Few people who buy a spec home leave it as is. They might change the light fixtures, put in a better front door or repaint the walls. In this 12,500-square-foot Atlanta charmer, the owners added a slew of sophisticated electronic systems, from a powerful home theater to a home control system and a lighting system that offers convenience, potential energy savings and dramatic architectural highlights. The homeowners didn’t rush into this project, though. In fact, this well-lit house exemplifies the power of prodigious planning.
These homeowners waited more than a year before taking the plunge into the high-tech lifestyle. That was perfectly acceptable to the home systems installers at HomeWaves and LightLogics in Atlanta, Ga. According to designer Clay Gienger, it’s always easier to envision the benefits of technology after you’ve lived in your home a while. Months of familiarizing themselves with the layout of their new digs gave the owners keen insights about the technologies that would provide them with the best benefits.
Prewire, Prewire, Prewire
You’ve heard the real estate maxim: location, location, location. In the world of home technology, it’s prewire, prewire, prewire—even if you think you won’t need wiring at a certain location.
The builder of this home had the house fully prewired during construction, and what he put in was no ordinary wiring network. Subcontracted by the builder, HomeWaves ran enough cabling to support an advanced lighting control system, home automation, audio and video distribution and several surveillance cameras.
Once the wiring was in, numerous wall-mounted keypads, touchscreens and cameras were added, ready to be programmed whenever the homeowners decided how they wanted the systems to work. Because of the prewiring, the updates couldn’t have been easier. No walls had to be cut open and no floors or ceilings had to be drilled.
A Purpose-Driven Plan
Having already lived in the house for a time, the homeowners had no problem pinpointing each room’s purpose—at least on the main level. Lighting design and control turned out to be of primary importance, and HomeWaves’ lighting division, LightLogics, was able to handle every aspect of the setup, from the selection of new, upgraded fixtures to the programming of a Vantage control system.
In areas identified by the homeowners, HomeWaves swapped the original light switches for updated Vantage Scene Point keypads.
Updating the lighting in the unfinished basement was more involved. New wires were run, dozens of fixtures and bulbs were specified and installed—all while the space was being finished. Having a blank slate to work with had its advantages, though. LightLogics was able to design the lights around special architectural features planned for the room.
Different Lights for Different Purposes
One of Gienger’s main sources of lighting inspiration was the theater design created by sister company HomeWaves. The area features a domed ceiling, which Gienger showcased with Xenon lighting. Unlike traditional rope lighting where individual lights are encased in a clear plastic tube, Xenon lights come as individual bulbs on a narrow strip of plastic. Although Xenon is a more expensive option than rope lighting, the bulbs are able to create a larger pool of light so that an entire surface, not just the edges, are illuminated. “Plus, they’re dimmable,” says Gienger of the 40 specialty lighting strips he mounted around the trim of the dome.
For a brick wall at the back of the viewing area, Gienger selected recessed downlights to accentuate the rough texture of the surface. Accent lights were chosen for a hallway where several pieces of art would hang, and puck lights were installed to add shimmer to a series of glass shelves on the back wall of the bar. The area was finished with several recessed halogen lights and dimmable green compact fluorescent fixtures for general illumination. In all, 115 loads of lights are controlled by the Vantage InFusion system.
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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.