8,000 Square Feet of Automation

Sprawling country home transforms into the ultimate smart house with 70+ speakers, 23 4K TVs, 17 home control iPads, and more.

Photos by Alex Kane

Photos by Alex Kane

There are home remodels and renovations that involve simply taking a home and updating its aesthetic, but for this home renovation absolutely nothing about the original 8,000-square-foot country home was retained. “Everything on the inside and the outside was completely changed,” says Amer Dim, general manager of home systems integration company Casaplex, of Kensington, Md. “Everything was torn out and rebuilt, giving new meaning to the term gut renovation.”

The Players
Systems Design & Installation Casaplex, Kensington, Md., casaplex.com
Interior Designer Sroka Design Incorporated, Washington, D.C., srokadesign.com
Builder Kandel Construction Group, Potomac, Md., www.kandelconstruction.com
Home Automation: Crestron
Lighting Control: Lutron
Multi-room Audio/Video System: Crestron
Flat Panel TVs: Samsung
Loudspeakers: Sonance
A/V Sources: Autonomic Controls, Kaleidescape, Apple TV
Smart Thermostats: Crestron
Security System: GE
Surveillance Cameras: Axis
Networking: Cisco, Ubiquiti
Intercom: Holovision

In addition to the expert construction by Howard Kandel and interior redo by Skip Sroka, the home was updated to a technological masterpiece, with a Crestron automation solution at the heart of it. Casaplex, a company recommended for the project by Crestron, likes to give its customers a variety of ways to control their home’s electronic systems, and on this massive project, this became even more important. “It would not do for our clients to be running around the grounds, searching for a lone iPad to turn the lights on,” says Dim.

To make sure control was always at the ready, the Casaplex team outfitted this home with a collection of handheld and in-wall Apple iPads (17 total; four of which are mounted to the wall) along with four in-wall 10-inch Crestron TSW touchpanels. Through the unique and totally custom Casaplex floorplan-based user interface, which depicts the layout of the house and landscape, the homeowners have the ability to view the status of the electronic devices in those areas and control those devices if necessary; for example, instantly turning off a light in a bedroom that might have been left on. They can also use the touchpanels and iPads to view the property in real time from six Axis IP surveillance cameras, which can be panned, tilted, and zoomed from the iPads and touchpanels for a better look. The camera views can also pop onto the screen of a touchpanel or iPad automatically when the button on the intercom station at the front gate is pressed. “Our goal for every user interface is for anyone to be able to control the system without any training. That’s why we test our programs in-house before we install them. That’s why this particular system is extremely intuitive,” says Dim.

Given how easily it is to manage their estate through the Crestron system, the homeowners find that they have more time to relax, and much of this happens in their well-appointed master bedroom. Here, they can use the Crestron control app on an iPad to access video from a variety of different components (stored elsewhere in a equipment rack) to play on a 75-inch Samsung 4K TV and Sonance in-ceiling stereo speakers. This could be anything from an Audrey Hepburn movie stored on two Kaleidescape M-class media servers, programs from two Apple TVs, sports from six cable boxes, or live video streams from the half-dozen surveillance cameras.

Another favorite spot of the homeowners’ to settle in for a show is their 15-by-25-foot media room. Here, a multi-display video wall comprised of four 55-inch TVs and a Crestron matrix switcher, caters to the homeowners’ love of sports by enabling each of the four TVs to display a different broadcast. “He can watch four different sporting events in this room, and there are two more displays in the adjacent bar area. The biggest challenge isn’t controlling it. It’s figuring out what to watch,” says Dim.

And it’s not just the bedroom and home theater that are blessed with outstanding entertainment options. Thanks to a Crestron multi-room A/V system, sources from a hidden centralized rack in the basement can go to any of 23 Samsung 4K TVs or more than 70 speakers throughout the home. When the speakers aren’t playing the audio to complement the chosen video, they are usually pumping out music from an Autonomic Controls MMS-5A music server (a Crestron Sonnex digital audio distribution system directs the audio traffic). The tunes extend into the yard, where 10 Sonance landscape speakers and two in-ground subwoofers leave no area untouched.

Complementing both the indoor and outdoor music are elegant lighting effects. To make it a cinch for the homeowners to set the lights–both indoors and outdoors–for any mood, situation, or occasion, the Casaplex team integrated a Lutron HomeWorks QS lighting control system with the Crestron PRO3 home automation system. The tie between the two systems means that from any Crestron interface the homeowners can control over 280 lighting loads. And thanks to the custom programming of the HomeWorks QS system by Casaplex, the homeowners can activate special lighting scenes, sweep through the entire house to turn off the lights before bedtime, or operate lights individually. While they’re at it, they can monitor and adjust the temperature in four heating/cooling zones, operate the swimming pool and spa, unlock and lock a gate at the entrance to the property (when the gate intercom button is pressed, a nearby IP camera view pops up on the screen), and manage a 150-zone GE Concord alarm system. For even greater peace of mind that their home is secure, Crestron RavaSIP technology lets them access and manage all of the electronic systems in the home remotely.

Of course, with a system this massive and all-encompassing, there are bound to be a few homeowner questions. For these clients, Casaplex customized a support portal ticketing system within the interface to allow them to enter tickets or simply communicate 24/7 with the support team in case there are any issues. “In the end, this might seem like a pretty standard home automation system. It’s the type of system that integrators do every day,” says Dim. “However, the fact that the property is totally manageable despite grand-scale electronics is what makes it unique. Now the clients can enjoy their large estate to its fullest, thanks to the conveniences and entertainment that the smart home provides.” EH

KRISSY RUSHING is an A/V publishing industry veteran whose experience spans more 15 years. From her early days as executive editor of Home Theater magazine, Ultimate AV, and Audio Video Interiors, to her more recent work as a freelance writer, Krissy specializes in making technology understandable to anyone.

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