Unfinished basements are like blank canvases. You can “paint” them anyway you want without any regard to what might been rendered earlier. It’s a place where you can let your imagination take over. Creativity and ingenuity undoubtedly flourished in the lower level of a 10,000 square-foot Canadian home, as the tech-savvy homeowners and skilled design and integration team at Mississauga, Ontario-based Pure Custom Integrations turned an underutilized basement into the ultimate entertainment playground.
To bring purpose to each square inch of the spacious 5,000-square-foot room, Pure Custom Integrations divided it into several distinct areas: a gym, spa, music room, home theater, bar, and dance floor. While each section caters to decidedly different activities, technologically-speaking, they all function as one autonomous unit, tied together by a Control4 automation system. It’s this common link, or automation hub, that allows the family to easily operate an impressive suite of audio and video components, 44 circuits of lights, as well as a smoke machine and three ceiling-mounted lasers that sync with the rhythm of the music.
The ease of operation is granted to the homeowners through the addition of Control4 keypads, touchpanels, and a smartphone/tablet app. Each option invites the homeowners “start the party” with just a tap of finger. This one command, customized by Pure Custom Integrations, sets the lights to a predetermined level and instructs a Control4 whole-house A/V system to distribute music from the owners’ favorite Internet radio station–Songza) at a present volume level to every speaker throughout the space. There happen to be 24 of them–all Paradigm brand and all having been discretely mounted flush with the ceiling surface, so that everyone, whether they’re playing pool or sipping cocktails, can easily hear and enjoy the tunes. Naturally, a song that fits the mood when sipping drinks may not be as good a fit during a challenging round of billiards so Pure Custom Integrations designed the A/V system to be able to treat each area as a separate listening zone. This means that from a Control4 device the owners can pick and choose a different piece of music to play simultaneously in each zone. Friends can play along too, as the Control4 system can stream audio from anyone’s iPhone.
Virtual DJ for Parties
And when friends start acting as virtual DJs (there’s also a port where an actual DJ can plug in his system), you can bet the party will eventually wind up on the dance floor. Here’s where Pure Custom Integrations’ integration skills were put to the test. “The biggest challenge was figuring out where to install the smoke machine,” says Pure Custom Integrations owner Richard Juras. “We didn’t want an ugly black box sitting exposed on the floor.” The solution: Pure Custom Integrations placed the smoke machine in a mechanical room adjacent to the dance floor and siphoned the smoke into the area through a small grommet in the wall. Another element of contention, says Juras, was making sure that the fog wouldn’t set off the smoke alarms. “We experimented by shooting the smoke from all angles and finding a fluid that would make the fog lay low to the ground,” he says. The smoke machine, as well as the lasers can be turned on and off an instantly from the Control4 app on an iPhone.
Another popular spot to convene is the theater. Here, viewers have several entertainment options. Content from two satellite TV set-top boxes, two Samsung Blu-ray players, and two Apple TV units can be viewed on either an 80-inch Sharp Aquos flat-panel TV or an Elunevision projection screen. The latter stays hidden in the ceiling, slowly descending into the space when the owners touch a button on a Control4 device. This is the Control4 system’s cue to turn off the TV and direct the video to the Epson video projector.
Whichever display or content the family chooses, the audio never lacks, thanks to the Dolby Atmos surround-sound system that Pure Custom Integrations installed. Comprised of seven Paradigm speakers mounted overhead in a 5.1.2-setup (as well as one Reference series in-wall subwoofer), the Dolby Atmos configuration creates an immersive audio environment where sound envelopes home theater goers from all directions. High-caliber audio doesn’t stop at the theater, however. The homeowners identified three other priority listening areas into which Pure Custom Integrations installed reference grade speakers and in-wall subwoofers for more audio oomph. The home recently received an award from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) Mark of Excellence for: Custom Home of the Year Between $50,000 and $150,000.
Creating a Listening Room
No matter how convenient it is to stream music, there’s something soothing about handling an album or CD case, placing it on the turntable or sliding it into the Cambridge CD player, and hitting play. In addition to incorporating modern A/V technologies into their renovated basement, the homeowners requested that a special music listening room be created–that would include nothing more than the Cambridge CD player, two Paradigm speakers, and four chairs. By closing the door to the room, listeners can enjoy a classic CD collection without any distractions from other entertainment happening in the basement. Although CD players are old-school, Pure Custom Integrations gave it a modern twist by linking it into the Control4 whole-house A/V system, which enables the CDs to play through every speaker–but only when the homeowner chooses to do so.
Combining Multiroom Video with Doorbell
As much as the homeowners relish having a special space to entertain friends and family, they didn’t ignore the speakers and displays in the upper levels of the house. Thanks to the addition of HDMI wiring, matrix switchers, plenty of amplifiers, and careful calibration and configuration by Pure Custom Integrations, all audio and video content can be distributed and shared with the four other flat-panel TVs in the entertainment space, as well as with TVs and speakers upstairs. Nor did the homeowners want to unintentionally ignore guests arriving at the front door while partying in the basement. To preclude this, Pure Custom Integrations installed a simple, affordable, wireless solution, the Ring Video Doorbell. When the doorbell is pressed, it signals modules which were plugged into several electrical outlets downstairs, to emit a chime. The Ring has a built in camera, which the owners can view from the screen of their smartphones–and invite their visitors down to join the party.