House Sports 165-Inch Video Wall, Outdoor Theater

A professional designer mixes high-end A/V and modern design in her 17,000 square foot home.

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Photo by Glenn Cormier

As the head of her own interior design company, Amy Finley brought plenty of style, elegance and creativity to working on her own Southern California residence. When she joined forces with electronics system designer and installer One Touch Audio & Video Intregration, the result was a home run—something her professional baseball player husband, Steve Finley, can relate to (he’s belted more than 300 of his own home runs throughout his career).

But what’s the biggest “wow” that makes this the gold winner in the category? An obvious candidate would be the outdoor theater designed for 100 guests. Perhaps it’s the projected interactive art that enlivens a 165-inch wall area. Or maybe it’s the thousands of LED lights programmed to provide just about any ambiance in the home. It could even be the lack of wall clutter that keeps the 17,000 square-foot residence a model of aesthetically rich modern design.

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“I really love the outdoor theater,” says One Touch owner Corey Brushia, who then added another “wow” candidate (one that probably doesn’t receive as much recognition by house visitors): “The equipment room and the amount of wires—my wife has seen a lot of these installations, and when she saw the number of wires, the hundreds of connectors, and every one terminated and color coded, she was impressed.”

After designing the house as a spec home to sell with a simple electronics system incorporated, the Finleys decided to keep it for themselves—and that’s when the project really took off, says Brushia. Steve wanted an easy-to-manage, hard drive–based system, and Amy wanted to design everything around entertaining. That meant that except for obvious aspects such as the outdoor theater and the projection art, she didn’t want much of the audio and video in sight.

The crux of the technology is an AMX control system that the Finleys and their children can access via user-based touchpads or an RTI T-3 remote control that can be taken anywhere in the house. Every touchpanel has the same easy-to-use interface that’s been programmed for eight people, so all a family member has to do is hit my dvr or my movies or my music and go from there. Each user has a dedicated DVR and can scroll through an Xperinet server for movies and an Escient server for music.

Though 42-inch Panasonic plasma TVs are mounted in rooms throughout the house, “There are no sources you can see anywhere except for iPod docks,” says Brushia. “You won’t see any source, any boxes or, for the most part, any speakers.”

The interior contains 32 zones of audio, with a multitude of Sonance speakers hiding in the walls and ceilings. What’s definitely not hiding are the screens.

Inside the house, a 12-seat theater room features a 120-inch Screen Research model fed by a Marantz DLP projector. Outside, a 180-inch motorized model from Screen Research takes center stage in tandem with another Marantz DLP projector, which may be upgraded in the near future.

The interactive art in the gallery beams onto a regular wall rather than a screen, with an InFocus DLP projector providing the image. A digital rendering of plants grows and sways in constant, random motion as people walk in front of the lens. Brushia says the Finleys plan to add another interactive art area that will feature an underwater image and require two projectors.

The true “wow” for Amy, however, might have come when One Touch programmed a remote—with more commands at the touch of a button than she thought possible—specifically for a fashion show she threw that served as a housewarming party. “When she pressed the first button, it played arrival music for the guests. The second one she hit right before the fashion show, so it dimmed the lights, dimmed out the secondary rooms, left the walkways lit and changed the music playlist. The third button switched her to a microphone system and mixed another playlist so she could start announcing the show. And the fourth button turned on all the lights after the show,” says Brushia. “That was just a surprise to her.”

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