May 01, 2006
| by EH Staff
A lot goes into designing a good kitchen. There’s the work flow to consider, as well as making sure there’s ample storage space for all your bakeware, dishes and utensils. Having top-quality appliances, cabinetry, lighting and flooring is important, too. And more and more, TVs and stereo systems have become integral to the overall design of a hardworking kitchen. This award-winning kitchen has all of these crucial elements and a whole lot more. Loaded with more electronic components than most media rooms, it demonstrates all the amazing things you can do with a space traditionally reserved for cooking and consuming meals.
The owners of this kitchen didn’t settle for a simple little TV set on the countertop. The sprawling 800-square-foot space needed something much larger and more dramatic. The home systems design and installation team at Gramophone, based in Timonium, MD, hung a 50-inch Fujitsu plasma TV above the stone gas fireplace, putting all the video action within clear view from anywhere in the room. However, there is one spot that’s better than all the rest for taking in a movie, says Lance David, Gramophone’s director of custom sales and installation. Four cozy leather chairs positioned by the hearth create a comfortable entertainment nook where cold drinks and hot food are just a few steps away, thanks to an impressive suite of professional-grade appliances that offer a smorgasbord of tasty choices. The audio drifts into the entertainment area from speakers completely hidden within the walls. Not even the grilles are visible, as the Sound Advanced units are designed to be covered with sheetrock and plaster skimcoats. Other types of speakers mounted within the walls and ceilings enable everyone in the area to hear the show, whether they’re preparing dinner, relaxing in the adjoining sunroom or grabbing an armload of table linens from the adjacent butler’s pantry. Should the trip to the pantry (which also serves as a home office) take longer than expected, a 15-inch desktop touchscreen can display whatever the big-screen is showing.
Just about any type of video imaginable is available to the fun-loving family. Using either the touchscreen in the pantry or the one in the kitchen, they can access movies stored on a Kaleidescape video server, TV programs from any one of four high-definition satellite/DVR receivers, interesting sites on the Internet, or images from a dozen surveillance cameras positioned around the property. Popping up a view from the camera aimed at the indoor basketball court is a favorite. Mom and Dad can watch their three daughters shoot hoop while they enjoy an adult conversation. If the girls decide to jump in the pool after a rigorous game of ball, their parents can switch the plasma to view video from the camera positioned there. Should they need to speak with the girls, they can do so by engaging the intercom function of the kitchen touchscreen. Even phone calls won’t interrupt their discussion. The touchscreen was set up to display caller ID information whenever the phone rings.
Watching TV is just one pastime that happens in this fully stocked kitchen. Music can be summoned into the space with a click of the Crestron remote control. And it’s the variety of music sources that has the family singing for joy. Available to them are tunes from an Escient media server, an XM radio tuner and a dual AM/FM radio tuner. Most of the time, the songs play softly in the background, but when the occasion calls for a particular type of music, the touchscreens can display a random assortment of song titles by genre or artist or alphabetically to simplify the selection process.
While quick and convenient access to music and video makes this kitchen an awesome place to entertain, the touchscreens do have a more serious side. Important amenities like the security, heating and cooling, and lighting systems can all be controlled from them. For example, before bedtime, the homeowners can touch one button to lock all the exterior doors, turn off the lights and lower the thermostats.
By incorporating entertainment, control, security and management features into their kitchen, the homeowners and their home systems installation team were able to create a multifaceted room where just about anything is possible. It’s the type of space that’s sure to set a new standard in kitchen design.