May 11, 2007
| by Arlen Schweiger
Electronic system installers hear it all the time from clients: “We want all the A/V we can get in this room, but we don’t want to see any of it!”
Lubbock, TX–based Hi-Fidelity received that exact instruction from in-town homeowners who didn’t want any of their audio or video on display (when not in use) in their new kitchen. This time, though, Hi-Fidelity’s Chad Waller found out that the homeowners really meant business: Not only did the electronics need to be hidden, but they were planning to conceal the fridge, freezer, dishwasher and other appliances as well.
As an added wrinkle to the installation, the homeowners wanted to watch television in two distinct parts of the kitchen—the breakfast room and the cooking area. This presented an extra challenge for Hi-Fidelity and led to a unique solution that would make this room truly stand out.
“We were looking at different options, like having one TV on a swing arm or two TVs in different spots,” Waller says. “Then we looked at different options as far as lifts, but I wasn’t sure about how it would work with the granite countertop.”
The idea of having a television pop up from under a countertop was certainly intriguing, but what really turned the clients on to the idea was a trip to—where better for over-the-top innovation and magic?—Las Vegas.
“He took a vacation to Las Vegas with his wife, and they couldn’t find the TV in their hotel room,” says Waller. “They were playing with the remote, and the TV popped up. We were looking at pop-up ideas, but I never thought we could do back-to-back TVs. After he saw [how it operated in the hotel room], though, he really liked the idea of doing the lift elevator.”
To make sure he could install a lift that would be able to hold a pair of NuVision 23-inch high-def LCDs, Waller went straight to the manufacturer, Lift-Tech, and worked with the company on a customized product. He wasn’t even sure it had created such a design before. “I don’t think they had,” says Waller, “but we came up with a way to do it so it would be enough to lift two TVs back to back, plus the weight of the granite. The granite slab was probably around 30 pounds, plus the TVs, plus the lift itself. So we were probably looking at about 50 pounds total.”
Hi-Fidelity also made modifications to further ensconce and secure the video, building side panels so the homeowners wouldn’t see any gaps between the LCDs or the lift mechanism itself. They also built panels that would support the granite evenly, as well as the bar on top of the TVs. The installation also required modifications under the counters, such as shortening drawers. When Waller tested the device and saw that it actually lifted the TVs up and down, he breathed a sigh of relief. The company outfitted the entire house with systems, including eight TVs total (one in the master bedroom was hidden in a Vutec art screen), and Waller says he took extra care in heeding the classy taste and impeccable neatness the clients display in their home.
Audio in the kitchen streams through Phase Technology in-ceiling speakers, and the homeowners have an RTI T3 controller for easy use of the audio and video.
Suffice it to say, the homeowners were ecstatic with the outcome, as well as with Hi-Fidelity’s careful installation in general. “They were extremely happy. They like showing that TV lift and their Vutec art screen off to people,” says Waller. “They’re getting ready for us to come back in and do the lighting control.”
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Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.