Electronic Ideas for Your Master Bedroom

Audio, video, whole-house control and more can be yours and all from the comfort of your bed.

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What’s on your calendar today? Will you be driving to the airport for a business trip? Are you taking the day off to catch up on errands? Will you be hosting a dinner party or spending the evening on your own? Maybe you’ll be going to a friend’s for a backyard barbeque later on. No matter what’s happening in your life, the master suite is the place where you get prepared, whether that means donning a suit and tie or steaming away in the shower. Technology, in the form of audio, video and home control systems, can put you in the right frame of mind for whatever’s on your agenda. Then, when you’re ready to call it quits, the same products that started your day can cap things off in a way that’s soothing and relaxing.

Smooth Tunes
A whole-house audio system is the best way to bring music to the bedroom. You can hear the current traffic and weather reports on the FM tuner while you’re shaving, put on a favorite rock CD while showering, and unwind with a compilation of soft piano music—all by touching a button on a keypad mounted to the wall.

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Here’s another great thing about a whole-house audio system: You’ll be able to keep all of the boxy components—except for the speakers—somewhere else, like in the family room A/V cabinet, an unused linen closet or even a special electronics room in the basement. Using low-voltage cabling or wireless transmission technology, the system distributes songs from a remote CD player, media server or radio tuner directly to the speakers in the bedroom. You choose what you’d like to hear by pressing buttons on a keypad, touchpanel or handheld remote control. A professional home systems contractor can group certain songs in your music collection together to create playlists for reading, getting ready for work, romance and other activities.

The speakers you select for your bedroom needn’t be the cream of the crop. Moderately priced in-wall and in-ceiling units can usually provide ample coverage for background listening. Just be sure to outfit every part of the room—not just the area by the bed—with speakers. Put them in your walk-in closet, out on the balcony, or anywhere else you might like to hear music.

An audio distribution system can be divided into separate listening zones, giving you the flexibility to play different songs in different areas simultaneously. This may seem appealing, but sectioning off your master suite only makes sense if the room is very large or if you and your spouse have very different schedules and music preferences. A common way to zone a master suite is by placing the bathroom on one zone and the rest of the suite on another zone. An outdoor area could comprise a third zone. With this arrangement, you could have news radio playing in the bathroom while a yoga CD pumps through the bedroom speakers.

The speakers connected to the audio distribution system could also be used as part of a surround-sound system, should you choose to incorporate some type of TV into the space (always a good idea). A surround-sound system is made up of at least five speakers. It should be easy to find an entertainment cabinet with cavities to hold the front right, center and left speakers, as well as a high-def TV. To ensure a good fit for both the speakers and the TV, select the electronic components before you buy the cabinet or hire a cabinetmaker to tailor a unit to the dimensions of your equipment.

Where you plan to watch a movie and the furniture layout will determine where the rear speakers should be placed. You might do most of your movie viewing from the bed or maybe you’d be more comfortable watching from the sitting area. Decide which area makes the most sense and mount the rear speakers there. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a movie from other parts of the suite. The speakers in those areas can play the movie audio, too—it just won’t be in surround sound.

Vibrant Video
When it comes to selecting a display for your bedroom, flat-panel TVs come highly recommended by home systems contractors. They take up very little space, offer a multitude of mounting options, and work well in nearly any type of lighting situation. The latest generation of displays boasts profiles as thin as an iPhone, making them well suited for hanging on the wall. Naturally, any TV that’s attached to a wall will become the focal point of your master suite—and that’s fine for some folks. If a high-tech dwelling is not the look you’re after, there are plenty of eye-pleasing alternatives, such as placing the set inside a cabinet with doors that can be closed, or using a motorized canvas painting to disguise the wall-skimming set as a piece of art.

For sprawling master suites, consider the display to a mount that can be retracted from the wall or cabinet and tilted and swiveled in all directions to face toward various locations in the room. Some mounts can be motorized to move to a preset position when you press a button on a remote. Finally, if you’d like to completely remove all visual indications of the TV, consider tucking it inside a cabinet equipped with a motorized platform that can lift the TV out of the box when you’re ready to watch, then lower it back into the cabinet when you’re finished.

Luxurious Lighting
Lighting can enhance both your viewing and listening environment. By dimming the lights, for example, the display will look brighter and the music will sound seemingly sweeter. A lighting control system can arrange the intensity of every light in your master suite to suit your mood. All you have to do is press a button on a wall-mounted keypad to get the fixtures to respond. A morning command for example, could gradually brighten the bedroom lights over the course of 15 minutes, giving your eyes time to adjust. By connecting the lighting system and the whole-house music system together, this same command could also have your favorite morning news station piped through the bathroom speakers.

A recent twist in lighting control systems is their ability to seamlessly operate motorized window treatments. By having the shades open and close on command, you can utilize the sunshine as another lighting source. For example, instead of having a reading scene activate a table lamp, you could have the blinds by your favorite chair lift to let in the natural light.

Depending on the size of your suite, one lighting control keypad may not be enough. At the very least, you’ll want to have a keypad at the entrance so you can cue scenes as you walk into the room, and another keypad by the bed so you can issue commands from underneath the covers. If it’s convenient and fits your budget, consider putting additional keypads in the sitting area, closet, and other places where you plan on spending a good deal of time. Just remember that the controls don’t always have to go on the walls. You can have your home systems contractor program a handheld remote or a wireless touchpanel to operate everything in your master suite.

Automating some of the lighting functions is an option, too. For example, you could have the built-in timeclock of your lighting control system turn the fixtures on and off and lift and lower the shades at certain times of the day. In addition, small sensors planted beneath the carpeting could be used to trigger a lighting pathway to the bathroom when you step on them in the middle of the night. Ask your home systems contractor which features to automate and which to control from a remote or keypad.

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