There’s more technology in this master suite than you’d typically find in an entire house—all integrated seamlessly. Of course, at 2,000-square-feet, there was plenty of space for the custom electronics (CE) pros at CBA Technology, South Pasadena, Calif., to fit in all sorts of high-tech elements. From top to bottom, wall to wall, there’s an amazing assortment of goodies. In A/V alone, the room boasts nine speakers and four TVs. Not that you’d ever notice any of them. “Stealth was the homeowner’s main concern,” recalls CBA Technology principal Michael Fehmers. “He wanted every bit of the technology we installed to be hidden and unnoticeable.”
Most of the time the suite’s two Samsung flat-panel LED TVs look more like a piece of art than an entertainment display. The disguise comes in the form of VisionArt, a piece of canvas artwork selected by the homeowner, which is motorized to roll up and down from a decorative frame wrapped around the TV (see sidebar).
A third TV hides behind the bathroom mirror. Only when it’s turned on does the screen of the 19-inch Seura LED screen become visible. When turned off, it disappears completely.
Rather than completely defeat the goal of low-key A/V by outfitting each TV with its own set of components, CBA organized all of the equipment inside an unused closet. Connected to a SnapAV matrix switcher, HDMI signals from a Logitech Squeezebox, Apple TV, Kaleidescape media server, DirecTV receiver and an Oppo Blu-ray player can be distributed to any TV as well as SpeakerCraft in-ceiling speakers in the master suite, plus to TVs elsewhere in the 6,000-square-foot house.
Naturally, it would take a beefy remote control to access and control such a large library of A/V equipment. Add motorized skylights and window treatments, architectural lighting, a smart thermostat and a gas fireplace to the equation, and having the right type of control device became even more paramount to the project. “Before the remodel, the owner was using wall-mounted touchpanels to operate various electronic features. He found the system difficult to operate and unreliable,” says Fehmers. This control system had been installed by the previous owners of the house. During the renovation, CBA replaced it entirely with a new Savant Apple-based home control system. “He’s a Mac user, so enabling control over the entire master suite environment through an iPad made the most sense,” Fehmers explains.
From the iPad or any other iDevice the owner is able to control every piece of electronics in the master suite, as well as throughout the entire house, which also underwent a drastic makeover. CBA designed the graphic user interface of the iPad to display a well-organized and intuitive menu of commands. Simply touching the reading lamp icon, for example, turns on the reading lamps; fireplace activates the gas fireplace, and so on. The homeowner can also use the iPad to select what he wants to watch or listen to, and choose where to have that content distributed—the TV and stereo speakers in the sitting room or the flat panel and surround-sound speakers in the sleeping quarters, for example.
(View images of this master suite here)
In addition to the iPad being convenient for the homeowner to use, enlisting the iPad as a control device significantly reduced the need for switches on the walls, which satisfied the homeowner’s need for non-intrusive technology. Buttons on the tablet can do everything several switches on the wall could. Still, for on-the-spot control as you enter a room, nothing beats a keypad by the doorway and in other strategic locations. CBA installed several Lutron seeTouch keypads throughout the space. Each keypad was fitted with six buttons, each programmed by CBA to operate a specific group of lights, the shades, the skylight, the mirror TV, and other features.
The only other mark the CBA crew left on the wall is a docking station for the iPad. The owner can attach it to the magnetized base to charge it and use it as a wall-mounted controller, or detach it and carry it with him. It’s the best of both types of controls, and still manages to downplay the appearance of the bevy of electronics that make this master suite the about as high-tech as they come.
Covering the Dreaded Black Hole
Flat-panel TVs have gone a long way toward improving the look of entertainment displays. Still, when they are off, they leave a not-so-good impression—a black hole in the wall, if you will. A solution offered by VisionArt turns that black hole into a work of art. A frame installed around the display holds a piece of retractable canvas that on command descends over the screen. What’s on that canvas is completely up to you. VisionArt offers a huge gallery of canvases in a variety of sizes and styles. Or, you can choose to have the canvas customized with a family portrait, a vacation photo ... anything at all. You can select from a wide assortment of frames, too. VisionArt will even provide the TV, if you need one. Its Trio system includes either a 40-, 46- or 55-inch Samsung Smart LED 3D TV, a Chief Thinstall wall mount, and a choice of canvas artwork in its Décor, Expressions or Premiere Gallerie. Prices start at $5,494.
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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.