October 05, 2012
| by Lisa Montgomery
When football legend John Elway sees something he likes, he sticks with it. The former quarterback played his entire professional career with the same team, leading the Denver Broncos to six AFC Championship Games and five Super Bowls. He also still lives in the house he bought more than 20 years ago, a 15,000-square-foot residence teeming with trophies, awards and photos commemorating one of the greatest passers of all time.
Despite the nostalgic decor, John and his wife Paige are completely in the here and now when equipping their 30-year-old residence with systems that add to their convenience and lifestyle. “I’ve always embraced new technologies,” says Elway. “I’ve worked with Keith Russell (an A/V specialist at MVPAudio/Video in Denver) for years, and he keeps me up to date on new systems and products that could make my house more convenient.”
New Additions Join Old Favorites
The modifications have been many over the years. Some have involved minor updates, such as the time the Elways swapped the mammoth rear-projection TV in their family room for a flat-panel display. The new 60-inch Sharp Aquos Quattron LED TV went into the same cabinet the rear-projection set had occupied. “He could have certainly put that panel on the wall or bought a new cabinet, but John isn’t one to spend money just to have the latest and greatest,” says Russell. Other changes have been more significant, like the addition of a tricked-out outdoor entertainment area and dedicated home theater in the lower level.
Through every alteration and addition, the Elways have managed to preserve the casual, comfortable, family-friendly feel of the home they’ve grown to love. The same goes for technology. The URC remote that the kids bought John for Christmas a few years back is still used in the family room, and one of the first touchpanels to hit the market back in the late 1990s continues to operate the home theater. Even the theater’s surround-sound system and screen have remained virtually unchanged for 14 years.
Wireless Lighting Weighs In
“John really lives by the belief that ‘if it ain’t broke, why fix it,’” says Russell. Lighting, however, was one part of the house that John and Paige knew needed updating. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to run down to the basement to turn off the lights,” John says. “I was really intrigued when Keith told me there were systems that would let me turn off all the lights in the house from one button by my side of the bed.”
The challenge would be finding a system that was robust enough to control potentially hundreds of lighting loads, yet could be installed easily in an existing home. A wireless system would be the best option, according to Russell. The Elways agreed. “The key for us is that it be wireless so that we wouldn’t have to tear up the house to add new wiring,” adds John.
Because Russell’s specialty is audio and video, he put John and Paige in touch with fellow custom electronics professional Tim Thurmond from Denver-based Precision Media Solutions. Thurmond, who has several years of experience designing and installing sophisticated residential lighting systems, recommended Vantage’s InFusion system for its communications range and programming flexibility for large homes. Although the InFusion system is very robust and capable of controlling every light, as well as thermostats, A/V gear and a host of other electronic devices, the Elways chose to tie in only the lights on the main floor. Thurmond equipped the home with four processors, though, so the system would be able to handle the integration of additional lights later on, which the Elways say is definitely in their playbook.
The installation of those first 95 Vantage EasyTouch II keypads did very little to disrupt the Elways’ home or lifestyle, and took a little over two weeks to complete. Instead of carving out new holes in the walls for the keypads, the team at Precision Media Solutions installed them in place of the home’s old dimmer switches. Some of the locations could be considered a bit odd in today’s modern homes—such as the replacement keypad installed on the side of the kitchen cabinet, but as Thurmond explains, after 20 years of living in the house the Elways were comfortable operating the lights from that spot. “We didn’t add a single new location for a lighting control,” he says, “but chose to stick with the locations that had been established years ago.
The master bedroom features a wall-mounted 60-inch Samsung TV and Monitor Audio surround-sound speakers. Vantage EasyTouch II keypads positioned near the bed let the Elways control the room lights, while a Logitech Harmony remote handles the A/V and motorized window shades and drapes.
Although they may reside in the same locations as the old-style dimmers, the new keypads are significantly more efficient at operating the lights. Each button is labeled to turn on and off a specific light fixture or group of fixtures. Press CHANDELIER, and the chandelier turns on, for example. Sconces, floor lamps and recessed lights are controlled in a similar manner.
In addition to operating the lights individually, the keypads can also command groups of lights, and open and close BTX motorized window shades and drapes. The Elways are in the process of nailing down these groups, or “scenes,” but one that’s already being used, called COOKIES, illuminates a pathway from the master bedroom to the kitchen. It was designed specifically for Paige, “who happens to be quite a night owl,” says John. “I’ve always felt that the right lighting is so important for the inside of the house and outside, so we’re playing with the program to create scenes for the early evening, when we would typically have friends over.”
Lighting is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to entertaining at the Elways. A Sonos whole-house music system, also chosen for its wireless design, distributes music from Rhapsody and Pandora to built-in speakers throughout the house and outdoors. The speakers were originally wired to a system that’s been long discontinued, “and therefore difficult to service,” says Russell.
Each room with a TV, including the covered outdoor entertainment area with a 46-inch Samsung LED TV, is connected to its own suite of video components (Blu-ray players and Apple TV receivers), again a decision made due to the complexities and disruption involved with rewiring the home for audio and video distribution.
A Winning Play
Comfortable with the technologies in his home, Elway isn’t one to jump on the bandwagon of every product or system that hits the market. He’s fine with the older, yet still reliable and high-performing equipment in his house. Lighting happened to be the exception. The InFusion system from Vantage that recently joined the systems at the Elway residence proves that old and new can work in harmony to provide a family with the convenience and entertainment they need. EH
Read a Q &A with John Elway about his new home systems here.
Lighting Control: Vantage
Whole-House Audio: Sonos
Remote Controls: Logitech, URC
Motorized Shades: BTX
Speakers and Subwoofers: B&W, Electro-Voice, Monitor Audio, SpeakerCraft, Velodyne
Displays: Samsung, Sharp, Stewart Filmscreen
SYSTEMS DESIGN AND INSTALLATION
Precision Media Solutions, Denver, Colo., http://www.precisionav.com
MVP Audio Video, Denver, Colo., http://www.mvpav.com
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.