Do you have a home theater in your living room, or are you planning to?
A living room can be a great place to set up your home theater, but it can be a little trickier than having it in a dedicated media room, for example, careful attention to detail including things like the type of paint one should use (our tutorial) are all worthy of consideration
When it comes to having your home theater in your living room, what all do you need to know? There are specific products, designs, and tips that best suit a home theater that is located in a living room. Since it is a main room in the house and not your own dedicated media room, it needs to feel minimal but still provide the same immersive entertainment experience that a dedicated media room would.
When you have a home theater in your living room, you’re not going to want a big, bulky system that takes up a lot of space and includes tons of wiring. You’re going to want sleek, stylish components that create a great look and feel for your living room.
You’ll also probably want to figure out a way to hide your technology. You might be interested in in-ceiling or in-wall speakers, and you might want to find creative ways to hide your components.
And when it comes to building and optimizing a home theater in your house, no matter the location, you are going to want to take into account all of the aspects of the room. You’ll need to look at the room shape, windows, walls, flooring, furniture, component placement, distance from TV to seating, TV height/angle, and more.
Let’s dive into all of the aspects of a living room home theater, so you can get started creating the best living room home theater possible.
The In’s and Out’s of Building a Home Theater in a Living Room
When it comes to a home theater in a living room, there are a lot of great products on the market that are sleek, stylish, minimal and created to look great in a main room in the house. You’re not going to want massive floor speakers or a bulky subwoofer, additionally, pay attention to the type of flooring you have as well because this affects the way the sound travels as we explained in our other tutorial. Top home theater brands have great products that are created to look great in living rooms, from the all-in-one home theater systems to soundbars and products that you can mix and match.
Hiding The Components
There are many ways that you can hide the technology in your living room, and there is a right and a wrong way to do so. Technology can get hot and needs space to breathe, so you have to be careful about hiding your components in a cabinet or enclosed entertainment system. Wires can also be a problem, as well as TVs. A lot of times, it just comes down to organizing your components properly and getting creative, and there are so many helpful solutions that will keep your space looking clean and stylish.
For example, in the above picture, there are three in-wall speakers behind the projector screen itself. You are able to do this by using an acoustically transparent screen. It’s definitely something you should consider if you plan on using in-wall speakers.
Consider The Different Aspects of the Living Room
Most importantly, you need to get to know your space well, in order to build your home theater living room optimally. You’ll need to take into account how much light is coming in the windows, and even your wall color can add or subtract to the enjoyment of your home theater in the living room.
Additionally, there are optimal ways to set up your components, based on what system setup you choose, and your screen needs to be the proper distance from your seating. The viewing angle of the TV or screen also matters, and so does the seating.
All of these aspects of building a home theater in a living room are important, and they need to be well thought through, in order to produce the best setup for your living room, in addition to providing a great home theater experience. Plus, you need to make everyone happy in the house, since the living room is meant to be enjoyed by all.
How to Choose Products for a Home Theater in a Living Room
When it comes to buying products for your living room home theater, you’re going to want to think about what type of setup you want. Do you want to have a complex setup with many components or a simple, minimalistic one? Do you want an all-in-one system or to pick and choose your products yourself?
You’ll see numbers like 2.1, 5.1, 7.1, and beyond when looking at, researching products for your home theater, and deciding which of these setups you want is a good place to start. You will want to start with a receiver or a soundbar and work your way outwards. How many main speakers do you want? Do you want an amplifier? How about surround sound speakers?
Using a Soundbar or Speaker Package in the Living Room
An all-in-one home theater system is a great choice for any home theater, and it’s much easier to make a decision, versus many components that make up a custom system. Wireless home theater systems are a great choice for living rooms because they are clutter-free, but there are some really great, sleek systems with wires that can be strategically hidden but be sure you don’t make some of the more common mistakes when running wires as we talked about in our guide.
Soundbars are a popular, sleek choice for living rooms. You can buy a soundbar home theater system package, which includes additional components, or you can buy a standalone soundbar, where you have to purchase additional components separately.
Great Choices for All-in-One Setups for Living Rooms:
- Nakamichi Shockwave Pro 7.1 (My Personal Favorite)
- Sonos 5.1 Home Theater
- Bose Acoustimass 10 Series V
- Klipsch HDT-600 Home Theater System
Top Standalone Soundbars to Consider:
Checkout our complete buyer’s guide for soundbars! It includes exactly what to look for when purchasing a soundbar, and also provides many recommended options that anyone would love.
Using Traditional Speakers in the Living Room
As we explained in our other guide, if you don’t want to purchase an all-in-one home theater system, you might want to start with looking at wireless components, since they will provide the best look and feel for your home theater living room. There are so many great products on the market, and there are so many options. Whatever your needs are, you will find matching products in the wireless market.
Lastly, in-ceiling or in-wall speakers are a great choice for home theaters in living rooms. There are a ton of great products in these categories since they’re such a popular choice for home theater rooms now. Some of the top choices are:
- Polk Audio RC80i 2-way Premium In-Ceiling 8″ Round Speakers
- Micca M-8C 8 Inch 2-Way In-Ceiling In-Wall Speaker
- Polk Audio RC85i 2-way Premium In-Wall 8″ Speakers
- Silver Ticket In-Wall Speaker with Pivoting Tweeter
- Polk Audio 255C-RT 2-way In-Wall Center Channel Speaker
Note that when using in-ceiling or in-wall speakers, you will have to cut some large holes into your wall or ceiling, among other possible modifications that we’ve explored before in our guide. So make sure you are okay with this prior to purchasing or planning to use these types of speakers. For other recommended speaker options, check out our buyer’s guide for home theater speakers!
Tips for Hiding Your Technology in Your Living Room
Wiring can be a big problem in home theaters, and it’s especially a top priority to hide wiring in a living room. If you aren’t in the market for buying wireless equipment or in-wall speakers, you’ll want to figure out a great way to organize and minimize wiring visibility in your living room home theater. Here are a few tips and tricks to do so:
- Run cords within the walls – It is not too difficult to run cords within your walls to hide your wires, and if you need help doing it, you can hire someone to do so. This can be used to hide speaker cords or even mounted TV cords. Check out a guide by Home Depot here.
- Create cord covers – You can dress up your cords by creating stylish cord covers. There are a ton of ideas on Pinterest.
- Use a basket – If you can fit most of your excess cords and power strip(s) in a basket, it may be a great solution for you.
- Mount everything you can – Most power strips are mountable, so mounting can become your best friend when it comes to hiding cords. Mount your cords and power strip behind or underneath your entertainment center. Use hooks and zip ties for ultimate organization.
In a living room home theater, it’s also important to make sure your components, such as your speakers, amplifier, receiver, and even your Wi-Fi router don’t take away from the style of the room. You don’t want to take away from the function of the product, though. Receivers can get hot and malfunction if kept in a fully enclosed area, and speakers need to be able to send soundwaves out freely.
While buying some compact and wireless products are one way to go, here are a few creative tips for making sure any and all of your components aren’t messing with the vibe of the room:
- Disguise as decor – There are some really unique decor ideas on Pinterest for hiding various components. From creating a breathable, stylish fabric cover up to inserting a subwoofer in an end table, there are lots of ideas for making your components look like decor.
- Use old books – One of the most popular ideas seen around the web is hollowing out books to create a cover for smaller components, while still giving them room to breathe.
- Replace enclosed cabinet doors with breathable material – Cabinets are the easiest and best solution for hiding components, but they do not allow for breathing, which is a huge problem. So, instead of using them as they are, create a breathable door or enclosure for your technology and still utilize the space.
How to Create an Optimized Home Theater in a Living Room
When building a home theater in any room in your home, there are many aspects to analyze and consider. It’s important to understand your room dynamics and how to create the best setup possible for overall enjoyment.
When it comes to your room, it’s important to look at the windows, flooring, walls, and shape of the room. A rectangle is the best shape for a home theater room, and the fewer windows in the room, the better. If you have many windows, you’ll definitely want to consider darkening products like curtains or film. Carpet is a great choice for flooring because it decreases the bouncing of soundwaves.
The setup is very important for the overall experience, which includes the TV or screen location and distance from the seating, the position of the components, and the seating arrangement. For each type of setup (2.0, 2.1, 5.1, 7.1, 9.1, and beyond), there is an ideal way to set it up, so make sure to follow that to get the best sound. The TV should be at eye height for the best experience, but most importantly, the less neck strain, the better.
When it comes to the seating arrangement, type of seating, and the position of the TV or screen, it depends on the quality of your TV or screen, as well the size and shape of your room. Check out our blog post on seating distance to learn more.
How do I decide the right screen size and type for my room? It’s important to choose the right screen size for your room. If you have a small room, you’ll want to go with a higher end screen that won’t show its pixels when you’re close to it, like a 4K TV or greater, and a smaller screen is OK. If you have a larger room, you’ll want a larger screen to create the most immersive experience possible, if you plan to sit further, and the quality of TV is flexible.
Is it better to mix and match speakers or not? Mixing and matching speakers can get complicated and can produce bad results. If you want to mix and match, you’ll want to consult an expert for help. In general, it’s best to stay within the same brand and line as much as possible.
How can I protect my equipment and extend its lifetime? Surge protectors are a popular way to protect equipment from power surges, and even better, a power conditioner will protect your equipment from dirty noise, as well as surges.
Wednesday 25th of January 2023
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Wednesday 3rd of March 2021
I really liked how you talked about some great tips on how to hide or decorate home theater fixtures in your living room. Having a sleek and comfortable home theater setup could be a great way for us to unwind and relax when we're done working in the home office rooms. I'll keep your tips in mind so I can use them after we find an electronics store that sells speakers and other devices.
Wednesday 14th of October 2020
The TV HAT certainly won’t fit in the official or FLIRC cases by default. I suspect a little light Dremel work might do the job with the official case, but the heat sink on the FLIRC case would intersect with the board.
Monday 10th of August 2020
You made an interesting point when you talked about how it is important to take into consideration all aspects of a room when you are trying to build a home theater. I would say that it would be a good idea to work with an electrician when designing a theater room because they would be able to look at your space and know what would work best for it. A home theater that is optimized for the space you have seems like it would be really enjoyable.
Wednesday 22nd of April 2020
I found it helpful when you explained that a rectangle room is the best for installing a home theater. My wife and I recently moved into a new home and we want to turn one of the rooms in an entertainment center. It seems like it would be a good idea for us to find one that is rectangular in shape and then find a theater company to help us install one.