlights, uplighters, and downlighters.
If you’re putting your home cinema into a converted loft or basement then space-saving spotlights are ideal and are much easier to retrofit than you might think. Another trick is to install coving just below ceiling-height and attach a bright LED strip that projects up to the ceiling. The result looks dramatic and luxurious.
Uplighting in the ceiling – it’s simple but effective. Image: Houzz
Seating in Home Cinema Room
When you’re on a budget, focus on providing enough seats for the number of people that will be using the room most frequently, whether that’s just you and your partner, a whole household of kids or a gaggle of friends and family. You can always have temporary seating available for when guests come over or install more chairs when you have the money.
Splurging out on a couple of squashy recliners might be the best call when there’s only two of you, while a large section sofa works well for groups. If those options aren’t quite within your price range yet, look to less conventional seating like bean bags, inflatable chairs and “lazy bags”.
The dream: spotlights, custom shelving, and an epic sofa. Image: Furnished by Anna
One of the many nice things about a home cinema room is making it reflect your personal character and movie tastes. Give your room an extra-special finish by adding a couple of framed posters from your favorite films and a light-up marquee sign that showcases your film of the evening.
Once that’s in, it’s time to put the popcorn in the microwave, dim the lights, sit back and hit ‘play’.