If there’s one piece of advice Carter Eckert would share with anyone considering an automation system for his or her home: Contemplate each and every function carefully. Before a single product was selected for their new beachfront residence in New Buffalo, MI, Carter and his wife, Michele, carefully weighed its benefits against its costs. “Some things simply didn’t make sense for us,” says Michele. TVs, for instance, were kept to a minimum.
“I didn’t want people coming here and just sitting in front of a TV when we could be enjoying the beach, the pool or just a good conversation.” To prevent guests from holing up in a bedroom, none of the guest rooms were given a TV, much less a speaker to tap into the whole-house music system.
The only rooms in the 9,000-square-foot residence that Carter and Michele decided to put a flat-panel TV in were the den, the downstairs rec room and bar, and in each of their respective home offices. Even those TVs, though, maintain a low profile. The 50-inch Runco plasma display in the den, for instance, stays hidden inside a sleek built-in cabinet. Only when the “TV” button on the 10-inch wireless Crestron touchpanel is engaged does the set slowly lift into view.
The office TVs, meanwhile, are about as far away from the main living spaces as they can get, sequestered in Carter’s and Michele’s private office spaces on the third floor. The only room that was designed specifically for TV viewing is the downstairs media room. There, a wall-mounted 40-inch Sony Bravia LCD TV at the bar shares space with a 70-inch Sony Grand Wega tucked inside a custom-crafted cabinet.
Following a Grand Depiction
The Eckerts followed the same approach when deciding on speakers, touchpanels and other devices. Grand Home Automation’s Rich Conklin was there to guide them throughout the entire process. As part of Grand Home’s design services, he discussed with the Eckerts their specific objectives and goals for their home.
Based on their many conversations, he created a line diagram of the residence, depicting the location of every electronic component. This gave the Eckerts a good sense of where their money would be spent and allowed them to visualize the system’s impact on the decor and their lifestyle. By studying the diagram, they knew, for example, that it would make sense to have a large touchpanel on both the main level and lower level so they could conveniently control the lights, security system, surveillance cameras, whole-house music system, motorized shades, and swimming pool and spa.
Smaller in-wall units and portable handheld controls would be used in rooms like the kitchen, master bedroom and home offices to allow the homeowners to operate devices within those particular spaces. The handheld Crestron touchpanel in Carter’s office, for example, would give him control over the room’s 32-inch Sony Bravia LCD TV and satellite receiver, as well as the shades and the lights.
Applying Past Experience
While many of the Eckerts’ decisions were based on how they planned to live in their new home, others were driven from past experiences. “I remember vividly having to listen to reggae music all day when our kids were teenagers,” Michele says.
Consequently, she and Carter requested a music system that would let them hear whatever they wanted regardless of what other people were listening to. Grand Home Automation answered with a Crestron Adagio distribution system that divides the home into several distinct listening zones.
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Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.