Tech Enhances Tropical Home’s Open Design

Mountains of hidden technology add convenience to this airy Hawaiian retreat.

Bedroom with 32 inch tv

To ensure that the picture on this bedroom's 32-inch TV remained bright and vivid, motorized shades were applied to the wall of windows. Photo: Don Bloom, Tropical Light Photography

It takes a good imagination, close collaboration and strong determination to pile a mountain of electronics into a home without disrupting any of its natural beauty and tranquility.

The electronics design team at Art and Automation in Wailuku, HI, demonstrated those qualities by infusing this 25,000-square-foot Hawaiian rendezvous with miles of cabling, dozens of speakers, several flat-panel TVs, and one control system intelligent enough to manage the operation of everything from a music server that can hold as many as 250,000 songs to an assortment of gas-powered tiki torches by the infinity-edge swimming pool.

Imagination at Work
It would be a job some professionals would have a tough time pulling off, but Art and Automation’s lead designers Paul Bailey and Mike Ruger were up for the challenge. Former Walt Disney Imagineers, they had acquired years of experience designing shows, displays, exhibits and rides for Disney’s theme parks. “At Disney, the objective was always to blend technology and art,” says Ruger. That philosophy was obviously carried through to the design and electronics integration of this custom-designed home.

Brimming with elegance, sophistication and an open design that blurs the line between outdoor and indoor living, you’d never guess the resort-inspired paradise is loaded with such an amazing assortment of electronic systems. Take the 32-inch LCD TV in the master bedroom. It’s hardly ever out in the open, having been tucked inside a custom cabinet at the end of the bed. By pressing a button on a portable AMX touchpanel, the homeowners can command the set to lift up from its hiding spot and turn on. When they’re done watching a show, they simply press another button to turn off the TV and DVD player and lower the set back into the cabinet.

“The arrangement is just perfect,” enthuse the homeowners. “It allows us to maintain a serene feeling but still have a TV so we stay connected with the outside world.” To ensure that the picture on the screen would remain bright and vivid, motorized shades were applied to the room’s magnificent wall of windows. The same touchpanel that controls the TV lift signals the shades to lower over the panes to prevent sunlight from washing out the picture.

Open to All Options
The crown jewel of the property is the great room. Absolutely no technology is visible there, save for a wireless 7-inch color touchpanel resting quietly on an end table. What you will notice is the seamless transition between the indoor and outdoor space, accomplished with a major cantilever design at the corner of the room that opens via expansive Fleetwood doors. The controls provided by the AMX touchpanel only enhance the open and elegant feel, making it the homeowners’ favorite spot to entertain. From the touchpanel, they can cue a piece of music to play through the SpeakerCraft CRS2s speakers planted throughout the house, disarm the security system, activate the outdoor hot tub, and arrange the settings of dozens of indoor and outdoor lights, including the poolside tiki torches. “The touchpanel makes it so easy to get the house ready for company,” say the homeowners. “For example, if we’re having a dinner party, we just touch one button to quickly create the right ambiance. The lights go to the appropriate dinner party setting and Hawaiian cocktail music plays throughout the house.”

Room-by-Room Control
An AMX keypad resides in every room, giving the homeowners and their guests a handy way to control the lights, thermostats, motorized window shades and other electronic components—as well as a place to view the current outdoor temperature and stock reports. “We especially like the security aspect,” says the lady of the house. “The touchscreen shows us a floorplan of the residence and indicates with a red light which doors and windows are still open.” Thanks to this information, the homeowners are able to secure their home quicker than if they had to search for the problem doors and windows themselves.

In addition to a floorplan of the house, each touchscreen was designed by Art and Automation to display only the buttons needed to operate the components in each respective room. “This design has made it easy for our guests to control every system in the house,” say the homeowners. “Plus, our walls would be overloaded with individual switches if we didn’t have the touchscreens.”

Also custom designed was the color of each screen. “We worked with the interior designer to determine the planned color scheme for each room then used complementary colors for the screens,” Art and Automation CEO Bailey explains. “We went with a muted sage color to match the master bedroom and bathroom and a creamy color for many of the other areas.” The outdoor keypads were also given the royal treatment: Art and Automation engineered them to be completely resistant to damage from water and salt.

Dreams Discovered
About the only place in the house that reveals the owner’s penchant for electronic toys is the dedicated home theater. Viewers there can enjoy two types of displays: a 32-inch Sharp Aquos LCD TV for casual viewing with the room lights on or a 130-inch Stewart FireHawk screen for watching big blockbusters with the lights off. Each setup has its own dedicated source equipment, conveniently stored on custom shelving. A JVC high-def video projector, designed to drop from the ceiling on a motorized lift, and PSB Platinum speakers round out the serious projection system.

The home theater gear may set the tone for this space, but the room also looks great when there’s nothing on either screen. A fiber-optic ceiling, backlit movie posters and dimmable lighting create an elegant and sophisticated spot to simply chill with friends or relax with a good book.

Passion with a Purpose
The electronic systems in this home may seem far out, but there’s absolutely nothing superfluous about them, Bailey maintains. “The homeowner loves technology, but everything we selected had to have a very specific purpose for being there.” The homeowners identified those functions by collaborating closely with the architect, Greg Bayless, and the interior designer, Leona Bayless, well before construction commenced. “The homeowners live all over the globe, so the design team traveled with the architect and the interior designer to those other homes to find out what type of family the homeowners are.” Based on a prominent display of vacation photos they discovered in one home, for example, the team decided it was important to make this new abode look and feel as much like a four-star resort as possible.

Mission accomplished. A full-blown control system blends in seamlessly with the tropical environment, giving the owners a place that feels as luxurious as any top-rated vacation resort. Add a bevy of portable touchpanels that can control anything from anywhere, and this Hawaiian getaway holds all the magic of a Disney attraction plus the wonderful comforts of home.


    Control Systems

  • AMX NI-4000 central integrated controller
  • AMX NI-700 integrated controller
  • AMX CV7 touchpanel
  • AMX CV12 touchpanel
  • AMX NXA-WAP200G 802.11b wireless access point
  • AMX NXC-NH/HD/HE NetLinx hub card and module
  • AMX PC2 power controllers
  • AMX PLK-DMS keypad with LCD
  • AMX VSS2 video sync sensor

  • PSB T8, S2 and C4 Platinum speakers
  • SpeakerCraft CRS2 in-ceiling speaker
  • PSB Subsonic 10 subwoofer
    Security & Climate System

  • AMX ViewStat thermostat
  • GE-CADDX NX-584 security system
  • DoorKing 1821-010 gate controller

System Design & Installation

Art and Automation Inc.
Wailuku, HI

Dave Stodder Construction
Makawao, HI

Farrington Bayless Architects
Wailuku, HI

Interior Designer
Leona Bayless
Wailuku, HI


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