Whole House Design Ideas

Use this overview to conceptualize your entire home's control and entertainment systems.


Technology is probably the most difficult home amenity to envision. Partly because so much of the magic takes place behind the walls, and partly because it changes and evolves so rapidly. Therefore it helps, at least in the beginning, to consider and decide on components and systems on a room-by-room basis. What you’ll notice as you prepare a room-by-room wish list is that you desire many of the same features for each room of the house. You’d like music in the bedroom, family room, the dining room, and the kitchen, for example. Now it’s time to think about the big picture — the whole house.

Music complements the environment of just about every room of the house. If you like the thought of having music at your fingertips — without equipping each room with its own stereo — then definitely have a whole house music system installed as the house is being built. Wiring will carry the tunes from a central stereo system to speakers located throughout the house. Even if you don’t want tunes in the baby’s room now, at least have your installer pull speaker and control wire there. When you’re ready, you can call the installer to have him add those speakers to the system.

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You’ll probably be watching TV in several areas of the house. That doesn’t mean, however, that each TV needs its own DVD player, satellite receiver and other players. A video distribution system lets every TV share one common set of components, and works best if it is installed before the home is finished. Don’t forget about surveillance cameras. As part of a video distribution system they can transmit images to every TV.

Of course, a security system should protect the entire home. Sensors can be recessed into the framework of doors and windows to make them less noticeable. Your home systems installer, architect and interior designer should cooperate so that motion sensors and other security devices don’t turn your home into a fortress.

The entire house benefits from a lighting control system. Illuminated pathways can lead the way from the master bedroom to the kitchen, for example, or from the garage to the kitchen. And even if you host most of your parties in the family room, your guests will likely end up in other areas of the house. You’ll want them to look spectacular too. By treating every room with the same lighting control system, one button can arrange the lights throughout the entire house.

A home control system is handiest when you’re physically removed from the devices you want to manipulate. Take a thermostat. It’s easy enough to lower the heat when you’re in the same room as the thermostat. But when you’re in the bedroom, you may find it easier to use a keypad, a touchpanel, a remote control or some other type of device to change the thermostat. The same goes for the lights and the security system.

Here are the whole house systems available to you:

  • Security System
  • Zoned Heating/Cooling System
  • Lighting Control System
  • Home Control System
  • Music System
  • Video Distribution System
  • Computer Networking
  • Phone System

To take full advantage of the various electronic systems of a house, consider incorporating a system that lets you monitor and manage them all from any telephone or computer in the world.


  • A control device labeled with “Home,” “Away” and “Vacation” buttons can set all systems in the house appropriately for each event.
  • A whole house music system can be programmed to play your favorite music at your favorite volume level automatically when the alarm clock rings.
  • A video distribution system can display an image captured by a surveillance camera automatically on any TV screen.
  • A phone system can be designed to let you answer the doorbell even when you’re miles away from home.

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