Some people have a tough time giving up control. The owner of this Southern California condo is not one of them. When the bachelor decided to renovate his 3,500-square-foot digs, he gladly handed over the entire project to a team of professionals. “I’m a great believer that if I hire someone, I take their advice and do what they tell me to do,” he says.
That’s a very brave stance, given how expensive electronic systems and home furnishings can be. The homeowner’s interior designer and home systems installer could have easily drained his bank account within a day’s time, but they didn’t. Because the homeowner was planning on using the residence part-time, Richard Basch of Artistic Design & Entertainment and Carole Katleman of Carole Katleman Interiors agreed that they should keep both the decor and the electronic systems as simple and as unfussy as possible. “The client’s needs were fairly basic, so I didn’t want to overdo things,” says Basch. With that goal in mind, the entire electronics setup, which included a whole-house music system, several plasma TVs and a home theater, came in at less than $50,000. Although that may still sound like a lot, many homeowners spend much more than that for just a home theater, Basch explains.
Demolition Opens Up Living Space
The renovation commenced by removing several interior walls to open up the space. “I felt the openness would make the condo feel less formal,” explains Katleman. “It would make the space go from feeling like a stuffy Wilshire Boulevard condo to a casual Manhattan loft.”
That casual style carried over to the arrangement of the entertainment components. Instead of using a stodgy audio/video cabinet to hold the TV in the main living area, Katleman and Basch elected to recess a 61-inch LG plasma TV into the wall, complemented by a short, custom-designed case piece for storage of DVDs, CDs and magazines. The main components, including a Denon surround-sound receiver, Sony DVD player, JVC VCR and high-def DirecTV TiVo receiver, were stashed inside an existing closet near the home office just a few steps away from the couch. “I don’t mind walking to the closet to load a DVD or CD at all,” says the homeowner. “And keeping the components in the closet makes the electronics so much less obtrusive.”
The open, airy feeling continues throughout the condo, where five additional plasmas adorn the walls. Just like their big brother in the living room, the extra displays pull all their content from the various players and receivers in the closet. A Pioneer 42-inch plasma serves both the master bedroom and the kitchen, while a 20-inch LCD feeds a steady dose of DVDs and high-def programs to the master bathroom and guest bedroom. Each TV has its own DirecTV satellite receiver, so different programs can be viewed simultaneously. Most times, though, the homeowner says he puts the same program on all the TVs. “I’m a sports nut and a single guy, so when I have my friends over, we’ll tune all the TVs to the same game.”
Speakers Highlight Installation
Speakers are another part of the entertainment system that Basch and Katleman kept off the floor and out of sight. The back wall of the living room holds a pair of rear-surround speakers. The white walls were a perfect match for the M&K units. Their white grilles blended right in without needing to be painted. The front three speakers and a subwoofer sit behind the caning on the front of the cabinet beneath the plasma.
These five speakers are just the beginning of the home’s incredible sound. Every room received at least a pair of speakers so that the audio from a movie recorded on TiVo or a show on satellite could be heard throughout the residence. And when the homeowner is in a musical mood, he can go to the Niles Audio switcher in the closet to pump songs from a CD player, satellite receiver or AM/FM tuner to every in-wall speaker. Simple wall-mounted volume controls let him adjust the intensity of each set of speakers individually.
Total Handheld Control
The only handheld control in the house is a Pronto remote from Philips. This one device gives the homeowner the ability to activate any audio and video component from anywhere. A built-in screen displays his choices, like DVD, CD, satellite and tuner. A tap of his finger activates the chosen source. From there, he can fast-forward, pause and adjust the volume. The onscreen menu system was custom designed by Basch to make using the audio and video gear a breeze.
The electronic systems in this condo may not pack a lot of flash and glamour, but they fit the homeowner laid-back lifestyle to a T. The controls are simple, the rack of audio and video equipment is basic and the plasmas are low-key. The unpretentiousness of it all has the owner scrambling to get to this part-time residence as much as he can.
“I don’t think he realized that he could go from living in a 12,000-square-foot home to a 3,500-square-foot condo,” says Katleman. But the electronic systems, combined with an easygoing decor, only prove that it doesn’t take a big space or a huge budget to make a home feel like a million bucks.
Electronics Design & Installation
Artistic Design & Entertainment
Santa Monica, CA
Carole Katleman Interiors
Beverly Hills, CA
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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.