April 17, 2013
by Grant Clauser
Editor’s Note: This profile of one of our Home of the Year winners originally ran in May of 2012. We’re highlighting past winners in anticipation of the May 2013 release of the new Home of the Year winners. You’ll want to check back in May, because the new winners are awesome.
One might think that when you build a new winter retreat along the slopes of a Park City, Utah, ski mountain that the only thing on your mind would be the powder and the lift lines. The California technology enthusiast who owns this award-winner also wanted to make sure his new home was as cutting-edge as his skis.
When consumer electronics (CE) pro Taylor Syphus of Lifestyle Electronics in Park City was introduced to the homeowner, he knew he was facing someone with big expectations. The owner had a technology background and a pretty good idea of what integrated electronic systems were capable of doing, so Syphus gave him the works.
The 10,000-square-foot home, mere feet from a Deer Valley ski run, allows the owners to enjoy both the beauty of the outdoors, plus the comforts of indoor convenience and luxury. The operating system of the home is Crestron DigitalMedia, which delivers video to 20 TVs and audio to 32 separate zones. Each TV can be controlled by its own Crestron MTX handheld remote. Larger touchscreens, including a 12-inch unit centrally mounted on a kitchen wall, are spaced throughout the residence. The owners can also tap into any aspect of the system through their iPads or a computer.
Large Samsung LCD TVs positioned throughout the house provide access to DirecTV DVRs, two Apple TVs, a 400-disc Sony Blu-ray player, while SpeakerCraft architectural speakers in the ceilings and walls deliver music. One of the bedroom TVs rises from and disappears into a cabinet thanks to a Lift-Tech motorized TV lift. Another one rises out of the middle of the kitchen island. The master bath even includes speakers in the shower.
Managing music in such a large home is made easy by a program designed by Lifestyle Electronics. They call the feature Send To. With Send To, a user can access their music from any control interface, such as a touchpanel or iPad, then select the rooms or areas to “Send To.” The feature will also show what music is playing in other rooms and at what volume. A moderate volume is programmed in as the default in case the kids were the last ones to use the room and had been cranking it up.
With music naturally goes wine, and of course this home has an ample wine room. The owners can keep tabs on the inventory through their Crestron system via an application called CellarTracker. It shows them what bottles they currently have, and it can even be accessed remotely. Interestingly, the stairway landing that leads to the level where the wine room is located has a glass floor directly above the wine room so you can stand on the landing and point through the floor to the bottle you want while someone below picks it out for you.
When not racing down the slopes, the family can relax with a round of virtual golf. A specially designed screen and projector combo displays a virtual golf course; the player hits the balls directly into the screen. But golf is just the beginning.
Lifestyle Electronics also integrated a Wii gaming console and the rest of the Crestron distributed video sources, to make it an all-around family entertaining room.
Being located in a famously beautiful part of the country means you’d want to get outside to enjoy the view. And there’s no shortage of entertainment, there, either. Two outdoor SunBrite TVs and weather-hardy speakers make sure of that. One of the TVs is situated in front of an outdoor spa with a Jacuzzi, and supplied with a Crestron waterproof remote, so the owners can soak in heat, listen to music, or watch a movie after a day on the slopes.
Because this is a second home and remains empty for months at a time, having remote access was important to the owners, both for security reasons and to manage the electronic and environmental systems. When they leave for their primary home, the owners can press a button to put the property into unoccupied mode, which sets back the thermostats, turns off the hot water recirculation pump and modulates some other systems.
A thoroughly integrated home isn’t all fun and games—there are practical considerations as well. The Crestron system also operates the thermostat, regulates humidity, monitors outside temperatures, accesses the security system and keeps the outside snowmelt systems running. When the owners return to Park City, the driveway is clear and their smart, connected ski retreat is ready.
Got a vacation home that needs a boost? Check some of these other sanctuaries for good ideas and great photos:
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Grant Clauser has been covering home electronics for more than 10 years with editorial roles in several consumer and trade magazines. He's done ISF-level damage to hundreds of reviewed products and has had audio training from Home Acoustics Alliance and Sencore. He's also the author of the book The Trouble with Rivers
. Follow him on Twitter @geclauser.