Whether you live in a small space by choice or by default, you might be wondering how to incorporate a small home theater into your favorite or previously unused room.
Fortunately, there are many ways to make a home theater work regardless of your home’s square footage.
Small home theater room ideas include using a themed room, hidden surround sound, custom cabinets for extra storage, media display, raised or leveled seating, a functional snack/drink bar for additional seating, transformed unfinished spaces, portable/rotating shelving, and sconce lighting.
Also read: 14 Best Home Theater Room Layout Ideas
Although these ideas might not all work in your small home theater, you can make one or a few of them work to update your space.
By transforming your room into a home theater of your dreams, you are sure to enjoy the space and feel confident inviting over numerous guests to your smaller home. After all, creativity can top size when it comes to using small spaces well.
Themed Home Theater Rooms
If you are looking to truly transform your space, then using a themed room can be the way to go. You can tie in the decor, choose your seating, clear a pathway for your projection and audio equipment, and more by choosing a theme to start with.
Even if you do not choose a complex theme but prefer a color scheme or tying in more of a modern, traditional, or “farmhouse” design realm, you will still have a sense of direction that would otherwise be lacking.
Plus, by choosing a theme, you can begin to create the Pinterest board of your dreams that can transform your enthusiasm into a project that is well on its way.
A few different theme options that you could choose from include:
- Sports Home Theater Room. If you and your roommates/family enjoy a favorite sports team, consider displaying jerseys and team memorabilia throughout your home theater room. Then, on a big game day, you will already be in the mood to celebrate your team’s upcoming victory.
- Kids Home Theater Room. If you are using the home theater as a kids’ space as well, then you can incorporate kid-friendly decor items that are also functional. Rather than creating a big “no” space where children can wreak havoc on your equipment, work with your children’s curiosity by creating a “yes” or safe space that they can explore while you and your spouse enjoy a new movie.
- Drama Home Theater Room. If you are into drama, then you can choose to add dramatic effects to your small home theater room. Incorporate colors, fabrics, and furniture that remind you of a night out at the theatre. Then, you are sure to feel full of class when you bring people to your dramatic small home theater space.
- Favorite Actors/Actresses/Films Home Theater Room. Another way to tie in drama and film is to use your favorite actors, actresses, or films to help design your favorite space. If you are a fan of the Star Wars series, perhaps you can even incorporate a galaxy sky to make your home theater viewing parties truly stellar.
Of course, these are not the only ones that you can use, but they can prompt your creativity to go in its own direction. With any theme, consider the way that you will enhance the audio and video by tying them into your decor as the media component should be primary in a small home theater room.
Hidden Surround Sound
When you are working with a small space, you want to take advantage of every nook and cranny that is available to work with. Sometimes, this means that you simply need to create more nooks and crannies.
By incorporating a hidden surround sound system, you will maximize the space in your small home theater as well as create a sleek and clean design effect that is easy on the eyes.
Instead of proudly displaying your audio equipment, you can hide it in the ceilings or the walls to provide more space for displaying other decor or adding in more seating options.
To use hidden surround sound, you might need to do a bit of construction work, or you can choose to use what is readily available to you. This will depend on your space.
But, if you have the capacity to hide your audio equipment in preexisting structures while still ensuring that the audio will sound as it should in your home theater, then all the better.
Custom Cabinets for Extra Storage
Another way to make the most of your smaller home theater space is to incorporate custom cabinets.
Now, these might not be the least expensive option, but their payout will far surpass using less expensive but low-quality storage solutions. They are sure to last, and they can make quite a dramatic statement for your small home theater room.
You can choose to have custom cabinets installed, or you can build them yourself, just be sure to keep their functionality as a top priority.
While it might sound nice to have wide open shelves, you might also want to consider a few hidden storage options to place your media and “extra” stuff in.
This will help to maximize the appearance of your smaller space as well because you will have a place to place your belongings that would otherwise clutter up a small space.
And, most people who have smaller rooms know that the quickest way to make your home feel small is to have junk at every step. So, enlarge the space with storage solutions.
Along with the functional storage that custom cabinets can provide for you in your small home theater, they can also be used to make a designated space for your projection screen or larger TV.
So, while you can proudly display your media, it will appear to be more incorporated into the overall design of the room.
Of course, you will need to consider the size of the cabinets in your smaller space, but you might find that adding in furniture and functional pieces actually creates the feeling of more space.
This ties back into everything having a place that it belongs to, so you can consider the functionality, organization, and beauty that custom cabinets will add to your small home theater.
If you are creating a home theater in your smaller space, then you likely find that a home theater is a priority in your home. Otherwise, why would you be using the smaller space for this purpose, right?
So, if creating a small home theater in your home is a priority for you, why not go all in and proudly display the media collection that you have been building for years.
While this might seem counterintuitive to the custom cabinets or functional storage option listed above, it can actually go hand-in-hand.
Rather than choosing to incorporate new art pieces or other forms of decor, you can use what you already have (your media) and display it for your friends and family to enjoy.
There are several neat and creative media displays (Amazon link) available, or you could choose to build your own with a few different components. This will depend on the style and vibe that you hope to achieve with your small home theater.
One of the most popular media displays that’s as functional as it is appealing to look at is a wall hanging display for your DVD collection.
Whether you want to display your archived video collection or place your prominent Blu Rays out, the choice is up to you with this type of media display for a functional storage and decor solution in your small home theater.
Raised or Leveled Seating
Making the most of your small home theater will require you to get creative with your seating solutions. To be able to be comfortably seated with your friends and family is an incredibly important component for enjoying your small home theater.
Otherwise, you will not receive as great satisfaction in using it, and you will likely not feel as inclined to use the space.
Considering you will have put work and time into making this space feel functional and inviting, it is important to top it off with appropriate and comfortable seating.
There are many different options when it comes to seating in your home theater, but incorporating raised or leveled seating can help you to make the most of your small space.
Check out my article on home theater risers if this is an option you’re exploring.
Whether you construct a miniature stadium seating styled pallet bed for your home theater, or you choose to place some hanging chairs in junction with floor mats, you are sure to maximize the square footage of your small home theater by incorporating more than one type of seating level.
If you do not have the capacity to incorporate raised or leveled seating in your small home theater, then consider choosing functional furniture rather than some of the more luxurious pieces that only provide minimal seating options.
You could even choose to have a really nice and luxurious reclining piece, for example, while making the rest of your seating options more standard.
Then, of course, you will have to choose who gets the best seat in the house, but at least you will be able to comfortably seat all of your guests or family members.
Functional Bar for Seating and Snacking/Drinking
Whether you enjoy sweet or savory snacks, you likely have a top pick for what to bring with you or purchase on your family movie night.
By incorporating a functional bar into your small home theater, you can add in a place to add a few barstools to provide more seating space, and you can also benefit from the organized space for eating and drinking.
Instead of having to worry about the snacks being prominently displayed in the crevices of your couch cushions, you can instead rest in the satisfaction that all of the snacks are being enjoyed at the attached bar.
Or, if you do not mind cleaning up the crumbs at a later date while you permit your family and friends to consume their snacks while viewing the movie (that is the point of movie theater popcorn, right?), then you can use the bar as a great place to put out snacks for the taking.
You can even get really creative by finding or making a functional bar that has display storage options on the sides. This will provide yet another location to place your media components or any pieces that you do not have another place for in your small home theater.
Transform an Unfinished Space
There is a reason that many scary movies feature the dark, dingy, unfinished basements that are accompanied with cobwebs and other haunting guests.
These spaces can feel creepy and evoke our most frightful thoughts. However, it does not always have to be this way if you have an unfinished basement or other space.
Instead, you can choose to embrace the “unfinished” aspect and finish the space with a home theater option.
One way to do this is to embrace the dark side- that is, paint your walls black, use dark decor, and add lighting that will be more useful for finding your seat than it will be for engaging in conversation with your neighbor.
After all, when you are watching your favorite movie, you want to be able to focus on what is being displayed on the screen as well as the stunning audio that is booming from your home’s surround sound speaker system.
With a dark theme, you can embrace modern decor as well as make the most of your unfinished space without having to spend a ton of money on updating the space.
Instead, you can choose to invest your finances elsewhere- like on upgrading your home theater equipment or choosing to splurge on a luxury seating option.
Even if you do not choose to use a dark theme, you can still transform your unfinished space into a beautiful home theater with the right amount of creativity, love, and investment.
Then, not only will you appreciate the small home theater, but you will not have to re-work other design or functional components in your home to create a new space to view your favorite films.
There is nothing quite like the ability to transform a room into a small home theater with a few touches of a button or by quickly moving about a few pieces of furniture.
Your small space can go from a place that you eat breakfast in bed to the location where all of your media streaming desires can come true.
By using portable or rotating shelving, you can quickly transform your small space into a home theater, and then you can quickly revert it back when you are finished using the space for this purpose.
This will allow you to make the most of your small space without always having to prominently display your media collection.
For people who live in smaller studio apartments or other small living spaces, this option is particularly inviting. You can use a moving wall or a fold-down bed for transitional options in small spaces.
Thus, your room will become multi-purposed without the chaos that can ensue when you attempt to create a space that does not belong.
You can also use rotational or moving cabinets to hide your large TV if you want the space to feel like more of a place for conversation when the TV is not in use.
This, again, allows you to quickly transform a standard room into a small home theater in a matter of minutes without having to do as much work once it is all set up.
Though we have mentioned the importance of darkness in your small home theater, we have not yet emphasized the importance of lighting. Read my guide on home theater lighting.
Natural light just is not the same when it comes to home theater lighting. Though it can make a space feel larger, natural lighting also causes various reflections on your media screen. This can cause faulty viewing and displays which detract from your home theater.
Instead of relying on natural lighting for your small home theater, consider blocking it out with thick curtains (or other means) and adding in sconce lighting instead.
There are all different types of sconce lighting options- from modern to traditional to super high-tech. The look can be determined based on the theme that you are carrying out throughout the space.
The amount of lighting, on the other hand, can be narrowed down. You want to add just enough lighting to make the space feel like a dedicated home theater space without too much lighting causing issues viewing the screen.
So, review your options and choose the one that is right for you and your small home theater.
Jason is a home theater expert with over 10 years of experience in setting up home cinema rooms and systems. What started out as a hobby soon transformed him into an authority in the audio-visual field. He is passionate about providing readers with accurate and up-to-date information on the latest audiovisual technologies and their applications for home theaters. Read more about Jason.