Serenity and Sophistication Blend in this High Tech Home

Electronics and the great outdoors work together to create an ultra-relaxing home environment.


Sunshine, fresh air and nothing but trees as far as the eye can see. The owners of this 12,000-square-foot custom home in central California enjoy all of nature’s bounty, but with the added luxury of some very sophisticated home technologies. Yes, in this house modern electronic systems and the great outdoors live in perfect harmony, where one complements and enhances the other. Automated lights accentuate pathways that lead from one back yard patio to the next; music drifts from rock speakers by the pool house to the guest house; and a variety of sensors keeps an eye on the grounds so the owners can relax and enjoy their wellearned free time.

Thoughtful Design

Like many homeowners embarking on a high-tech project, the couple who owns this residence wasn’t sure initially which kinds of features and functions would make the most sense to incorporate into the design of their custom home. With guidance from the custom electronics (CE) professionals at David Vincent Design, Carmel, Calif., they were able to determine several areas of their lifestyle that would benefit greatly from technology. “They came up with several good concepts, mostly based around how they envisioned living in the house,” says David Vincent Design owner Jim Zoyiopoulos.

Since they planned to spend much of their time outside, special attention was paid to the outdoor living areas. Keypads mounted in several weather-protected places let the owners summon music to any or all of 13 independent listening zones. For example, while XM radio plays through the eave-mounted SpeakerCraft speakers at the outdoor kitchen, tunes from a dock-mounted iPod can drift through the rock speakers (also from SpeakerCraft) by the swimming pool. Those keypads can control much more than music too—like fountains, a bug zapper and two overhead gas heaters. The lighting also plays an important role, leading from the main house to the pool house, to the billiards barn, to the guest quarters and everywhere in between—and all the owners do is touch a button to illuminate the pathways. The music and lighting function the same inside the house as they do outside.

Automated Conveniences

Responsible for this mode of convenient control and the distribution of music is a sophisticated, custom-programmed Crestron Pro2 processor and matrix switcher. Signals from keypads and touchpanels travel over a high-speed highway of cabling, which was installed while the home was under construction, to a rack of equipment stashed in a specially built utility room. It’s here that the CE pros from David Vincent Design can program settings for the extensive Lutron lighting and Crestron distributed music systems, as well as for the motorized shades, thermostats, security sensors and other electronics.

While the homeowners wanted the Crestron system to provide easy, convenient control over various elements of their home, some adjustments they decided should happen automatically. For example, they never have to remember to turn off the gas fireplaces. Instead, the Crestron system deactivates them after they’ve been on for a certain amount of time. And the motorized shades that cover the windows in several rooms lift and lower based on a preset schedule so that the sunlight won’t damage the furniture or artwork. Smart thermostats? You bet—they self-adjust based on the time of day, so the house is always at its most comfortable. Should the temperature and humidity in the wine cellar rise or fall beyond a certain range the owners are immediately notified by a text message. And even if the owners aren’t outside to enjoy the fountains, the automation system still remembers to turn them on occasionally so that the water stays fresh.

Always Prepared

The Crestron Pro2 also assists the home’s security system. From any touchpanel, the system can be monitored, armed and disarmed. Whenever a car approaches the property, the Crestron touchpanels emit a chime and display real-time video captured by six strategically placed, weatherproof Speco Surveillance cameras. A sensor buried alongside the driveway triggers the notification procedure. Peering at any touchpanel screen, the owners can determine who’s there, and prepare the house accordingly. For example, they might summon songs from the XM Radio receiver to play over the living room speakers. If more guests are expected, they might cue the tunes to play in all 43 listening zones on the property. Or, if there’s a big game or a movie night on the social calendar, they can prep the lower level’s dedicated theater as quickly as tapping a kaleidescape icon on a touchpanel that’s been mounted on the armrest of one of the Fortress Seating chairs. This command, as governed by the Crestron processor, kick starts a slew of equipment, including a Sony video projector, Denon audio/video receiver and Triad amplifiers. It also draws open a pair of motorized drapes to reveal a 100-inch Stewart Filmscreen screen and dims the lights.

There’s no shortage of entertainment options in this home theater. The Kaleidescape media server holds 150 DVDs, or the owners can choose from something that’s been recorded on either his or her digital satellite receiver. A Sony Blu-ray player is also available to play a new release that a friend may have brought along. The same Crestron touchpanel that is used to prepare the theater presents all of the movie choices on either its own built-in screen or the owners can pull the information up onto the big 100-incher so that the entire crowd can help choose a flick. Although the theater is the best place for viewing, a Crestron video distribution system can transmit audio and video from any component in the equipment rack to any big-screen TV and speakers in the house, as well as to the TVs and speakers in the pool house and billiards barn.

Button Up for Bedtime

After the last guest has departed, it takes mere seconds for the owners to shut down the house for the night. Any light, any speaker and any TV that’s been left on is immediately put to bed when they press the goodnight button on a keypad in their master suite. Even the driveway sensors are smart enough -thanks to their tie to the Crestron system- to know that it’s time to be quiet. David Vincent Design set up the system so that only an arriving car will trigger an announcement. A second sensor that’s buried closer to the house overrides the first sensor so that the system remains silent when guests depart.


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