With the college bowl season about to start, the Super Bowl looming, and deals on electronics to be had, here are a few tips for creating a media room for the new year.
The term “media room” is somewhat generic, but typically, a media room is defined as a space outfitted with surround sound, cozy seating, and containing a large TV. That might sound like many American living rooms, but media rooms tend to be dedicated to visual entertainment, and are closer to a personal movie theater than a living room. Some media rooms truly embrace that and offer a dark room with movie theater-like seating, while others are a little more social in their nature – it’s really just a matter of preference, but either way, it does require a bit of work to create one in your home.
To start with, to create a true media room you will need to have the space. That’s a luxury many of us just don’t have, and you will rarely see a media room in an apartment. But if you do have a decent sized room that you aren’t using for anything, and if the idea of a home theater room or social room centered on a TV appeals to you, we have a few tips on creating a media room.
Know your power requirements
While it might seem easy enough to create a DIY media room, there are a lot of things that you may not immediately realize you’ll need to work through and around – starting with the power requirements.
Media rooms tend to be energy hogs. If you install a big TV or a projector, you’ll need to make sure you have enough outlets and that those outlets have some form of redundancy built in for surges. Power trees can help with this, but if the room’s sole function is to run various forms of electronics, better safe than sorry. Update your outlets.
You should also make sure you know where various electronic items are going to live, at least in terms of power. You can always use heavy duty extension cords – although that isn’t ideal for many reasons, from looks to safety – but you don’t want to have to plug every piece of electronics into a single outlet or a few scattered outlets at the back of the room. It’s best to spread them out, which might mean installing new outlets around the room.
If you have an old house, it’s a good idea to get the wiring checked out regardless, but installing a media room is a great excuse to do it. Having someone double check the breakers to your new media room should be on your to-do list as well.
Start With the Electronics
When you are dreaming up your media room, the first thing you should determine is what kind of room it is going to be, and how you are going to bring it to life. Begin by choosing a TV.
In a media room, the TV is the crown jewel of the room, so pick something that meets your requirements. If you want a flatscreen hanging on the wall, check all the TV retailers and find one that does what you want. The end of the year is probably the best time to look for TVs, given holiday deals and open box returns after Christmas. If you choose to go with a projector, it will provide a more theater-like experience, but it will cost you, and you’ll need to do a fair amount of work to set it up.
In hanging a TV, you will need to make absolutely certain your wall can support it, and you’ll need a VESA mounting kit that is big enough for the size of TV you purchased. If you don’t know exactly what you are doing or where to place the mount, hire a professional – if the TV falls, it will be destroyed, and it will take a chunk of your wall with it.
A projector requires a bit more work, as you will need to mount it on your ceiling. As with mounting a flatscreen you’ll still need to find somewhere secure enough to mount it above you, but if you fail in this, someone could be seriously hurt if it falls on them. You’ll need to be precise too – once the projector is set, moving the image becomes very difficult. You’ll need to determine how to run the wires from the projector to the device or devices it is connected to, as well as the power outlet. Plus, you’ll probably need to install a white screen against the wall for the projector to send the image to (simply painting a wall white may work, but you’ll lose some quality).
Once that is done, you should determine what you want to display. If you want to do some gaming, watch TV, and/or your goal is to view Blu-rays, you’ll need all the hardware and you’ll need to know where it goes and how it all connects. Then once it is all set up, you’ll still need to calibrate everything.
Your best bet is to hire a professional. You can turn to audio/visual experts, but a contractor can handle most of the work for you for less. Most contractors can even subcontract home theater experts so you only need to pay one bill.
Decide on How you Want to Wire the Room
Along with the electrical wiring, a media room requires another type of wiring altogether. Connecting the TV to whatever devices you intend to run means you’ll have plenty of wires in play, from power cords to optical cables to HDMI – and that’s not even counting the speaker wire for the surround sound system.
When it comes to this type of wiring, you have a few options. You can just accept a few dangling wires and call it good, you can cover the wires with something, or you can feed them through the walls. The last option is going to be the best in terms of looks, but it is also the most complicated and makes it tougher to change them out in the future.
It really just depends on your preference, but it will affect the look of the room. And speaking of the look…
Consider hiring a Professional Decorator
While you may need a contractor to help get your media room set up, you may also want to consider a professional decorator to help you make it look the way you want – even if you aren’t completely sure what that is.
Most media rooms are meant to be used by multiple people. Whether you want guests to be quiet and watch movies or you are hosting a party for the Super Bowl, the room is meant to impress, at least to a degree. Don’t just slap a layer of paint on the walls and call it done.
Designing a media room is about the aesthetic as much the output. You want the whole thing to create an experience, and that includes things like lighting, colors, the type of furniture, etc., etc. You may just want to have it look good, or you may want to introduce an entire theme.
By bringing in a professional designer, you can tell them what you want out of the room, and then leave it to them to help you realize the vision in a way you may not have even realized yourself. Some contractors, including Fleschner, work with professional decorators. Turning to one company to do it all will make your life much easier.
Don’t Do It Yourself
Unless you are a professional with years of experience in multiple construction disciplines, you should hire a someone to help you create your dream media room. Ideally, you will need an electrician, a general contractor, a decorator, and a home theater consultant at least.
Fleschner Construction can do all of these things, which will lower your overall costs and make your life easier – especially if you are considering a loan. Contact us now and let us show you what we can do!