Lights, Camera, Action -- 4 Tips For Darkening Your New Home Theater

There are a few vital elements to a great home theater room. These include great visual and audio systems, good soundproofing and the ability to control the light in the room. And while many homeowners focus on the technological end of the room's design, light-proofing can be a make-or-break part of the experience. If you can't get rid of ambient light, reflections or discoloration, it can ruin an otherwise great movie. So how can you ensure the right lighting in your own space? Here are 4 tips for any budget.

Paint Color. Your first choice will be what color to paint the walls. While it may seem logical to go with a plain, stark black to get the darkest room possible, this is not necessary. Black may even be too harsh a color and make the room seem cold and uninviting. Unless you want to create an imposing, modern vibe, you can go with softer dark colors such as navy blue, dark brown or red or a deep purple. Accent the dark walls with furnishings and hardware in a fun, warmer style and color. 

Paint Finish. The paint you choose should be a flat or matte finish. This will help prevent the paint from reflecting light from other parts of the room, such as the screen or projector. Light reflected off the walls can even affect the colors on the screen. 

Window Treatments. If there are any windows in the room, there are several ways to block them out and darken the room. Blackout curtains are available and simple to install. These specially-designed window treatments have additional layers on the outside of the curtain to prevent light from coming through. You may need to buy curtains larger than the actual window to help prevent light from coming in from the top and sides. Another alternative is to use a dark foam insert -- use a piece about 3 to 5 inches thick (depending on the window) and cut it to fit snugly inside the window sill. A third method is to hang wall treatments (such as floor-to-ceiling curtains or a tapestry) that cover the entire wall including the windows. This is the method most likely to prevent any light from filtering in. 

Ceiling. Finally, it's time to address the ceiling. If your ceiling is in good condition and you don't need additional soundproofing, you may just be able to paint the ceiling in a similar dark, matte finish paint as the walls. Aesthetically, you may not want to use the exact same shade as the walls and could use a lighter shade to create some visual interest when the lights are on. If, however, you need to add insulation to help soundproof the room, talk to a contractor about dark acoustic tiles that are specially designed to block sound. 

By understanding the darkening needs of your new home theater, you and your general contractor can create the perfect place to sit back, relax and enjoy your favorite movies for years to come.