Home Theater Foundation

So, you’re planning on a media room or dedicated home theater room. You need to know everything about home theater seating. This guide will educate the home theater buyer on how to select and purchase home theater seating.

Home Theater Room Dimensions:

The first thing a buyer needs to do is measure the theater room in it’s entirety. Top four considerations when buying home theater furniture.

  1. The width of the viewing screen. The optimum viewing distance is 1.5 to 2 times the width of your viewing screen. After you have decided this, you now know where to start your first row of seats.
  2. Should I put a second row of seats in my theater? A second row may need a raised platform at least 7 inches in order to see over the front row of seats. For most theater loungers you’ll need at least a 72 inch depth platform for your 2nd row of seats.
  3. How many seats across can I fit? This the width measurement. The optimum is four seats across for home theater.
  4. Do you need an aisle? Center aisle or side aisle? Most rooms feature side aisles. A three foot aisle is ideal. The best advice is to measure your room twice. The proper fit is imperative to your theater. Most home theater seating is special order and not returnable to retailers.


Most home theater seating feature wall saver or wall hugger design. The recliner inclines versus reclines allowing you to put the chairs close to the wall usually about 4 inches space required. You should check product specs to figure out how much space you’ll need in back of the chair. If it’s a wall hugger design you may need more space in front of the chair to allow for the footrest to come out. The depth of the chair will be the key measurement.

The Top 4 Measurements

  1. Depth in full recline position
  2. Depth in upright position
  3. Measurement from front of the chair to front of the footreast.
  4. Measurement from foot of the chair to back of the headrest.

Fixed Home Theater Seating

Fixed home theater seating is similar to real movie theater seating with a rocking mechanism. Most varieties of movie theater seating don’t recline they rock. The advantage to these seats are that you can fit more of them in a limited space than recliners. The most common use is placing these seats on a second row platform in home theater, apartment building theaters, condo association theaters and home theaters that want to achieve the movie theater look. Fixed theater seating is not as comfortable as recliners but it has its place in some home theaters. The trend with apartment and condo complexes is to build a community theater for the residents. This provides an amenity for community living. In this case, movie theater seating makes sense so you can fit larger numbers of people in a smaller space. The viewing time is usually limited to a few hours at a time versus home theaters where people tend to use for tv, movie and gaming which extends the time utlization of the seats.

Pre Built Home Theater Seating Vs Special Order Seating

  • Pre Built Home Theater Seating For customers on a limited budget with limited time for delivery. Pre-built seating is seating that is normally in stock. The seating is pre built theater seating with limited color choices. The most common color available in pre built seating is black leather/vinyl or black leatherette. Most pre built seating is manual recline. What you see is what you get with pre built seating.
  • Special Order or Custom Theater Seating For customers with a little better budget that have planned their lead time properly. In this case, you can pick and choose configurationsand materials that suit your specific needs, and the furniture is finished to order. In short, you have many choices to build the seating you want. Keep in mind, special order seating can take longer to ship depending on the brand you choose.

Power Recline versus Manual Recline

If you choose to do custom theater seating or special order seating. Most brands offer power recline as an option or manual recline as standard. The manual recline in most theater seats covers three positions. Upright, Middle, and all the way back recline. The most common one used is middle depth recline. The power recline has unlimited recline positions as you can recline the seat to your own position. This is like power recline in your car seat. If you order power recline, you will need a power outlet near the seats. Most motors put out 4 amps of power, so a normal wall socket (or power strip) will do.


The hardest choice in made-to-order theater seating is to choose a fabric. It is recommended that you order a swatch. In general, swatches are available for any customer ordered seating. They are generally not avalaible for pre built in stock seating.


  • Microfiber Microfiber is a man made fabric with polyesters and nylon. Micofiber repells water or liquids making furniture difficult to stain. It is very soft and comfortable fabric and an excellent option to leather.
  • Leather Leather is a natural material that breathes which adds more comfort by feeling warm in winter and cool in summer. It actually adjusts to body tempature. It’s durable and easy to care for. It requires occasional dusting and wiping with damp cloth. A soft pencil eraser will easily remove most scuffs or marks. The price you pay for leather furnishings will always be a function of its grade and processing. There’s a wide range between the price of a sofa made from a corrected-grain, pigmented leather, and a sofa made from pure aniline leather. One way to save money but still enjoy the prestige and comfort of leather is to choose a leather and vinyl combination. Applied to a home theater chair or sofa, this technique puts genuine leather everywhere the body touches, and places perfectly-matched vinyl in less visible areas.
  • Leather Vinyl, Leather Match, and Leatherette This is a great money saving alternative while still enjoying the benefits of leather. The leather is on the front of back, top of seat, top of arm rest and foot rest. The leather is everywhere you touch. The vinyl is on sides and back. The key consideration for choosing this option is make sure that the color will match right with a vinyl.

Sectionals vs Home Theater Seating

The line is blurring between sectional sofas and home theater seating. You will see that you can make home theater seating look like sectionals and some sectionals have home theater seating attributes like cupholders, power recline and storage. How to choose? If your room is a family room/media room a home theater sectional would be an appropriate choice. For a dedicated theater room the home theater seating options may work for your taste. There is no hard and fast rule when choosing sectional verus seating.