Ultimate Home Office Mixes Work & Play
Five displays and 7.1 surround sound make the office space sizzle in this California desert home.
News, sports, movies—this homeowner can watch ‘em all at once on the 70-inch Sony Qualia and four 32-inch Sony TVs in his home office. Photo by Michael Neveux.
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October 01, 2007 by Arlen Schweiger

Sending music and video from a central location to rooms throughout the house was a priority for the homeowner and his family, and they had an easy time coordinating with RNX on their wishes. This was the third home RNX had outfitted for the owner, with a bit more technology and gear added each time. “He moved the bar up,” says RNX’s Jon Duncan. “The gear is a little more sophisticated. His first house was very basic, and he was single then, so he just wanted a surround system. House number two got more, but not full-house control. This house has everything, all integrated.”

That includes a secondary entertainment setup in the great room that doesn’t pack quite the punch of the office system but could rock many homes as a primary theater. Another 70-inch Sony display is the centerpiece, this one a Grand Wega LCD rear-projection set, with accompanying 5.1 surround sound from James Loudspeaker for the front left, right and center, and Bay Audio in-ceiling speakers for the rear. “The great room is mostly used for watching sports while making dinner or to watch specific sporting events if we have guests over. It’s rarely used for movies, as we prefer the office theater system,” the homeowner says. “Sometimes it has a little too much Food Network on it; Iron Chef on a 70-inch TV is a little aggressive. But my wife is a phenomenal chef, so maybe it’s a small price to pay.”

Around the Home
Cooking, dining and entertaining are common activities the homeowners often share with guests, so convenience in accessing and employing automation, lighting and distributed audio/video control was high on the priority list. An AMX system provides the brains and backbone of the control, with its reach extending to the family’s fingertips through keypads and touchpanels throughout the residence. When the entertainment or everyday activities spill into the outdoor space or great room terrace, the homeowners and guests can listen to music, watch TV, set the lighting and even control the swimming pool settings through an AMX portable touchpanel or a keypad. “The weather is so pleasant in our area that it allows us to open the large sliding doors and expand our entertaining space. The outdoor room is really no different than the inside of the house, minus the final perimeter wall,” the homeowner explains. “We have a full kitchen and living room outside, so it made sense to add the A/V there as well.”

At the press of a button on one of the many keypads and touchpanels, the homeowners can trigger numerous activities within the automation system, including music selection, volume and settings for the Lutron lighting system, thanks to scenes programmed into the AMX control. For a large home designed with Persian rugs, antiques, beamed cathedral ceilings, bold furniture, a half-dozen fireplaces and loads of decorative lighting, it was essential that the homeowners have an easy time controlling mood and environmental enhancements.

“The lighting system is a must. Nothing kills the look of a wall like 15 switches in a row [where] no one remembers which switch works what,” the homeowner says. “There are a few entertainment settings for the lighting system, and they all offer a varied look to the zones, as well as to the outside. With nearly 20 chandeliers, it would be easy to let the lighting get away from you and feel like we’re living in an airport.”

Instead, these desert dwellers can tap one button and instantly fire up some songs, a movie or some mood lighting in virtually any room of the house. They’re conveniences that could make even a Bond villain jealous.

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Arlen Schweiger - Contributor, Electronic House Magazine
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com and Electronic House magazine.

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