Until recently, owning a dedicated home theater was an essential part of a Southern California luxury home. It meant the cinematic viewing experience could be enjoyed from the familiar comfort and privacy of your sofa. However, an alternative to the home cinema is quickly rising on the market for homeowners who want to renovate an old game room or den into something a little more high-end, known as a media room. Like a home theater, it can have a flat-screen TV, a surround sound system, and cushy seating. Here at Coastal Homeworks, we design and install both options, so here's what sets them apart from each other.

Home Theater

Lighting: Having subtle cinematic lighting is the best way to enhance your picture’s quality. If you’re renovating and considering the addition of a bar to craft drinks before the entertainment begins, that would work best in a different room to prevent competing light from washing out your image. For the same reason, we suggest you cover any windows with light-blocking curtains or automated shades. Use a simple remote-control dimmer that mimics the way the lights fade in the cinema to add a sense of excitement as your film begins.

Sound: While a giant screen seems like the most important element of your home theater, your sound and lighting systems play vital roles in creating the cinematic experience. By splitting your budget evenly between screen, sound, and room (lighting and décor), you’ll end up with a balanced result. Our team can install your speakers into the walls, floor, or ceiling to maximize space, while acoustic panels and a thick carpet optimize the audio quality, bringing you to the center of the movie’s drama and action.

Room: In a home theater setup, your screen is the center of your activity, whether you're hosting Sunday Night Football, enjoying a movie marathon, or binging the latest series. By having a dedicated space for this entertainment, you get to furnish the room with specialized décor. Whether you decide to deck the room with a theme that pays homage to your favorite film franchise or bring in tiered recliners complete with cup holders, you get to have more fun with the furniture in a home theater.

Setbacks: Besides watching something on a screen, you can't use the space for much else. The surround-sound system will drown out conversation and you may find yourself rearranging your budget if you want to add screens to other rooms. But if you want to enjoy the full movie theater experience without leaving your home, then this is the best option for you.

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Media Room

Content Options: Nowadays, we have so many content options to choose from with streaming services like Netflix, Spotify, and more. Homeowners that imagine themselves using the space to listen to music during a board game, sweat out a YouTube workout routine, or casually watch their favorite cooking show may prefer a Media Room for its versatility.

Screen: Your Media Room will have a sizeable screen that doesn't overwhelm your vision, big enough so everyone can catch the quick easter eggs from afar, but not so close that your eyes or neck strain to absorb all the action. We suggest that you set your seating approximately two to three times your screen's diagonal measurements for an optimal viewing experience.

Sound: A few speakers should do the trick of immersing you in the viewing experience. Although media rooms don't typically have in-wall speakers or acoustic panels, you'll be able to enhance your audio performance through solid drapery that covers your windows, fluffy pillows and blankets on a plush sofa, and a thick carpet. A few quality speakers will easily immerse you into a music album, movie score, or video game explosions.

Room: Home theaters have a very standard layout, but you have more design options to choose from in a media room. An open floor plan allows you to cook dinner and watch the kids from the kitchen as they play games in the media room. You can invite guests for a variety of social situations with a TV screen that can hide behind artwork or a mirror, and furniture that can be rearranged for a conversation-friendly atmosphere. Instead of movie theater-styled-seating, opt for L-shaped couches, loveseats, and cozy sofas perfect for any occasion.

Setbacks: A media room lacks the enclosure of a home theater, so your sound might interrupt other household members or your neighbors. Furthermore, you may not be able to achieve the full surround-sound experience if you have limited space. Your home design creativity is a bit more limited since you'll want to blend your décor with the rest of your home. If you really want to replicate a 1920's Art Deco speakeasy, then a home theater may be a better option for you.

Now that you have a better understanding of the dynamic differences between a media room and a home theater, you may have an idea of which setup is best for your lifestyle. No matter what system you prefer, our team at Coastal Homeworks guarantees to design and install the perfect addition to your home.