How to Build a Media Room


If you want to watch sports or movies on a large TV screen, a home media center might be just what you want. Media rooms are becoming more affordable as technology costs are dropping, and the media-room market is growing. Many homeowners are turning their dens and basements into home theaters. If you hire professionals to plan and build your media room, the plan alone can cost $15,000. Using a contractor to do the building can bring the cost to $50,000 without the technology. So, can you build your own media room? If you can do without the highest of the high-tech materials, you probably can. Here's how.

Things You'll Need

  • Sound and visual components
  • Furnishings
  • Lighting
  • Carpet
  • Seating
  • Decide what you really want. If you want a home theater, that suggests you are using a separate room to watch a movie. Perhaps what you want is a media room, where you press a button in your living room or den, the shades come down and your room transforms into a media space where you can play video games, play in cyberspace, work, read email, watch movies, watch TV and plug in your iPod. To make your home this "smart," you may want to consult a systems consultant before you proceed.

  • Decide if you can build your media room yourself. It is not as easy as taking components out of a box and hooking up wires. You may wish to consider an acoustics specialist, who specializes in how sounds works in a room and how to keep sound in the room and not blasting through the whole house.

  • Consider your budget. If you are on a tight budget and wish to turn a 15-by-20-foot family room into a media room, you will still spend $7,500 to $10,000 for a flat-screen TV, speakers, a DVD player and controllers.

  • Decide how much space you want to dedicate. In a home large enough, you could have a separate room that may only be used every few days.

  • Insulate your room so the sound stays put. Install multiple layers of moisture-resistant drywall that is denser than regular drywall. Don't forget to put it on the ceiling, too. Insulate behind the drywall. That will keep the sound in the room. Your sound components will probably be your biggest cost, depending on what you decide to install.

  • Paint the walls a color that creates the atmosphere you want, especially if you are creating a home movie theater. Install recessed lighting where the crown molding meets the ceiling. Install sconces and dimmer switches throughout, to set a relaxing mood. Hide speakers in your walls, behind false columns or in cabinets.

  • Be comfortable. Install theater-style recliners fully outfitted with cup holders as well as massage and vibration systems that work in conjunction with your film. You can also use couches so you can lie down while watching TV or the movie. Add small tables for plates or snacks. If you have young children, purchase smaller, kid-size chairs for the front row. Older people or people who have limited strength or mobility may need a chair with a firmer seat and arms to help get up or down from the chair. You could even include "lift chairs" with motorized lifts that gently push a person out of the chair.

  • Use carpeting in a media room. Carpeting provides comfort and intimacy.

  • Block light with a two-layer system on any windows. Use a blind or under-shade with black-out lining. Then use a floor-to-ceiling drapery treatment to help create your theater experience.

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