January 28, 2013
| by Lisa Montgomery
Sunshine, fresh air and nothing but trees as far as the eye can see. The owners of this 12,000-square-foot custom home in central California enjoy all of nature’s bounty, but with the added luxury of some very sophisticated home technologies. Yes, in this house modern electronic systems and the great outdoors live in perfect harmony, where one complements and enhances the other. Automated lights accentuate pathways that lead from one back yard patio to the next; music drifts from rock speakers by the pool house to the guest house; and a variety of sensors keeps an eye on the grounds so the owners can relax and enjoy their wellearned free time.
Like many homeowners embarking on a high-tech project, the couple who owns this residence wasn’t sure initially which kinds of features and functions would make the most sense to incorporate into the design of their custom home. With guidance from the custom electronics (CE) professionals at David Vincent Design, Carmel, Calif., they were able to determine several areas of their lifestyle that would benefit greatly from technology. “They came up with several good concepts, mostly based around how they envisioned living in the house,” says David Vincent Design owner Jim Zoyiopoulos.
Since they planned to spend much of their time outside, special attention was paid to the outdoor living areas. Keypads mounted in several weather-protected places let the owners summon music to any or all of 13 independent listening zones. For example, while XM radio plays through the eave-mounted SpeakerCraft speakers at the outdoor kitchen, tunes from a dock-mounted iPod can drift through the rock speakers (also from SpeakerCraft) by the swimming pool. Those keypads can control much more than music too—like fountains, a bug zapper and two overhead gas heaters. The lighting also plays an important role, leading from the main house to the pool house, to the billiards barn, to the guest quarters and everywhere in between—and all the owners do is touch a button to illuminate the pathways. The music and lighting function the same inside the house as they do outside.
Responsible for this mode of convenient control and the distribution of music is a sophisticated, custom-programmed Crestron Pro2 processor and matrix switcher. Signals from keypads and touchpanels travel over a high-speed highway of cabling, which was installed while the home was under construction, to a rack of equipment stashed in a specially built utility room. It’s here that the CE pros from David Vincent Design can program settings for the extensive Lutron lighting and Crestron distributed music systems, as well as for the motorized shades, thermostats, security sensors and other electronics.
While the homeowners wanted the Crestron system to provide easy, convenient control over various elements of their home, some adjustments they decided should happen automatically. For example, they never have to remember to turn off the gas fireplaces. Instead, the Crestron system deactivates them after they’ve been on for a certain amount of time. And the motorized shades that cover the windows in several rooms lift and lower based on a preset schedule so that the sunlight won’t damage the furniture or artwork. Smart thermostats? You bet—they self-adjust based on the time of day, so the house is always at its most comfortable. Should the temperature and humidity in the wine cellar rise or fall beyond a certain range the owners are immediately notified by a text message. And even if the owners aren’t outside to enjoy the fountains, the automation system still remembers to turn them on occasionally so that the water stays fresh.
Lisa Montgomery has been writing about home technology for 15 years, with a focus on the impact of electronics on a modern lifestyle.