How to Create the Perfect Backyard Movie Theater

Charley Ward
Photo credit: svetikd - Getty Images

From Country Living

The arrival of summer and warm, balmy nights gives us the perfect opportunity to transform our backyards into at-home movie theaters. They can create a cozy space for the whole family to relax outdoors or a romantic nook for couples looking for quarantine date night ideas. After months of being stuck in your four walls with the kids, it's time to pull out the lawn chairs and switch things up with a fun night of watching funny family movies outdoors. If it's just the two of you, queue up one of the romantic movies on Netflix for a backyard date night.

So, from the initial tech requirements you'll need to those finishing touches to help create atmosphere during the movie, here's everything you need to carve out a proper outdoor movie space in your own garden.

At-Home Movie Theater Screens

First things first—you can't have a real movie theater experience without a large screen, so invest in a decent projector. For the best quality picture, aim for one that has (at least) 3,000 lumens—this will make for a bright and crisp display. Remember that you might need an extension cord if you're planning on setting up somewhere away from the house, and go for a portable model so it can be kept safely inside when you're done.

As for the screen, you could hang up an old white sheet, of course, but there are plenty of inexpensive options available that will create a better experience overall. If you don't have a suitable wall to hang a screen on, opt for a freestanding one. These will roll up neatly when not in use, ready for storing in the shed.

Finally, you'll need a stand for your laptop and the projector, so you can position the display correctly without balancing your expensive tech precariously on a ladder or a chair.

Outdoor Sound Systems

If you want to totally immerse yourself in a big screen cinema experience, your laptop's speakers just aren't going to cut it. There are plenty of speakers designed specifically for outdoor use, so choose the right option and they'll see you through summer barbecues and socially distant meetups, as well as all your al fresco film nights.

Lighting to Set the Mood

While you might need to turn these off while the projector is running, a decent lighting scheme can help zone the area—and they make your garden look lovely. We think that a few strands of string lights would look great zigzagged across your patio, with the projector and seating area below.

If you'd like to keep some lights on while you watch the film, hang some solar lanterns, which are generally less powerful than plug-in options, from fences or trees nearby.

Cozy Seating

Once you've got your tech set-up figured out and the lighting just right, it's time to finish off the area with some comfy seats. You might already have a set of outdoor furniture, but if not, set the right mood with a cozy beanbag chair or snuggle up on a weatherproof cushion that can be neatly packed away when not in use (some of these can be used inside as well). In a pinch, camping chairs can provide some additional seating on a budget and be stored away easily afterwards.

We'd also recommend laying an outdoor rug down on your patio; this will give you somewhere clean to place your floor cushions during use and will add some additional color and texture to your home's outside spaces. It also helps to create that coveted inside/outside living vibe that sees your garden as a seamless extension of your home.

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