Careful Planning Keeps 12K-Square-Foot Home Running Smoothly
Credit: Haigwood Studios
Sophisticated lighting systems, high-performance home theater and easy upgrades were possible with all the prewiring that went into this Atlanta home.
Few people who buy a spec home leave it as is. They might change the light fixtures, put in a better front door or repaint the walls. In this 12,500-square-foot Atlanta charmer, the owners added a slew of sophisticated electronic systems, from a powerful home theater to a home control system and a lighting system that offers convenience, potential energy savings and dramatic architectural highlights. The homeowners didn’t rush into this project, though. In fact, this well-lit house exemplifies the power of prodigious planning.
These homeowners waited more than a year before taking the plunge into the high-tech lifestyle. That was perfectly acceptable to the home systems installers at HomeWaves and LightLogics in Atlanta, Ga. According to designer Clay Gienger, it’s always easier to envision the benefits of technology after you’ve lived in your home a while. Months of familiarizing themselves with the layout of their new digs gave the owners keen insights about the technologies that would provide them with the best benefits.
Prewire, Prewire, Prewire
You’ve heard the real estate maxim: location, location, location. In the world of home technology, it’s prewire, prewire, prewire—even if you think you won’t need wiring at a certain location.
The builder of this home had the house fully prewired during construction, and what he put in was no ordinary wiring network. Subcontracted by the builder, HomeWaves ran enough cabling to support an advanced lighting control system, home automation, audio and video distribution and several surveillance cameras.
Once the wiring was in, numerous wall-mounted keypads, touchscreens and cameras were added, ready to be programmed whenever the homeowners decided how they wanted the systems to work. Because of the prewiring, the updates couldn’t have been easier. No walls had to be cut open and no floors or ceilings had to be drilled.
A Purpose-Driven Plan
Having already lived in the house for a time, the homeowners had no problem pinpointing each room’s purpose—at least on the main level. Lighting design and control turned out to be of primary importance, and HomeWaves’ lighting division, LightLogics, was able to handle every aspect of the setup, from the selection of new, upgraded fixtures to the programming of a Vantage control system.
In areas identified by the homeowners, HomeWaves swapped the original light switches for updated Vantage Scene Point keypads.
Updating the lighting in the unfinished basement was more involved. New wires were run, dozens of fixtures and bulbs were specified and installed—all while the space was being finished. Having a blank slate to work with had its advantages, though. LightLogics was able to design the lights around special architectural features planned for the room.
Different Lights for Different Purposes
One of Gienger’s main sources of lighting inspiration was the theater design created by sister company HomeWaves. The area features a domed ceiling, which Gienger showcased with Xenon lighting. Unlike traditional rope lighting where individual lights are encased in a clear plastic tube, Xenon lights come as individual bulbs on a narrow strip of plastic. Although Xenon is a more expensive option than rope lighting, the bulbs are able to create a larger pool of light so that an entire surface, not just the edges, are illuminated. “Plus, they’re dimmable,” says Gienger of the 40 specialty lighting strips he mounted around the trim of the dome.
For a brick wall at the back of the viewing area, Gienger selected recessed downlights to accentuate the rough texture of the surface. Accent lights were chosen for a hallway where several pieces of art would hang, and puck lights were installed to add shimmer to a series of glass shelves on the back wall of the bar. The area was finished with several recessed halogen lights and dimmable green compact fluorescent fixtures for general illumination. In all, 115 loads of lights are controlled by the Vantage InFusion system.
Keeping It Simple
Proper lighting design isn’t just about making a room look good, says Gienger. “A big part of it is deciding how all the different loads will be controlled,” in other words, which lights will turn on and dim together. It’s a process that requires significant input from the family.
For this home, LightLogics relegated that task to 31 Vantage control keypads. The basement was fitted with 10 of them, while the remaining 21 were installed in place of the standard light switches on the main level. The number of buttons on each keypad varied between four and eight, and Gienger labeled each of those buttons by taping computer-printed slips of paper on them. The temporary labeling isn’t the most elegant solution, but it saved homeowners a lot of headaches in the long run.
“Often, we’ll go through several iterations before we finalize the customer’s desired settings and then have the buttons custom-engraved,” Gienger explains. For this project, the homeowners used tape and paper labels for almost six months before deciding on the most appropriate button terminology.
What they discovered was an overwhelming desire for simplicity. “They didn’t want to be able to enact a ton of different lighting scenes from the keypads,” says Gienger. “They felt they could accomplish everything they needed with just a few simple commands.”
COME HOME, GOOD NIGHT, ENTERTAIN and AMBIANCE were ultimately chosen as the four primary commands. COME HOME activates the lights in the kitchen and living room to specific intensity levels, while GOOD NIGHT fades out every light in the common areas over a period of a few minutes, then turns on the hallway lights to just 10 percent. ENTERTAIN focuses on the areas downstairs and darkens the bedrooms. “It’s a sign for guests to stay out of those rooms,” says Gienger. Last but not least, AMBIANCE puts the main room lighting to a low level while increasing the intensity of the accent lighting. The remaining buttons on the keypads are used to turn on and off predefined groups of lights.
The keypads are an integral part of the lighting design, but they aren’t the only means of control in this home. A combination of 10 in-wall and portable AMX touchpanels can also operate lights, as well as a NuVo whole-house audio system, surveillance cameras, AMX thermostats, a B&K video distribution system and Runco home theater equipment.
Careful planning helped make entertainment access quick and easy throughout the home. Any source in the home theater or in a temperature-controlled equipment room is accessible from any area of the house. In addition, several Universal Remote handheld remotes can enact quick commands, mainly to the local audio and video equipment that serves each of the home’s 17 flat-panel TVs. The family can choose to watch something on the local DVD players, or go to an AMX touchpanel to select from the hundreds of movies or thousands of songs that are stored on the hard drives of Kaleidescape servers in the theater and equipment room.
Adding Some Drama
Lighting also plays a special role in the home theater—adding to the ambiance and fun. On command from a keypad, remote or touchpanel, the lights dim perfectly for family movie night, brighten slightly during intermission and turn off completely when it’s time to call it a night.
In addition to the spectacular Xenon lighting effect, a Stewart Filmscreen 110-inch display offers breathtaking movie images. HomeWaves and LightLogics supported the sights with amazing sound from an Anthem 7.1 THX-certified surround-sound system, paired with in-wall Paradigm speakers and a subwoofer. Even the homeowners’ sense of touch was catered to, as HomeWaves fitted the bottom of six home theater seats with ButtKicker tactile transducers that shake and rumble along with the movie action.
So are the results of this home worth the wait? Ask this family, and they’ll light up in agreement.
Click here to view additional photos of this home.
Systems Design and Installation
HomeWaves and LightLogics
Intown Builders Group
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Ademco 6160 keypad
Ademco Aurora motion sensors (5)
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Ademco keyfobs (2)
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Marantz DV6600 DVD player
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Panamax M5300 surge protector
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Runco VX1000D DLP video projector
Runco CW-50mc 50-inch plasma TV
Runco PL-43DHD 43-inch plasma TV
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