In this article, you will learn to transform your living room into a private cinema. Learn how to make a movie theater in your living room now!

Some homeowners reserve their elegant living rooms for gatherings and conversations. Their media is well hidden in the bedroom, and their accessories are there to trigger a conversation.

And then there are those who go for the biggest television they can find. They then enhance it with the comfiest seating arrangements for the perfect movie night and there it is – a private cinema!

If the latter sounds like you, keep reading.

How to make a movie theater in your living room? For starters, there is more to a private cinema than a TV and a sofa. There are requirements in place that need to be taken into accounts, such as the availability of light or the position of the room. The same rules apply to large TVs, flat screens, and video projectors.

The first and most important consideration for a home movie theater is the room itself. It needs to be spacious and well isolated, ideally located far from the bedrooms. Secondly, on how to make a movie theater in your living room, you would need to consider the budget you can invest, without necessarily sacrificing the popcorn money.

How to make a movie theater in your living room

We’ve gathered the best tips and ideas for a true movie theater experience at home. It is time to get inspired!

Choose the appropriate seating arrangement

Image source: Lauri Morrison studio

Once the screen is in place, make sure it is visible from any searing location. There should be the main seating area, like a sofa or a comfy couch, or sectional seating across the room facing the TV in a balanced way. As much as you love to entertain, keep the room as clean and simple as possible.

The classic movie living room setup is front-and-center seating oriented towards the TV. If this sounds too simple for your taste, you can also opt for a more versatile floorplan.

Image source: Cantoni

If the home theater room is supposed to have a double role, think about how you can use the furniture that is already there. Surprisingly enough, almost any item can be transitioned to movie-watching mode, as long as you are creative.

For instance, you can rotate the reading chairs towards the TV and create a front-row seating section for your guests. If you want the room to look warm and inviting, throw some soft rugs around, or even create a pile of large, comfy pillows to serve as an elegant lounge.

Now, about that lounge idea…

Image source: Contemporary Home Theater

Lounge areas can make the whole home theater experience even more pleasant. Next to the home theater setup, you will need some lay-back, comfortable furniture where you can lean down and relax. And voila – you will wish you could stay in the movie room forever!

There are no rules when it comes to lounge home theater setup. You can throw in as many fabric pillows as you want. As long as there is a small table to accommodate drinks and snacks, the room won’t look messy or distracting.

Image source: Bonin Architects & Associates

The best part about it is the availability of great furniture items. You can grab your loungers, sofa seats, beanbags, or simple rugs, and the home theater design will be complete.

Fun floor seating can be the centerpiece of the room or its only seating arrangement. If the living room is not big enough, fill it up with fun cushions and a petite coffee table, and the work will be done. Your friends will adore spending time in your movie theater!

Best of all, you will secure the second layer of seating arrangements without further investments.

Retire ambient lighting

Image source: RRS Design + Build, LLC

Ambient lighting has nothing in common with a home theater, be that the natural light coming from the windows, or a beam from the next room lamp. Even the slightest light-bleed can affect the quality of the video projection, and you may not enjoy the movie experience as much as you hoped.

Image source: Premium Renovations Ltd.

Of course, there will be cases where you can do nothing to eliminate ambient light, but don’t let this discourage you. Some video projectors come with high lumens rating and still project the best possible quality on the screen. Darker curtains or blinds can also do a pretty good job on a budget.

But how about solving this problem before it appears? There are areas in the house that provide a private ambient by default, and which eliminate noise for the perfect viewing experience. Your basement may just be one of them!

Go for accent lights

Image source: Integrated Smart Technologies, Inc.

When it comes to home movie theaters, accent lights are the real game-changers. These light fixtures help you boost projection quality and deepen the perceived contrast. They create an overall movie experience even if your screen doesn’t come in the best quality. All you need to do is to add light behind the screen – the dark areas will seem even darker!

Image source: Gramophone

On the plus side, dimming lights are not necessarily expensive. You can create the very same experience with a simple LED strip you ordered on Amazon. As long as the size is consistent, the display will be perfect.

You don’t even have to go through all that trouble – use the dimming lights to adjust the intensity and warmth of the room light. The room will still qualify for a decent movie watching experience. You can even get a cheap table lamp to shed some light on the snacks on your hand side, and that’s all there is to it.

Before you proceed, make sure the lights are not intense and that they don’t reflect on the screen.

Its majesty – The screen

Image source: Prestige Builders Inc.

What is a movie room without a great screen? You probably reserved the largest cut of the movie theater budget for the screen, and that’s ok. What you didn’t know, perhaps, is that a good screen at the home theater doesn’t have to break the bank.

First, rethink the size. We all want a huge flat screen for our home theater room, but will this provide the immersive experience we want? Will it be fun swinging our heads all the time, just to be able to see everything?

The secret is to create a comfortable eye moment for all viewers. This will require a viewing angle of 1.5 to 2.5 times the diagonal width of the screen. In simpler terms, the ideal viewing distance for a 60-inch TV is between 7.5 and 12.5 feet.

A fancy television will not be the bargain you thought it was if you don’t explore its settings. Check the different viewing modes it provides, and enable the one that works the best in a small living room. This is the only way to make optimum use of its performance.

You will discover some great subdued modes. Their brightness and saturation provide an awesome experience different than everyday watching. On certain TVs, it is even named ‘cinema mode’, and it works amazing for watching movies. Still, make sure you disable it when watching sports.

Image source: Acadian Home Theater & Automation

Last but not least, all modern TVs have HDR, another mode that guarantees vibrant and accurate colors. Make sure it is enabled before you play your movie.

The whole projector & screen experience


If you are a true cinema fan, leave TVs aside and go all in. A projector is a perfect addition to any movie theater, and nothing can surpass the old-time vibe it creates.

If the movie room is large enough, you can even opt for a 100-inch picture. After a while, you will forget how going to the movies feels.

Image source: Stockholm Construction Group Ltd.

Another upside is that projectors cost less than large, fancy TVs, but they add the same value to the movie room. Before you make a purchase, check the connection options to see if it is compatible with your gadgets. Modern projectors work with an array of tech additions, such as laptops, tablets, or even mobile phones. You can stream practically anything on your big screen.

Next stop: the sound system

Image source: MoonLight Audio Visual Pro

Guess what – You can have the perfect movie night without annoying your neighbors!

Once you’ve settled on the picture quality, get the appropriate surround sound system. Audio quality is just as important for the whole movie room experience, and it is not the place to cut costs.

Image source: Lehigh Valley Interior Construction

Audio quality, however, doesn’t only refer to the volume. You need directional audio of some sort, such as a surround sound system. Stash the speakers all around the room, or even hide them behind the screen for a deeper sound.

Of course, you don’t need to spend a fortune on home theater room woofers. But still, don’t rely on the built-in TV speakers to make the premier of a top-notch movie perfect.

Keep snacks and refreshments within reach

Image source: MAS Designs

Before you click on play, make sure the movie theater has all your favorites snacks and refreshments. Bring in the popcorn, pretzels, Oreos, gummies, and all other cinema faves and keep them within reach.

Ideally, there will be a small side table to accommodate them in decorative bowls and containers. A larger side table, on the other side, will provide enough dining space for quick movie bites.

More importantly, make sure each guest has a dedicated space for their drinks so that nothing gets knocked over. If the room is comfy and casual, you can even consider bringing in a soda machine or a small refrigerator for your guests. They can give your home theater a fun twist.

Few additional tips for the perfect movie theater experience

Image source: Blue Heron

Now that you know the basics of how to make a movie theater in your living room, pay attention to the details. The more creative you are, the more you will use this space. Isn’t this a decent reimbursement for giving up a modern living room?

Image source: Kaimee Klein Martelli

The modern living room is sometimes smaller than you want it to be, so play with the furniture you have. It may be that all you need to buy are a few beanbags and movie posters, and the movie night can begin! Or, keep it low-key, and keep the sofa to yourself. Nobody minds an evening of binge watching on their own!

To make the best out of the room, replace the TV with a projector and a retractable screen. This way, you can entertain guests during the day and turn movie night into a family treat. Doesn’t sound bad at all, does it?

If you enjoyed reading this article about how to make a movie theater in your living room, you should check out this article on arranging a narrow living room.

We also wrote about similar articles like styling open shelves in the living room, covering the electrical panel in the living room, closing off the kitchen from the living room, and hiding toys in the living room.

Don’t miss these on hiding speaker wires in the living room, decorating a living room with vaulted ceilings, decorating a living room and dining room combination, and how to make a formal living room more usable.

Categorized in: