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There’s hardly a straight line or a parallel wall anywhere in this 3,000-square-foot Mission Beach, Calif., oceanfront home designed by Ocean Pacific Companies, San Diego, Calif. The curved walls, spiral staircase, large windows and wide-open views are matched by a home automation system that similarly flows with the owners’ lifestyles. In fact, the system is so customized that there are two completely separate types of controls: one for her and one for him.
Ryan Lipkovicius, president of San Diego–based Audio Impact, had worked with this home builder several times before, so he knew that technology was going to be important to the overall design. The home has an artistic high-tech look and would require top-of-the line automation and A/V gear to complement it. Even though Audio Impact came into this project post construction, the builder understands tech, so considerations for an infrastructure were made as the house was being built.
While the unique design of the house demands attention, it’s the automation system that creates the most lasting impression. The owners of the property had used a home automation system before and, in fact, were big fans of Crestron automation systems. Through their experience with automation, they had developed clear ideas of the types of high-tech features they wanted for this house.
The wife likes simplicity. The ability to launch basic commands, such as on/off to an entire floor of light fixtures, was particularly appealing to her, especially since the house features more than 200 lighting loads. The husband, on the other hand, likes more precise control, such as being able to operate each light fixture—as well as motorized shades and audio zones—individually. To accommodate both requests, Audio Impact programmer Mathew Turkins created two, instead of one, graphical user interfaces for the couple’s iPads. The on-screen menu on the wife’s iPad presents the basic controls she wanted, while the husband’s iPad-based control menu lets him dig deeper into the operation of every device. “This was the happiest thing they’ve experienced with the system,” says Lipkovicius. The keypads and two wall-mounted touchpanels offer a well-compromised level of control for both of them.
Accommodating the View
At the beach, the view is everything. The home’s open design provides a view of the ocean from nearly anywhere in the house. Even the back bedrooms extend a little from the side of the house to ensure occupants don’t miss out on a sunset. The home’s video displays were also installed in such a way that they don’t interfere with the views.
In the master bedroom, the TV hides away under the bed via a motorized lift when not in use. In the main living area, a TV is mounted on the side of the room, away from the large ocean-facing windows, but it can swing out into place via an articulating mount. When the users would rather watch a big screen than the sea, they can press a button on their Crestron app to lower a Da-lite screen in front of the main windows.
A home where half of it seems to be made of glass and has almost no interior doors calls for a lot of natural and artificial lighting control. Add the fact that there are about 230 lighting loads—in the bedroom alone there are 12 loads—and control becomes essential. The lighting, all connected to a Crestron system, includes a variety of different fixtures to illuminate artwork, stairways, pillars and pathways. There is even a Crestron-controllable 2,000-watt sodium floodlight that lights up the beach—and gas-fueled Tiki torches—all of which can be operated via a Crestron control app on the owners’ iPads.
Along with the artificial lights, the Crestron system is in charge of a wide array of motorized shades from Crestron and Somfy. The shades are programmed to move up and down as the sun rises and sets, but Audio Impact programmed the system so the owners can easily alter this schedule. The shades are mostly used to minimize heat gain, as the windows themselves are made of privacy glass.
Motors also play a role in two of the home’s main A/V zones. In the master bedroom, a motorized lift brings a TV out from under the bed and positions it for viewing. In the main living area, motors lower both a 110-inch projection screen and an Epson 6020 3LCD projector into place for watching movies or special sporting events, with all the content delivered through Crestron’s Digital Media system. Definitive Technology in-ceiling speakers provide the sound while staying virtually out of sight.
When living in a beach house in Southern California, the outside is as important as the inside. The balcony and patio areas include a variety of outdoor speakers, including Definitive Technology architectural speakers, Sonance rock speakers and in-ground subwoofers. Wireless access points make it easy for the homeowners to play music, via AirPlay, through the outdoor system or any of the other 15 audio zones in the house. While listening to music outside, the owners can also use their iPads to operate all the outdoor lighting, including the Tiki torches, and to view video footage from their security cameras. “It’s a little oasis; they love it,” says Lipkovicius.
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had training from THX, the Home Acoustics Alliance, Control4 and Sencore. His latest book is Necessary Myths
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.