Ultimate Home Office Mixes Work & Play

Five displays and 7.1 surround sound make the office space sizzle in this California desert home.

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News, sports, movies—this homeowner can watch 'em all at once on the 70-inch Sony Qualia and four 32-inch Sony TVs in his home office. Photo by Michael Neveux.

Blockbuster action heroes might get the glamour and the girls, but villains generally have better gadgets. The James Bond series blurs that line, with our hero enjoying his share of cool stuff. But his enemies are no slouches when it comes to evilly delicious technology and futuristic hideouts, as this La Quinta, CA–homeowner points to Bond villainy in describing his own home office, whose audio/video setup could make Goldfinger yearn for a 21st century touch.

“The multiple TV setup in the office may not be as cool as Elliot Carver’s in ‘Tomorrow Never Dies,’ but it still has to be classified as cool and functional,” says the homeowner, with a nod to Jonathan Pryce’s bad-guy character in the 1997 flick. The five televisions—a 70-inch Sony Qualia rear-projection set along with four 32-inch Sony LCDs—is definitely cool. Throw in a surround-sound music system, iPod docking station, Xperinet media server, AMX wireless color touchpanel home control and network router for the space, and you’ve got one fully connected lair.

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Mixing Work and Pleasure
Because the homeowner conducts most of his business and spends most of the day in the home office, it seemed natural that the room would serve as the signature space for Indio, CA–based RNX International’s comprehensive installation approach. Aside from the office, the company installed audio/video solutions in everything from the master bath to the great room to the exercise room to the kitchen to the outdoor terrace.

As an avid golfer—virtually a prerequisite for residency in the Palm Springs area—the homeowner cites the Golf Channel as a constant on the displays, which he says are typically left on throughout the day. Other mainstays are Fox News, Bloomberg, CNN and, since the room doubles as a prime viewing space for his wife and kids as well, the Disney Channel. During the workday, television audio often gives muted way to tunes streamed from an iPod and iPort Music System from Sonance.

The audio/video preamplifier and separate power amp from Anthem fuel the 7.1-channel surround-sound system in the office. The setup includes three Genelec speakers, four Thiel in-ceiling speakers and a 200-watt Genelec subwoofer. There’s plenty of thump when the homeowner wants it, whether he’s on a lunch break and cranking up the iTunes or enjoying a movie with the family.

“That room serves multiple purposes. It’s a very comfortable office that’s also built as a home theater,” he says. “The sound system is powerful, and the fact that the 70-inch TV is complemented by four 32-inch sets really makes it a useful information center. Besides being useful during the day, it’s hard to get around the killer enclave that it makes for watching movies. It’s a little like having a nightclub sound system in an 800-square-foot theater.”

Stepping Up
The uberpopular iPod supplies much of the office and the entire home’s music content, with help from networked Apple computers that allow for easy music transfer. Other audio and video content, from sources such as CDs, DVDs, VHS tapes and a cable DVR, is either stored on or distributed by an Xperinet 1.75-terabyte hard drive server and an ADA Suite 16 system.

Sending music and video from a central location to rooms throughout the house was a priority for the homeowner and his family, and they had an easy time coordinating with RNX on their wishes. This was the third home RNX had outfitted for the owner, with a bit more technology and gear added each time. “He moved the bar up,” says RNX’s Jon Duncan. “The gear is a little more sophisticated. His first house was very basic, and he was single then, so he just wanted a surround system. House number two got more, but not full-house control. This house has everything, all integrated.”

That includes a secondary entertainment setup in the great room that doesn’t pack quite the punch of the office system but could rock many homes as a primary theater. Another 70-inch Sony display is the centerpiece, this one a Grand Wega LCD rear-projection set, with accompanying 5.1 surround sound from James Loudspeaker for the front left, right and center, and Bay Audio in-ceiling speakers for the rear. “The great room is mostly used for watching sports while making dinner or to watch specific sporting events if we have guests over. It’s rarely used for movies, as we prefer the office theater system,” the homeowner says. “Sometimes it has a little too much Food Network on it; Iron Chef on a 70-inch TV is a little aggressive. But my wife is a phenomenal chef, so maybe it’s a small price to pay.”

Around the Home
Cooking, dining and entertaining are common activities the homeowners often share with guests, so convenience in accessing and employing automation, lighting and distributed audio/video control was high on the priority list. An AMX system provides the brains and backbone of the control, with its reach extending to the family’s fingertips through keypads and touchpanels throughout the residence. When the entertainment or everyday activities spill into the outdoor space or great room terrace, the homeowners and guests can listen to music, watch TV, set the lighting and even control the swimming pool settings through an AMX portable touchpanel or a keypad. “The weather is so pleasant in our area that it allows us to open the large sliding doors and expand our entertaining space. The outdoor room is really no different than the inside of the house, minus the final perimeter wall,” the homeowner explains. “We have a full kitchen and living room outside, so it made sense to add the A/V there as well.”

At the press of a button on one of the many keypads and touchpanels, the homeowners can trigger numerous activities within the automation system, including music selection, volume and settings for the Lutron lighting system, thanks to scenes programmed into the AMX control. For a large home designed with Persian rugs, antiques, beamed cathedral ceilings, bold furniture, a half-dozen fireplaces and loads of decorative lighting, it was essential that the homeowners have an easy time controlling mood and environmental enhancements.

“The lighting system is a must. Nothing kills the look of a wall like 15 switches in a row [where] no one remembers which switch works what,” the homeowner says. “There are a few entertainment settings for the lighting system, and they all offer a varied look to the zones, as well as to the outside. With nearly 20 chandeliers, it would be easy to let the lighting get away from you and feel like we’re living in an airport.”

Instead, these desert dwellers can tap one button and instantly fire up some songs, a movie or some mood lighting in virtually any room of the house. They’re conveniences that could make even a Bond villain jealous.

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