July 20, 2010 by Arlen Schweiger
Sometimes the aha moment comes during a rockin’ home theater demonstration. Or finding out you can shut off an entire house’s lights from the bedroom touchscreen. Or hearing your iPod playlist sound over the dining room speakers.
But this aha came when the lady of the house voiced concerns over what to place above the living room fireplace. Her husband wanted a flat-panel TV; she and the decorator wanted artwork. They discovered they could have both—the art could actually be used to conceal the TV.
That wasn’t the only aha moment during the course of this extensive home automation project. There were plenty more—and plenty of automation innovations to inspire the homeowners’ imaginations. (Click here to view additional photos and information.)
“I met the interior decorator [Gretchen Edwards] while I was there on a walk-through, and there was discussion of whether to put a 46-inch flat-panel TV in the living room,” explains Frank DeFilippis, design principal of custom electronics firm Link Your House in Atlanta. “The wife thought it was completely unnecessary to put a TV above the fireplace. She wanted it for artwork that had been in storage for a couple of years. While they were talking I kind of raised my hand and said, ‘You know, you can put a TV behind artwork and move the art out of the way when you turn the TV on.’”
That was all the decorator and lady of the house needed to hear, and talk quickly turned to other forms of motorization.
Motorizing and automating window treatments to view the lakefront from the 7,000-square-foot home scored major points with the homeowners. High-voltage wiring powers Somfy and Simu motors to move 20 blinds, three draperies and five massive outdoor screens enclosing a 45-foot porch area.
The owners and guests can use a couple of different interfaces to command the window treatments: Visitors mainly flip the blind control switches that are mounted to the walls of certain rooms, and the owners have grown comfortable using the remote controls, keypads and touchpanels that are tied to a hybrid HomeLogic and RTI (Remote Technologies Inc.) automation system. “I’ve caught him showing off his motorized treatments to friends several times now, so I know he loves it,” says DeFilippis.
Measures of Concealment
Guests might ooh and ahh more when home theaters are shown off, but the now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t trick in the living room provides plenty of wow for this vacation home. DeFilippis mentioned to the lady of the house that a few solutions could work, such as framing the artwork and having it scroll inside the frame to reveal the TV. But she wanted the room’s visual feature to be the original art on its canvas. So the 4-by-6-foot piece of art moves up to display the TV—while remaining in view. High cathedral ceilings and a tall fireplace allowed for more than enough room to accommodate a motorized lift.
Link Your House worked with the builder to carve a cavity above the mantle to recess both the LCD screen and center-channel speaker. When the Lift-Tech device moves up, the screen and speaker are exposed and extend out of the cavity.
“It’s not fast—it takes about 15 to 20 seconds when you hit the button, but she thought that the lift was really cool,” says DeFilippis. “They probably put the artwork up and down more just to show people [than to watch TV].”
A lot of their viewing takes place in another room that features special motorization systems to hide the video goods. It’s not your typical dedicated basement home theater. This multipurpose media room is on the terrace level that leads to the lakefront patio with three sets of French doors comprising a side wall. The room also carries the wooden beams and stone decor from the rest of the house.
“The entire room is built out of stone, which is just horrible acoustically,” says DeFilippis. “And an entire wall is basically made out of glass. We talked about using a big plasma or LCD and artwork, but the owners really wanted a screen that could slip into the ceiling and then come down when it’s in use.”
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Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.
Systems Design and Installation
Link Your House
Harrison Design & Associates
V2K Window Decor
S86A audio distribution amplifiers
VSE2, VSE volume controls
CVWP component video baluns
VCS-10 center channel speaker
LCi-RTS100 THX speakers
Motorized, Tab tensioned Access V Screen
Micro Projector Lift
3, 4 and 5 Channel DecoFlex wall controllers
20 Channel Telis Remote (for programming)
URTS 2 serial interface
Home Brick – 80GB
8.4” Wireless Touch Screens
Software Tabs – Home, Security, Lighting/Windows, Cameras, Audio, Climate, Pool/Spa, Irrigation
Serial Brick – Std.
Serial Brick – Irrigation
Serial Brick – Pool/Spa
GS116 16-port 1000Mbps switch
FS108 100Mbps switch
84” ERK rack
Shelves, power distribution, wire management, thermal management
HCM-531A IP Camera
HCM-580A IP Camera
T1-B rf remotes
ECB-5 IR hubs
Xantech designer style emitters and covers
Sharp, Sansung LCD TVs
Omni IIe controller, keypads, C3 Cellular Communicator
Wi-Ex Dual Band Cellular Booster – zBoost YX600
ST2-XM AM/FM/XM Tuner
Walt x-2 outdoor volume control
Sonance FS-21 iPort dock
Moxa NPort 5400 IP to Serial controller
DVP-SR11P DVD players
BDP-s360 Blu-ray players
DLO HomeDock Deluxe iPod docks
Motorola cable boxes, DVRs
TPS Surge Protection
Phone Line Protection
LIT-4 Serial Irrigation Protection
TK-CT2 Amp Pro Outdoor Audio Protection
CE Labs 2-Channel Audio Distribution Hubs
Aviosys IP Video 9100A
Lift TECH motorized art lift
Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 1080 video projector