Skip directly to content

Smart Design With Suzette: Backyard Theater

on June 15, 2017 - 6:41am
Outdoor home theater. Courtesy photo
 

By SUZETTE FOX
Los Alamos

Although around 350 still exist across the United States, the drive-in survives on a smaller scale thanks to a growing number of people who have taken the concept to the backyard.

Can it be done without spending a fortune? Not only is it possible, it is an amazing amount of fun as long as you follow some common sense rules.

Don’t be That Neighbor…
Depending on where you live, the concept of a backyard home theater may be a non-starter due to noise restrictions, safety regulations, or because you live in an apartment and it is unlikely that your landlord will permit it.

However, in suburbia, there are social norms to navigate. The smart thing to do is simply be a good neighbor – Invite them. Even if they decline, it will let them know what’s going on so you can avoid a visit from the local police. If they show - great, the more the merrier!

Getting Started
There is something truly magical about watching a movie together under the stars. With minimal supplies and a simple, straightforward setup, you can create an outdoor theater for you and your friends. Pop some popcorn, grab a few blankets, and follow these tips to watch your favorite flick right in your own backyard.


Choose the Space

  • You can’t have a movie without power, so be sure to find a spot outdoors with access to outlets.
  • Design your setup with lighting in mind. Make sure that nearby house lights, street lights, or passing car headlights won’t reflect against your movie screen.

Build a Screen
Can’t afford a retractable projector screen? Not to worry: there are plenty of DIY options. Opt for a plain, white wall or crisp, white sheets, either taped or sewn together, to act as the screen.

For a clear, crisp image, create a makeshift blackout cloth by attaching dark fabric to the back of your white screen.

If you’re worried that your sheet will wrinkle or shift in the wind, then you can secure it with a thin frame made of wood or lightweight piping.

Set Up the Technology
Get a Great Picture and sound. Your biggest investment in your outdoor movies will be your projector. Walmart offers several affordable choices around $100. More than likely, you already have the laptop and with the addition of small external speakers, you will have incredible sound.

The gist: connect the video signal from your DVD player/laptop into the projector, then connect the audio signal from your DVD player/laptop into the speakers.
Adjusting the size of your projection is as simple as moving the projector itself either closer to or farther from the screen.

Create the Mood

  • Consider stringing some outdoor lights to create movie magic for the night (string so it doesn’t interfere with your picture quality).
  • Globe string lights take everything up a notch when outdoor entertaining and are less than $20 a strand. It’s an affordable luxury for creating the mood!
  • Comfy seating is totally required.  Throw some blankets on the ground and comfy outdoor pillows. Pull in your patio furniture to keep things cozy for the adults in the crowd.

Bring On the Snacks
You can’t watch the movie without POPCORN! Take your popcorn game up a level and craft up a popcorn bar for your guests. Bring out the popcorn, candy and beverages for your guests. Retro sodas and paper straws are always a hit. Center on a picnic table for easy grabbing!

There is certainly something magical about an outdoor movie. With minimal supplies and a simple, straightforward setup, you can create an outdoor theater for you and your friends. Pop some popcorn, grab a few blankets, and follow these tips to watch your favorite flick right in your own backyard.


Advertisements