Located in a Dallas, TX, suburb, Chateau Britannia was once scouted and selected as a set for an A-list movie. Although the homeowners’ schedule could not accommodate the production timetable and the home was not used, the electronic systems in this 12,000-square-foot residence could be right out of a Hollywood script. The homeowners can remotely control just about everything on the 7-acre estate, from firing up the projector in the media room, to setting the temperature of the indoor pool, to turning on the outdoor pathway lighting and fountain. Using a Crestron-based automation system, Advanced Home Theater Systems of Plano, TX, worked on Chateau Britannia after taking over for a contractor who had originally wired the home for another planned project.
“We came in and utilized the existing setup but ended up putting in a full-blown automation system,” says Advanced Home Theater’s Rick Smith. “The way everything was wired, we had the backbone to do a complete Crestron system. One good thing about the house was that it was actually overwired; we had to identify what we needed, get other wiring out of the way or streamline the existing wiring.”
Smith says the project was accomplished over a two-year span and in three phases: the “life systems,” such as lighting, security and HVAC; the audio and video distribution throughout the house; and, finally, the media room. Almost an afterthought because the homeowners told Smith they didn’t expect to utilize it much, the media room has become their chief nightly TV-viewing area.
Perhaps the Runco 1080p DLP projector and 110-inch Firehawk screen from Stewart Filmscreen, along with the Toshiba HD DVD player, have something to do with that. Another reason is, as systems installers frequently hear, the wife “was afraid she wasn’t going to be able to turn on any lights in this house,” Smith says. But now she’s apparently the biggest user of the control system.
Advanced Home Theater installed 43 controllers to operate the various systems of the home, but to simplify things as much as possible for the homeowners, only three of the touchpanel-style controllers are portable—one downstairs, one upstairs and one in the media room. “They wanted the walls all nice, neat and clean,” Smith says. “The biggest thing was that the system had to be simple to use and not have a bunch of stuff cluttering up the house. Those were basically our marching orders.”
Other moves toward stealthy A/V included recessing an LCD display behind a mirror over the breakfast area fireplace and utilizing custom cabinetry to house a 61-inch DLP in the game room. There’s no video in the indoor pool area, but music can fill the room through KEF in-ceiling speakers.
Finding music and movie content was simplified, too. There’s an Escient DVD/CD organizer and three satellite receivers (one dedicated for XM radio and the other two essentially reserved for his-and-her high-definition digital video recorders). So no clutter there, either. If he wants to record a season’s worth of football games, she can tell him to do it on his own DVR.
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Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.