Boston Brownstone Goes from Barebones to Brimming with Technology

Busy family savors automation in their renovated home.

Shelly Harrison Photography. Architecture and interior design by Hacin + Associates.

For eight years, the family who lived in this elegant Boston brownstone had dealt with an inconsistent indoor climate, troublesome light switches and poor communication between six floors. Finally, after deciding to update the décor, they turned to the custom electronics (CE) pros at Advanced Communication Technologies (ACT), Rockland, Mass., to integrate modern home automation systems into a home that was in bad need of a technology overhaul.

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“Even though the owner had a fair amount of knowledge about technology, he hadn’t really implemented it in his home yet,” says ACT senior project manager Bill Gerber. “It was very minimal as far as infrastructure and products.” After lengthy discussions with Gerber about the high-tech possibilities, though, the homeowners fully embraced the notion of having a home automation system that would afford their family the convenience of being able to operate the lights, security devices and several thermostats, as well as distribute high definition video and music throughout the house—all from their current stash of iPhones, iPads, iPod touches and Mac computers. The Savant automation system chosen for the project ties everything together; a companion mobile app puts the controls on the family’s mobile devices.

Now that the design and installation of the system is complete, the family can turn off lights and adjust thermostats via the touch of a few buttons instead of having to scale six flights as they had done for years. It’s a huge time-saver for a family that maintains an irregular schedule where they’re in and out of the house at all times of the day,” says Gerber.

In addition to saving time—and aching leg muscles—the successful union of the home’s existing heating and cooling system and the Savant system had a huge impact on the renovated brownstone’s new, more modern, aesthetic. Instead of almost two dozen individual thermostats peppering the walls, there are now half as many. The thermostats that monitor a high-efficiency Mitsubishi AC system were relocated to a central equipment closet where no one sees them (sensors within the AC ductwork monitor the temperature). The other thermostats, which are responsible for heat, were replaced with stylish Lutron thermostats (The brownstone was heated and cooled by two separate systems.)

The same iDevices that are used to operate the home’s internal electronic systems also orchestrate the delivery of music and video to built-in KEF speakers and Samsung flat-panel TVs throughout the residence. Viewing the screen of an iPad or other mobile device, the family can select content from their iTunes library and Squeezebox Internet Radio, plus cable boxes and a Blu-ray player. No matter where the family happens to be—the first floor or the sixth—audio, video, lights, thermostats and other electronic devices are within easy reach.

Images: Shelly Harrison Photography
Architecture and interior design by Hacin + Associates

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