You’ve got the screen picked out. You’ve selected the audio equipment. You found the perfect reclining seats, USB charging ports and cup holders included. But what about the lighting?
Without the proper lighting, your home cinema is just a room with a big screen. Before you convert that spare bedroom into your own private Alamo Drafthouse, consider how you’re going to light the space because it’s a crucial part of the theater experience.
Theaters are never pitch dark. That’s by design. Watching a movie in a dark room can cause eyestrain or headaches. You can even feel motion sickness as the light flickers with the action on the screen. A theater needs low ambient light around the space to counteract these effects.
Adequate lighting is also a matter of function and safety. Lights on a dimmer will help you get settled in before showtime and they’ll help your adjust when the movie is over. Strip lighting on stairs and risers can help guests navigate safely through the room.
Your home cinema should include several layers of lighting.
Task lighting: Nothing fancy here. Rows of basic 60-watt bulbs recessed into the ceiling spaced several feet apart will do the job. Turn these lights when you’re cleaning the room or trying to hunt down that misplaced remote.
Safety lighting: If your home theater has risers, consider decorative step lights — such as strip-type LEDs — to prevent guests from stumbling on their way to the popcorn maker. To prevent these lights from shining onto the screen, have them installed under a lip on the riser to direct the light downward.
Accent lights: Accent lights are the stars of the show, aside from the movie. Creative lighting can highlight the space’s architectural features. Indirect lighting can be incorporated into the ledges or recesses in a ceiling, giving it a soft glow, or behind the valence framing the screen. Likewise, sconces — shining up or down — can showcase your theater’s decor, i.e. framed original posters or movie reels.
LED lighting provides many creative options to enhance the space and they can be automated, helping you set the scene. Smart, controlled dimmers allow you to adjust the lights from your smartphone and even customize your lighting for special occasions. For example, you can create a program specifically for video games, using certain lighting zones to help you see your gaming controls.
Talk with your electrician about putting your cinema lighting on a dedicated breaker to prevent lighting fixtures from interfering with the audio. An electrician can also determine if your electrical panel will supply enough power to your audio and video gear. It might be necessary to upgrade the panel or add a circuit.
At Universal Home Experts, we’re experts in creative residential lighting, helping bring your vision to reality. And we’re experienced electricians who can ensure your home cinema is properly wired. To schedule your appointment, call (713) 364-0226.