Home Theater Seating Buyer’s Guide

Recliners are among the most popular type of seating in many casual home theater or media rooms.

So you’ve invested a ton of money into your new 60 inch HDTV flat screen and state-of-the-art 7.1 home theater sound system, but will you enjoy your new media or home theater room to its fullest potential?

Many people make the mistake of waiting until after they purchase all the home theater room equipment before deciding what type of seating to buy. Worse yet, they may have spent their entire home theater budget on equipment and not have enough left over for comfortable theater seating.

But if you think about it; whenever you’ve gone to a friend’s home to watch a movie or sporting event, was there enough seating for everyone to have a good view, watch in comfort and have a place to set food and beverages while enjoying the show? If not, you probably didn’t find your home theater experience as satisfying as you would have liked, regardless how big the viewing screen, how deep the bass sound coming from the sub woofer or how great the rear speaker sound effects!

Planning for comfortable and stylish seating in your home theater or media room will greatly enhance your home theater experience!

Home Theater Furniture Planning and Layout

The first thing you’ll want to do is decide how many people your media room should seat comfortably, based on how many people live in your home and how often you entertain friends, neighbors and extended family. If you typically only have three or four people watching the TV, then you might go for spacious movie theater loungers or recliners, with built in cup holders and plush leather upholstery. On the other hand, if you regularly entertain a larger group, then it might make more sense to go with sofas or movie theater seats arranged in several rows for an authentic movie theater experience!

Plan your seating for the best viewing angle; you want the center of the screen to be at eye level and not too far to one side or the other. And while not everyone will have the optimal view, take advantage of the prime viewing area by placing your most comfortable seating in these positions so that at least you will enjoy the best view when watching a movie alone or with your partner.

While some people may have a room dedicated entirely as a home theater, in many cases this will be a media room used for general entertainment and as a day-to-day living space. As such, you want to consider the décor, theme and overall design of the room for the multiple activities and uses it is intended to serve.

Casual Home Theater Seating

In a family room or great room that also serves as a media room, casual seating is usually the best choice. Choose sofas, loveseats and/or recliners that can be arranged in an L or U-shape configuration so that everyone can easily view the television.

And while some people will have a better view than others with a casual seating arrangement, you will also have a better layout for conversation and hanging out. This is a perfect arrangement when people are casually watching a sporting event but the TV is not the primary center of attention.

Dedicated leather home theater seats with sleek, modern lines and integrated features such as programmable touch screen remote storage compartments and deep, wide recliners for optimal viewing comfort.

Dedicated Theater Seating

If you are serious about setting your home theater up for maximum viewing enjoyment, then specially designed home theater seating makes more sense. The two types of seating include theater loungers or recliners or traditional movie theater-style seats.

Home Theater Loungers or Recliners

The home theater loungers are actually the best type of seating for a home theater in my own opinion; I would rather be able to recline my seat and kick up my feet after I’m done eating my popcorn. If I want to sit in an upright theater seat I’m going out to the movies. I spend more time playing XBOX 360 or watching sports than viewing movies as if I were a movie director reviewing takes, so comfort is king in my book and I just don’t find movie theater seats that relaxing. But this is a personal matter and you have a lot of choices.

Since many loungers or recliners are now specifically designed for media rooms, you can also find great features such as cup holder in the armrests center consoles with a mini fridge or flip up top that can be turned one way as a flat table for playing card games, etc. while you watch the show or flip it over and the other side has molded plastic wells to hold drinks in place when you’re playing Wii and things are likely to get bounced around a bit!

Another popular trend in home theater seating is the wall-hugger feature; this lets a theater lounger fully recline with out needing more than a couple of inches clearance behind the chair to a wall.

“Hybrid” Home Theater Seating Arrangement

Some people find the home theater lounger types of chairs less attractive than traditional sofas and chairs, but if comfort and convenience are your biggest desire they are tough to beat. The one I have in my gaming and media room is a Lazy-boy sofa with recliners on both ends and an ottoman we can move around and which serves as a foot rest when somebody is sitting in the middle. We also have a Lazy-boy recliner chair placed for prime viewing, so the room comfortably seats four.

We added a plush area rug on the floor that matches the room décor and makes a comfy place to sit on the floor and a couple of bean bag chairs are kept behind the sofa for extra seating when needed. And best of all; when I’m alone and want to take a little afternoon nap, the sofa is long enough to stretch out completely flat and the armrests are soft enough to use as a pillow! For us the reclining sofa and extra reclining chair was the perfect compromise between regular sofas and dedicated move theater seating.

For the complete Cinema experience, dedicated home theater movie seats are the ultimate choice in luxury and comfort!

Movie Theater Seats

For the ultimate Cinema experience, purists insist that movie theater seats are the only way to go! Designed and engineered strictly for the themed, dedicated home theater room, these have evolved to include features such as “bass shakers” or “tactile transducers” so that you can really feel the bass track, snack trays and storage bays to keep stuff handy, motorized recliners and vibrating massage modes for added comfort.

Most theater-style seats come in 2, 3, 4 or 5 person configurations and range in price depending on features and quality of the construction and materials. If you plan to have multiple rows, consider having the floor in your media room raised slightly in the back rows to provide optimal viewing for everyone.

Genuine or simulated faux leather are popular and an almost endless variety of fabric materials are available; if you like the smooth feel of leather it can’t be beat, or go with the woven fabric or micro-fiber material of your choice if you prefer a warm and soft feel. Look for signs of quality construction, including corner blocks screwed or glued together, foam core seats, solid joinery and kiln-dried wood frames.

A few other things to look for when selecting home theater seating include deep, wide seats with adjustable lumbar support, wide, cushioned arm rests and foam padding and steel coil springs.

A classis movie theater theme is the most popular design motif. Here we see a very upscale home theater decor with deep, rich colors, plenty of wall sconces and accent lighting and a diamond pattern design refrain.

Home Theater Decor Themes

To give your home theater or media room a truly unique designer look, choose a theme as you decide on the design, layout and features you want to include.

  • Cinema Theme – A traditional Cinema or movie house theme is always popular. You can purchase framed movie posters, buy a an old-fashioned popcorn maker, add a pinball machine in one corner and put up red velvet movie theater drapes for an authentic movie theater theme.
  • Sports Pub Theme – Another way to go for the sports buff is to add multiple TV screens and a wet bar to give your media room the feel of a sports bar or pub. If this is you then you already know what to do with all your pennants, autographed memorabilia and sports posters!
  • Add a Karaoke Stage – If you really wanted to do something different, you might add a small stage for the kids to put on plays and puppet shows, have karaoke night or other fun stage events. This works very well if you have a projection HDTV unit and motorized screen; you’ll have great fun using motorized curtains to open the show in style.

Home Theater Seating Tips

When designing your home theater or media room, the primary considerations should be how to comfortably seat the number of people you will most often have, the size and shape of the room and your budget. Follow these tips as you plan your home theater space:

  • Don’t wait until after you buy home theater equipment to plan the room layout and furniture; an integral design should consider seating, screen and speaker placement together.
  • Measure your space and try to plan seating so that people are at least six feet away from the screen; even further if you have a projection TV and 100 inch or larger screen.
  • Plan your space for an “optimal” number of people and then use chairs from other rooms in the house, bean bag chairs or even folding chairs if needed to accommodate a larger crowd for special events like a Super Bowl party.
  • It really pays to shop around and compare features and prices; you may not know exactly the right sofa or home theater seats until you actually see and sit in it.
  • Be sure to plan for adequate lighting, side tables, a coffee table, artwork, etc. that will accent and enhance your home theater seating.
  • Install motorized window shades or blinds if needed to control window light and glare.
  • Set your budget before you do your final shopping and selection; that way you can adjust your decisions on specific features, materials quality, etc. as needed. Some retailers may also be willing to discount if you purchase an entire “package”; we did this with Lazy Boy and were very satisfied with the overall value, quality and features!

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