Lighting tips for home movie rooms

May 1, 2011 at 10:00 a.m. ET

Home theaters are great, but they’re nothing without the right lighting. Lighting that’s too low or too bright will lessen your overall experience. Read these tips to find out how to get the lights in your movie room just right.

Media room with blackout curtains

Looking to design a home movie room? Lucky you! These rooms are a great way to promote family time, and will make your home the number one hangout destination if you have older kids. A home movie room will also add value to your home if you decide to sell.

Recipes for movie night munchies >>

Picking out your chairs and your screen may be the fun steps, but don't forget about the lighting. The right lighting is an important part of making your movie room a success. If the lights are too low, you'll strain your eyes to see and end up with a headache before the credits roll. If the lights are too bright or positioned incorrectly, you'll get an annoying glare on your screen or you might not be able to see it at all.


Keep outside light outside

Movie rooms are often located in basements or attics, and not just because it's where people usually have extra space. Those are the places in the home where you get the least amount of natural lighting. If you opt to place your movie room on a main floor or in a room with sizeable windows, cover them up. Use black-out curtains, shades or tight fitting blinds to keep the sun out when a movie's rolling.

2Choose colors carefully

When choosing colors for the rest of your home, you usually look for the colors that'll do the most to brighten up the room. Think exactly the opposite of that when you're designing your home movie room. Light colors reflect light and make the whole room bright and airy. Dark colors eliminate light reflection, keeping the room shadowy and cave-like. While this effect isn't a popular choice for the rest of your home, it's exactly what you want in a home theater. Choose colors like black, deep purple, burgundy or dark blue.

Painting tips for your home >>

3Overhead lights

Your overhead lights should be strong enough to flood the room with light when you're not watching a movie. This comes in handy before and after the movie, when you're cleaning or if your movie room has multiple purposes. Consider recessed lighting, also called canned lights. These lights are installed above the ceiling and shoot light straight down to the floor, meaning stray beams of light won't go where you don't want them. You can also try track lighting. These lights come in cans as well, but are set on tracks instead of flush with the ceiling. You can move and position the lights any way you want them over and over, so your lighting fits any task. Both track and recessed lighting usually have dim functions -- a must-have for any movie-watching space.

Accent lighting >>

4Extra touches

If you're looking for an extra touch to set the mood in your movie room, consider wall sconces. These lights, which usually use a cover to reflect the light back at the wall instead of out into the room, will add accent lighting, but not change the brightness of the room much. These lights will give your room a true movie-theater feel.

More movie room tips

5 Ways to make family movie night fun
Top 10 Family movie night movies
Family movie night: Recreate the larger-than-life movie theater experience right at home!