What is a Media Room—and Is It a Good Idea for Your Home?
by Karl Kennedy
There’s a lot of discussions out there about home theaters and whether they’re a good investment in a home. The media room, though, gets a lot less attention—and that’s a shame because it’s arguably a better investment for a homeowner.
A home theater is a space built specifically for watching movies, but a media room is a multi-use space. You can watch movies there, but you can also play games and entertain. You can think of it more like a living room with high-tech upgrades to the sound and screen.
Why is this better than a home theater? Let’s take a look at some of the advantages from both a use and a resale perspective.
The answer to this question varies widely depending on two main factors: construction costs and the level of equipment you want to install. Let’s break down the typical major costs involved to give you a better idea of what to expect.
If you already have an unused room in mind, the construction costs of setting up a home theater are minimal—in fact, you may not need to do anything to the space at all. Conversely, if you’re finishing a basement or building an addition, that can cost anywhere from $5,000-$100,000, depending on how much work the space needs.
You can get a pretty good projector for around $500-$1,500 these days. You’ll want to look for something with a relatively high lamp brightness (around 3,000 lumens or more), as well as a low input lag for gaming (under 30ms for the best playing experience). Add another $100-$200 for a quality screen.
For most media rooms, a 5.1 surround sound system will give you the immersive experience you’re looking for. Larger spaces may want to go with a bigger 7.2 system. In either case, the budget starts at around $100 on the low end. If you want audiophile-level sound quality, budget more in the neighborhood of $1,000-$3,000.
If you’re mostly building the media room for kids, bean bag chairs are excellent low-cost seating options. Gamers may want to consider a few gaming chairs—they’re a bit pricier, but have helpful features like built-in speakers. The best options are lightweight and can be easily moved to give you more open space when you want it. A budget of $30-$100 per seat is a good estimate.
If you enjoy watching movies and TV or playing games, it can add a lot of value to your life to have a dedicated room for it. For those who have been considering a home theater but aren’t sure how much they’d use it, a media room could be the perfect alternative.