At the risk of sounding cliché, Been there done that.
In my old house nearly 20 years ago I worked like you did and made a modest 12 person theater room out of an unfinished basement area. It was great as it was from the start deemed a man cave and there were no restrictions on what I did, so lots of black paint etc. It got a fair amount of use with friends and family movie nights as back then a 36”TV was still a big deal for most folks and here I had a 120” screen with a couple big subs and a 5 channel sound with those fancy DVDs and a 720p projector that made them look better.
UFC PPV fight nights were big as were IMAX nature movies and concerts.
After a few years the novelty wore off and the basement became more of a destination and a chore than plunking down upstairs and watching the new 42” 1080p flat panel with some cheap HT in a box sound. All our friends were getting similar setups. Very similar to what you are seeing. For the last 5 years at that house the HT got little use except for myself and I still greatly enjoyed it, but HTs are built to be enjoyed by a bunch of people at the same time and I always felt a little lonely using it that way.
Fast forward to 5 years ago and a change of homes. I bought a run down short sale home and did a total redo of the house that took me a couple years working alone. We were living in the house and doing the work at the same time and I had the HT packed away. One night I got the projector out and set it on a box used a sheet of drywall for a screen and a couple computer speakers and two lawn chairs and we watched a movie before bed. It was pure joy to eat a pizza have a beer and watch a movie together. Each day we would break down the makeshift theater and each night set it back up we got the process down to a couple minutes. Watching makeshift this way got me thinking about our HT needs and I started designing our new concept (media room) on the fly.
There was a small parlor beside the living room and I added an archway to make the room feel more a part of the living room but then again a separate room connected. We went with a single row of 4 seats. We eliminated all other TVs in the house except a built in 32” in the kitchen for news and morning shows and background TV when cooking. The media room is now not a destination but it is like our makeshift theater only always ready to go. The projector gets turned on at 6:00 every evening and goes off about midnight. It is a room where we want to be and enjoy together. It is treated like a theater and has light control. When it is used in the daytime Weekends we have BOC curtains that cover the archway we draw. It works with both some ambient light and also lights out. We watch TV and hard media and streaming and we have the option of swinging my laptop over my seat and it is then fully HTPC. Lately with the COVID19 going on we are surfing the web and finding both local and national artist doing free impromptu concerts. We find them surfing and then port them to the HT and enjoy them big and with quality sound and pizza and beer.
The room is also the hub for all the home audio and because of its location it gets used all the time.
Building a HT is like building a Hot Rod. I have friends into that as well. Some people build them and sell them to build another. Some people build them and just display them. Others build one and then drive it every chance they get. I want to be that last guy. Ours will never win HT of the month but I suspect we put 10X the hours on ours now. It is so nice IMO we go crazy waiting for some new movie to make it to the home market because we don’t want to spoil the movie watching it in a commercial theater.