There are a lot of features on TVs that improve image quality, color, and brightness. However, these specs are negated, if excess light in the room washes out the picture. Controlling the light for your home theater space allows you to create an immersive viewing space for all your favorite movies and shows.
There are numerous ways to control the light in your home theater room:
- Blackout curtains
- Paint the room darker
- Install directed lighting and smart lighting
- Limit reflective objects in the room
- Use darker furniture
- In extreme cases, you can even put up some new walls to create a sort of “room within a room” for your home theater.
Optimizing the light in your home theater space can be difficult, especially since most homes seek to maximize the light in any given room. Counteracting that may mean some extensive countermeasures, but they will give you a more immersive home theater experience. Here’s a list of some fixes.
1. Install Blackout Curtains Over Any Windows
By far the biggest source of light pollution comes from windows. Windows are designed to allow light into rooms to allow homeowners to cut down on the amount they use artificial lighting. However, this works against you when you are setting up a home theater.
If you have windows in your home theater room, consider installing blackout curtains to block the light from any windows.
To ensure you don’t get any light seepage, make sure you get a set of curtains at least one foot wider than your window. This will allow you not only to completely cover the sides of the windows but also be able to overlap or be clipped together in the center.
Also, be sure to check how far the brackets hold the curtain rod from the wall. The less space, the less room for light to escape.
2. Paint the Room a Darker Color
In addition to sources of direct light, sources of indirect light, through reflection, threaten to muddy the light profile of your home theater space. The colors on all of the surfaces you see are the result of that surface reflecting a certain amount of light at various wavelengths. The brighter the color, the more light is being reflected by the surface and entering your eyes.
Painting your home theater room darker colors can reduce the amount of uncontrolled ambient light in your home theater room. Although a flat black will reflect the least amount of light, you can choose from a variety of dark colors–burgundy, navy, forest–and get the same effect.
If you have recesses you plan to place a strip or tube lighting, you may want to consider painting these recesses white to maximize the light that gets into your room.
3. Directed Lighting
When lighting is installed in a room, it is typically intended to maximize the light in all areas of the room. However, when you have a home theater, you may want to have light in some areas of the room. Check out our complete home theater lighting guide, it explains the different types of lighting used in home theater rooms!
For example, to find remotes–while leaving the area with your screen in the dark. One option is to install a secondary system of recessed or track lighting that directs light towards the seating area and away from the screen.
It’s a good idea to have this lighting as a secondary system from your primary lighting system. Making the secondary lighting system dimmable is an especially good idea. This way you can use your dimmable lights for finding remotes and other things you might need while viewing your favorite content and use your primary lighting system for cleaning or finding lost items. Many models can be controlled by remote control as well.
4. Smart Lighting
Another way to minimize excess light is to install smart lighting. Smart lighting allows you to control a range of attributes about your lighting including not only brightness but also color profile. Smart lighting can be found for almost every lighting need and can be controlled by your smartphone.
Smart lighting is especially useful in a home theater environment as ambient light. This is because there are apps capable of pairing with your display device to broadcast a matching color profile for your smart lighting. This effect is best for recessed tube or strip lighting as well as for lighting behind a mounted smart TV.
5. Limit Reflective Objects
Reflective objects such as mirrors and glass tabletops in your home theater room can amplify other light sources, giving you unintended light in your room. The problem with reflective objects isn’t necessarily the light itself. It is perfectly possible to arrange reflective objects in such a way as to reflect the light in a manner you like.
The problem is when you incorporate elements such as people and objects into the room that aren’t necessarily stationary. This may interfere with the path between light sources, reflective surfaces, and the surfaces they project onto.
Hence, the problem with reflective surfaces isn’t so much that you can’t arrange them to your liking. It’s that practical use of your home theater space will likely interfere with your arrangement.
6. Get Darker Furniture
Just like your walls, your furniture reflects light, and the brighter your furniture, the more light it reflects. Getting darker furniture, like painting your walls a darker color, can help reduce sources of indirect light. The more dark surfaces you have, the more light is absorbed. The more light absorbed, the less uncontrolled light bouncing around the room.
In addition to color, one thing to look out for is material. Metal furniture and a lot of wooden furniture is glossy and will reflect light easily. Many kinds of vinyl upholstery is also reflective. In general, try to avoid glossy surfaces. Unvarnished wood, velvet, and suede are all great materials to have in your home theater room.
7. Install New Walls to Block Light
Okay, this one is a little extreme, but stay with me here. If all else fails, or if you want to preserve the natural light you get from your windows, you can always put up some new walls. For a number of reasons, you’ll probably want to hire a professional to handle this.
Although you can get away with cosmetic home modifications such as installing cornices by yourself, putting up a wall requires taking into account a number of factors that may also need modification to give you the home theater room you want and keep your home up to code.
For one thing, new walls will affect the airflow in your home and may require the installation of new ducts and vents to circulate air properly. Installing walls gives you the opportunity to add some other useful modifications to your home theater space. This includes installing additional electrical outlets and soundproofing the walls you put up.
Your custom walls can even be built to accommodate smart lighting to hide the light source. A project of this magnitude should probably begin with consulting an interior designer. Not only will they be able to optimize your home theater environment, but they will also likely have contacts for contractors who can make your dream a reality.