Log Cabin with Home Tech
Log-cabin walls and a remote site presented obstacles, but creative planning brought high-end tech into this rural home
A 17-inch touchscreen in the kitchen gives the homeowners control over every system in their 6,000-square-foot house. Photo by Joe Hilliard.
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November 16, 2006 by Lisa Montgomery

Dale and Lori Grubb love log homes, so when it was time to build a new house, it had to be with logs, in central Florida, on a lot surrounded by 4,300 acres of protected land. And although they love the rustic look and feel of all that wood, they also wanted modern conveniences like a home entertainment system, music throughout the house and Internet service.

Only there were a couple of problems with their remote site: It had no broadband Internet or cable TV access. That was solved by a DirecTV satellite dish and an antenna tower out back that helped bring in wireless DSL service and over-the-air (read: free) HDTV stations. Sometimes the simple life really pays off.

Inside the home, which is lined with red cedar logs, white pine ceilings, and Australian cedar floors, are six zones of whole-house audio and an inviting family room with a 55-inch TV and full surround sound. But only the TV is immediately visible.

“We think of the electronics as a complement to the home itself,” says Dale. “We wanted something that wouldn’t be showy, so we built distressed alder wood cabinets around the TV and to hide the electronics.”

Cabinetmaker Mark Shives worked with Tony Bassett of Bassett Custom Audio/Video to fit the cabinetry to the electronics. The cabinets wrap around the 55-inch Sony Wega rear-projection screen to make it look like a flush-mounted flat panel. A door to the left opens to reveal the electronics, including four DirecTV receivers and a Yamaha RX-V2600 surround-sound receiver that delivers a total of 910 watts to six speakers and a subwoofer. Three 8-inch Sonance speakers are mounted in the ceiling above the cabinet, with three more in the ceiling in the rear.

But the Grubbs don’t suffer from the compromised sound that’s common with many in-ceiling speakers. The Sonance speakers have adjustable midrange/tweeter drivers, so the sound can be pointed at the seating area.

And that’s not all: The Yamaha receiver also serves the adjacent pool area, enabling the family to watch two different shows at the same time. The component acts like two receivers in one.

Sonance’s in-ceiling speakers and NuVo’s Concerto whole-house audio system serve the rest of the log home with great sound, whether from a CD or AM/FM or XM satellite radio. “We can turn on the TV or XM radio just by [pressing buttons on] little panel boxes that are on the walls,” says Dale.

Lori gets the credit for the great design and for working closely with Bassett on the electronics installation. The wiring for the systems required some forethought, because the couple didn’t want to have to drill wiring channels through the logs. Fortunately, the interior walls are made of drywall, which allow for easier routing of the wire. “It really was well thought out,” Dale acknowledges of the entire home.

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Lisa Montgomery - Contributing Writer
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.

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