Home Theater Seating: Comfort, Form and Function

May 8, 2013 | Comments

Except for the enormous screen and killer surround-sound system, what could be more important in a media room or home theater than comfortable, functional seating?

Comfortable so sitting through all three-plus hours of Gone with the Wind or Titanic doesn't become a chore but not so cushy that you fall asleep; functional so you have a place to put your popcorn and drink.

Theater Seating

If you're going for a traditional cinema feel with two or more rows of seats, specialized home theater seating is available from a number of companies and through custom home theater installation professionals. Per-seat prices vary, with more choices and options than you can imagine. Most common is a row of two, three or four plush leather recliners with manual or powered mechanisms (if you're ready to surrender to your inner couch-potato).

In addition to choosing among seating styles and leathers — including less expensive, partially synthetic "bonded leathers" — you can decide whether you want the row to be straight or curved. While black, brown, and burgundy leathers are typical — and a good choice for spill resistance — options exist for those who want to make a visual statement (think fire-engine-red leather). Stand-alone seats with built-in cupholders are also available.

Accoutrements include standard and lighted cupholders, iPad/tablet holders, armrest storage, removable swivel tray tables, and LED lighting that creates a low-key glow under the seats for the ultimate theater experience. A few companies offer massage and heating options, and some chairs will even move in tandem with the motion on screen! Sports fans can even get the logos of their favorite teams custom-embroidered on seat back pillows.


Sectional sofas are an ideal option for casual media rooms and spaces that lend themselves to a warm, homey feel. You can choose from a wide variety of styles, leathers, fabrics and seating configurations.

Possibilities include manual or powered end recliners and chaise-style footrests — or one of each at either end — corner wedges with dual cupholders and storage compartments, matching ottomans, slender storage consoles that fit between seating sections (the perfect place to stash Raisinets) and, of course, armrest cupholders as well as all of the accoutrements mentioned earlier.

Don't ForgeT

Beyond sheer comfort and convenience features, don't forget to pay attention to head and lumbar support, which vary from brand to brand and model to model. Also, pay attention to reclining mechanisms. If there is a wall directly behind the seating, you'll need "wall-away" recliners that permit full reclining with only a few inches of clearance between the seat back and the wall. Finally, if you decide to go with upholstery, make sure the fabric you pick is stain-resistant.

To learn more about home theater seating options and home theater in general, consult a CEDIA professional. Click here for a list of CEDIA-member home technology professionals in your area.