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Home Theater Design

Home Theater Design & Construction Guide

Planning Your Home Theater Design

Home theater design is becoming more common as more and more customers look for multi-use home theaters and interactive audio visual (AV) set-up. There are important things to consider when looking into home theater design and construction. I will shed some light on this growing trend and offer some tips that I have learned from my years of experience.

When a customer comes to me for a home theater design there are several things that need to be planned before construction begins. The first and most important factor is the budget. I have seen jobs that range from a couple thousand dollars up to $50,000. Based on the budget you can determine how serious the customer is and layout the foundation of the home theater design. Next, you need to identify the area of the home that will be housing the system. After you finalize the budget and theater location, you can start getting into the nitty-gritty of the project. This check list should help you in your discussion with the customer.

Pre-Home Theater Design Check List

General Design

  • AV Component Storage (Racking, Built in, Free Standing)
  • Seating (Standard couch, Theater Style, Raised)


  • Quantity of speakers
  • Speaker Layout (7.1 with front Presence, 7.1 with rear support, 5.1, Add. Sub.)
  • Additional zoned speakers

Visuals & Audio

  • Projector or Flat Panel
  • Screen size & Type (High tension or Roll up)
  • AV Components
  • Amplification
  • Universal Programmable Remote (RF or IR will decide cabinet type)

The home theater design will most likely be influenced by the space that is allotted to the project. I often find that the theater room is usually reduced in size as the result of some marital compromise. Laying out the optimal home theater design in a small space can be challenging, but you can make almost any space work. If you’re using a large screen and projector set-up, it’s important to work with the customer to select a projector that will be able to fill their screen with the setback that you have to work with. The next design feature is the seating. Some customers will prefer a relaxed couch set-up, while others will want to go with stadium-style bucket seats. This is also a good time to discuss if the room is going to be dedicated theater or a mixed-use room because the room usage will affect the recommended seating. For mixed use I always recommend using a sectional couch due to the different configurations and ability to transform the space.

One of the major reasons a person is building a home theater is for the immersive audio experience that is achieved from a well-designed audio scheme. At this point it’s important to remember that you’re probably not an experienced sound engineer (unless you actually happen to be one), so let the customer know this in advance. If the customer is building out a hardcore system they may want to hire an outside consultant to build a sound map for the proposed space within the home theater design. If they do not require that level of sophistication then you should be able to do an above-average job of speaker layout. Now that you have discussed speaker quantity, type and location with the customer it’s time to move onto the integration of the whole system. My schematic below shows a possible home theater design layout.

Common Pitfalls in Home Theater Design

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