IT’S OFTEN NOT EASY to establish and maintain harmony between a home’s electronic systems and its architectural design. But if anyone can do it, it’s a trained, experienced, creative home systems integrator. Over the years, home systems integrators have learned what works and what doesn’t, have developed close working relationships with architects, builders and interior designers and have crafted some wonderfully innovative solutions for fusing electronics into walls, floors, furnishings and other parts of a house in ways that never detract from the style of the room. We asked a few veteran integrators to share their tips and advice:
A Nice Rack
If you get a rack, think about putting it front and center and use LED lighting to show off your equipment. Keep the equipment organized by brand for a neat, cohesive look—it’s like when a landscaper groups species of plants together.
John Stumpf, Station Earth, Fergus, Ontario
Close to the Surface
Recessing anything, such as speakers, into the walls will add to your bottom line and in some cases can jeopardize the integrity of the wall surface. An alternative is to mount them directly to the wall surface. James Loudspeaker makes a good-looking box speaker that protrudes just a few inches from the wall.
Michael Fehmers, CBA Technology, South Pasadena, Calif.
If you’re planning to redecorate a room or the entire house, dimmable lighting and motorized shading are the way to go. They are easy to implement and they can make a huge visual impact.
David Weinstein, vice president, Residential Sales Lutron Electronics
Be sure to consider the speakers when adding a frame to a wall-mounted flat-panel TV. Will you be adding a soundbar to the display or placing speakers elsewhere in the room for audio? This will make a difference in appropriate size and shape of the frame.
Ryan Sullivan, Blue Speed AV, Tulsa, Okla.
Time for a Tune-Up
Always keep in mind that, no matter what kind of technology you install, at some point it will need to be serviced. Include service areas for your electronic systems in the design of the house, such as false walls and doors that let you reach the back of a home theater system. To avoid mistakes, have regular design meetings with all the trades to catch potential problems before going too far down the wrong path.
Matt Bernath, president, Surreal Systems, Anaheim Hills, Calif.
A properly constructed and ventilated equipment closet is essential for a completely hidden installation of technology and to support both evolutionary growth as well as general maintenance of the equipment.
Jeff Galea, Boca Theater & Automation, Boca Raton, Fla.
Collaborate & Listen
The most important step is to meet with a home systems integrator early in the building process. This is the only way to ensure that the technology can be integrated into the architecture.
Rob Dzedzy, president, Media Rooms Inc., West Chester, Penn.
Don’t forget about having solid wireless Wi-Fi coverage. You’ll need it in order to operate devices from a smartphone—which is an aesthetically-friendly alternative to standard wall-mounted keypads and touchpanels.
Ryan Herd, One Sound Choice, Pompton Plains, N.J.
Motorized shades not only look great, they can save your flooring, furniture and artwork from fading.
Conor Coleman, Realm Control, Norwalk, Conn.