Complete Guide to Choosing Home Theater Seating



In the movies, you want to get the best seat in the house – in your home theater, it shouldn’t be any different. Choosing the right home theater seating will make your home cinema experience more pleasurable – where you sit is just as important as where you watch something on. This article is a guide to home theater seating, with things to consider when you buy seats.

Size Matters

The space you are working has the most significant impact on how you will plan your home theater seating. Utilize your home theater space for convenience and viewer comfort.

Room Size

Before shopping for home theater seats, you need to consider how much space you have. Measure the dimensions of the room and determine how much of that space you want to dedicate to chairs. Make sure to take the width of doors, hallways, and openings into account – you should be mindful of turns and other obstructions that could impede getting the chairs into your home theater area. Remember to allow enough room between the seats (a minimum of 18”-24” is best) or plan on row seating. If you have a huge empty space, you have plenty of options such as sectionals, recliners, and even floor seating. If, however, your home theater is in a smaller room, your seating selections are narrowed.  When you measure the area, be sure there is enough space between seating and room for walking around.

Screen Size

Aside from the dimensions of the room, you will need to consider the size of the screen when determining how many chairs you can fit in your space – for comfortable and unobstructed viewing.  Viewing distances and angles can greatly affect your home theater experience; you don’t want to sit too close or too far away from the screen. There is actually a formula in calculating the best seat-to-screen distance: multiply the TV’s diagonal length by 1.2 (minimum distance) and 1.9 (maximum distance). Then divide the result by 12 to get the right number of feet. For example, if you have 50” TV, the best viewing distance would approximately be 5-8 feet. Position your seats within the minimum and maximum ranges you have calculated.  If your space is small, select your home theater seating first, and then you can determine the screen size that will offer the best view.


Home Theater Seating Options

  • Pre-Made or Made-to-Order Seats
  • Manual or Power Seats
  • Fabric Options – leather is the primary choice of fabric for home theatre seats, but there are other options available. Consider seats constructed of microfiber, vinyl, or a leather alternate called “leather-match,” which is not fully 100% top grain leather.
  • Bass Shaker Systems – these innovative additions to home theater seating use tactile transducers that resonate at very low-frequencies, delivering vibrations to your chair in coordination with the movie you’re watching or the game you are playing.
  • Configuration Options
    • Full Recline –reclines back to an almost flat position that is still high enough to view the screen comfortably. There is full leg kick out with this recline for extra comfort. This seating can be used in any row in your home theater.
    • Simple Recline – good for a home theater with limited space. You can recline about 5 inches back.
    • Special Features – there are a number of special amenities you can add to your home theater seating such as cup holders, storage areas, armrests, folding seats, space-saving models (i.e. “wallhuggers” – you can place wallhugger seats just a few  inches from the wall and can still kick back in full recline), snack trays, tablet holder, battery packs.



Seating Style and Arrangement

The size of the room dictates whether people can sit-by-side or in a row. Now that you have an idea of how big your room is, you want to know what size of home theater seats you should get – this will ultimately guide you in planning an efficient home theater seating arrangement. Usually, a home theater seat is 23 inches wide from center-to-center (center of one armrest to the center of the other) and 36-40 inches tall. Will you go for cinema seats that have lower backs? Do you prefer plush, comfortable recliners?  Will you arrange your seats in a straight or curved row?

If you’re planning on adding more rows, it is recommended that you leave at least 20 inches of space on both sides of each row. In some seating layouts, the second row seats are usually elevated. You can install platforms and risers; these will give the back rows a clear view of the screen. The length of the riser should be 2-3 inches longer than the overall length of the row, while the ideal height is 12 inches per row. There are custom risers you can get that will fit your home theater room perfectly.  If you have more than one row of seating and you don’t prefer a riser, then alternate seat spacing is suggested; alternate seat spacing means the back row is looking between the seats in front of it.

If, for instance, you are planning on having only one row of seating, you should use a curved seating arrangement. A curved arrangement will replicate the center seat – which is referred to as the “best seat in the house” – for all seating positions than does a straight row arrangement.

Normally, a home theater has seating for four to six people. Allow 3’-4’ space for each set, 2’-3’ of clearance between rows, and 4’ of clearance between seats.


Coordinate with your Décor

Home theater seats come in a wide variety of colors, styles, patterns, materials, and finishes. What’s the general theme of your home theater? Whether you’re going for traditional or contemporary, you’ll find plenty of design options to suit your taste. Take note of your aesthetics and figure out early on how you are going to combine the visual features of your seats with the overall look of your home theater.

General Tips

  • The plusher the furniture is, the more sound they will absorb– which improves audio performance.
  • A chair with a high back may provide extra support for your neck, but it may also reflect sound, especially when it’s coming from speakers behind you.
  • Seating with a “wallhugger” feature does not have as profound of an impact on the viewer’s listening position as much as traditional reclining chairs.
  • The frame of a piece of furniture has as much to do with the sturdiness as anything else. Choose home theater seats with hardwood frames as opposed to those made of softwoods or other materials.
  • All good furniture is backed by a solid warranty. Don’t buy without one.



Visit Home Theater Gear’s showroom to see and experience top-of-the-line home theater seats. If you have more questions about home theater seating, please contact our staff of experts.

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