October 21, 2009
| by Lisa Montgomery
Keeping It Simple
Proper lighting design isn’t just about making a room look good, says Gienger. “A big part of it is deciding how all the different loads will be controlled,” in other words, which lights will turn on and dim together. It’s a process that requires significant input from the family.
For this home, LightLogics relegated that task to 31 Vantage control keypads. The basement was fitted with 10 of them, while the remaining 21 were installed in place of the standard light switches on the main level. The number of buttons on each keypad varied between four and eight, and Gienger labeled each of those buttons by taping computer-printed slips of paper on them. The temporary labeling isn’t the most elegant solution, but it saved homeowners a lot of headaches in the long run.
“Often, we’ll go through several iterations before we finalize the customer’s desired settings and then have the buttons custom-engraved,” Gienger explains. For this project, the homeowners used tape and paper labels for almost six months before deciding on the most appropriate button terminology.
What they discovered was an overwhelming desire for simplicity. “They didn’t want to be able to enact a ton of different lighting scenes from the keypads,” says Gienger. “They felt they could accomplish everything they needed with just a few simple commands.”
COME HOME, GOOD NIGHT, ENTERTAIN and AMBIANCE were ultimately chosen as the four primary commands. COME HOME activates the lights in the kitchen and living room to specific intensity levels, while GOOD NIGHT fades out every light in the common areas over a period of a few minutes, then turns on the hallway lights to just 10 percent. ENTERTAIN focuses on the areas downstairs and darkens the bedrooms. “It’s a sign for guests to stay out of those rooms,” says Gienger. Last but not least, AMBIANCE puts the main room lighting to a low level while increasing the intensity of the accent lighting. The remaining buttons on the keypads are used to turn on and off predefined groups of lights.
The keypads are an integral part of the lighting design, but they aren’t the only means of control in this home. A combination of 10 in-wall and portable AMX touchpanels can also operate lights, as well as a NuVo whole-house audio system, surveillance cameras, AMX thermostats, a B&K video distribution system and Runco home theater equipment.
Careful planning helped make entertainment access quick and easy throughout the home. Any source in the home theater or in a temperature-controlled equipment room is accessible from any area of the house. In addition, several Universal Remote handheld remotes can enact quick commands, mainly to the local audio and video equipment that serves each of the home’s 17 flat-panel TVs. The family can choose to watch something on the local DVD players, or go to an AMX touchpanel to select from the hundreds of movies or thousands of songs that are stored on the hard drives of Kaleidescape servers in the theater and equipment room.
Adding Some Drama
Lighting also plays a special role in the home theater—adding to the ambiance and fun. On command from a keypad, remote or touchpanel, the lights dim perfectly for family movie night, brighten slightly during intermission and turn off completely when it’s time to call it a night.
In addition to the spectacular Xenon lighting effect, a Stewart Filmscreen 110-inch display offers breathtaking movie images. HomeWaves and LightLogics supported the sights with amazing sound from an Anthem 7.1 THX-certified surround-sound system, paired with in-wall Paradigm speakers and a subwoofer. Even the homeowners’ sense of touch was catered to, as HomeWaves fitted the bottom of six home theater seats with ButtKicker tactile transducers that shake and rumble along with the movie action.
So are the results of this home worth the wait? Ask this family, and they’ll light up in agreement.
Click here to view additional photos of this home.
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.