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New Trends in Home Theaters

In this article, we'll review the basics for creating a home entertainment space, as well as touch on some fun new extras you may not have considered. We'll also give you a few pointers for finding the very best professionals to help you with your project.

One of the hottest trends these days in home improvement is creating a home which offers fun and enjoyment for its inhabitants. Since the economy has us all a bit nervous, homeowners are seeking out every possible way to maximize their time at home, instead of spending money on costly outings.

Entertainment is one of the most expensive luxuries around. Even a weekly movie date with the family can add up quickly. Due to these costs, many homeowners are looking into creating a home theater.

While the basic concept remains the same, there is a broad range of home theaters to choose from when remodeling. Depending on your tastes budget, you can create a cozy corner in your basement, or go all-out and create a full-scale home cinema experience! The choice is yours.

The Basics A Suitable Space

When most people envision a home theater, they automatically picture it in the basement. A basement entertainment center is wonderful, but it does pose some difficulties for many homeowners. In many houses, the basement is dank, dark and musty...not the coziest setting to curl up and watch a movie. However, with some simple steps, you can ensure that your new entertainment center will actually be used and enjoyed by all members of your household.

Waterproofing should be done when a home is built. However, if your home is older or if you have noticed mustiness or leaks, it's time to look into this crucial foundation project. Waterproofing has two components, exterior and interior. Exterior waterproofing is more involved, but must be done in order to obtain a properly sealed, safe and comfortable basement. In addition to being uncomfortable, a damp basement is a potential sign of foundation water damage, which puts your entire home in danger of extremely costly structural damage. Consult a pro when it comes to exterior waterproofing. In many cases, the foundation must be dug out, power-washed and then sealed with a flexible, painted coating. If visible cracks are present, these must be sealed as well. This is a big job, but remember that your home's foundation literally holds the house up! It's worth protecting. Interior waterproofing is much easier, is usually done as a DIY project and may be as simple as applying specialized water-resistant paint.

Once your basement is dry and comfortable, consider installing a climate-control system. This can be as simple as a dehumidifier in an unused corner, or you may choose to integrate climate-control into your entire home via the existing heating and cooling systems. However you choose to control moisture, it's a very worthwhile step in keeping your new entertainment center comfortable and enjoyable.

Finishing your basement, in most cases, comes after all the fundamental, structural work has been done. Depending on the level of finishing already present in your basement, this might involve laying flooring and putting up wall panels, or it may be purely cosmetic work such as painting, installing window treatments or creating custom boxes to fit over exposed pipes.

Planning Your New Home Theater

Once you have a suitable space (remember that basements aren't the only choice...any unused room in your home will do just fine), it's time to plan your new home theater. Creating a plan will help the entire project to progress more easily, since you won't be making decisions as you go along.

Draw up a basic diagram of how you would like the room to appear. Be sure to take into account existing electrical outlets, plans for future wiring (if you have any), floor space, and space for each electronic component that you will be incorporating into your home theater.

Determine whether you would like a freestanding piece of furniture to hold your television and other electronics, or whether you prefer the sleek look of built-in cabinets. With today's flat-panel televisions, creating a built-in makes more sense than ever, since it lets you combine your televisions narrow, flat silhouette with the rest of the space. A television mounted flush with the wall can look a bit odd above a bulky entertainment center packed with electronics. Follow your tastes, preferences, and budget, and plan accordingly.

Furniture is usually a last consideration, but it deserves a good deal of thought. After all, most of the activity in your new home theater will be centered around the seating arrangement. When you're planning purchases, ensure that your entire household can be seated comfortably. It's also important to obtain the exact measurements of any furniture you're considering and ensure that it will fit into your space with plenty of room to spare. Nothing makes a room seem cramped faster than huge furniture which barely leaves room to walk.

Since most families today enjoy at least one console gaming system, you'll probably want to plan room for active game play. The hottest games today rely on motion-sensing technology and encourage activity. Planning ample space for this will encourage your family to get off the couch and get moving!

Acoustics

One of the most enjoyable aspects of a home theater is the chance to enjoy movies in a cinema-like setting in the comfort of your own home. Some of the hottest design trends in home theaters today involve full surround-sound systems which deliver the same immersive experience as sitting in a real movie theater.

It's important to plan for sound control when creating a home theater. After all, it's no fun to experience theater-quality sound if you know that you're disturbing household members in other areas of the home. Thankfully, soundproofing is a simple project. In many cases, it can be tackled as a DIY project, although some methods require the experience of a professional.

Depending on taste and budget, you have several options when it comes to creating a soundproof theater. Ceiling panels are great for blocking noise coming up from the basement. These panels are inexpensive, and can usually be installed in less than a day. Whether this is a DIY project for you will depend on your existing ceiling.

Adding soundproofing to floors is a bit more involved, but still relatively simple. Sound-deadening panels are installed beneath the existing floorboards. When installing a home theater, ripping up floorboards might be a bit more than you're willing to take on. If this is the case, but you're still concerned about noise, consider combining ceiling panels in the basement with simple area rugs on the main floor. Though they don't have the same soundproofing effects as floor panels or carpeting, it's surprising the amount of noise that a thick, large area rug can effectively block.

Proper sound control is just as important within your new home theater. A big trend right now is theater-quality acoustic wall panels. These panels are available in many different styles and colors, and they provide the same great sound quality you've experienced in movie theaters. Combined with a high-quality sound system, these panels can greatly enhance each movie you watch in your home theater.

DIY or Professionals?

The decision of whether to hire professionals for your home theater project or to tackle the job yourself depends on several different factors. Some jobs, like installing ceiling tiles, require very little prior knowledge. However, larger jobs such as installing floor soundproofing or exterior foundation waterproofing require the knowledge and expertise of a professional.

Your budget is another obvious factor. If you can't carve out the money needed for a necessary part of your project, considering putting it off until you've saved up, rather than tackling something you're not truly prepared for. Ultimately, it will save you money. Many homeowners try to take on a project that's over their heads, only to become bogged down and eventually end up calling a professional to correct their mistakes. Play it safe from the beginning, and only take on what you know you can finish properly. It's better to have a properly executed home theater that takes a bit longer to finish than an improperly remodeled space which will end up costing you more in repairs.

If you determine that you require the services of a professional contractor or handyman, don t' be intimidated by the endless lists of names in the phone book. Today, the task of choosing a professional is simply and easy, thanks to home-improvement websites which connect professionals with consumers like yourself.

These websites allow you to choose from a wide variety of certified local contractors. In most cases you can view things like licenses, insurance coverage, and even read reviews from former clients. Many contractors even post pictures of their work, to give you a greater sense of their skill set.

Once you've used these resources to narrow your list of possible candidates, talk through your entire project. This will help avoid any costly delays once work has begun. Double-check references, licenses and insurance, just to be on the safe side.

Posted by: Diane
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