May 24, 2011
by Krissy Rushing
The custom electronics (CE) professionals at Harmony Interiors, Asheville, N.C., have built their business on the amicable union of technology and interior design. “We are not just propeller heads,” says president Scott Varn. “We actually know how to match our socks.” With a degree in fine arts and interior designers on staff—not to mention impressive audio-video chops—Varn and his staff know how to artfully hide a flat panel or conceal a subwoofer in the wall.
Why, then, is the subwoofer in this basement remodel boldly displayed, and the LCD unabashedly mounted on the wall? The answer is Harmony Interiors’ flexibility combined with beautiful equipment from select manufacturers. “We tend to do everything completely custom, but when you find a piece of equipment that is a perfect for a room, it can work out beautifully,” says Varn.
Normally, Harmony Interiors would make a point of hiding the display’s bezel with a custom frame to match the interior decor—a service for which the company is known. But when Varn and his colleagues saw the limited-edition, 65-inch Sharp Aquos TV with leather bezel and chrome accents, they knew instantly that their client would love it. “He was sold. In fact, when we got down to the basement, the first thing to go was the old 20-inch CRT TV and mismatched furniture,” says Varn.
The Tannoy subwoofer was also a departure from the company’s normal design sensibility, in which subwoofers would typically be relegated to the wall or cabinetry. However, this Arena model, with its brushed nickel knobs and high-gloss piano black finish commands attention. “Every detail was so beautiful … It’s obvious that this sub was meant to be left out for all to see,” says Varn. Likewise, the Tannoy Arena left and right speakers were mounted to flank the LCD, while the center speaker was hidden behind acoustic cloth in a modified BDI entertainment center.
Both the homeowners and Harmony Interiors loved this BDI rack, with its black woodwork and chrome fittings. The only problem was that its top featured a grommet hole for wires and reflected a greenish tint onto the screen. With the LCD mounted on the wall and wires concealed therein, the grommet hole was useless. Harmony Interiors replaced the top with a new, greener alternative made out of sunflower seeds, adding a wonderful texture and causing far less light reflection than the original.
By this point, the color scheme of black and chrome was cemented, so something had to be done about the pale wood racks containing the couple’s wine collection. “We told the homeowners that if they wanted to keep them, we had to paint them black,” says Varn. To be consistent with the black and chrome/silver theme, the painters painstakingly avoided the silver hardware, giving the racks a new, modern feel.
By handpicking manufacturers with great industrial design that were engineered for fantastic sound and beautiful images, Harmony Interiors turned this ugly duckling of a room into a graceful, sleek, and modern home theater. Now, instead of dreading the journey downstairs, the clients spend a good deal of time in this renovated space. It’s a fantastic environment for them to enjoy a wine tasting, listen to their music collection, and top it all off with one of their favorite films.
When in Doubt, Wire and Wire Some More
When the custom electronics (CE) pros at Harmony Interiors, Asheville, N.C., began work on this basement remodel, they quickly realized that wiring was going to be an issue. “Besides electrical, there was no modern wiring at all in the basement. So we had to do a lot of fishing through existing walls and the ceiling,” says president Scott Varn. The company ran a combination of CAT5, RG6 coaxial, and fiber throughout the room. “We over-wired a little bit here to avoid having to go through this process again when the homeowners decide to upgrade or change something.”
While dropped ceilings are generally frowned upon in the world of interior design, in this case, it made the process of running wires to and installing the surround speakers very easy, while avoiding some duct-work problems that would have arisen had the company replaced the ceiling altogether. Harmony Interiors lessened the potential visual blow of an ceiling by choosing a more attractive tile and breaking it up with drywall that also hides the HVAC. “This is not a long-term solution,” says Varn. “But that is what is so great about having a long-term client: You can anticipate their future needs, and that makes them very happy.” EH