By Jan Dowling November 22nd, 2013. Comments Off on Lights, camera, action: the spotlight’s on… Home Theatres

Home theatres were once the dream of many and the reality of the lucky few. But today’s interior design is proving that you don’t need to have a Hollywood mansion to enjoy the big screen experience. You simply need to combine the perfect style and comfort factor with high quality sound and vision, all in one space. Here at Dowling Homes, we shine the spotlight on how to create a home cinema that will have the popcorn popping and keep your budget intact.

Think inside and outside the box

First and foremost, you need to work out the best space for your home theatre. For a fully immersive cinema experience, it’s essential to choose a location that means you won’t be disturbed.  Renovate a spare room, incorporate it in your home extension or even your converted attic can make an excellent home cinema. However, if you don’t have the space for a dedicated cinema room, there are also clever things you can do with existing space. Which leads us to…

Cinema Hide and Seek

Today’s clever design solutions mean you can enjoy a home cinema that can be hidden out of sight when it’s not in use. Imagine a living room which morphs into a spectacular cinema at the touch of button. State-of-the-art technology can be removed from view when it’s not in use, leaving only a living space which integrates seamlessly with the rest of your home. Modern design solutions include concealing large screens and surround-sound speakers with artworks printed onto transparent fabric screens.

Zone in on soundproofing

Building a home theatre is similar to building any other addition to your home – you need to choose the right space, colours, décor, furnishings and technology. But there is an extra element you need to pay special attention to: soundproofing.  Soundproofing your home theatre properly requires that you take into account every aspect of the room – the doors, windows, walls, ceiling and so on.


The walls are usually where most of the soundproofing will be applied and there are lots of soundproofing construction materials designed to keep the sound in. Barrierboard is an Australian-made plasterboard composite that can reduce noise levels by up to 75%, while Gyprock Soundchek is a 10mm thick plasterboard that has a dense gypsum board core with sound reflective and absorptive properties and surrounded with heavy duty liner boards. Boral’s Soundstop was designed to be used in high-performance acoustic wall and ceiling systems. Available in 10mm and 13mm thicknesses, this plasterboard is used in Boral’s Cine system, which is a great choice to keep noise outside of the home theatre room while also containing the noise from the speakers.

The door should be sealed well with special acoustic insulation strips fitted to the edge of the door to ensure a complete seal. If budget allows, install a double door with an airlock. A special inner door can be designed to absorb sound, with an outer door made of soundproofed composite panel board.

Underfoot, soundproofing comes down to your choice of floor covering. Carpet diffuses noise better than timber floors, especially when coupled with acoustic underlay.

With the right soundproofing, you can ensure the whole house doesn’t feel the vibrations of the movie’s explosive finale. And you can do it without compromising on your desired style.

Don’t hold back on technology

Once you have the design of your home theatre figured out, it’s time to kit it out with the latest gizmos and gadgets. Remember, at the end of the day, there’s no point investing in the best soundproofing money can buy if you have sub-standard visual and sound technology. Lose yourself in the world of HDTV, 3-D TV or, if you’re really splashing out, the brilliance of the new OLED TVs! The best thing is, while the quality of home cinema technology has risen, it has also become much more user-friendly. Rather than multiple complicated remotes, one sleek remote is all you need to control your home cinema. At Dowling Homes, we recommend you stay updated with the latest technology by reading reviews by those in the know, such as Gadget Guy.


Dim the lights

One oft-forgotten detail when it comes to home theatre design is lighting. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t watch a movie in complete darkness. Next time you go to the movies, take a look around. You’ll notice that while the overhead lighting is dimmed to a soft glow, there are also dimmed accent lights along the walls and on the end seats. There’s a reason for this – your eyes need a little bit of light so they can more easily adjust to the bright lights of the screen. Otherwise your pupils will be trying to adjust between complete darkness and glaring lights, which can be extremely disorientating.

A good lighting design will integrate various layers of light for ambience and easy viewing. Soft, recessed over-head lighting with dimming capability will allow you to maintain focus on the big screen, while keeping an eye on your popcorn and having enough light to see if you need to make a speedy exit. Combine this with wall lights and step lights to create an ambient glow. Check out Beacon Lighting’s home theatre range for inspiration.


Automate everything

The ultimate home theatre will be fully automated so you can control the whole system without moving from your seat. Consider a ceiling mounted projector concealed inside a ceiling hatch which descends only when required. Marry this with a screen which appears as if by magic from a thin slot in the ceiling. Lights and blinds (if you have windows) can be controlled from the same remote to create a soft glow. The result is a home theatre which balances a true-to-life cinema experience with your desired aesthetics.

Get comfy

Some would argue that one of the most important elements of a home theatre is the seating. It’s also where individual style really comes into play. Leather lounges, cinema-style modular seating, motorized recliners, curvy sofas; the possibilities are endless. If you want to deliberately avoid cinema seating in favour of a cosy homely space, an oversized sofa heaped with blankets and cushions can be both comfortable and stylish. Extend the luxurious feel to the rest of the room using layers of different textures and even a fireplace for added cosiness.

A touch of Star Quality

Don’t be afraid to have fun with the décor and furnishings, after all, it is a truly indulgent space. Are you a movie buff? Be inspired by your favourite movie and theme your home theatre.

Some truly “out there” designs we’ve seen include Star Wars, Star Trek, Lord of the Rings, and Holy Toledo – even the Bat Cave!


Smart budget tips

  • You don’t need a budget-breaking screen and sound system to create a ‘wow’ factor in your home cinema. The trick is to make the screen the main focus of the room.  If you can afford to splurge on one or two items, it should be your speakers and television, which tend to have the longest lifespans. However, a great option is to buy separate components which can easily be upgraded along the line.
  • For soundproofing, you can find inexpensive, lightweight acoustic boards at almost any home improvement store. Carpet underlay is also a budget-friendly option.
  • Colour is a smart and inexpensive way to control reflections of the light off the screen and make the room feel larger. Match a black ceiling with dark navy blue wall covering and an off-white floor carpet for a sophisticated look that provides optimal viewing.

You don’t need specially designed theatre seats to create a luxurious cinema feel. Look for reclining chairs and couches on sale, and add plenty of comfy cushions. If you have the space, you can create a second elevated row by building a wooden platform. Cover this with carpet and hey presto, you have a cinema!


Once you have the basics, get creative and seek out inexpensive additions to give the home theatre the biggest bang for your buck.

For more inspiration and advice on renovating your home to create the perfect home theatre experience, contact Dowling Homes  by email or give us a call on 0409 829 871.  Visit our website and check out our blog for more great information and inspiration for your home.