So it’s actually happened. You’re finally in a position to stop dreaming about that bona fide home theater you’ve fantasized about since you were 10 and really make it a part of your reality. However, as nice as it would be to go to town sparing no expense, you still have to work within a budget. You’ve got bills to pay and mouths to feed after all!

Luckily, designing the home theater of your dreams isn’t an endeavor that has to break the bank. If you know what you’re doing, you can actually put together a wonderful set-up yourself. Here’s what you’ll need to consider in order to make your theater every bit as awesome as you’ve always dreamed it could be.

Start by Considering Acoustics

Yes, a state of the art speaker system has a lot to do with sound quality, but the acoustics of the room you’ve chosen for your home theater are even more important. Here’s how to make sure that trademark theater sound is part of your home theater experience as well.

Ceiling: Check out the ceiling of any state of the art movie theater, and you’ll probably notice that it’s covered with fiberglass paneling that’s fantastic for the room’s acoustics. Luckily, this is an option that is not very expensive.

Walls: The average room in the average home is going to be made of either plaster or drywall and neither is good for a room’s acoustics. Line your home theater’s walls with inexpensive acoustic boards covered with thin carpeting--just like you see in the movie theaters.

Floors: Floors made of materials like concrete, tile, linoleum, or wood are not ideal for acoustics. Go for inexpensive plush carpet instead.

Window Treatments: Does your theater have windows? It’s well worth your while to invest in room-darkening shades to really deliver that authentic theater experience. It’s easier for light to seep in and mar your viewing experience than you might think.

The colors you choose for your walls, ceiling, seating, and carpet are all important for enhancing the overall experience as well. Choose darker shades like black or navy to give small rooms the appearance of being bigger than they really are as well as to prevent any light from reflecting off of those surfaces back to the audience’s eyes.

Stellar Projection Options That Perform

The heartbeat of any good home theater system is going to be its video system, of course. Many people simply go with a big flat screen television, but it’s important to realize that a classic home cinema projector set-up is actually much more effective; It’s less expensive, too! You can easily achieve a positively astonishing HD viewing experience for $1000 or less.

Of course, if you go with a projector, you’ll also need a screen. Most home theater owners elect to go with a good quality dedicated screen. However, others are into DIY and elect to build their own screens. If you have limited funds to invest and aren’t into DIY, consider ready-to-go options with a matte white surface. Matte white projection screens are capable of delivering a fantastic viewing experience while remaining incredibly cost conscious at the same time. In fact, this combination of economy and performance is exactly why matte white projection screens are found in over 80% of today’s movie theaters and boardrooms where ambient light can be adequately controlled.

If the ambient light in your room is washing out your image, an ambient light rejecting screen may be your best bet.

Looking for the best picture clarity with a 1080p+ projector? Look for a texture-less surface, not a matte one. The texture of a matted surface may cause some image distortion from higher resolution projectors due to their smaller pixel size. All of our high definition surfaces are texture-less, including the Da-lite HD Progressive Surfaces.

And How About That Sound System?

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to blow most of your budget on a top of the line sound system in order to get the most out of your home theater. Unless you’re working with an unusually large space, a smaller system is probably a better fit. Just pay attention to the principles of solid acoustics as outlined above, and you’re all set.

When choosing your speakers, go for a surround sound system instead of stereo speakers. This will give you the most realistic possible theater experience. You’ll also need to select a receiver and speaker wire to connect the receiver to your speakers. Don’t bother with specialized wiring options marketed as “speaker cable”. Economical bell wire will be just as effective without the high price tag.

If you wish to place your speakers behind your projection screen, an acoustically transparent surface is what you may be looking for. These surfaces are either woven or perforated to allow the sound waves to pass through the screen without muffling the audio or moving the screen and distorting the video.

Other Things to Consider

Last but certainly not least, you’ll want to consider what other touches your theater will need to deliver the cozy, personalized experience you’re ultimately after. Plush seating is an absolute must (perhaps complete with drink holders), and so are decorations that make your theater feel more like it is yours.

You’ll also want to think seriously about remote control options for your theater. After all, no one wants to have to get up to adjust the lights or the sound once they’re already comfortable. Consider installing a simple dimmer switch and a remote to make controlling your theater as easy as pie. You’ll be enjoying the perfect marriage of cozy at-home entertainment and the classic theater experience before you know it.