There was a time when big-screen TVs, speakers, remote controls, and other high-tech amenities were considered to clash horribly with a home’s design and decor. And in many cases, they did. Chalk it up to poor industrial design of the products and shoddy implementation and installation of them within a home. But there’s been a huge shift in thinking and doing, lately. Manufacturers are engineering their high-tech products with home design in mind, and have created solutions that not only fuse with the interior visually, but can actually enhance the overall aesthetic. Home systems integrators, too, have become increasingly focused on outfitting their client’s homes with technology that’s both beautiful in form and effective in function. As you’ll see in the following seven pictorials, all types of smart home systems can have a huge impact on a home’s appearance, transforming ordinary spaces into sensational showpieces and underutilized areas into favorite family destinations.
Sun-Drenched Space Shifts into Sport Viewing Mode
In Miami, the days are bright and long, and this window-festooned media room soaks in the sunshine and a beautiful outdoor view … for most of the time. When the owners are serious about watching the 73-inch flat-panel TV that stands prominently in the room, the windows–and the sunlight–magically disappear. Triggered by a touch of a button on a wall-mounted keypad (or a Control4 handheld remote or iPhone mobile app) several Lutron Sivoia QS roller shades slowly and quietly lower in unison over the huge floor-to-ceiling window panes. In seconds, they’ve wrapped the room, altering it from bright and open to contained and cozy, so the owners can enjoy sporting events, movies, and other types of video at any time of the day without having to deal with glare on the TV screen.
Systems design and installation by MAXICON, Miami, Fla., www.maxiconusa.com
Motorized Doors Turn a Family Room Inside Out
Outdoor entertainment spaces are on trend, and in this renovated Denver home, a Crestron home automation system, and NanaWall motorized sliding glass doors unite a spacious family room with a beautiful backyard. On command from its own dedicated remote control, the doors slide open to completely blend the interior and exterior spaces. The Crestron system, meanwhile, sets the lights, heating/cooling system, and audio/video components for alfresco entertainment.
Systems design and installation by ListenUp, Denver, Colo., www.listenup.com
Kitchen Lighting Adds Layers of Ambiance
Thanks to an elegant, easily controllable lighting system, this kitchen caters to a wide variety of household activities. Whether the family needs bright task lighting to whip up a dish for dinner, or soft, subtle illumination to wind down in the evening, the shift in style happens the instant a button is pressed on handheld RTI T2X remote, custom iPad interface on a mobile device, or wall-mounted Lutron keypad, the latter of which was ordered in a Light Almond screw-less faceplate to blend in with the hand-crafted millwork that surrounds the kitchen and adjoining living room.
The home systems integrators from EVS, of Calgary, Alberta, programmed the home’s Lutron RadioRA 2 lighting control system to evoke four different lighting scenes, and labeled the buttons on the remote, iPad interface, keypad, and remote to correspond to those settings: Bight, Medium, Soft, and Ambiance. The kitchen morphs from one scene to the next, creating four completely different environments for the homeowners to enjoy.
The owners don’t even need to be home to set the scene. Geofencing technology implemented into the RadioRA 2 system enables their mobile phones to trigger the scenes depending on the phone’s location outside the home. The RadioRA 2 system also recognizes whose phone it is, and adjusts the lights to that person’s preference. Whether it’s the kitchen’s Medium lighting scene or a pathway of lighting leading to the master bedroom, the home is always welcoming when its owners return home from work or running errands.
For even greater eye appeal, the RadioRA 2 system alters the scenes slightly depending on the time of the day. For example, at sunset, the under-cabinet lights turn on automatically to a 15 percent intensity level. They brighten to 30 percent when any of the four scene buttons are pressed.
Systems design & installation by EVS, Calgary, AB, www.evolutionvideosound.com
Big-Screen Stowaway Turns Patio into Prime Viewing Area
It’s not just the appearance of indoor areas that technology can enhance. Applied with creativity and ingenuity, tech can take an outdoor space to a whole new level of visual sophistication. When the owners of this 6,000-square-foot home decided to add an outdoor entertainment area to their property, a big-screen TV was one of the top amenities on the must-have list. However, it couldn’t interfere with the natural vibe of a pergola constructed predominantly of teak by design firm Laguardia Design Group–Landscape Architecture, of Watermill, N.Y. The solution: Stow the 65-inch Samsung screen inside a custom-made wood cabinet fitted with a motorized mechanism from Future Automation. On command from a Savant app on the homeowner’s iPhone or iPad, this lift would raise the TV out and into viewing position. The Savant automation system was programmed by the home systems integrators at Systems Design Co., of Southhampton, N.Y., to not only raise the TV but swivel it in three different directions: toward the seating area, the dining table, or the swimming pool. Accompanying the video eye-candy is audio, courtesy of several James Loudspeaker speakers that were built and painted to match the pergola’s light fixtures. Tucked within the beams overhead, they go virtually unnoticed. Lighting, of course, plays a crucial role in the entertainment area’s aesthetic; a Lutron HomeWorks QS lighting system choreographs the settings of all of the fixtures in and around the outdoor space, and all the homeowner needs to do is tap a button on a keypad as he exits the back door to elicit the eye-pleasing effects.
Systems design & installation by Systems Design Co., Southhampton, N.Y., www.systemsdesignco.com; Landscape design by Laguardia Design Group, Watermill, N.Y., www.laguardiadesigngroup.com
“Wine”ding Down in Style
An automated lighting system from Lutron accentuates the bold textures, rich colors, and interesting patterns that dominate this elegant wine cellar and tasting room. Thirty-six lights around the perimeter of the room wash over a metal ceiling, and accent LED fixtures set off the shelving and labels of soon-to-be-stowed bottles of wine. Sconces add another layer of illumination in the tasting area. Glossy brown faceplates were added to the electrical plugs and lighting control keypads, rending them nearly invisible against the brick and custom oak walls.
Systems design and installation by EVS, Calgary, AB, www.evolutionvideosound.com
Motion Sensors Roll Out the Welcome Mat
Nobody likes to walk into a dark house. The owners of this South Florida apartment made sure their arrivals would always bathed in welcoming light by having a motion-sensitive lighting control system installed by Maxicon USA, of Miami, Fla.
The instant they step out of the elevator that delivers them to the private lobby of their apartment, warm, elegant lighting greets them and reveals the beauty of a modern, luxe interior design. There’s no need to hunt for a light switch in the dark. A discreet motion sensor signals a Lutron RadioRA 2 system to activate the recessed Lutron fixtures, which were installed flush with the ceiling and floor surfaces for a double-whammy of elegant illumination. The automated foyer and hallway lighting leads to a great room where colored RBG LED strips brighten the top of a stone wall in either a blue or purple hue.
Systems design and installation by MAXICON, Miami, Fla., www.maxiconusa.com
Modern Motorized Shades Settle into Historic Homestead
Updating an older home with technology can help it function more efficiently. There’s no question about that. But make it look better without compromising the integrity of its original architecture and design? That’s a little tougher to pull off. But the home systems design and installation team at Osbee Industries, of New York, N.Y., managed to accomplish this feat without a hitch. A complete Lutron HomeWorks QS lighting control system was integrated into the 9,000-square-foot estate without blemishing the walls or disrupting the decor. A total of 35 motorized window shades, some of which were tucked into custom housings in the family room, raise and lower automatically based on the time of day. The effect minimizes solar gain from the sunlight that bears down on this western-facing space, helping the heating and cooling system run more efficiently. At the same time, it protects the room’s beautiful artwork and furnishings from damaging UV rays. As the shades shift into one of many preset positions, the room takes on a completely different look–open and airy at one moment; intimate and secluded the next–the latter creating the perfect ambiance to snuggle up on a cold New England night in front of a grand fireplace.
Systems design and installation by Osbee Industries, New York, N.Y. www.osbee.com