We looked far and wide to find our Best Outdoor Space winner, finding it on the Mediterranean isle of Cyprus. Perhaps that’s fitting, because for most people this roughly 15,000-square-foot home could easily serve as a prime locale for a relaxing European vacation. For these homeowners and their children, whether inside the house and especially outside of it, every day is like living the resort lifestyle.
“The house and pool, it’s like a hotel honestly,” says Harris Epameinondas of Nicosia, Cyprus-based Elytronic, which decked out the entire home with a wide variety of high-tech systems. “It’s like a nice hotel resort area out there.”
In fact, when the homeowner was investigating the possibilities for having high-tech amenities added during construction of the residence, he asked about incorporating a system that would be able to command all of what he wanted … only the technology he knew about and asked about, DMX, is ostensibly a commercial system. Elytronic advised that his home, being a residential property, would be better suited for a system that had the requisite residential acumen. They wound up using home automation manufacturer AMX, whose products are often installed in very large homes such as this.
“He’s very tech savvy and we also showed him some of our other automated projects, so he understood that a project of this magnitude requires an integrated control system,” Epameinondas says. “He understood the value of it, and because he’s happy with our work, it seems we’ve proven him correct.”
And actually, the owner did end up with a touch of DMX technology sprinkled into the result, and in a way that provides a big dose of eye candy to this lap of luxury. Several exterior lighting scenes and color-changing effects that are controllable within the AMX system were created and programmed using DMX, which for commercial applications might typically be employed for a rock concert, to give an idea of the dazzling light show. Effects like this await the owners and their friends on a nightly basis.
Color-changing lights allow the pool to glow in various shades, while presets for the myriad of other outside lights—along the deck, the grotto, the building walls, the landscaping—are part of the extensive Lutron Homeworks system and integrated in “scenes” that might also incorporate some of the pool’s mechanical functionality while piping in tunes to the weather-hardy SpeakerCraft (including eight rock-shaped models) and KEF loudspeakers scattered about.
Pressing a GUEST scene on one of the six iPads around the house or any of the 11 AMX touchpanels and remotes will put the lights into a nighttime setting, fire up the fog machine, start the waterfall and initiate some music. Two Denon 500-disc CD changers, a Pioneer tuner and several iPod docks can be accessed within the housewide distributed audio system.
Audio is not the only source of entertainment that can be distributed from inside the home to outside. Although it is not technically outdoors, big-screen video from the cabana (called a kiosk in Cyprus) was installed so that it could be easily enjoyed by loungers and swimmers in the pool area, too. Elytronic routed high-definition sources—as well as surveillance video from cameras at the gates and garage—throughout the home using an 8x8 AMX video matrix switcher to provide plenty of movie and TV content to the Panasonic flat panel, which was installed on a Chief articulating wall mount so it could be repositioned toward the pool. There’s a little swim-up bar, with seats in the pool, just outside the cabana so swimmers can sit and relax with a drink and a movie and not strain their heads to try to see everything. KEF in-ceiling speakers dole out the audio that accompanies material from Blu-ray players, satellite and Apple TV servers, which are all connected to the matrix switcher.
All of these A/V options are great, but the real wow factor for this outdoor escape is in the control system and the breadth of lights, shades and pool operations it handles. From an iPad the homeowners can press one button to access a page with the pool lighting scheme and press another to command the pool jets. From there, functions ranging from powering the waterfall, wave generator, mist machine and pumps are at their fingertips. Meanwhile, with immediate access to more than 150 loads of lighting in the home and roughly 80 internal and external motorized shades, the owners can make their home part of the awe-inspiring visual landscape during and evening of outdoor entertainment. When the party’s over, they can press another button and have the 30 or so external blinds descend in sync with the panache of a chorus line.
“Their favorite part is taking an iPad and being able to control every aspect, just imagine being able to see the whole house shutting down from the outside,” says Epameinondas, who adds that the fun includes being able to remotely control and monitor everything as well. “He loves checking out the complete function of the house from anywhere in the world, because he travels on business a lot and he checks on everything. Sometimes his wife jokes that we’ve given him too much control.”
Making Wi-Fi Mighty
If you’ve traveled a lot, sometimes you might notice that the wireless network can be spotty at hotels. In this hotel-like residence, Elytronic ensured that the homeowners would have no such worries by implementing several wireless access points (WAPs) throughout the property. With control of the AMX system predominantly operated on iPads, an ultra-reliable wireless network was a must. Plus, like other typical construction in Cyprus, this home features a wealth of brick, steel and cement materials—not the most wireless-friendly transmission combination, not to mention the sheer scale of interior and exterior. Elytronic installed about a dozen Netgear ProSafe WAPs so that the family has “seamless wireless coverage to jump from access point to access point without noticing,” according to Epameinondas.
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Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.