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Home Theaters vs. Integrated Media Rooms: What’s Best?

Article by Donna Hoffman

Photography by Peter Rymwid Architectural Photography

Originally published in Newtown Lifestyle

Never get between a man and his flat screen. This should have been taught in design school.

Instead, it is a lesson quickly learned staring into the suddenly dreamy face of a doe-eyed man contemplating his new flatscreen and the room that will contain it.

Room size, budget and goal all affect tv choice. But what’s the better room type: Home Theater or Integrated Media Room?

Both have tricked out viewing in common. Beyond this, the differences are notable.

Here’s a pro and con recap:

Home Theaters

Platformed stadium seating. Deep reclining movie-theater-quality seats. A pierced seemingly star encrusted black ceiling. A popcorn machine on a snack bar, thick curtains flanking the giant screen, wall sconces, and obligatory framed movie posters.

This is the in-home, private, movie theater. Homeowners and guests enjoy the most tricked out, “specialty space” experience.  

That’s the upside. The downside includes:

*Stadium seat prices start at $1,000 each and quickly go into the $3,500+ arena. That adds up in a theater for 8.

*Stadium seats do not offer user flexibility: there will be no napping, snuggling, charcuterie tray sharing, heavy petting or talking.

*The larger the screen….ca-ching. Ditto on pierced ceilings, up lit tray ceilings, tricked out lighting packages, upholstered soundproof walls and lots of custom stained millwork.

These rooms will cost you.

Integrated Media Rooms:

Picture deep cushy sofas; sectionals, twin sectionals, family “bed” sectionals, and possibly a few swivel chairs all focused on a great big flat screen. More like a family room with tricked out media integrated into its design; the Integrated Media Room need not disappoint on media.

For the design aesthetic, some opt to sexy-it-up giving it a lounge or "clubby" vibe. Others want it to feel like a cozy 2nd family room.

In the Integrated Media Room, you trade the movie-theater experience for a more flexible space where parties take place, cocktails and appetizers are shared on a coffee table or nearby bar. One person can sit upright on a deep sofa with legs curled under them while another movie watcher reclines in a side-sleep position, head on a pillow.

Which space is better? The answer rests in your answer to the questions of budget and how you want the space to feel and function.

Answer these and the best choice will be clear.

About Donna Hoffman: A multi-award-winning Bucks County based designer, Donna heads her design company specializing in new construction, renovation, whole home and full room design to deliver  livable luxury to discerning clients.  Seen in Forbes, Real Simple,  TV and radio, Donna is one of the nation's design thought leaders and also founded TheInteriorDesignAdvocate.com, which provides on-line courses for
Interiors by Donna Hoffman

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