Playtime for All
Rather than being a traditional “man cave,” this family’s playroom is more of a “teen cave.” But it doesn’t stray much from the home’s overall design theme.
A long custom wall cabinet contains a desk, shelves, toy bins—and a 61-inch Samsung 1080p DLP screen. Multicolored sliding panels hide or reveal areas of the wall unit, again providing an option to keep a TV out of sight when turned off.
Audio in the playroom is stealthy as well, with much of the surround sound flooding the space via four Sonance in-ceiling speakers, complemented by a Focal center channel and Velodyne subwoofer.
Mom and Dad aren’t completely against their children having individual teen caves in their bedrooms. The rooms were even readied with Verizon FiOS wiring. “Our decision to limit the electronics in the kids’ rooms was purely a parenting decision,” Mom says. “They have laptop computers with a wireless network, which can be used for homework and leisure time, but we also have the ability to remove those options simply by taking away the laptop. We also wanted to encourage the kids to utilize the comfortable family spaces that we created, so we can spend leisure time together.”
Lights … Touchpanels … Action
One way to eliminate clutter, while adding usefulness, was employing an extensive lighting control system tied into the Crestron automation. The home is blessed with natural light through tall great room windows, for example, along with plenty of accent and mood lighting. But the potential wall acne of dimmers and switches almost put a blemish on this part of the project.
“The original lighting plan had some very large switchboxes, which were aesthetically not pleasing,” says Bartolomeo. “We introduced them to a Lutron [HomeWorks] lighting system, which consists of simple single-gang keypads that integrate with the Crestron system.”
Lighting designer Peter Romaniello of Connecticut-based Conceptual Lighting redesigned the lighting plan to ensure that the lighting complemented the home’s contemporary interior design, and that its control (programmed by IES managing partner Dean Valencic) would allow more than one zone to be engaged at a time. “With open architecture you always have to think about not only adding focus to the room you’re in, but also the lighting in the adjacent room so it doesn’t feel dead,” he explains.
About 16 lighting loads cover the home’s open great room, kitchen and family room space, so control and scene-setting solutions made sense. In the kitchen, a COOK scene boosts lights to full brightness for food preparation while adjacent rooms are dimmed, for instance. A MORNING scene lights the way from the bedrooms to the kitchen to the mudroom and out the door. For entertaining, a PARTY scene will dim the living and family room to 50 percent, turn on patio and front entryway lights and emphasize artwork in certain areas.
More to Come
The lighting system took time to fine-tune, but the scenes are constantly in use, especially in the kitchen and great room areas. As with other aspects of a sophisticated home control system, there was a learning curve (see sidebar “Going to Class”) that is ongoing for these homeowners.
Wired and wireless Crestron touchpanels provide access to most of the lighting, music and climate controls. A 10-inch model by the bustling kitchen proved pragmatic, as the family uses it to call up the different scenes and music selection. But maybe the biggest benefit of this home system is that Mom and Dad stepped into the slightly scary world of technology and found that they could do so on their terms.
So what’s next? “Now that we’ve been in our home for a while, we’re thinking of more ways that the Crestron system can work for us,” Mom says. “When we started this house project, it was hard to envision how we would live in the space as our children grew older. The technology in our home is keeping pace with our teenagers, and that says something.”
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Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.