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Home Theater vs. Media Room

Updated: Oct 26, 2021

Home Theater vs. Media Room

Once a homeowner has decided to convert a room in the home into an entertainment center, he or she must determine whether the room will be a home theater or a media room. What’s the difference you ask? Do you even care? To many people the two terms mean virtually the same thing, a place to enjoy watching movies, TV shows, or play video games. But there is a difference between the two and which one is right for you all comes down to how you plan to use the space.

modern media room

The Media Room (aka Party Central)

Flexibility is the media room’s greatest distinction from a home theater. It is more of a social gathering place, a place for friends getting together to watch the big game, for kids or adults to play video games, or for relaxing in comfortable seating to watch a movie. The lights may be on and conversation is continued as the entertainment unfolds. When not in use, a media room usually resembles just another normal family space.

Because more than movie watching will be going on, furniture is arranged with a conversation-friendly design in mind. Seating can be shifted when desired to face the screen, but is made up of comfortable recliners, sofas, and love seats.

A large screen TV is a possibility in a media room, but it isn’t always part of the setup. Because today’s home projectors are brighter, absolute darkness isn’t required to view them, and a high-quality projector and screen can replace the TV. There should be a multi-speaker surround sound system, a Blu-Ray player, a device to stream music or video, and an audio/video receiver to control the ease of switching from one device to another.

The Dedicated Home Theater

A true movie buff is interested in one thing; a cinema-like experience while watching a movie without having to leave their home. Movies are generally meant to be enjoyed in a darker, quiet atmosphere, in super comfortable armchair type seating, arranged in rows, facing the screen.

A TV just won’t do, a large-format screen and a high-quality home theater projector are a must. Soundproofing and lighting are extremely important when designing a home theater. The last thing you need while trying to enjoy a theater-like experience is to hear noises from outside the room or have outside light invade the space.

Of course a good sound system is also needed, and depending on your preference and budget, you can “hide” the speakers inside of walls or leave them exposed. The typical home theater has darker colored walls to cut down on reflective surfaces and soft carpeting to help absorb sound.

Home Theater/Media Room Impact on Value

Real estate appraisers have varying opinions as to the overall value added to a home that has a home theater or media room. Some add value based only on the finished space, others may add value due to the equipment included. The best advice is to not count on recouping the money spent to create either of these rooms. Adding a home theater or media room is more about personal enjoyment and not for return on investment. It’s kind of like a home with a swimming pool. Some people give the home more value while others really could care less. If you are going to create either space, do it for you and your family. Don’t expect the next person to be willing to pay more for the experience you have created.

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