September 30, 2009
by Arlen Schweiger
How can you have it both ways—an elegant, luxurious living room but also a kickin’ media system with big-screen TV and surround sound?
A big, moving panel can help hide the display ... but it takes some doing to actually incorporate it into a design. In this case, custom electronics firm Automatic Home Systems teamed with partner contractor Stewart Senter to make it work, and maintain the grandeur of the home’s space.
“The goal was not to take away from the overall look of the room, which includes a beautiful dome ceiling with hand painted mural, a hand crafted mantel and elaborate mill work,” says Automatic’s Howard Zebersky. “Ideas exchanged frequently between the designer, homeowner, builder and integrators. The house was built in my opinion with the motto ‘bigger is better,’ and that is exactly what took place here.”
An elegant arched motorized panel was designed, and mirrored glass was included. The bottom glass would be recessed, enabling it to be motorized and slip under the upper mirror for a clean, flush appearance once the archway reaches the closed position, according to Zebersky.
And as the glass is retracted, a center-channel speaker from SpeakerCraft is first to be revealed above the hand-crafted mantel, followed by a 63-inch Fujitsu plasma screen.
“The whole-house Crestron control system receives commands from a Crestron STX 1700C Wireless Two Way Touchpanel. Once activated the equipment fires up and the glass panel begins to move upward,” says Zebersky. “Careful attention was paid to have the audio and video displayed only once the panel has reached its opening height.”
Hiding the speakers was yet another challenge, he notes. “A false panel had to be created behind the arched opening to house a the SpeakerCraft Starlet center channel, and the hand-crafted mantle was altered to house the SpeakerCraft right and left Starlet speakers.”
A pair of SpeakerCraft mt series in wall speakers rounds out the surround sound, fueled by a Marantz surround-sound processor. Video comes via a DirecTV HD receiver and Denon DVD player.
“Though [the project was] complicated, the homeowner achieved the goal of having a media space that is unknown to guests,” says Zebersky. “How pleasantly surprised people are once the space is fired up, and the glass panel begins to rise—it is really a sight.”
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.