How to Build Your Own Home Cinema on a Budget

Every movie buff deserves their own home cinema but not everyone thinks they can afford it. I’m here to tell you that with a little knowledge you can set up a home cinema on a minimal budget. Be the envy of your friends and family with the best big screen viewings of your favourite movies.
Home Theater

Change the way you shop

Your first step to staying within budget is to change your shopping habits. If you normally buy everything brand new from your local store then you’re probably paying the maximum price. Search on bid sites such as eBay for second-hand items or for new but older model items that will be cheaper than the latest product release. There are also many ‘money-back’ websites like Quidco where you’ll see savings and receive money back in the future for what you buy right now. Lastly local community sites such as Freecycle could yield lounge furniture or food and drink equipment like a mini fridge. Keep checking back at new listings as the best items move fast.

The viewing platform

You have two choices for movie viewing equipment: a TV or a projector. The short answer to a budget home cinema is to choose a projector. Projectors are more expensive than a regular size family TV set but if you want a big picture cinema experience then a projector becomes more affordable than very large flat screen TVs. Remember you’ll also save money by not buying a TV stand.

Get a LCD projector as these are the most low-cost, with the added benefit that it’s also tried and tested technology that has been perfected for many years. Projectors that have HDMI are suitable for connecting your satellite or aerial feed so you can watch regular TV as well, making them even better value. If you don’t already have an established TV signal in your home or want it in another room then you’ll need local professional satellite or aerial installers in Essex or your own area to set one up. You can easily change the size of the projection to suit your current viewing. For ultimate integration with your other digital devices look for a projector that connects with your phone, tablet and MP3 player.

For aesthetic reasons I recommend buying special projector paint and simply using your wall as the projection surface rather than using a pull down screen. The paint will optimise any wall and you won’t have any ugly screen holder in your living room.

One of the downsides to using a projector is that it prohibits gaming on Wii or Kinect as when standing you’ll block the projection. The other is that projectors are noisy due to the cooling fans required. You can spend a bit more money to ensure that it isn’t too noisy as more expensive models include a system of noise reduction.

Audio

Projectors don’t come with an audio system so you’ll need to buy a receiver and a set of speakers. This is not necessarily an additional cost due to choosing a projector because you would probably buy a surround sound system to improve the audio experience of a TV.

Position the speakers around the room to create an all around audio experience. Wireless speakers will avoid the mess and fuss of wires that would otherwise have to be hidden.

Creature comforts

In my opinion the greatest thing about having a home cinema is that you’re at home with all the comforts that come with that. It should above all things be a comfortable place to watch movies, easily accommodating weekend marathons of Star Wars or High School Musical. So how do you achieve this?

You need blackout curtains to make the most of your projector. It’s cheaper to buy blackout material and tack it to back or your current curtains. This can be sourced online or from a haberdashery and is very easy to attach. The darkness created by blackout curtains instantly transforms your living room into a cinema atmosphere.

Home Theater ReclinersRecliners are the ultimate in relaxed seating but are very expensive. If you’re determined to buy a reclining armchair or sofa then buy a fabric one as these are cheaper than leather. Otherwise buy beanbags or a sofa with ottomans so you can lie out and put our feet up easily.

Finish off the cinema experience with your favourite multiplex features e.g. popcorn for popcorn fans or a soda stream. Soda stream are cheaper in the long run than big brand fizzy drinks and healthier too!

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Kirsty Sampson

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