The ability to place non-lighting type commands within the lighting keypads streamlines the process of controlling multiple systems and helps preserve the architecture of the home. What may have otherwise required multiple independent controls on the wall are combined into one sleek, attractive interface. As an example, says Spalla, “The controller that came with the spa system was incredibly ugly and would have looked awful mounted to the stone wall.” By integrating the spa system and the Lutron system, C&T was able to provide the Taylors with the basic controls they needed to operate the spa from a keypad that best complemented the home’s architecture and style. Per Tom’s request, the faceplates were finished in an oil-rubbed bronze or matte black. They still needed to be placed just right, though. “The general contractor’s superintendent, Tim Rieser, paid extreme attention to detail to make sure that the pads fit perfectly into the stone and were placed to stay within the seams of the redwood wall,” says Spalla.
Of course, the more systems that are integrated together the more buttons will be required on a keypad to operate them all. They run the risk of becoming too complicated and confusing to use. For this reason, Spalla assigned the Elan g! system and its companion 10-inch touchpanel in the kitchen the role of coordinator of all things electronic. From the kitchen touchpanel the Taylors—and rental guests—can manage, monitor and control not only the lights and motorized shades, but every electronic device and system throughout the entire house, including a Honeywell security system, IC Realtime surveillance cameras, Elan whole-house audio and video distribution, the snow and ice melting system, Pentair pool and spa system, and every A/V component in a dedicated 280-square-foot home theater. Smaller Elan TS2 touchpanels mounted to the walls of the bedrooms, office and exercise room can also tap into the controls but are used mainly for quick access to the Elan whole-house music system. “The Elan g! system can also be accessed from any iPad or iPhone that has the g! app,” notes Tom. “This allows easy access to all the technology anywhere in the house without even getting out of bed or your chair.”
When guests enter they are free to deposit their iPods on any of several docks around the residence. “It may be a slightly old-fashioned approach, what with audio streaming capabilities widely available,” says Spalla, “but docks require no special downloading of apps and everyone knows how they work.” Adds Tom, “This allows people like my brother to visit and bring his own 5,000-CD collection of classical music with him on his iPod and access it from anywhere in the house.”
The Taylors have their own collection of music stored on a Fusion Research OMS-2 music server that they are happy to share with guests—especially since the server never needs to be touched. Instead, users peruse and choose songs via the screen of an iPad, iPhone, Elan touchpanel or Elan HR2 handheld remotes. Following a similar procedure, the Taylors and houseguests can direct video and photos from their iPad via Apple TV and video from four cable TV receivers (which are stored in a utility room along with the media server) to any of six flat-panel TVs or a 110-inch screen in the home theater.
In many of the rooms shadowboxes were constructed so that the TV sinks into the wall, again, an effect that lets the architecture, not the technology, take center stage. And although audio travels all over the house, it’s difficult to discern the locations of speakers, as grilles of the in-ceiling Niles CM7 and SpeakerCraft FR1 models were painted to match the ceiling surface. Even the front array of surround-sound speakers in the great room call no attention to themselves, having been custom-made by Leon Speakers to match the width of, and mount perfectly below, a 60-inch Samsung LED TV. In the master bathroom shower, the speakers were tucked behind an air return slot near the ceiling. “This may be the best audio listening in the house,” Tom says.
Admittedly, the home theater could be described as a starter system, but again, it’s the ease of control that the Taylors wanted more than an over-the-top, high-tech wonderland. “Besides, this is not the type of home where you’d spend a lot of time watching TV anyway,” says Spalla of the resort-based residence where hiking, biking, skiing and horseback riding are the preferred pastimes. Still, all the basics are there for a great theater experience, including a Samsung Blu-ray player, Apple TV and cable box. A Panasonic projector feeds video, chosen from an iPad, to a 110-inch SnapAV screen. The lights are automated too, of course, to dim as the movie starts and to brighten for an intermission and after the credits roll.
Epitome of Ease
Renting a house of this caliber and with this much technology could have been a nerve-wracking experience for the Taylors, but with the help of C&T Systems, they know there’s little that can go wrong. The level of control available to guests was kept intentionally basic to prevent serious snafus, and the Taylors and C&T can always access the systems remotely if necessary to make sure that everything is working as it should.
When the Taylors are at the house, they can bump up the level of control by tapping into a “virtual keypad” on their iPad. Available only to them, the controls permit the modification of the settings of the lights, adjustment of the radiant floor heating system and the download of more songs into their movie server—parts of system that “we really don’t want guests fiddling with,” says Tom Taylor. And the Taylors don’t even have to be on the premises to initiate these and other alterations. The Elan g! system supports remote access to all the various systems that are tied to it, which means the Taylors have full control of the house even when they’re hundreds of miles away. And should something go awry, C&T technicians can access the system from its offices in Connecticut and fix the problem.
High-tech homes can feel intimidating to newcomers. This is definitely not the case at the Taylors’ vacation home. Designed from the start as a posh getaway for guests of Jackson Hole’s Amangani Resort, its electronic systems create a friendly, hassle-free environment where relaxation revolves around the great outdoors. The controls that operate the lights, music, video, hot tub and more are so intuitive that everyone from renters to resort personnel, and, of course, the Taylors can appreciate their sophistication.
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Systems & Equipment
Lighting Control: Lutron
Motorized Shades: Lutron
Multiroom A/V: Elan
Multiroom Speakers: Niles, SpeakerCraft
Surround-Sound Speakers: Leon
Theater Projector: Panasonic
Theater Screen: SnapAV
Theater Speakers: Sunfire
A/V Receiver: Yamaha
Surveillance: IC Realtime
Systems Design & Installation
Soyster Taylor Design
Dynamic Custom Homes
Talon Electric Inc.
Element Architectural Lighting Design
Follow Electronic House
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.