The Big Screen

Central to the home cinema system is the screen. This can either be a large TV or a projector and a screen. Which of these you choose will depend very much on your own circumstances. Is the cinema room used for other purposes? What is the ambient lighting like? How large would you like the picture to be?

It’s important to think carefully about the viewing position. Ideally you want to be able to position the seating to face the screen and front speakers directly. If you are building a dedicated cinema space this is fairly straight-forward, you can have a big screen and either a sofa or a couple of armchairs facing the screen at a comfortable distance.

If your home cinema is going to be built into a room which is also used for other activities such as in a living room, this can be be a bit more of a challenge, especially if you don’t have much space. In most living rooms there can often be a compromise between positioning the seating in a way that is socially pleasing as well as allowing for a good direct view of your screen and positioning of the speakers. You also have to consider other focal points of the room such as the fireplace and artwork.

It is worth spending a bit of time designing the layout of a living room which is to double as a home cinema. Think about the different ways you will use that space. You might be able to have one sofa or a couple of armchairs which have the optimum position for the screen and speakers, with the rest of the seating positioned opposite or adjacent to these seats and only really for use socially when the cinema is out of use.

When choosing the correct size of TV for a living room you may face the dilemma of wether to go for a big picture which will dominate the room, or something smaller which will sit neatly in the corner, but not provide a satisfyingly immersive image when watching your favourite films.

One solution could be a projector screen which retracts from the ceiling only when in use. There are now also TV lift solutions which will allow a large TV to retract into a piece of furniture, or even up against the ceiling. These are pricey and require some specialist installation.

It could be worth considering having both a relatively small TV and a retractable projector screen. This way you can get the best of both worlds, simply flick the TV on for basic viewing, or activate the projector when more immersive viewing is desired.

In the ideal home you would have both a social open living space and a separate cinema room or snug. However with the right equipment and some careful planning it should be possible to design a living room which can incorporate both into an average sized house, flat or apartment.

In the next section we’ll consider whether you should get a TV or  a Projector