This 6,000-square-foot house might look perfectly suited for the California coast, but it wasn’t always this way. When the owners purchased the property several years ago, what stood was a much smaller house in much need of repair in renovation. It would require a serious overhaul cosmetically and technologically to make the place what it is today: a luxurious getaway where music drifts to every room and outdoor space, and a dedicated theater entertains a crowd with a 133-inch screen and 7.2 surround-sound system.
The custom electronics (CE) pros at AM House, Chatsworth, Calif., were called in from the get-go to devise an electronics plan for the $18 million renovation. It was almost like starting from scratch, says AM House’s Justin Brees, as only two walls of the original structure would remain. This would make fishing the wiring for an Elan g! system a fairly straightforward process. Nearly every room would have a keypad that would allow the homeowners to select an audio or video source and direct the music and/or movie to a specific TV or set of in-ceiling speakers. The rebuild would also allow AM House to design a dedicated theater room, with enough space for eight custom Fortress Theater seats.
What really made this project particularly challenging, though, says Brees, was fitting the electronics into a home design that was constantly changing. Simply swapping a chandelier in the billiards room for something different, for example, required AM House to readjust the placement of a flat-panel TV several times. As the design and the décor evolved throughout the project, so did AM House’s plans, resulting in some very creative applications of technology, as well as a few unforeseen additions.
Here are a few:
Subwoofers can be the bane of any sound system. Left out in the open, they can be an eyesore, yet often can be challenging to recess into the walls and ceilings so that they are less noticeable. In this family room AM House requested that a larger than normal cavity be carved into the fireplace. This would allow the 52-inch Sharp TV to be mounted flush with the surface and provide room in back to hide the Velodyne subwoofer. The subwoofer is completely enclosed so it won’t rattle inside its hiding spot. AM House fashioned faux speaker grilles on each side of the TV; sound from the subwoofer is ported to the grille on the right.
The owners—and AM House—thought that two Elan in-ceiling speakers would suffice in the home gym. After hearing about the owners’ struggle to hear the audio over the hum of the machines, a Yamaha soundbar was attached to the bottom of the 46-inch Samsung LED TV.
The height and style of a chandelier can throw a monkey wrench into proper TV placement. Every time the owners hung a different chandelier (before making a final decision on which fixture they liked) AM House had to lower or raise the 46-inch Samsung LED TV to ensure a clear view of the screen.
A Lutron keypad was added to the entrance of the theater after the initial installation was complete. Custom designed buttons engage special lighting scenes as visitors stroll down a hallway that leads to the main viewing area.
Built around some of the home’s original structural elements, the 7½-foot tall ceiling left no room to build in surround speakers or to completely recess a video projector. Sonance wall-mounted speakers were used instead and painted to match the fabric of several acoustical panels; the mount that holds a Marantz video projector was tucked into the ceiling to provide as much headroom as possible.
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Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.