There’s nothing better than watching a Hollywood blockbuster on the big screen. But when the nights draw in, a home theater might be worth it.
Certainly the concept has become a huge box office success; Property developers and estate agents report that new homes in particular have fantastic cinema rooms, with 50-inch TVs and 4K anamorphic projector screens a new must-have for many.
The push for bigger and better home theater screenings has been amplified by the pandemic.
In the first quarter of 2019, around 11.4 million British households had Netflix, the most popular movie streaming service; In the first quarter of this year there were already 17.3 million.
Grab your popcorn: You can set up your own cinema room or redesign a cozy corner
Global spending on home cinema is expected to rise from the current £20.2 billion to £49 billion in 2026, according to forecasts from The Business Research Company.
“Many homeowners spend huge sums on top-of-the-line screens, the latest projectors and seats that vibrate to the sound of a movie,” says William Saunders of real estate agency Jackson-Stops.
“Home theaters are an easy way for people to freshen up and add interest to a home they’ve lived in for a long time.”
“We are living longer in properties where entertaining guests is critical, especially as we enter the colder months.”
Top estate agents selling multi-million pound properties say home cinemas are now widely expected by potential buyers, but the trend is spreading to other sectors of the market, particularly new builds.
Increasingly, owners are dedicating a room to television and movies, partly so that adults can watch TV in a comfortable setting, but also to give teenagers the opportunity to entertain their friends in their own space. It also has the advantage that game consoles and other devices do not enter the living room.
The cost of setting up and equipping a home theater depends on your budget and ambitions – from a few thousand to a staggering six figures.
Here’s a six-point guide to creating one, whether you want a pop-up movie night or a permanent, Oscar-winning home entertainment hub.
Choose a room
Some owners convert a garage or spare room into a permanent screening room.
“We think a buyer would expect a dedicated space – they work well in basements or attics. “We have sold several properties with a home theater in one of them,” says West Country estate agent John Couch.
The cost of setting up and equipping a home theater depends on your budget and ambitions – from a few thousand to a staggering six figures
But when space is at a premium, a room that serves one purpose during the day can take on a new function in the evening.
“As technology has advanced, home theaters require less cumbersome equipment, meaning you can set one up in a cozy corner of the house rather than devoting an entire room to it,” says Lucy Crane of Strutt & Parker.
TV or projector?
Projectors that play DVDs or movies streamed through a laptop are generally small and cost much less than a high-quality large-screen TV, but require a projector screen. The most popular for home theaters are very slim 50-inch or larger wall-mounted televisions.
Hear it out
Audio specialist Richer Sounds says super-slim TVs tend to have poor quality speakers, so at least a soundbar – a small single speaker – is a must.
For a surround sound experience, try multi-channel amplifiers that power separate speakers in the room.
High-quality audio systems reflect sound from the ceiling, creating a 360-degree experience like a multiplex cinema. However, it is best to install soundproofing to prevent the noise from affecting the rest of your home or the neighbors.
What are you going to play?
Blu-Ray 4K discs offer higher picture quality than Netflix or Amazon Prime, but many streaming services offer ultra-high-definition shows and movies for free. You can use a home theater for both immersive gaming and movie nights.
All you need are regular couches, but if price isn’t an issue, there are real movie theater seats with cup holders, trays, automatic recliners, and basic blue lighting, just like your favorite movie theater.
Are people buying these? You can bet on it. “We helped sell a house whose home theater and soundproofing cost £750,000.”
“We had several buyers sit in the cinema room for a screening so they could enjoy the experience,” says Marc Schneiderman, director of London agency Arlington Residential.
Don’t forget snacks!
Small fridges, popcorn machines, drinks machines and nacho warming cabinets all cost hundreds of pounds.
Film fans on a budget can purchase special movie night boxes online from candy suppliers like Joe & Sephs or Sweetworks on Amazon.
Savings of the week dining tables
The Earth (pictured) from Furniture Village is now priced at £1,245 and includes four upholstered dining chairs
If you’ve honed your cooking skills and want to try new dishes with friends, you may need a new dining table.
And it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. The range, for example, offers the compact but quirky Quebec Wave Edge table in black and gray or oak finishes for £149.99 (down from £179.99).
It’s also offering the Highgate country-style table in cream, navy and gray with two benches for £224.99, reduced from £310.99.
Habitat has cut the price of its Etta table by 20 per cent to £440. The elegant Scandi-style piece of furniture in black or oak veneer offers space for eight people. The Jerry table in oak or white is down from £450 to £225.
Furniture Village also has a pull-out table – The Earth. It was priced at £1,595 and is now £1,245 but includes four upholstered dining chairs in graphite.
Regardless of their price, all of these tables say the same thing: “Come and eat with me.”