Home Theatre Ideas

The Top 5 Small Home Theatre Room Ideas

When thinking about home theatre ideas your focus is usually on how the room will look. However, if you’re a home theatre enthusiast, you most certainly want to know how to get the best performance out of your home cinema. The following guide will provide you with ideas for home theatre decor. We we will also provide you with a home theatre wiring guide. We also have an essential checklist to use for your home theatre idea and design.

What I am giving you here are all my professional hints, tips and advice.

This home theatre guide is you need to execute a perfectly planned home theatre, for any budget size. We will cover the basics for small home theatre rooms, and ideas. Further more, we go into the detail necessary for superior custom home theatre experience! The type of home cinemas you see in grand mansions!

Before we introduce the different home theatre ideas, there are two subjects that we need to cover in detail.



TVs, Projectors & Lighting

This is the first important decision you need to make and it will determine the rest of your Home Theatre.

home cinema projector
Consider the darkness of the room before choosing a projector.

Budget must be considered. You could opt for the latest Organic Light-Emitting Diode (OLED) technology. Spend $20000 the latest Samsung 82″ inch UHD OLED TV. Or, you could get more bang for your buck! If you don’t want to spend that sort of money you could choose a really nice 4K UHD projector. Many of which will cost less than half that price. Not only this, projectors also offer you that authentic-feel cinema experience. Whereas, TVs tend to be too focused and too sharp in small areas which can become fatiguing over time.

Therefore, if the resolution is comparable home cinema projectors are the preferred choice. They allow you to have a longer and more enjoyable watching experience for every scene – sports, movies, etc.

Black and Light

This is where the lighting comes into the decision making. Home theatres that incorporate projector systems will not tolerate any bit of light (without negatively impacting the image quality). Room lighting has always been an important aspect of the image display quality that most people overlook. Did you know that even TVs require little ambient light. For example, the room should be no brighter than 10% of the peak white light coming from the screen?

As for home theatre projectors, light control is even more important! If black is defined as the absence of light, then the room should also be absent of light. That is, if we are to get half decent ‘blacks’ on a screen. Therefore, lighting control should be carefully considered. Especially if you’re opting to use a TV for a small home theatre design. Or, the use of a home theatre projector for a true cinema experience.

After all, a premium viewing and gaming experience are why you design a home theatre in the first place.

Sound & Room Size

Now, you may not have much choice when it comes to the size of your home theatre. But you can still work with what you’ve got to make the best use of that space. You might think that bigger is better, but this is not always the case. The key idea to small home theatre design is putting the right elements together. Ultimately, achieving the same cinematic experience as a larger home theatre design (just in a smaller space).

You need to consider that that the bigger the room the more power you need to fill the room with sound. The opposite is also true. A small room will limit the level of sound you will should produce. This is both due to the cubic volume of space in the room. And, whether you can physically fit the speakers in the smaller theatre room.

The optimal sound experience is key to enjoying your entertainment. Now, you have chosen the TV or Projector. The next part of your home theatre design is the surround sound system.

In the example below, we are able to achieve the effect of a 5.1 home theatre system with the use of a dedicated soundbar. Note: Not all sound bars are designed for home theatre. Some are simply sound ‘boosters’ used to supplement insufficient TV speakers. Therefore, it is necessary that you invest in the higher end of the sound bar range. This will ensure the soundbar carries enough drivers (speakers) to deliver the surround sound effect.

Home Theatre Room Design 1

(Large TV with Soundbar and Subwoofer)

TV and soundbar
Small Home Theatre design can be as simple as a TV and Soundbar
  • Room Size: Small and enclosed (3 meters x 4 meters)
  • Performance: Best with square shaped room and 4 walls for sound reflections.
  • Best for Simple setup and configuration, ease of operation, easier installation for rooms with no prior cabling. Budget-friendly.
  • TV: 55’ To 75”
  • Soundbar: midrange to high end (the more speakers in the soundbar, the better)
  • Subwoofer: Wireless preferred for placement in the back corner of the room. (Note: need access to powerpoint.)

In the next small home theatre design, we have three speakers at the front. Left, center and right, and then two rear speakers for left and right Surrounds. This is an effective home theatre design and should not be ignored. It is what the home cinema experience began with in the first place. However, the disadvantage of 5.1 nowadays is not so obvious. That is, it does not move sound from the front to the back of the room. This is the real cinema experience. For example, a scene where there is a flyover of a helicopter. The sound then collapses to the sides of the room because that is the only place where your speakers are positioned.

Home Theatre Room Design 2

(Large TV with 5.1 Surround Sound)

basic 3.1 speaker system
Small Home Theatre Ideas – TV with LCR speakers
  • Room Size: Small to Medium
  • Performance: Best with the square-shaped room but can be adapted to open plan living rooms with the use of in-ceiling surround speakers.
  • Best for: Dedicated home theatre room design or high usage living rooms where home cinema experience can be delivered within a restricted budget.
  • TV: 65” to 75”
  • AVR: Minimum 5.1 channel amplifier
  • Speakers: Floor standing Left and Right Speaker, Bookshelf Center, In-ceiling surround Speakers, Wired Subwoofer.

The 6.1 and 7.1 home theatre systems are better because there are speakers are directly behind the listener as well as to the sides, so sounds can now move from the front speaker to the back of the room in a nice smooth transition.

The 7.1 home theatre design is better than 6.1 home theatre design because it gives the ability to have stereo effects across the back of the room as well as stereo effects at the sides of the home theatre room. This enables you to have much smoother transitions in the panning from the left surround speakers to the right surround speakers and across the back of the theatre room, with a 6.1 cinema system it has a tendency to snap or jump from the left to the back, to the right. It is not very common to see 6.1 home theatre design today.

Home Theatre Room Design 3

(Projector with 7.1 Surround Sound System) 

Home theatre decor idea
Dedicated Home Theatre room with in-wall & in-ceiling speakers
  • Room Size: Medium
  • Performance: Best with a square or rectangle shaped room.
  • Best for: Dedicated media rooms with little light and no foot traffic.
  • Projector: Mid Range Home Cinema Projector with 90” to 110” Screen
  • AVR: Minimum 7.1 channel amplifier
  • Speakers: In-Wall Speakers for Left, Right and Center channel,  In-ceiling surround Speakers, Wired Subwoofer.

You can go beyond a small home theatre design with the 9.1 to 11.1 home theatre installation. This will take you into the realm of breaking the horizontal plane. Sounds very sci-fi, doesn’t it? Let me explain – in the real world sound is like a sphere all around us, it comes from every direction but the idea of a home theatre is it comes from two directions – front and back. With 9.1 to 11.1 Home Theatre design, the additional speakers are the height channels (now called Overheads) and they have been added to create a more enveloping sound field, something that is more real, like what we hear in the real world.

Dolby Atmos 7.4.1 (11.1)

One of the most recent developments in Home Theatre ideas is the Dolby Atmos configuration Which is still an 11.1 cinema system despite the labeling of 7.4.1. Essentially the additional 4 speakers are placed in a unique position in the ceiling giving the added ‘Front Presence’ and ‘Rear Presence’, however, this requires a dedicated Dolby Atmos AVR so remember to keep this in mind if you choose this as your idea for a home theatre.

The following two home theatre design ideas are the fully immersive home theatre experience. There should be adequate discussion and planning before implementing these designs as you will be investing a considerable amount of money towards your home theatre. The wrong home theatre design or poor planning for the home theatre wiring, structure, and seating can lead to a less desired effect and in turn a home theatre room that is seldom used.

Home Theatre Room Design 4

(4K Projector with 7.2.1 Surround Sound System – Dolby Atmos)

  • Room Size: Large
  • Performance: Best with a square or rectangle shaped room.
  • Best for: Dedicated media rooms with soundproofing, little or no light and no foot traffic. Equipment housed in a dedicated rack in a different location of the home.
  • Projector: High-end home cinema projector with 100” to 130” Screen
  • AVR: Minimum 9.2 channel Dolby Atmos certified amplifier
  • Speakers: Floor Standing Left, Right and Center channel, Bookshelf surround back and surround speakers, in ceiling overhead speakers and a Wired Subwoofer.

Home Theatre Room Design 5

(4K Projector with 9.2.1 Dolby Atmos Sound System with equipment hidden).

home theatre configuration
Fully immersive cinema with Dolby Atmos 7.4.1
  • Room Size: Large and dedicated home theatre room.
  • Performance: Long rectangle shaped room.
  • Best for: Dedicated media rooms with soundproofing, little or no light and no foot traffic. Equipment housed in a dedicated rack in a different location of the home.
  • Projector: High-end home cinema projector with 100” to 130” Screen
  • AVR: Minimum 11.2 channel Dolby Atmos certified amplifier
  • Speakers: Floor Standing Left, Right and Center channel, Bookshelf surround back and surround speakers, 2x in ceiling overhead speakers and 2x wired subwoofers.

Some further points of advice to consider when thinking of Home Theatre ideas can be described below.

Choosing an AVR

Don’t be tempted to overlook this step, without a good quality Audio Video Receiver (AVR) the overall experience you’ll get from your home theatre won’t be as good as it should be. Connectivity, processing and power amp ratings are the three most important aspects of choosing an AVR and although the pricing hasn’t dropped over the years more functionality has been continually added. My first AVR in 1992 cost me over $2000 and it didn’t even have a Subwoofer out!

When choosing an AV receiver there are a number of features you should make sure are included, such as network capabilities, Dolby Atmos capability, smart device application for control, enough HDMI inputs (especially ones that support Audio Return Channel). In addition, you should pay close attention to the power ratings for the receiver as, ultimately, this will dictate how loud the system is going to play in any given space. If you have a big room (up to 6000ft³ of space) you could use one between 100 – 200 Watts per channel but if your room is small (less than 3000 ft³) choosing one below 100 Watts per channel will be sufficient.

Old vs New

Over the past four years or so there have been a number of changes in this industry so you should also make sure you choose something with the latest additions included as well as networking. You need to have connectivity to be able to stream not only just movies but music and any other form of media, pretty much all content these days is now streamable. You must be able to control your system and integrate it into the rest of your space, it’s very important that you select an AV receiver with all these standards.

HDMI & Speaker Cable

As with AVR, this is another crucial component you must not miss out. While HDMI is a very neat design and brought a solution to the need for bringing back the single leads when DVDs were introduced, I feel it is reaching its end of life. Now we have moved to Ultra High Definition we have effectively twenty times the resolution of the original SD content and that doesn’t even include the extra data required for HDR and Wide Colour Gamut. So, just on pixels alone, its a massive increase to the amount of data that has to go through that lead and what we’re seeing now is some of these leads aren’t coping once we get over 5m.

Speaker Cable

This is one topic bound to cause an argument but for me the more strands of fine copper the better. There are three aspects to speaker cable that a lot of people are not aware of – Firstly, the longer the cable the more resistance it will have over that length. The other two aspects are capacitance and inductance, a lot of people do not realise what this will do to your sound. Capacitors present ever increasing resistance to low frequencies, so if you are running full range speakers and your speaker cable doesn’t meet the capacitance requirement, it will filter the bass out of your system. Inductance does the opposite, it creates ever increasing resistance to high frequencies, so what that may do is roll off the high frequencies although that may be what you want.

If you’re on a budget for your system design then you absolutely need to spend more on the parts that matter the most – surround sound systems are about ambiance and versus imaging that comes from the front speakers. So, if I had to make a choice, I’d definitely be using the better copper upfront for the left, center and right speakers.

Soundproofing

Once you have the right quality and enough volume to fully immerse yourself in your man cave activities the next thing to plan is how you will soundproof your space. The last thing you need is complaints about the noise and requests to turn down your well-executed surround sound system….

There are two sides to effective soundproofing – sound isolation and control of reverberation. Sound isolation is the control of sound between your HT and the outside world. Control over reverberation is what happens inside the room and this is the more important of the two for me. Most people think that by packing wool into the wall cavity they will be able to achieve the perfect soundproofing of the room but all they have completed is the first step – helped with sound isolation.

Planning your soundproofing

When you are planning the control over reverberation consider using curtains as these are probably one of the most unrecognized items that we have in our home which can be used as a sound treatment. They absorb high-frequency sounds and, depending on how thick they are, can affect some of the upper midranges too. Another option for the control of reverberation is to make sure the speaker design layout in the entire space is completely symmetrical, think of it so that center channel is straight ahead at 0゚ and your speakers are then equally distanced from this center in a circle. Your treatments in relation to that should also be symmetrically laid out around that circle so that you are not hearing absorption on the one side and not on the other.

Diffusing sound

Remember that it is necessary to absorb some sound, diffuse other parts and sometimes we need to have a little bit of reflection, so long as it is not an echo.  If the walls of a room are treated too intensely they can actually create a ‘suck out’, they absorb so much it actually begins to diminish the sound and that’s not a good thing. You’d be surprised how many common items we find in our rooms that will aid us in the control over reverberation – padded sofas are excellent for soaking up the bass, bookshelves full of books are an excellent diffuser, curtains absorb high frequencies.  It all helps and, chances are if you plan the layout of your man cave with these things in mind you probably won’t even have to go out and buy anything specialized.

For more advice on Small or Large Home Theatre design ideas Contact our professional team of experts.