Home Theater Lighting: What are My Options?

home theater lighting

home theater lighting

Home theater systems were a refreshing break for the cinema aficionados who could not afford to go to the theaters every time they wanted to experience excellent audio and visual effects. Since its popularity in the 1950s, advances in technology have made watching movies in the comfort of your own home just as realistic as going to the theater. The experience of a home theater is truly complete when proper lighting complements the superior sound and picture quality in the room. When it comes to home cinema lighting, many prefer to keep the room dim. From fiber optics to wall sconces, there are a myriad of choices for the passionate movie viewer:

Wall Sconces

The soft lights of wall sconces create a perfect ambiance that does not strain the eyes or take away from the essence of the movie. Wall sconces come in a variety of designs and shapes, providing a soft backdrop lighting that adds class to a home theater. They can help to create a dimming effect using translucent glass or plastic covering to spread the light evenly in all directions. Other styles use a metal shell to reflect the light back onto the wall on which they are fixed. Some companies manufacture theme wall sconces to help create the ideal movie theater atmosphere.

Recessed Lighting

Also known as pot lighting, recessed lights are placed in inaccessible locations around the room, although they are typically installed inside the ceiling. They direct light either at the ceiling, directly onto the floor, towards a wall or any other strategic spot in the room. Recessed lights help to reduce the glare that a bulb would cause, resulting in an ideal lighting option for home theaters.


LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, have come a long way from their first uses in VCRs and microwaves because of the amount of dim light they give off. Today, these lights are bright enough to replace normal, everyday lights. However, they are very small in size and require very low levels of electricity to function, so they are excellent for use in cove light and rope lights as perfect complements to the mood in your home theater.

Rope Lighting

Rope lighting offers dim, fashionable lighting and is often used in home theaters set up with stadium-style seating. These lights are strung underneath the sides of the layered rows of seats, creating a look similar to that of movie theater rows. If you do not have stadium seats, you may also run rope lighting around the perimeter of the room where the wall meets the floor for dim lighting instead.

Accent Lighting

The term “accent lighting” refers to placing a low-voltage bulb behind the sofa, seating area or screen that emits a soft, pleasing glow. When you place a bulb behind the screen, you are giving the image depth, lessening the strain on the eyes. In fact, certain television manufacturers provide various television models included with accent lighting features that have the ability to change color depending on the type of image you are watching on the screen.

Fiber Optics

When you are using fiber optics to light your home theater, the sky is truly the limit. While these lights can be used for a number of designs, the most common way people choose to use them is to illustrate a night sky above the seating area, lit by glittering, twinkling stars. You can purchase pre-made panels to create a fiber optic ceiling or even make one yourself.

Other Home Lighting Tips

If you feel comfortable with different types of lighting scenarios and proper placement of lights, consider going the extra mile to complete the movie experience. If you currently use wall dimmers, perhaps you can replace them with remote control-operated dimmers instead. Some people even install voice-controlled switches to adjust their lighting preferences as these devices operate as normal switches instead.

No matter how you choose to light your home theater, make sure that you can adjust and dim any mounted fixtures, either by hand or remote control. If you decide to have table lamps next to the seating area, consider investing in opaque shades and make certain they have switches or pull chains that are easy to find.

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