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If you started reading our Spring Remodel Series with part one’s Living Room, you’ll know that on the Plug-in blog we’re working on helping you spruce up the rooms in your home without needing a demolition crew and a massive loan. Today I’m tackling the home theatre.

Easy Do-It-Yourself Home Theatre

I recently created a home theatre in my house by remodeling an unused basement room that held storage. (Scroll to the bottom to see before and after photos of my basement home theatre.) It took a few weekends, but my husband and I were able to do it all ourselves: first we cleared everything out of the room, including pulling up the hideous 1950’s carpet that was down there. Then, we took out part of the drywall, and ran speaker wires all around the room. After patching up the drywall, it was time to paint, and we went with a deep matte black so the focus would be on the TV, not the walls.  Matching black carpet (a remnant we found at a discount carpet shop) went in along with some wallpaper on the rear wall for a bit of interest. Then it was the fun part: shopping for new toys. We had no TV, no audio equipment, nothing really, to put in the room, so saving money on the do-it-ourselves room remodel meant we could use the budget for the electronics.

Key Equipment

If you’re also starting out fresh, you’ll want a few key pieces in your home theatre. You’ll need a TV, some sound (sound bar or speakers), a receiver, and then any other bells or whistles you’d like to add.

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The receiver, like the Insignia Blutooth Stereo Receiver is designed to be the nerve centre of the home theatre. It’s what allows you to run your other equipment with ease. The receiver decodes surround sound formats, drives loudspeakers, and switches among audio or video components.

Next, you’ll need to pick speakers. It’s good to get the best quality speakers your budget will allow, and the Klipsch Tower Speaker is a good pick. It delivers clear and detailed highs and lows, and the durable black MDF cabinet makes this speaker both sleek and nearly invisible in a black room.

If you want to add some fun components to your new home theatre system, a subwoofer is a favourite choice.  Subwoofers are a specialized speaker that add lower frequency audio, giving you more deep and resonant bass than you can get from most primary speakers. The Polk Audio 12″ Powered Subwoofer does the job by adding the punch of strong bass to TV, movies, and even games so you can truly feel the action.  

If you have less of a budget, but still want an audio upgrade, a sound bar can fill the room out nicely for you. A Sony Sound Bar, like the one I picked up recently, gives you excellent sound quality, with easy one-wire connection, and it’s a great value too.

The Star of the Show

samsung curved tv.jpgNow’s a great time to be shopping for a new TV. There’s so much choice and great value today, meaning you can get a much bigger flatscreen for less money than you could even a few years ago. Whether you’re eyeing a curved screen TV such as this Samsung set, a smart TV, or you just want the absolute biggest screen money can buy, you’ve got choice to the max.

One thing to consider: mount the TV on the wall.  It’s cleaner, tidier, and often gives you a much better viewing angle. Use BestBuy.ca’s Mount Finder to help pick the right option for your set.

Next, pick your size, by considering where you’ll hang the TV, and measuring how much wall space you have to work with.  You’ll want to factor in the location of windows when you select which wall to hang the TV on, since a bright sunny glare off the screen can ruin a home theatre experience. If your options are limited, invest in some heavy black-backed curtains to cut the light into your newly upgraded home theatre room, or like me, when you’re selecting a room to turn into a home theatre, pick one without any windows at all!

Picking a ‘Good’ TV

Selecting a TV can be intimidating because there’s so much choice out there. Everyone says they want a “good” TV, but how do you pick one out? I recommend asking yourself a few simple questions to help narrow the search:

  1. How much do I have to spend? That will give you a starting point.
  2. Are there any must-have features I want? Do you want the ability to connect to social media via the TV?  Do you want built-in Netflix so you don’t need an external streaming device?A VIZIO TV may be the best pick for you.
  3. Pick quality. Look for a TV with good contrast ratio, strong rich colour, and excellent picture quality such as HD or 4K.  For more detailed info about choosing these features, check out this article series we’ve been doing on Plug-in about TV features.
  4. Ask around & look around. Ask people what they recommend, and go into a Best Buy store to get some recommendations from a pro. Being in the store lets you see the picture quality, especially as it compares to other similar sets. You’d be surprised at how being right in front of fifteen TVs can really help you narrow your picks down.
  5. Do the research. Once you’ve narrowed your choices based on budget, size, features and the one you saw that look the best, read online reviews and articles about your picks. Any problems will likely be flagged and conversely you’ll see if some sets get nothing but rave reviews.

Take Your Seats …

Now that your equipment is selected, you can finish off your room with some comfy furniture. In my media room, we selected a comfy sofa with a chaise for stretching out.  That was before Octane Theatre Seating came to Canada.  octane seats.jpgAdding reclining leather theatre seating to your room is a great way to ensure you’ll be comfortable through those long epic flicks.  The 2-seater Octane Regal XL650 Home Theatre Seating with Power Recline is a good option for smaller areas, but Octane has a vast selection of different seating configurations, so it’s a great line to look at when you’re picking seating options.  

If you want a comfy but still budget-friendly solution that also provides seating for guests, I love bean bag chairs.  We picked out two for our theatre, and they’re a coveted spot when the game is on. Similarly, you can grab these Comfy-ture Hampton Bean Bag Chairs as extra seating, or a place for kids to curl up. 

Reworking what you’ve got

If you’ve got all the gear and furniture you need, but just want to move it all to a dedicated space, then lucky you! Probably all you’ll need to do is give all your components a good cleaning, using a soft cloth and a proper electronics cleaner. Now’s also a good opportunity to replace any worn, bent, or cracked cables, or to upgrade your cables if they need it.  

While you’re moving things around, think about wall mounting your TV if it wasn’t before, as well as hanging your speakers on the walls to free up floor space. Similarly, consider where you’re running all those new cables. You want them to run straight if possible, and not be squashed under the TV or other components. Pressure on the cables over time breaks them down and affects quality, so use cable clips or hooks to keep them running neatly and out of the way.
A fresh coat of paint on the room may be the only other thing you need to kick it up a notch and give it a whole new look and feel.
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My home theatre remodel (before & after shown above) was a success, and not too much work. Now, we’ve got a dedicated space where we’ll watch our favourite TV shows, movies, sports, or big TV events. Going downstairs into a dedicated room, with its dark walls, comfy seating and massive screen elevates an ordinary TV watching experience from couch potato to cinema sultan. It’s an experience you can have too!