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Illuminate your home theater with easy lighting tweaks

Published On: Nov 10 2011 10:41:57 AM CST
Updated On: Apr 03 2013 12:03:49 PM CDT
Home theater

(NewsUSA) - The term "home theater" used to mean a small room designated for the enjoyment of watching movies. Then gigantic flat screens and HD technology came along, and the video game industry upped the ante with Xbox, PlayStation and Wii products that appealed to every age group. With so many different uses, the home theater has morphed into an auxiliary family room.

How can one room be made flexible enough to suit all of the activities performed there? According to the American Lighting Association (ALA) all you need to do is make a few tweaks in your lighting to satisfy the sports fan, the electronic game player and the movie buff.

"The affordability and popularity of big-screen TVs, high-quality sound and home entertainment systems has created many opportunities for using specialized lighting to enhance the experience," says architect Joe Rey-Barreau, education consultant for the ALA and an associate professor at the University of Kentucky's School of Interior Design.

Whether your home theater is part of new construction or a remodeling project, think in layers. According to Rey-Barreau, a lighting layer is defined as a specific type of fixture that is unique from others in that same area. For example, a room that has recessed downlights, a decorative fixture in the center of the room, plus wall sconces on one wall would be defined as having three layers. Each of the three types of fixtures would be controlled by separate switches and dimmers.

"The objective of using layers is to create lighting options for different tasks and activities in that space," Rey-Barreau explains. The ideal lighting for the entire family to watch a full-length movie in the evening might be with the recessed lighting turned off and the decorative lighting at the ceiling and the wall sconces dimmed to a low level. If the kids are watching cartoons or playing video games, Rey-Barreau advises turning on the recessed lighting to the maximum output, and turning off the decorative lighting.

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