Modern Upgrades for an Old Home
Think your remodel was difficult? Here’s how a 200-year old home, complete with stonewalls, was wired for whole-house control.
The home’s stone walls presented a very hard obstacle, but with a lot of determination the owners now enjoy a very modern whole-house control and entertainment system. Photo by Scott Braman.
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September 28, 2007 by Steven Castle

In other areas, the team had to penetrate stone walls to place lighting buttons and temperature sensors for the thermostats. All of the Crestron lighting system is wired. So would a wireless system have been a better solution? “The stonework in the house would have really cut down on the communication with wireless lighting control, and we wanted to minimize the interference created by the stone walls and heavy plaster and lath walls,” says David.

Many of the sagging ceilings, however, had to be replaced with traditional plaster-coated drywall. This made for easy installation of 14 in-ceiling speakers from Sound Advance, which hide behind the skim coat of plaster to remain invisible, yet still sound through their coverings.

Surround sound in the family room was achieved by using Artison’s Portrait DualMono speakers that attach to the sides of the 42-inch Runco plasma screen. Each of the speakers has two elements—one for the left or right front channel and another for a center channel—and they are angled a bit to create proper imaging of the center-channel sound to the screen. Two invisible Sound Advance in-ceiling speakers provide the surround channels, and low bass from a downward-firing subwoofer in the cabinet below the TV is ported through a toe kick. The only piece of audio/video gear in the family room is a Kaleidescape K-Player DVD reader and player that allows the family to put in a DVD and store it to the hard drive server in the basement.

In the master bedroom, Sound Advance speakers provide audio for the whole-house music system and the 32-inch Runco LCD screen.

To reduce wall clutter and maintain that old-house feel, the 16 thermostats in the house were hidden in closets, with temperature and humidity sensors located on the ideal places on the nearby room walls. “So now we don’t have all this stuff on the wall,” Neal says about preserving the centuries-old look and feel.

Controlling it all is the Crestron system with two wireless touchscreen controllers and several wall-mounted touchscreens. The Crestron system also interfaces with the security system, which consists of several cameras modulated to TVs in the house and a magnetic sensor alongside the driveway that tells the security system when someone is approaching. In addition, there are water leak sensors and temperature sensors located near pipes so if it gets too cold, the water automatically shuts off. And the homeowners can receive electronic alerts of security events via email or cell phone.

If only George Washington had something like that.

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Steven Castle - Contributing Writer
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates.


System Design and Installation
Timonium, MD

Whispering Meadows
Freeland, MD

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