How to set up a movie room on a budget

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

You don’t have to have thousands of dollars to spend on a home movie room in order to create an inviting space for your family to watch movies together. Use these quick tips to help you prioritize your budget and develop the best home theater for your family’s purposes.

Woman painting living room

1Use what you have

As tempting as it may be to run out and buy the latest, greatest home theater furniture and supplies, chances are you can make do with what you already have. There are really only a few things you need to set up a movie room: a designated space, comfortable seating, a large TV and a DVD player or another movie-playing device. If you already have these things available to you, setting up a home movie room will be a cinch, but, if you're not excited about the things you have on hand, try revamping them with these quick fixes:

  • Purchase slip covers for your seating to make it look like new
  • Add pillows and throws in bright colors
  • Paint your theater space -- use a darker color to help black out the room during a screening
  • Purchase new, dark window coverings to help block out ambient light
  • Rearrange the room so all the seating faces the TV
  • Paint wood furniture black or white to give it a new, fresh look

2Invest your money wisely

No matter what your budget, you'll want to invest it wisely. Set aside approximately 50 percent of your entire budget to invest in a single item. Then, decide what you want people to remember when viewing a movie at your house. If you want them to remember the ambiance, you might want to invest your money in a new recliner or a vintage popcorn machine. On the other hand, if you want them to remember the quality of the viewing experience, you may want to invest in a new TV or a Blu-ray player. Whatever you choose to invest in, you'll feel good knowing you didn't have to cut corners on every purchase.


The little touches you add to your space can go a long way towards making your movie room feel like a movie room. Things like wall sconces and vintage movie posters don't cost all that much, but they add a lot of panache. You can also look for specialty theater signs and movie reels to spice up your space.

4Be a thrifty shopper

When looking for furniture and theater equipment, don't be afraid to look at thrift stores and outlets. Most thrift stores have a wide selection of pillows, coffee tables and side tables for a nominal cost. If the idea makes you cringe a little, just imagine the items with a new fabric cover or a quick coat of paint. In most cases, they'll look as good as new.

More tips for family media rooms

Best furniture for your movie room
How to decorate your movie room
Best TVs for your family media room