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Designing Home Theaters vs Designing Media Rooms

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By David Galea.

For everyone building a new home or trying to upgrade your current home with a new room designed for entertainment, take a few minutes, and read this!
For entertainment there is more to simply building a room and hanging a TV or a screen and projector, there is a myriad of design choices and questions you need to answer before you can even start putting up walls let alone after!

ust brucwYou heard me, before even putting up walls… if possible! With that said, this next point can’t be said enough… Bring an Integrator in as SOON as possible.
Working with an integrator, also known as smart home installer, early will save you more time than you can imagine, it can even save you lots of money. Bringing an integrator in early can stop you from redoing a finished room, they can stop you from tearing down walls or covering up windows permanently, saving you loads of money in the long run. Allow the integrator to work with your builder and tell them your wants and needs beforehand so they can design the room specifically for you by integrating the right smart home systems.

BTA Projects 3An integrator would ask you preliminary questions such as:
• What do you want the room to become? Endgame, what is it going to do? A closed door dark room or will there be people hanging out in it during the day for sporting events?
• What do you want it to do? HiFi music, video games, movies, etc.?
• How big is the room? Are there windows? Is it a fresh build or retrofit?
• Have you ever designed a room like this before? Have you worked with an integrator before?
• How familiar with technology are you and how involved do you want the house or room to be?

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Each and every person is different and each will have different answers, some integrators might ask more or less questions depending on your experience as well as theirs. It will also depend on how late they’ve been called in to a job.
Now, first things first – vision. Is that room going to become one without windows, one with a huge screen, projector, acoustically treated walls, maybe even some custom furniture and tiered seating? Sounds like a Dedicated Theater is what you want, a “close the door” room with all the bells and whistles.

BTA Home Theater Oscars

Bringing in an integrator on a fresh build would be best, let them get the acoustical treatments into the wall as it’s being built, as well as any other special needs that go along with a dedicated theater. They might have to expand the room or maybe raise the floor, seating that needs to be powered, speakers built into and hidden in the wall.

Boca Raton FL project S Boca Theater and Automation 6Depending on the company you use, you can even acquire special acoustic wall paneling that is custom made to look like whatever you want – stars and space ceilings are some of our favorite!

aBTA Vault the Home TheaterThis type of room usually has a projector and screen, zero natural lighting, sound proofing treatments, a heavy door, precise equipment, surround sound, four walls, etc.. A dedicated theater is best described as a fully involved experience. With multiple different screen ratios and aspects, every dedicated theater can provide a different immersive experience.

Boca Theater 100Next, the integrator will want to know the specs of the room, how big is it, height, are there windows in the room, these are all huge questions that play a role into the room type and design. If a room has one window or two then covering them up wouldn’t be a big deal but imagine four or five.

maurice 4Each screen would require a different throw, projector, equations to figure out the distance between projector and screen. It all comes back to bringing in your integrator early. These rooms are great for “involved” watching but for a casual watch, a TV is easier.

Multipurpose room Kscape IntegrationNow, if you want a room that’s open and allows your friends and family to relax in during the day as well as watch TV, a Media Room is definitely what you want. With technology these days you can even purchase a light absorbing screen and equip this room with a projector instead of a TV, although these rooms usually feature a TV. Able to hold multiple couches and seats, the bright room, big screen, and location in your home make this room perfect for your needs.

110 inch rear projectionThe next question, what will your room be doing? If it’s going to be used by just you, maybe a few friends and family; for things like personal entertainment, video gaming, private listening, you’ll want a more secluded room, again the opposite of a Media Room. You’ll want four walls that can hold in all that high quality audio and video.
Most of the time an integrator will come onto a job site and be handed a room design and be told, “this is the room we want to be made into a theater.” Again, it’s possible but it makes things much harder and possibly much more expensive.

Another gorgeous Media Room vignette! It features a comfortable L-shaped Stressless Emily Model couch, a 120-inch ALR (ambient light rejecting) screen, and a powerful Samsung UST (Ultra-Short Throw) projector placed in a sleek custom-crafted floating media cabinet. All illuminated by custom Ketra-Lutron lighting.

If integrators are brought into the job early and can help design the room these sorts of things can be avoided, but in a retrofit we would have to find an appropriate room for a dedicated theater before building one. If the room isn’t ideal for a dedicated theater, making it so could cost quite a lot. Media rooms are much easier to place without needing total darkness or a closed off space to perform optimally.

IMG 4189Working with an integrator is not as scary as it sounds, they’re people too, and their job is to literally make your life easier. All the custom smart home technology that you want installed will be. Then your integrator can program them all to be controlled from simple, easy to learn programs that can be downloaded on your phone, iPad, or a number of controllers from top smart brands like Control4 or Crestron.

All systems at a touchWhen you tell a builder what you want your home to look like or your designer how you want your home’s inside to look, you’re doing the same thing you would with an integrator. “I want a space that is open to the light and has a big enough screen for everyone to see and sound loud enough to be heard from ‘over there’ ”, it’s your integrator’s job to tell you “sounds like you want a Media Room, let me explain to you what that means”.

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Or vice versa, you tell us you want this room to be a Dedicated Theater, we would need to examine the room and see if it’s possible, if it’s possible to blackout the room, isolate and soundproof it, can it hold tiered seats? The biggest difference in the rooms is that the dedicated theater rooms are used strictly for movies or entertainment in small groups, a media room can be used for multiple things and a larger group, even with the TV off.

UST Ketra Stressless low resWant to build or convert a room of your own? Contact Boca Tech and Automation today so we can help you get started! We love designing dedicated theaters and turning old sitting rooms into new age media rooms without sacrificing form or function by using top-quality smart home systems. Call or email us at (561) 999-9024 –, we promise it’ll be one of the easiest experiences you have!

Family Room

By David Galea – David, as a part of our Marketing and Customer Experience Departments, is always searching for and writing about innovative solutions that fit into our company’s and our clients’ needs.

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