The glitz and glamour of Hollywood seem a million miles away the second you step into David McCallen’s recently remodeled hillside home. That’s exactly what he and his partner intended when they set out to refurbish the outdated three-bedroom abode that’s tucked away in a quiet, wooded neighborhood in the Hollywood Hills. “We wanted it to be a place where we could escape the rush of the city and completely disappear,” says David.
It would take plenty of elbow grease to change both the home’s appearance and infrastructure. David would take care of the redesign, transforming what used to be a swinging single’s pad into a stylish, modern dwelling featuring an open floorplan with a sleek, modern decor. “It would look nothing like it did before,” says David. “The previous owner had put a Jacuzzi off the living room and converted a room into a tanning salon. It was the consummate bachelor’s pad—definitely not something that suited us.”
Modernizing the house would also call for a complete electronics redo. David’s partner was the perfect candidate for the job. “Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve dreamed about having the kind of home where I could just press one button and have all kinds of things happen,” he says. “Technology is a passion of mine.” Having installed electronic systems into other people’s homes for years as a professional home systems contractor, he had a clear vision about what do in their own place.
Given both homeowners’ busy schedules, the two knew they would benefit from a system that would allow them to monitor and control their home’s temperature, swimming pool and spa, window shades, surveillance cameras, and audio and video equipment from anywhere on or off the property. A Crestron Pro2 automation system would streamline the process to just a press of a button on a wall-mounted or portable Crestron touchpanel, a telephone or PDA, computer keyboard or a Universal Remote Control MX-850 handheld remote. “With the Crestron system, we can do things like turn on the outdoor Jacuzzi from the bedroom or from the phone while we’re driving home,” David enthuses. “We might also tell the system to turn on the music and activate the pool lights.” In an instant, the Crestron system has prepared the patio for an impromptu backyard get-together.
The Crestron system also allows the homeowners to view real-time images captured by the web-based Panasonic surveillance cameras positioned inside and outside the house. Engaging the web control button on a touchpanel transfers the video to the screen of any PC or TV. The couple can pan, tilt and zoom in the cameras for a better look by using the navigation buttons on a handheld remote. Also, just as they can with all the products managed by their Crestron system, they can access the cameras from anywhere in the world through a web connection.
The home’s three touchpanels and eight remotes fire off a slew of other commands, like directing the window shades to open and close, the thermostats to raise and lower, the whole-house music system to turn on and off, and the home theater to power up and down. Despite the enormous degree of control the Crestron system provides, the technology is nearly imperceptible. “We wanted it all to look very stealth,” David says. Most of the electronic equipment, except for a pair of home theater speakers, is hidden inside a custom-designed cabinet, and only three slim touchpanels are visible. “We rely mainly on our remotes for control,” David continues. “That way when we have a party, we can just put the remotes inside a couple of drawers and make the technology disappear.”
Guests may have a hard time seeing the technology in this house, but they can definitely hear it. The place is loaded with built-in Sonance speakers that pump out songs from the owners’ huge collection of CDs that have been stored digitally on a 250-gigabyte AudioReQuest music server. That’s stowed, along with a host of other components, in a central equipment cabinet in the home theater. The owners can view the titles of their music library on the screen of any PC or TV, then use a handheld remote to enter their selections. They can choose to have different songs play in each of the home’s six independent listening zones or have the same piece play throughout the property.
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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.