When your entire house stands as a work of art, you don’t want electronics cluttering the view—even if it’s a sleek-looking 65-inch plasma screen. For these London, Ontario, homeowners, the massive fireplace concealing that plasma TV receives as many oohs and ahs as the big screen itself. And that’s just one of many eye-bulging views in this ultramodern home.
Certain building restrictions in the area were lifted when the neighborhood developer moved out of town a couple of years ago, relates Rick Ho of electronics installation firm London Audio. “This was the third project we’ve worked on for these homeowners, and a lot of the interior finishes, appliances and design lines were from condos they’d seen vacationing in Florida and Arizona,” Ho says. “In this neighborhood, they’re surrounded by traditional old-money, ivy-clad style homes. You’d think the other homeowners would be chasing them away.”
The two previous homes on which London Audio collaborated with these owners included a more traditional primary residence and a condo in town. After spending a lot of time checking out other luxury spaces, especially during their stays at a vacation condo in Arizona, the homeowners sought a more sophisticated design for this home.
The resulting stone finishes, stone tile, floor-to-ceiling glass and skylights are great for aesthetics but not so great for blending with audio/video demands. “The first project we did for them included a large media room with a 100-inch screen, a stack full of black boxes and flashing lights—exactly the opposite of what they wanted in this home,” says Ho. “In the old home, the home theater was in the basement, and in this one they wanted ground-level living. They wanted entertaining space on the ground floor but still wanted the entertainment invisible.”
Finding ways to hide the audio/video gear in the great room proved to be a challenge. For one thing, a projection screen that could drop down from the ceiling was not an option because of the light from four large skylights. The big open space also features a fireplace with a limestone facade flanking woodwork on one side, a glass-encased wine storage room in the rear, and more than 30 feet of windows that look out onto the backyard.
In this case, London Audio worked closely with Skinner & Skinner Architects and woodworker William Tyssen to tweak the fireplace dimensions and add depth to house the 65-inch Runco plasma TV. Rather than hang a flat-panel over a fireplace, the team stowed the TV behind a panel that retracts and slides upward and out of the way when it’s time to watch TV or a movie. A cavity between the back of the TV and the venting for the fireplace provides an area for cabling to run to the attic, and from there it is sent through a raceway down to the basement equipment rack.
Surround sound in the great room comes via SpeakerCraft’s motorized Time ceiling speakers, which drop into listening position and can tilt and rotate by remote control. An REL Acoustics 12-inch subwoofer built into a wall also stays hidden from view but can definitely be heard and felt.
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Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.