Silver Winner
When Nature Calls
An automated outdoor space takes entertainment to a whole new level.
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There are plenty of places to enjoy music in this beautiful backyard. Photo by Kevin Kelley.
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May 01, 2006 by EH Staff

There’s no reason to reserve a room at a fancy resort when you’ve got a backyard like this to enjoy. Music blankets the entire grounds, and colorful accent lights play up ornamental trees, fountains, water gardens and a spectacular infinity-edge swimming pool. Whether the kids are playing in the pool or their parents are hosting an evening dinner party, this fun-loving East Coast backyard could easily be mistaken for a tropical paradise somewhere south of the equator.

The centerpiece of the space is a pool house that can be used year-round. In the wintertime, the family can close the sliding glass doors, light up the gas-fired stone fireplace and crank up the heat. The pool house has its own dedicated heating and cooling unit, so it can be controlled separately from the system that serves the main house. And no matter what the time of year, there’s always the 42-inch plasma TV above the fireplace to enjoy. The screen has access to satellite TV programs, DVDs stored on two hard drive media servers and six conventional DVD players located in various rooms of the house. A wireless Crestron touchpanel presents all the video options, as well as the controls for managing other aspects of the outdoor area. For example, the family can press the security button to call up views from 14 security cameras onto the plasma screen. Or they can use the touchpanel to summon music to the outdoor hideaway. They can choose to hear XM radio, AM/FM radio, a favorite CD stored on one of two music servers or piano music from the Steinway in the living room. And when the office beckons, a wireless network lets the homeowners access the Internet from a laptop computer. No matter how long the family chooses to hang out in the pool house, they’ll never go hungry. A commercial-grade kitchen is built in for fixing simple snacks or a full-blown meal.

Of course, summer is when the electronic systems really spring into action. The pool house plasma can be pulled out from the wall and swiveled toward the pool area so that movies can be viewed while family members are sunbathing or splashing in the water. Speakers situated around the swimming area ensure that the audio can be clearly heard. While the pool speakers sound out the movie soundtrack, other speakers in the backyard are free to play whatever music the homeowners want. The outdoor space is divided into six separate audio zones, so something different can be playing in each zone, explains Lance David, director of custom sales and installation at Gramophone, the Timonium, MD, based firm hired to accoutre the outdoors with a variety of electronic systems. As long as they have a Crestron remote in their hands, they’re in total control of the music. Completely waterproof, the remote can even go with the family into the hot tub.

Having tools like a touchpanel and a waterproof remote to access and control music, video and lighting systems directly from the backyard has simplified matters for the homeowners. They can operate everything from anywhere—without having to step foot in the house. However, there are some things that happen in the backyard without any interaction from the family at all. For example, the Jandy pool and spa system activates the swimming pool heater, filter and fiber optic lights as well as the hot tub jets and adjoining waterfall automatically at certain times of the day so that the pool and hot tub are always ready to use. In addition, a Davis weather station monitors the wind speed. If the wind exceeds 22 miles an hour, the Crestron system raises the pool house screens (if they’re down) to ensure that flying debris won’t damage them. Even the ceiling fans in the pool house react to the weather. When the temperature reaches a certain level, the fans start to spin automatically to create a cool breeze for anyone relaxing in the pool house.

Outfitted with all the creature comforts of the indoors—and plenty of sophisticated electronic systems—this outdoor space is a natural extension of family’s main house. No matter what the occasion, there’s always a great show, beautiful music and a home-cooked meal to enjoy in the pool house or out on the patio. Try finding all that at a four-star resort.

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EQUIPMENT LIST

  • Fujitsu P50-XHA30WS 42-inch plasma TV
  • Hughes high-definition satellite receivers/PVRs
  • Integra DPS-5.5 DVD players
  • Kaleidescape KSERVER-2000 video servers
  • Escient music servers
  • Sony CD jukebox
  • TEAC TR-D2000 dual AM/FM tuner
  • Crestron DNAMPX 16x60 distributed audio amplifiers
  • Crestron CNX-PVID 8x4 video switchers
  • Crestron CNX-BIPAD8 audio switchers
  • Crestron TPS-3000 touchpanel
  • Crestron WPR-48 waterproof remote
  • Lutron HomeWorks lighting control system
  • Pelco pan/tilt/zoom security cameras
  • SpeakerCraft 820GG landscape speakers
  • SpeakerCraft WS-720W speakers
  • SpeakerCraft AIM 8.3 speakers
  • Davis weather station

CONTACT
Systems Design & Installation
Gramophone
410-308-1650
www.gramophone.com

Builder
Pine Crest Builders
301-384-4345
www.pinecrestbuilders.com

Landscape Designer
Rowan Landscaping and Pools
410-489-0707


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