May 01, 2008
by Arlen Schweiger
Poker table? Check. Pool table? Check. Kitchen? Check. Grill? Check. Big TV? Check and double check!
Unlike most renovations that include all of the above, this remodel isn’t in the basement but rather in a cabana by the swimming pool. Throw in other goodies such as an Xbox 360, access to a 400-disc DVD/CD changer, an iPod dock, an exercise room and an outdoor living area, and it’s no surprise that Ryan and Wendy Turner entertain lots of guests at their Fresno, CA, home.
When the Turners bought the home, the property included the main house, a guest house and a pool house that clearly did not get used as much as it does now. But did the Turners think they would stuff this much audio and video into the space? “Absolutely! When we purchased the property, we envisioned the cabana to be a multipurpose entertainment room,” Ryan says. “We use this space daily. We’ve had a number of pool parties, poker parties and cocktail parties, and we even hosted a Super Tuesday night party for the election primaries.”
The fun part was figuring out how to connect the three buildings so most of the audio/video gear could reside in the main house, as well as add automation capabilities so the homeowners wouldn’t have to worry about leaving a light on or the thermostat too high in the pool or guest houses. The Turners posed those challenges to professional systems installer Hi-Tech Home/Cobb Enterprises of nearby Clovis, CA. “The first thing I thought was that this was going to be a very challenging project because it’s not new construction,” says company president Jay Cobb. “Getting wiring to certain locations was a major task. They have dedicated equipment in the cabana, but the full equipment rack is in the main house, and we wanted to tie it into the cabana so they could have a multitude of sources available to them. We did a combination of wired and then wireless.”
The brain of the network is a Control4 system that ties together control for lighting, thermostats, audio and video throughout the property. It allows for simple control over many functions in the cabana, including a one-touch trigger that turns on the lights, sets the thermostat to a comfortable temperature, and fires up the Samsung 57-inch and 40-inch LCD TVs to ESPN. Similarly, pushing an away button before leaving the area shuts down all the audio, video and lights and lowers the thermostat to 65 degrees.
There’s no surround sound in the cabana, but if the Turners or their four children want to mute the TVs and listen to some music while they’re hanging out there, they can choose tracks from an iPod, a Sony 400-disc changer or anything ripped to the Control4 80-GB media controller in the main house. Sonance Mariner speakers are planted inside and outside of the cabana, and a Sunfire TrueSub EQ subwoofer provides extra thump. “Having the subwoofer in the cabana adds dramatically to the ability to feel the music, and it enhances the fun environment of the cabana and surrounding outdoor area,” Ryan says.
The cabana setup also allowed the Turners, with a hand from Hi-Tech Home, to put a twist on last year’s Christmas party. “We turned our cabana into Santa’s workshop and hired a photographer to come in and photograph all of the children with Santa,” Ryan says. “The photos were immediately loaded onto a CD, and Hi-Tech provided a technician to then load the pictures into our system. They were then viewed on every screen throughout our home.” Though they live in the part of town known as Christmas Tree Lane, the Turners have plenty to celebrate year-round.
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.