The garage is a perfect room to convert into a home cinema. It’s dark, isolated from the rest of the house and generally underused. If you have a neglected garage and want to turn it into a cosy home cinema, a den you can retreat to binge watch box sets, scare yourself rigid with thrillers or invite your friends for big football games, then read on.
Start by fixing a budget for the project. Garage renovations or extensions are generally a lot cheaper than other home renovations but it will depend on what electronic equipment and furniture you buy for your home cinema. If your wallet allows, you can even go all out and install a bar fridge and popcorn maker!
Even though you don’t need a window for your home cinema, it might be worth putting one in and fitting blackout blinds to allow for later changes of use. It will also help ventilate the space in warmer weather.
- Check your garage structure and planning permission
Your budget may blow out if your garage roof is leaking, the floor is damp or new wiring and plumbing are needed, so first check whether your garage is structurally sound. A recent home survey may contain useful information or get a builder or surveyor to take a look. Consider ventilation, heating and insulation too.
You will not generally need planning permission to convert your garage into a home cinema, provided you keep the same building footprint. However, if you live in a listed building or your council has restrictions on reducing parking, different rules may apply.
- Have a big garage clearout
Once you’ve decided to create your cinematic dream in your garage, you’ll need to get tough with yourself and chuck out some of the junk that seems to accumulate in all garages. Sacrifice that tatty table tennis table in return for watching England v Argentina in the World Cup Final on the big screen. You could even hold a garage sale.
There will be stuff you want to hang on to, so calculate any surplus space you have in an attic, spare room or shed (or build a small shed) to cram the detritus into.
- Time for a deep clean
If your garage is in a total state, you could think about hiring, borrowing or buying a pressure washer and blast out dirt and dust, though it’ll probably end up being stored in the garage if you buy one. Either way, deep cleaning is an important step if you are planning to do up the interior and get handy with a paint brush.
For oil stains, here’s a handy tip: try sprinkling cat litter onto the stain and grinding it in with a brick or old shoe. Sweep the residue away and repeat a few times. Next scrub the stain with oven cleaner and hose down. Repeat, if necessary. Magic.
- Tackle the floors and walls
One of the cheapest, quickest options is to use concrete sealer, which is easy to apply. You can also use concrete stain, which is effectively the same thing with added pigment. Alternatives for garage floors include epoxy paint, which comes in a number of colours, or easy-to-install durable rubber tiles.
For the walls, wash them first then allow to air dry, put dust sheets down and then apply paint using a spray gun or roller. Keep a large paint brush handy too. You can use cheap masonry paint or emulsion and you’ll probably need two or three coats.
- Pick your furniture
The classic choice for a home cinema is a leather armchair, sofa or recliner. Some come with a fold-down central backrest that turns into a tray for drinks and snacks. There are quite a few dedicated companies who specialise in luxury cinema seating – but it will cost you.
Alternatively, scour junk shops and boot fairs for second-hand cinema seating, sofas and coffee tables – and of course there’s always Ebay and Gumtree.
- Home cinema screen
Last but definitely not least, you’ll need to kit your cinema out with the proper equipment. Which? has an online guide to setting up your home cinema system and surround sound experience, as well as reviews of different systems but you’ll have to pay for the latter.
Depending on your budget, you can choose anything from a flat screen TV mounted on a wall, with hidden cables and a modest surround sound speaker system; a larger screen and fuller sound with speakers hidden in the ceiling or a whizz-bang dedicated home speaker system with a projector and screen and up to 11 speakers.