High-Tech Log Cabin

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A 17-inch touchscreen in the kitchen gives the homeowners control over every system in their 6,000-square-foot house. Attached on an articulating arm, the screen can be swiveled in any direction, then pushed flat against the wall when not in use. Photo by John Haigwood.

Technology weaves its way through a 6,000-square-foot log cabin.


Jan. 01, 2006 — by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

You certainly won’t find snow-capped mountains anywhere close to Georgia peach country, but Mike and Lynn Briggs’ home gracefully evokes all the warmth and coziness of a Colorado ski lodge. Make that a four-star Colorado ski lodge. Coexisting peacefully with enormous stone fireplaces, open-beamed ceilings and impressive log construction is a bevy of sophisticated electronic systems that operate 24 hours a day to ensure the efficiency and comfort of the 6,000-square-foot residence. Working like the dedicated staff of a luxury hotel, the systems set the lights, security sensors, thermostats and music for the empty nesters. “Ease of control was Mike and Lynn’s top priority,” says Kirby Wright, vice president at HomeWaves, a home systems installation firm in Cumming, GA. “They’re both retired now, so we designed the systems so that they could really relax while they were at home.”

At Their Fingertips
So what makes life at the Briggs’ home so simple? Mike and Lynn credit the ATM-like touchscreens scattered throughout the house. “When I get up in the morning, I can turn on the TV, turn off the outside lights and bump up the heat by pressing one button on our bedroom touchscreen,” Mike explains. “It’s a lot easier than having to go to three or four locations to do it all.” HomeWaves programmed the home’s AMX NetLinx control system to handle several other routines as well. Another of Mike and Lynn’s favorites is the entertain mode that sets the lights, music and climate for weekend get-togethers with friends.

HomeWaves placed a variety of different touchscreens throughout the house so that the controls are never more than a few steps away. Wireless models are situated around the house while other screens are wired permanently into the walls. In high-traffic areas like the kitchen and foyer, the touchscreens provide both portability and a sense of permanence. For example, in the kitchen, HomeWaves placed a 17-inch touchscreen on an arm that can be pulled out from the wall. The homeowners can swivel the screen in any direction, then push it back against the wall when they’re finished. In the foyer, a small niche was built into the wall to hold the touchscreen in place. But when the homeowners want to use the screen somewhere else, they just push a button, and the screen is gently ejected from the wall.

Showtime!
The versatile touchscreens do more than shoot commands around the house, however. In addition to showing standard control menus, they can present high-definition TV and DVD video, images captured by security cameras, album covers from the homeowners’ digital music library and content from the Internet. “Lynn can swivel the screen toward the stove while she’s cooking and call up a piece of music, see who’s at the front door, watch a TV program and answer an email,” Wright explains.

Even when the touchscreens are idle they continue to serve the home by displaying beautiful photos and graphics chosen by the homeowners. A stunning shot of the back of the house, for example, fills the screen in the kitchen. In the rec room, Mike and Lynn went with something little more rustic: The buttons on the touchscreen match the wood of the bar.

CD players, music servers, high-definition receivers, satellite radio receivers and other audio/video components follow orders from the AMX touchscreens as well. Even though most of the music and video sources are hidden away inside a dedicated equipment room in the lower level, everything can be accessed from any touchscreen or wall-mounted keypad. For example, Mike can summon a compilation of his favorite country tunes to the billiards room while Lynn relaxes to a classical radio station in the living room. Similarly, Lynn can order up a movie stored on the DVD server on the 50-inch plasma TV while Mike chooses a program from the high-definition satellite receiver for the 60-inch plasma in the rec room. Different types of music and video can be played simultaneously in different areas, making the house a perfect place to host parties and overnight guests.

While movies are always a good form of entertainment, the homeowners didn’t want a bunch of big-screen TVs overtaking their home’s open floorplan. Since the touchscreens could also display movies and TV programs, the home really didn’t need any more than two additional TVs, anyway. Plasmas were chosen for their ability to blend in with the decor. In fact, most guests don’t even realize that the 50-inch plasma in the living room is really a TV. Most of the time, it looks like a piece of art—and, in fact, it is. HomeWaves covered the screen with a framed canvas print of a nature painting. When Mike and Lynn are ready to watch TV, they press a button, and the canvas rolls up to reveal the screen.

Fancy Woodwork
Although the systems in the couple’s home are simple to manage and control, Mike says it took a lot of hard work to get them into the house. For starters, the house is constructed primarily of logs. Holes had to be bored through the thick pieces of wood so that the HomeWaves installers could route control, communications and speaker wiring to different areas of the house. The open-beam ceiling added another challenge. “Usually, we can fish wiring above the ceiling to get from one end of the house to the other, but in this case we had to find alternate routes,” explains HomeWaves president Robert Rose. “We ended up using a lot more wire than we normally do.”

The absence of a ceiling also impacted the placement of the speakers and light fixtures. Because there was no space overhead to install speakers, HomeWaves planted them into the walls instead. Thankfully, a few of the walls were constructed of drywall, a material that’s more amenable to drilling and cutting than logs. After the speakers were installed, they were covered with paint or acoustic fabric to blend in with the walls.

HomeWaves solved the lighting issue by installing Xenon lights and track lighting in lieu of traditional overhead fixtures. Just like the in-wall speakers, these alternative lighting sources actually enhance the look of the house. “Xenon lighting creates a beautiful glow that no other type of fixture can match,” says HomeWaves design engineer Adam Weart.

Another component that required extra care was the climate control system. Humidity can damage wood, so being able to maintain a consistent climate was critical to the well-being of the home. HomeWaves installed a combination of humidity and temperature sensors all over the house to monitor for any fluctuations. Rather than mar the walls with boxy thermostats, they installed quarter-sized discs that were painted to match the wall surface. The discs report their readings to the appropriate heating and cooling system, which automatically regulates the humidity and temperature settings. The smart heating and cooling system is not only good for the house, it also ensures that Mike and Lynn feel warm and cozy the second they walk through the door. They can even call the home control system from their cell phone while en route to tell it to bump up the heat or crank up the AC.

Say Ahhhhhhhhh
Most people leave their abodes when they crave a little R&R. But thanks to innovative technologies and skilled designers and installers, Mike and Lynn Briggs have discovered a way to be pampered in their own home. Like a concierge in a luxury hotel, their home control system caters to their every need. Whether it’s hearing classical music on the deck; enjoying soft, elegant lighting in the living room; taking in a blockbuster movie on the 60-inch rec room TV or just simple stuff like shutting off the lights and arming the security sensors before bedtime, the system delivers—all with a touch of a button.

A Vision - The home systems installers at HomeWaves turned the 50-inch plasma TV in Mike and Lynn Briggs’ family room into a work of art. A canvas painting from VisionArt covers the screen when it’s not in use. The image rolls up and away at the press of a button.

Completely Twisted - An open floorplan calls for TVs and touchscreens that can be viewed from many angles. HomeWaves mounted many of the AMX monitors on Peerless articulating arms so that they could be easily swiveled and tilted in any direction.

See for Yourself - The homeowners can see what has happened at their house while they’ve been away. A special digital video recorder from Ademco stores activity captured by Hunt surveillance cameras positioned around the property. The video can be played at the couple’s leisure.

Wall Flowers - It’s tough to build anything into an open-beam ceiling, so HomeWaves planted most of the home’s Sonance speakers into the walls instead.


More Photos

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The home control touchscreen in the foyer may look permanently affixed to the wall, but it can be easily removed by pressing a button so that the homeowners can carry it around the house. Photo by John Haigwood.

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The touchscreens in Mike and Lynn Briggs’ home do more than shoot off commands to the heating and cooling systems, audio/video systems and lights. They can also display beautiful exterior photos of the house, show who’s at the front door and play movies. Photo by John Haigwood.


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Acoustic fabric hides the in-wall speakers positioned around the 60-inch Runco plasma TV in the rec room. The screen is large enough to see from the billiards area, making this room an ideal spot for entertaining. Photo by John Haigwood.

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Acoustic fabric hides the in-wall speakers positioned around the 60-inch Runco plasma TV in the rec room. The screen is large enough to see from the billiards area, making this room an ideal spot for entertaining. Photo by John Haigwood.


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The piece of art that hangs in Mike and Lynn Briggs’ family room is actually a 50-inch plasma TV. The canvas rolls up and away at the press of a button to reveal the screen. Speakers in the ceiling fire the sound down into the room. Photo by John Haigwood.



Equipment List

Home Control
AMX 4-inch color touchscreens (4)
AMX 8.4-inch color touchscreens (2)
AMX Netlinx Integrated Controller
AMX 17-inch wall-mount touchscreen
AMX 8-button keypads (5)
AMX Viewstat thermostats (2)

Security
Ademco BP-128 system
Ademco two-way, four-button remotes (4)
Ademco four-camera DVR
Hunt color surveillance cameras (5)

Networking
ChannelVision structured wiring panel
Channel Vision telephone modules (2)
Channel Vision four-input modulators (2)
Channel Vision one-input modulator
Linksys 802.11b/g wireless access point
D-Link routers

Whole-House Entertainment
AMX 16x16 stereo audio switch
Hughes TiVo receivers (2)
Integra DVD/CD players (2)
Integra network audio server
Integra receivers (2)
JVC S-VHS VCRs (2)
Kenwood Sirius satellite radio tuner
LG high-def satellite receivers (2)
Zenith high-def satellite receivers (3)
Viewsonic 27-inch LCD TV
Runco 50-inch plasma TV
Runco 60-inch plasma TV
Runco video processors (2)
Snell in-wall surround speakers (2)
Snell in-wall theater speakers (3)
Sonance 12-channel amps (3)
Sonance in-wall subwoofers (2)
Sonance in-wall speakers (23)
Sonance in-ceiling speakers (4)
Sonance cabinet speakers (8)
Sonance amplifiers (2)
Sonance outdoor speakers (4)
Sonance single stereo speaker
Spaun multiswitch amp
Terk Sirius antenna
Visionart frame

Lighting Control
Vantage master controller
Vantage keypads (13)

Electronics Design & Installation
HomeWaves
Cumming, GA
www.homewaves.com



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