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Home theater seating layout: 5 key design and placement tips

The first task that should be done in any home theater design is choosing the number and type of seats. That’s probably surprising to most enthusiasts as they think that equipment is the first thing that should be selected! In fact seating choices end up dictating a lot of other things including room dimensions, acoustic treatment and subwoofer / speaker type and placement.

There are two ways to go about designing seating: from the “outside in” or from the “inside out”.


1. Seating Placement Approach

Outside In

For rooms with fixed dimensions (such as our demo room which was a remodel of an existing space) the approach to use is “outside in”. This means that you start with the room size and use this to determine the maximum number of seats, their type and arrangement into rows.


Inside Out

For rooms where there is flexibility in dimensions, such as a new home or addition, then the approach to use is “inside out”. Choose the number of seats you want and their type, arrange them into rows, and from there specify the room dimensions.


2. Primary vs Secondary Seats

When determining how many seats are required in your theater it is good to think about the “normal” way the theater will be used. A lot of people try to design their theaters for the extreme use cases such as the SuperBowl or once-a-year kid’s party. Most of the time the theater is only going to be used by you and your close family. In addition it is often true that you, the enthusiast reading this article, are the only person in that group who really appreciates great sound. If that is the case then design decisions can be made that will reduce overall project cost.

As an example consider if you went into the design process saying you wanted 12 seats. This number was arrived at by thinking about the maximum number of people who might be in the theater at any one time – the extreme use case. In reality you only have four in your family and 95% of the time it is just the family in there. A better approach, therefore, than trying to design for 12 good seats, would be to design for 4 good seats. Maybe you end up with 8 recliners and a bar area or maybe just one row of 4 recliners and some large bean bags or a couple of couches for the children’s parties. Consider your options and design wisely!


3. Performance Related Seating Placement Considerations

There are a number of performance related design principles that must to considered when laying out home theater seating:

  • Viewing angles should be between 36 and 50 degrees for the display to fill in a viewer’s field of vision. These angles are derived from commercial cinema best practices and are explained more in this blog article.
  • All seats should have a clear view of the screen. Risers – a term for a raised seating platform – are nearly always necessary to bring the eye’s of people in rows two and three above the heads of those in row one and two.
  • The bass response for every listener should be similar. Bass response typically changes rapidly throughout a room due to the influence of room modes. The design process to ensure all seats have a similar bass response is complex and requires consideration of the spatial distribution of room mode peaks and nulls as well as the influence of speaker and subwoofer placement.
  • Listener’s heads should be >4ft away from surround speakers. We want to ensure that the surround speakers are not localized for enveloping sounds. This means that the sound pressure level from the surround speakers should not be significantly louder than the main screen channels. In addition speakers are generally not designed to be listened to nearfield and only give their flattest frequency response in the farfield.
  • Listener’s heads should be >4ft away from the back wall. Our opinion is that seats that are against the back wall often suffer from a substantial bass boost and poor envelopment as no reflected sounds are arriving at the ear from the back of the room.

Most of these requirements are simple enough that a DIY’er with a CAD drawing package and some time can can design for them. Others such as ensuring consistent seat-to-seat bass response require in depth knowledge of acoustics and some specialized modeling programs.

Having read and understood these requirements you will be ahead of the majority of DIY’ers whose finished home theaters’ poor seating arrangement and sub-par sound quality bear testament to the mistakes made during the layout process!


4. Practical Seating Placement Considerations

In addition to performance relatd considerations there are also practical considerations to ensure the space is usable:

  • Leave 30″+ for walkways  so that people can easily enter and exit the theater
  • Leave 20″+ between seats  at all times, even with recliners in the reclined position!


5. Flexing Seating Type In Order To Meet Design Requirements

There are many types of seats that can usefully be deployed in a home theater. The most obvious, and the one that takes the most space, is the recliner. Other types are stadium seats, like those found in a commercial cinema, bar seats and couches. Careful choice of seating type, number and placement can be used to ensure that the home theater meets the requirements outlined above.



Home Theater Recliners

Home theater recliners take up a lot of space both width and lengthways. Our favorite recliner manufacturer is Fortress who make supremely comfortable and supportive seats in California. Recliners are typically made of leather and come with motorized recline features.

Theater recliners vary in size from manufacturer to manufacturer. As a guideline, however, we can use the following dimensions: 34″ wide including side arms, 38″ deep in their upright position and 67″ deep in their full recline position. Consider therefore that a row of four theater recliners with common arms would be 123″ across (over 10ft). Allowing a 30″ of walkway on either side of the seats gets you to 183″ (or 15.25ft) for minimum room width. Length wise we need to make allowance for walkway in between rows when seats are fully reclined. If we allow 18″ between rows then front to back two rows of seats occupies 152″ (12.7ft).

Because of their size sometimes a room is simply not large enough to fit the number of seats required and in this case other solutions may be more appropriate.



Stadium Seating

Stadium seats are the type found in commercial cinemas. These seats take up less space than a traditional recliner. Some seats have ‘rocker’ functionality which is a partial recline. As a guideline a stadium seat dimensions can be considered as 26″ wide and 31″ deep. The main advantage of stadium seating over recliners is therefore in seating density – more rows can be fit in less space. Two rows of stadium style seats would fit into a depth of 80″ (6.7ft), which is almost half the depth of two rows of recliners!



Bar Seating

Bar seating is typically implemented in a home theater exactly as you might find it in a bar setting. There is a shallow depth bar behind the last row of recliners with a number of high bar stools with footrests used to provide seating. It provides a relatively low cost, space efficient way of fitting a large number of people in your theater for the few times a year when you are having a party or other event.



Couches are great ways to make a home theater more informal than it is with the rows of classical recliners. They are also a good space saver, primarily because of the number of people that can be fit across a couch. Most couches do not have recliner functions so they also take up less depth. Some manufacturers like Fortress make fixed, non-recline-able versions of their home theater seats which can be mixed in with recliners without creating a visually jarring effect.

Want to learn more about the basics of creating your own home theater? Check out the Ultimate Guide to Setting Up a Home Movie Theater from Porch.

If you’re ready for more technical education, check out some of our other home theater design articles.

123 thoughts on “Home theater seating layout: 5 key design and placement tips”

    1. Hi Atul

      Looks like you are in India? Thanks for reading. Not sure what choices are available where you are, HT recliners tend to be made locally due to shipping size and weight. Some of the main manufacturers in North America are Fortress, Salamander, Palliser, Berkline.



      1. HI NYAL.


        1. Ideally: 2 or 3ft for baffle / screen wall, 9 to 12ft to first row, 6.5 to 7ft between rows, 3 to 4ft behind second row.

  1. Please suggest options for media room seating layout for 4-6 people, if the entry door is on the back wall (opposite to the theater screen).
    Room size – 15ft x 25ft

    1. You can fit two rows of seats in that length room…though the second row will have very limited legroom. Generally you can plan on a theater recliner row taking 7ft. You could do commercial style theater seats for the second row, or just a couch. You can also save length in the room by having the door open out of the theater and by keeping the front wall where you would hide speakers / subs, etc as shallow as possible.

  2. Hey !

    I’m currently working on my own home movie theater, and it’s actually a wooden cabin in my garden that I’ll be building on my own.
    I’m an architect and working on the design, and was wondering if there was any kind of specific criteria on :
    1- how far should the closest seats to screen be?
    2- and how high should the screen minimum be from the floor?

    Thanks a lot for providing this site for us to ask questions !
    And thanks in advance!


    1. Hi Joe

      Thanks for reading.

      Distance from seats to screen is dependent on what lateral viewing angle you want to design around. See this blog article on home theater viewing angles for more.

      If you have a lot of flexibility I’d generally start the front row at 10-12ft.

      The screen height issue is also covered in the article I linked to.

      Good luck!


      1. Hey Nyal,

        Thanks a lot for your help !

        Even the link helped me a lot.

        I’m glad I’ve found this website, hopefully will send you picture when my cabin is done !

        Thanks again!


  3. I have just put a 135″ screen in a room that is 14′ wide and 19′ deep with the doors opening in – I have been thinking about changing the doors to open out to allow more space. My problem is I want ot have 2 rows of seats if possible without going to a smaller screen – the projector is about 14 feet from the screen.

    Any ideas on how I can put 2 rows of seats in ideally reclining with the front seating still not being to close to the screen?


    1. Hi Keller

      Thanks for leaving a comment. Likely as you’ve discovered, there’s no way around the laws of physics! You may need a smaller screen so that you can put the first row 9-10′ from the screen. At that viewing distance 110″ or so is normally plenty wide.


      1. Nyal,

        Thanks for your reply and the confirmation –

        I guess as long as my seat is at the correct distance the other folks can fend for themselves….

        Thamks again !

      2. I’m kind of in the same boat. I have a 20′ deep and 14.5′ wide room and would _like_ 2 rows of seating. I read in one of your other articles ( that you need 4′ of space from any wall. Following that guideline the back row would start at 16′. Since it uses 85″ (67″ reclined + 18″ walkway), that would put my front row at 9′. So I’m guessing the 110″ is also the right size for my room? Am I on the right track on how to think about this?

        My question really is how hard and fast is that 4′ from wall rule? Using the Fortress seat as an example, I would only be fitting 2 seats in a row!

        Thanks in advance!

        1. 4′ is optimal….at 3′ you start needing very heavy absorption to properly deal with the reflection from the rear wall (our ear/brain can reliably separate direct sound from reflections at a delay of about 7-8ms)

          110″ wide sounds a little big for 9′ seating distance, but there’s a pretty wide range of lateral viewing angles that work. Anywhere from 33-48 degrees is safe, over 48 some people have issues with tracking on screen objects during fast pans and can result in motion sickness or fatigue.

  4. Thank you for this! The couches can be so expensive but are definitely the best for home theatre seating. We are currently having out basement refurbished and turned in to a home theatre. I will send you a photo when it is done, thanks Nyal!

  5. Your blogs and information are very informative and helpful!! Many thanks!
    I’m working on a home theater and the room is 25′ 4″ x 17′ 9″
    We had the carpenters put the door to the room on one side for more seating together. We would like to get 3 rows reclining, do you have any suggestions- as following the guidelines I come up with 2 rows and only 6″ to spare… and I think I’m doing something incorrectly, as for such a big room to only get two rows seems odd. Thanks very much!

    1. I do not think you’ll be able to fit 3 reclining rows in that length room. You need 6.5′ minimum from the same point on one row to the same point on the next (e.g. back of chair to back of chair).

  6. We are designing our home theatre and have a 17′ x 17′ space to use. We are wanting to do 2 rows of 5 seats. Is this possible with this size of room?

  7. Hi I have two rows of seating planned. I have one recliner floor level for now. And I have a couch. I ordered a 36″ riser stage and am wondering what furniture piece to keep in the front row the recliner or a sofa with an ottoman as a leg rest.

    The recliner is slightly higher in height compared to the sofa.

    The screen is 120″ and is 2-3 feet off the floor. The only wiggle room is 5-5-6inches if I move the screen higher

    The viewing angle right now I as shown in pic. Any insight will be helpful. Will follow your advice and set up accordingly

  8. Hi, I want to have 3 rows of recliners with 4 in each row. My room dimensions are 27 ft 6 inches by 14ft. My screen is 88 inches. I’m of the view that I can accomplish this. What do you think? Thank you.

    1. Recliners you should allow minimum 6.5′ between same point on each row, so three rows I advise 19.5′. That allows 7′ from first row to screen. It’s possible using in-wall speakers/subs and a small screen that you’ll find a way to make it work. Personally though, if I were designing a room for a client, with that length I’d do two reclining rows or two reclining plus bar seating.

  9. Great info here, kudos for sharing!
    Im planning a home theater in my basement room 10’1″(w) x 33’4″ (l) x 7’2″(h). As you can imagine, the height and the width are severe limiting factors. I am planning the following; would appreciate your opinion and or suggestions-
    Screen- 110″(diagonal)
    Seating -2 rows(3rd row as a bar if possible)
    Row1 – 2 seat recliners(around 11′ from screen)
    Row 2 – 3seat couch (15′ from screen)- This row will be on a platform 7″ high
    Row3 – Optionally a bar behind the couch to seat 3 people
    What do see as being possible?

    1. I think your idea will work, if you put the screen high up on the front wall and keep it small (which it seems you are planning on doing). That way you can use a small riser to keep as much head height as possible. Another trick you can use is just to build a platform under the seats, rather than a riser that takes up whole width of room, that way you keep head height in the aisles.

  10. i am planning a large home theater for 25 people with recliner seating.
    1) how big should it be
    2) what should be the screen size
    3) how far from the screen should the first row be and last row too?

    1. Hi Mani

      That’s a large theater with a lot of open questions! I’d suggest a first seating row at 12ft from screen, with minimum 7′ between rows if you are planning on using theater recliners. Aim for 15″ between levels on the riser. Make sure everyone can see the screen bottom, and then make the screen as big as you want it. How big depends on which row you want as the primary seating row. You size the screen based on desired lateral viewing angle – see this blog for more. Once you have seats and screen laid out then you add width and depth for walkways…minimum 3′, preferably 4′.

      If you need professional assistance, we offer a home theater layout service that may be of interest.

      Good luck!


  11. Great article. I’m designing a media room. The width is 15 ft and the length is 18. My issue is that the entrance to the room is double doors in the middle. They do open out but I’m fearful of having two rows because of people entering the room and walking into the back row. The screen is about 106 inches diagonal. Any suggestions would be great.

    1. It’s going to be very tough fitting two rows in a room like that, unless you do something like a single seating row + bar, or move the door…

    2. Morning all, you give amazing advise. So;I too am building a home theater that is on the small side at 9′ wide × 22’long × 7’high with a screen that is 109.5 diagonal. I’d like to have 2 rows what do you think???

      1. It’s possible. I think you’d want to do the first row as seats and the second row as bar stools. You don’t have enough height to put in a riser tall enough to allow two seated rows a good view of the screen, unless you mount the screen high up on the front wall, which will make the screen too high (neck ache) for the front row.

  12. Hey Nyal,
    Love your advice! I am looking to build a theater in my basement with:
    120 inch screen
    2 rows of 4 recliner seats with a 7 inch riser
    Bar in the back
    I was wondering, 1, if there was enough for the two rows with the bar, 2, if the riser would fit in the room even with the low ceilings, and three, if 120 is the correct size screen for the space I have (if not what is).
    The dimensions are:
    15′ wide x 20′ long x 7’6″ high

    1. I’d suggest drawing up your room “to scale” either with a CAD program or graph paper. Do both a plan and elevation drawing.

      Two reclining rows will be a tight fit in a 20′ room, and allow no room for a bar. Typically plan on minimum 6.5′ better 7′ from row to row (e.g. seatback row one to seatback row two).

      The problem with low ceilings is you are limited on riser height, and the problem with low risers is it means you have to keep the screen small, use a 2.35:1 aspect ratio over a 16:9 screen, and put the screen higher than optimal for the front row.

  13. I have a room that is 23′ length, 15′ 9″ wide and with a 9′ ceiling. I would like to have 1st row with 3 recliners, 2nd row 4 recliners and bar behind second row of recliners. Is this layout doable?

    1. It’s a little on the short side, but do-able. Normally you need 6.5′ minimum row-to-row spacing. So say 2′ for false wall at front of room to hide LCR behind an acoustically transparent screen. 10′ screen to first row. 7′ first row to second row. That leaves you 4′ at rear for bar.

  14. I have a room that is 17.5 in length and 13.5 wide. We want to put 2 rows with 3 theater seats on each row in the room with the back row on a riser. We currently have a 90in TV, but want to put in a projector. Should this work out? Three chairs linked together are 101″ wide and are 140″ reclined total for both rows….or 70″ reclined per row. It will all fit, but is there enough space between the first row and screen?

    1. I’d suggest minimum 10′ screen to first row (heads). It’ll be a very tight fit. Unless you need all those seats for the main usage scenario of the theater, I’d just do a single row, and make it a really good one.

  15. We’re just in to the planning stages of our theatre room. I want to have 2 rows of seats (recliners) and a bar in the back. We have a 70″ tv now but may go to the 110″ screen. What should I be planning as far as the size of room, if we want say 10 foot in the bar/back area? We just started getting ideas so can build whatever we want, but don’t want to build a gymnasium.

    1. Front-to-back, here’s what you need to consider:
      1) distance for screen wall, this depends on if you are hiding speakers / subs in a false wall, are doing an acoustically transparent screen (recommended, etc)
      2) distance between screen wall and first seating row (start at 9ft and go up from there depending on screen size, the sweet spot seems to be in the 10-12 ft range)
      3) row-to-row distance (minimum 6.5ft with theater recliners, preferably 7ft)
      4) distance behind second row

  16. I will be building a new home starting this summer and plan on having a home theater built. The room will be 17’x34′ with a ceiling height of 9′, is this large enough for three rows of seats and a possible bar behind the third row? Also how high do you recommend the risers be for the second and third row?

    1. I’d suggest having a professional design done to work out all those details…but I expect you’ll have room for three rows of seats. Risers are normally 15″.

  17. Hi. . We have a small room of size 11 feet 9 by 16 feet which we want to convert to a casual media room. We are aiming for a single row of 4 recliners on a step up. For extra seating maybe throw in some bean bags. What is your opinion ? What kind of screen do we buy?

    1. Very much depends on which row you want to be the prime row. I guess with 15-20 people you are talking about 3-4 rows? If so then you would choose a row to be prime and then layout the room around it. Take a look at this article:, pick a viewing angle and layout the room so that everyone can see the screen and there is enough room between rows and per the guidance in this blog article.

  18. Hi,

    The seating in my home theater is about 3 feet from the back wall. Do I need diffusion or absorption panels on the back wall?


  19. Hi Nyal,
    We are building a new house and planning a room… right now it is 19.5×22.5. We are flexible on ceiling height. We ideally want two rows of 4 fully reclining seats (front row 2 doubles and 2nd row 2 singles and 1 double centered) with a bar row behind it. Can you advise us if this is doable, and if not what we should try and change? (may not be much flex in size) Assuming this is the size what size screen, what ceiling height and what other equipment do you recommend such as wall panels etc.? We are clueless but want it to be done right! LOL Thanks!!

    1. I advise everyone, whether “clueless” or “hardcore amateur” to consider hiring a professional home theater design consulting firm to create a set of plans to include the room layout, placement and number of subwoofers, audio/video equipment selection and acoustic treatment design. Only with a complete design in place can you guarantee good results. Whilst the process of creating a high performance HT might be considered magic or voodoo, actually it’s quite straightforward, if a little time consuming. It’s much like the process of building a house – would you start without a good set of plans?

      For you theater, 25′ would allow two seating rows comfortably. Two plus a bar will be tight.

  20. Hi Nyal,

    I have a brick wall basement with concrete ceiling that is size 16′ x 24′ x 9.5′ height which i will do my new HT room.I’m going to do 7.2.4 system with an AT screen.My questions are:

    1. Is brick wall and concrete ceiling bad for acoustic and i have to cover up with rockwool and dry board?
    2. If i want to use only one row seating,whats the best distance guide from rear wall,35% from the room length?
    3. How far is the good distance from AT screen to front wall?

    I really appreciate your help,thanks a lot..

    1. Hi Azman

      1 – yes brick and concrete is bad acoustically as it doesn’t absorb any low frequencies. You don’t necessarily have to add new gypsum board walls since you could just build membrane absorbers that would work better in the same 4″ of depth. Obviously you need to figure out how to cover those membrane absorbers, so they look ok…

      2 – I would layout out the room from a functionality perspective and then worry about managing the room modes through multiple subs, EQ and bass trapping. Those guidelines like 33% of length, etc are a good starting point if you have flexibility as they are generally the most benign areas in terms of room mode activity.

      3 – The screen wall only needs to be as deep as you need it to hide speakers and subs, whether that is 8″ or 36″. Deeper walls can also add a lot of bass trapping too.

      1. Hi Nyal,

        Thanks for the reply.

        Do you mean that i have to build membrane absorbers for the whole walls and ceiling or just a few reflection point?

  21. Hi Nyal,
    I am currently playing around with a room design – two rows of seating and following most of your guidelines, however because the room was used previously for a cinema, the front of the room has been dug out (concrete) to accommodate the front seating and screen, therefore no matter how i tweak things, the front row of seating ends up in the centre of the room which I believe is bad for bass and audio. Is there anything you suggest I look at regarding subwoofer placement or room acoustics that will help bass control and quality for these seating positions?

    1. With respect to a centrally located seating position front-to-back, yes this is generally bad if you only have one or two subs at the front of the room, since it is the low pressure area for the 1st axial length mode. If you have subs at the rear of the room you can effectively drive this room mode destructively. Room EQ Wizard, a free software program, has a room modeling component you can use that graphically shows you the response with different subwoofer and seat placements. I would start there, or, if you have higher quality aspirations for your space, please do get in touch with us for professional assistance with the design of your theater.

  22. Hi Nyal,

    My room is 11.7 w & 20ft length with 8ft ceiling. I have a couch and a love seat and I guess I want to build a 6 or 8′ riser. I have a LG PF1500W projector. I’m trying to decide between 100, 110, or 120 screen? What would you recommend for the space? I have the ceiling electrical box at 12ft from screen.

    Any ideas will be great. Thanks

    Would you put the couch in front or place love seat in front?

    1. Hi John

      Please see this post for information about screen viewing angles: There’s a lot of room for different screen sizes based on personal preference as you can see. If you haven’t already, one thing you can do is tape out the different size screens with painters tape, and then watch content such as fast panning scenes to get a feel for what screen size you prefer. When using this approach, most people find they can quickly hone in on a screen size.

      The other thing you need to consider are throw distance and image brightness – see this blog for an overview:

      I don’t think it matters whether couch or love seat is in front. Probably the front row will be the best row, so that’s where you would sit. Pick the seating type you like best for that row.


  23. I am building a new addition which will
    Be a dedicated home theater room. Dimensions are 26’ x 13’ x 9’ and would love two rows from f decline and a small bar area at the back.

    Is this possible?

  24. I am from India and planning to have an entertainment room 15 ft long and 10 ft wide. Is it too small for a two row seating home theatre setup ? Planning to put a 65” Led wall mounted with 2 row seating if possible. One row of recliners and another with non reclining seats.

    Is this an over ambitious project from feasibility perspective?

    1. That will be very tight, but probably do-able. The main advantage you have is a TV, so no throw distance considerations, and you also typically sit the front row closer than a projection screen as you typically aim for a lower lateral viewing angle (33 vs. 43 degrees). Use-in wall speakers, place first row heads around 8-9ft from screen, should just give you room to sneak in as second row against the back wall.

      1. Thank you for the inputs. What should be wattage of speakers for such a small setup ? Would a normal HTIB from Onkyo or Yamaha be able to deliver good sound? Is tower speakers recommended for such small space ?

  25. How many inches are needed to see in each row? I have a 158-inch screen and a rear ceiling mounted projector, I would like to put a powered recliner in front, a loveseat in the middle, and a couch in the back. how many inches are needed for sight clearance on each row? do I need platforms, risers, or can I just screw in taller legs on the couch and love seat

    1. 6’6″ is minimum recommended row to row clearance for HT recliners. You will need risers for the second and third row, or the screen will end up very high on the front wall!

  26. Have a room 13’6 x 14’11. Initially we wanted 2 rows of seating, but now realistically thinking just get 1 single row (family of 4) ?

  27. Hi sir,
    I am kedar from India. Excellent useful information you are providing for cine lovers. I have a room size 10′ wide x 25 ‘ length and Hieght of 8 ‘. It’s a room made from Hard wood. What screen size do you suggest. how many seats and rows will be ideal . I am planning to use stadium seats. And also please tell hence it’s a wooden room any accoustic treatment is needed.
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Kedar

      Thanks for reading. I’d say 2 rows of seats if you use theater recliners. If you use commercial theater style bolt down you should be able to fit 3.

      Acoustic treatment always required!

  28. our hall /living room is 22 by 22 ft . i am planning to convert this area in to home theatre including small dining . could you please advice accordingly.

    1. Hi Kiran, what information are you looking for? 22ft is only enough for 2 seating rows in my opinion, and a 22’x22′ room is not a great start dimensionally (it’s a square, which has sub-optimal room mode distribution)

  29. I am building a room that is 22’L X 18.5’W X 9’H…… I am planning a 120″ screen. I would like to do first row long sectional couch then riser with 4 recliners and then 2′-3′ deep bar with stools.
    Can you please give me your thoughts on distance for these?

    Thank you


  30. Other than seatcraft Rialto, are your aware of any other suppliers of the higher 2nd row seats? 5-7″ taller? (I can’t install a riser)


    1. Fortress make custom seats, even ones with motorized lift, but those are at the top end of the market price wise!

  31. I have plans to build my own home theater. I want to do it in a 40ft by 30ft room with 25ft high ceilings. What is the biggest screen size I should get? Im my mock up draw plans, I was able to fit in a full theater stage, with 3 rolls, 2 upper balconys with about 34 arm chair seats in total.

  32. Hi there!
    I found this article very useful!
    I am building a home theater room in my detached garage. The size will be 17×20 once I add a couple of walls. What would be the idea seating arrangement for this size room?
    I am flexible with what type of chairs but would love to have 10 people fit in the room with a screen size of 100 inches. Thank you!

    1. If you want to fit 10 in I would suggest bolt down commercial style theater recliners. Another option would be a large sectional couch / daybed for front row and bar seating for second row.

  33. Hi Nyal,
    Adding a home theater to the basement. Room was already framed to -16’ x 13-1-2’. What seating layout would you recommend. I’d love to put a row of 4 seats in for my family, but that doesn’t leave much room to the sides.


    1. Probably a sectional couch, not theater recliners with large divider arms.

      I’d also try moving the door so it is in front of seating, that way you do not need access to the sides.

      You could also look at seating along the length of the 16′ wall.

  34. Hi Nyal thank you for the wonderful information.My size of the room after putting the drywall is 10 x 20.5 (w x h). I would like to have 2 rows 3 recliners each. What is the maximum screen size that this room can afford? What will be the distance for the first row from screen? How much gap for the second row . The second row is 8″ riser platform. The room will be building as a sound proof room using double drywall. My av set up is 7.1.4.(tower,on wall, ceiling).

    1. Hi Nav, I think with the guidance in the article and reading through the comments you should be able to get a good baseline. The 8″ riser will limit the screen height, in order to ensure people in 2nd row can see over heads of people in first row. Screen would probably end up in the 110″-120″ 2.4:1 (widescreen) aspect ratio.

      1. Thank you.. The room height is 8 ft and the first I am planning for 7 inch height and the second row is 14” will this limit the screen size … Planning to put 125″ diagonal screen .. The screen will be fixing 2 ft from bottom…first row planning 12.5 ft and 16.5/17/16 ft from the screen…. I can still change the height of the floor as the flooring has not started… what height do u prefer for the first row and second row?

        1. Hi Nav,

          We do all this layout in CAD, but if you don’t have that, consider making a scale drawing showing the screen bottom and eyeballs at front and rear row and then draw a line from second row to screen bottom to see if your placement will work.

          14″ is a good size riser, but I would leave the first row on the floor, so you get 14″ height difference between rows.

  35. Hi Nyal,

    I am currently building a home and would like to get help design home theater in the basement. I have got electrical and speaker wiring for Dolby Atmos from the builder. What kind of service can you provide to set up the theater?

    I might need help with seating position (2 or 3 rows), speaker placements, tuning the system, etc.

    1. Hi Sunil, we provide design, install and calibration services to clients in Americas region. If interested, please send a request a quote form via our website.

  36. Hello Nyal ;
    I have 3 rows that are 12ft in length
    How many seats would you suggest per row?
    This is a rental property and the room size is 14 ft x 14ft (sleeps 12 people)
    What wld you recommend?
    Thank you!

  37. Hi Nyal!

    Great site with great information! I’m interested in converting my “above the garage” bonus room into a home theater room. The room is 27’ long, and 10’ 4” wide. The room has been framed to provide a center height of 8’ 2”; the ceiling slopes on the left and right sides of the room, however, with a starting height on each side of the room of 5’ 3” that extends 31 1/2” away from each wall before it reaches the 8’ 2” height (about a 48 degree angle of slope).

    I realize that this reduction in head space on each side of the room may limit my seating options in order to accommodate a walkway with the recommended minimum width of 30”. Given this, what kind of seating options would be at my disposal? I’m projecting (pardon the pun) an estimated screen size of 106” diagonal (16:9), with a 12’ distance from the screen to the first row of seating.

    Thank you!

    1. Forgot to mention that seating is primarily for a family of four, with accommodations for guests (six to eight additional seats?).

    2. Hi Brent, certainly challenging because the room is a) narrow and b) low.

      I would suggest you limit your expectations on how many seats you can fit in there.

      One design that might work is to have a central passageway and then put one seat either side of that close to the sidewalls. Not great due to the limited separation from seat to surround but workable. You could also have two seats on a row and push them up against a side wall, hopefully leaving enough head height on one side for a walkway.

      It would certainly require some creative thinking!

  38. I have had two theater rooms. The last one was 17’w x 23’l. It had two rows of 4 seats plus a bar area. The first row was 11 foot plus to the front screen. There was 6.6ft between rows. I had a 135″ screen. I am trying to design a much smaller theater room in my new house. I can make the dimensions whatever I want. I am thinking about 14 x19 or 15 x20. I have two options. One row of 4 seats and one row of two seats, or one row of 6 seats. If I did the one row of 6 seats the room would obviously be reversed with a 150″ screen. If I did the 4 and 2 configuration I would have a 135″screen. What would be your recommendation? Please email me. Thanks

  39. Hi Nyal,

    I have a room that is 15′.6″ by 24′.3″. I originally wanted two rows of 4 seats, but wife convinced me to do 1st row of 4 seats and second row a Bar seating area with 4 bar chairs. Now that I switched from seats to a bar area in the 2nd row, do I need a riser at all for the Bar area? And gfiven the length of the room I originally planned for 2 set of side surround speakers plys the rear surrounds in order to accommodate the 2nd row of recliners, but with a bar seating instead, it seems like the 2nd row listening position would be a little further up vs recliners….should I still shoot for 2 x sides surrounds on each side plus rear surrounds or just one set of side surrounds would be enough?

  40. Hi Nyal. I have a family of 8 and I’m presently designing an addition to our house and want to include a home theater for my family. I’ve read tons on the golden numbers and such but what would your recommendations be. The dimensions are fully flexible but I don’t want over kill. Could you email me as well. Thank you in advance.

    1. Layout the seating first, and then add room for aisles to each side and space to the rear! 16’x24’x10′ or more. Don’t worry too much about golden numbers, it’s not so important when you have multiple subs in the system.

  41. Hi Nyal!
    My house is currently being built and i would like to have a theater in the basement and right now it is studded to be 14×24 with 7.5 ceiling height. Based on the reading from this post I think I can do 120″-130″ screen with two rows of 3 fully reclining seats with 4′ from all the walls. I am thinking of 10″ riser on the back row. Do you think it is possible? How high up from the floor should the screen be?
    Much appreciated.

    1. Sure, it’s workable. If you don’t have access to a CAD program the simplest way to figure out screen height is to get the seats in and then make a mock up of your screen and adjust until it’s the right height so that people in the back can see the bottom when the front row is occupied.

  42. I have an 88 inch wide theater in home sofa that I want to put on riser with a 2 seater theater in home loveseat to go in front. HOW WIDE DOES THE RISER NEED TO BE FOR THE 88 inch sofa??? 90 inches???

    1. Hi Bryan, yes that should be fine. If you have space for a wider riser, I’d recommend a little extra research to understand the average size for the type of couch you envision using on that riser. This will avoid a future situation in which the couch needs replacing and it’s hard to find something that fits on the riser.

  43. We are in the design phase of our dream home. We would like 2 rows of recliners (4-5 on each row) with risers and a 5-6 seater bar behind last row. We would also like a candy/popcorn cabinet/station and equipment closest, I would prefer them to be in the back of room. We are doing fully custom so we can design anyway we need. What are the minimum dimensions you would recommend?

    1. Hi Frazier. Dream home, dream theater? For best results, consider hiring a design professional rather than winging it.

      When considering the floorplan for the home, not only should you consider theater size but also placement within the home to minimize sound transmission issues into and out of the theater.

      Theater size needs to consider not only width and length but also height. It’s best to have a rough layout worked out as early as possible

      Length should be approx: 2-3ft screen wall, 9-12ft first row, 6-7 ft 2nd row, 3ft+ bar and seating, 5ft+ behind.

  44. Hi. I am in the design stages of my home theater. My working space is approx 15ft wide X 23ft long X 7ft 8.5″ high. I am using a double stud wall with isolators with hat channels and double 5/8″ drywall with green glue. Superior sound is my priority along with the largest screen possible for best viewing from all seats. Also sound cannot escape to other areas of home.What are your recommended finished room dimensions and maximum amount of seats. concrete wall on two sides of room in a basement.

    1. Thanks for posting. With a room that size, you’ll be limited to two rows of seats. After sound isolation, the room size is going to be what it’s going to be, so it’ll be mostly about seat n’speaker layout to get the best possible out of the room.

  45. Please give me ideas to setup home theater in Game Room – 20 X 15.
    Builder is going to construct the new house.
    Do I need to give any of the below special instructions to the builder?
    1. Place in-build speakers around the wall
    2. Placeholder for projector

    which side of the game room we need to place the projector screen? is it on 20 sqft side or 15 sqft side?

    1. Hey there, yes I would advise having a set of plans to give the home builder! Speaker / subwoofer / screen / projector layout being the key one so that wiring can be pulled appropriately!

    1. Not an easy question to answer, I’m afraid. It depends on how much space you lose to sound isolation, where the doors go, what quality level you are looking for for each of the seats you put in there, whether informal bar or bean bag seating will work for you, etc.

  46. Hi. Late to this party but looking for some suggestions on the lesser of 2 evils.

    Room is 17′ wide by 18′ long. The issue is the back of the room is open to other parts of the house.

    How badly will this affect the sound in a 7.2.4 system?

    I do have the option of rotating the setup 90 degrees, but that would essentially make the entire right side of the room open. Would this be better or worse?

    Thank you.

    1. Not knowing all the specifics, my instincts would suggest that it would be best having the back open. Speaker placement is a concern for any orientation if one wall is open…the speakers may end up at non-optimal angles and you may end up trying to put some surround speakers in the ceiling and others in the walls. This always leads to issues, not only with distortion of the surround field but also insufficient separation from surround speakers to top speakers.

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