Transforming your basement into home theater of your dreams

Life is wonderful… But it’s also often a lot of hard work. The pressure of work and career combined with our obligations to our friends, families and loved ones often mean that we’re not sure if we’re coming or going. In an age where we’re working harder than ever and the political and economic climate seems increasingly turbulent it’s little wonder that so many of us use the escapism of the movies as a panacea to the exhausting effects of modern living. The trouble is that modern moviegoing can really take a toll on the bank balance. In an age where internet piracy is rampant, movie theater chains are (perhaps paradoxically) hiking up their costs to keep their overheads paid. Thus, when the tickets, popcorn, sodas and hotdogs are all accounted for, one might wonder if they’d be better served taking their family to a 5 star restaurant.

Yet, if you’re prepared to endure some initial overhead costs, there’s never been a better time to set up your very own home theater. Once purely the domain of millionaires and only the most serious of movie buffs, the home theater has encountered a renaissance in recent years with ordinary people from all walks of life eschewing the inflated prices and sticky floors of the multiplex in favor of a picture house built to their own exact specifications. If you’ve longed for a fortress of solitude where you can enjoy your movies without the distractions of the home, or a social space where you can enjoy your favorite movies with your friends and loved ones in the ultimate surroundings you may find a home theater more accessible and affordable than you thought.

Better in the basement

If the idea of a home theater appeals to you, but you’re not sure if you can spare the space, this may be the perfect opportunity to get the most out of your basement. The common basement is a dark, damp and forbidding place used mainly for storage of stuff that we’re unlikely to ever venture down to retrieve anyway. The basement is a natural choice for conversion into a home theater for a number of reasons. The underground spaces are conducive to the kind of sound dampening effect necessary for a theatrical space so that the sound is not distorted by the ambient conditions as they would be in your living room. The floors are usually concrete which will prevent the kinds of vibration usually felt on wooden floors which facilitates the distortion of low frequency sounds coming from your system’s subwoofer. Since most basements have very small or no windows, you have much greater control over the lighting conditions for that authentic movie theater experience.

Laying the foundations

Many basements are quite damp spaces. Since you’ll be storing delicate and expensive electronic equipment here you’ll need to seal and waterproof the space. Visit HelitechOnline.com for a quotation. It may also be advisable to run a supply duct into the room so that you can control the temperature. You may want to keep the space nice and cool to prevent your valuable equipment from overheating.


Basements tend to make great home theaters because they share no adjoining walls with other houses, meaning that you can crank the sound without annoying the neighbors. Nonetheless, you’ll still need to soundproof the space to prevent sound from bleeding into the rest of the house. Between the concrete walls and ceiling and the drywall you erect in the space, a layer of fiberglass insulation should be used to keep the sound in your home theater while a cushion of foam tape over ceiling joists and wall studs will prevent annoying rattling on moments where your subwoofer gets a workout. You may also want to attach a layer of acoustic tiles to the ceiling.

Your setup

Now the foundations are laid, it’s time to think seriously about the home cinema equipment you use. Depending on the size of the space you may be better served by a large HD or UHD TV or a ceiling mounted projector. If you’re thinking of making the jump to 4k this is only really worth doing if you’ll be viewing on a screen of over 50” in diameter. Besides which, a projector contributes far more to the theatrical experience. With a surge of affordable new 4k projectors on the market you can enjoy your movies in ultra high definition at a realistic price.

You’ll also want to invest in a powerful subwoofer and an amp to which you can attach your Bluray player, PC, games console and whatever other sources you may wish to enjoy on your giant new screen. Most amps allow you to connect 7 speakers and a subwoofer and this guide will enable you to achieve the perfect speaker setup for the space you have available. Most amps will also include a sensor that you can place where you’ll usually sit in order to calibrate the speakers quickly and easily without having to spend hours tinkering with settings.

Your decor

Just because you’ll be spending most of your time in the dark, doesn’t mean that your home theater can’t be beautifully appointed. The beauty is that you can decorate the space however you want. You can go for the classic art deco inspired look of the theaters of yesteryear or opt for something more contemporary or minimalist. Whatever design concept you choose, its best to stick to dark colors on your walls and carpeting (carpeting is preferable to hard flooring for comfort and acoustic reasons) as these will prevent distractions from the images on screen. Likewise be sure to use matte paint on your walls as glossier finishes will reflect light from the projector and result in distracting glimmers around the room. For that authentic theater experience, some home theater enthusiasts like to surround the space with reproduction prints of their favorite movie posters.

Your furniture

Now all you need is some comfortable furniture from which to recline and enjoy your movies. Most opt for recliners or love seats but a leather (or vinyl if you’re vegan) upholstery is preferable. It’s comfortable yet hard wearing and if you should spill popcorn, ice cream or any other favorite cinema snack, they’ll wipe down easily.

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