It’s not unusual to see bears, moose and mountain lions strolling across Gunter and Gloria Preuss’s backyard. The animals are as much a part of the landscape as the rough terrain that hugs the homeowner’s unique 10,000-square-foot log home. Constructed of huge western red cedar logs harvested from the forests of British Columbia, the house looks at ease with its mountain surroundings.
The way Gunter and Gloria live in this handcrafted home, however, is much different from its old-style design. “Log homes were built at a time when people used candles and lanterns for light,” says electronic systems installer Jason Perez of Conundrum Technologies in Denver. “[These types of homes] just aren’t meant to have technology.”
Au contraire. This log beauty is brimming with sophisticated electronic systems. There’s a Vantage/LeGrand Q architectural lighting system; motorized Lutron Sivoia QED window shades; a corporate-style Panasonic phone system; an Audio Design Associates Suite 16 whole-house music system; an amazing home theater setup; and a handful of flat-panel TVs, built-in speakers and top-grade A/V components throughout. An AMX home control system ties all of the electronic pieces together into one neat package that enables the homeowners to conveniently monitor and operate every system and device from specially designed touchpanels located in key areas of the house. By pressing a goodbye button on any AMX panel, for example, Gunter and Gloria can set the security system, turn off the lights, lower the thermostats and shut the motorized drapes within seconds. This setting is just one of many that were programmed into the AMX system by the design and installation crew at Conundrum Technologies, and according to the Preusses, it’s an arrangement that’s made life in their new home amazingly simple, efficient and comfortable. “This home is 10 times bigger than the cabin we used to live in, so we knew it would naturally be more complicated to manage,” says Gunter. “Having some type of control system in place to help us with the day-to-day was always part of our plan.”
Sweating the Small Stuff
Having a clear vision is always helpful when building a high-tech house, but in the Preusses’ case, knowing where everything would go was absolutely critical. Each one of the logs that would comprise the home was cut and drilled at the milling factory in Canada according to wiring and electronics schematics supplied by Conundrum Technologies. Using special tools, the craftsmen at Pioneer Log Homes in Williams Lake, BC, notched out spaces for in-wall touchpanels and keypads and bore channels for the miles of wiring that would link together the various electronic systems. Once the prefabricated logs arrived at the construction site, they would be impossible to modify. “Everything had to be designed perfectly before the house was constructed,” relates Perez. “Ordinarily, we’re able to prewire and change equipment locations as a house is being built, but for this project, we had to be particularly precise with our plans before we started.”
Their precision paid off. Music travels seamlessly to dozens of speakers perfectly positioned within the walls and ceilings, while custom-designed light fixtures brighten and dim to set the mood for anything from a dinner party to a quiet night at home. Thermostats and motorized window shades adjust on command to maintain a comfortable indoor climate, and a dedicated theater room offers a special spot for the homeowners to watch their eclectic collection of live concert DVDs.
Gunter and Gloria’s affinity for music was what got the whole technology ball rolling. “The theater was actually something we thought about later after Jason showed us a demo at the Conundrum showroom,” says Gunter. Even though the theater was designed for commercial cinema-quality movie viewing, sporting a 130-inch Stewart Filmscreen screen, Vidikron DLP 1080p projector, Meridian 7.1 digital surround-sound system and Vantage Q dimmable lighting, the homeowners admit they use the 15-seat space more for concert listening than anything else. “We lengthened the layout of the room and tweaked the audio so that no matter where you sit, you feel like you’re sitting in a concert venue,” says Perez. “We still load the [concert] DVDs the old-fashioned way, by loading them manually into a DVD player, but someday we’ll get a DVD server,” Gunter professes.
Tapping into a music server is a daily event in other areas of the home, like the master bedroom, great room, wine cellar, patio and bathroom shower stalls. From a nearby AMX panel, Gunter and Gloria can view an alphabetical listing of songs stored on the hard drive of an Escient Fireball media server. A list of XM Radio stations can be called up on the panel, too. Gunter and Gloria simply touch what they want to hear and where they want to hear it, and the ADA Suite 16 system pipes the audio to the appropriate speakers. “It’s so much easier than having to carry a radio with you wherever you go,” Gloria enthuses.
Easy Does It
It’s just as easy to control the home’s 12 thermostats, 20 motorized window shades, dozens of lights and security sensors, and 90-foot waterfall that spills into to a quarter-acre pond that wraps around the house. “By pressing buttons on a touchpanel, we can change the intensity of the waterfall from a roaring river to a meandering stream,” says Gunter. The intensity of the lights can be adjusted on a dime, too. With the help of professional lighting designer Melissa Conchilla of MAC Design Group in Harrisburg, PA, Conundrum Technologies programmed every fixture to adjust to specified intensity levels on command from an AMX touchpanel. These lighting scenes were designed to accentuate the unique construction of the home as well as certain decorative features. “Wood tends to absorb light, so having the right amount of illumination was particularly important,” says Perez. The Preusses need only touch a button labeled entertain, dinner or cooking to bring the lights to the perfect level. “One of our favorite arrangements, though, is issued by the sleep button by our bedside that switches off every light on the property before we go to bed,” Gloria says. From the same bedside touchpanel, they can adjust the temperature throughout the house and close the shades.
Although the AMX system is capable of moving every west-, east- and south-facing motorized window treatment automatically according to the position of the sun, for now, the Preusses are perfectly content controlling them manually from the touchpanels. “The options are endless,” says Gunter of the AMX home management system. “We’ll eventually add on more capabilities, but right now we’re just enjoying things the way they are.”
And what about all those wild animals roaming the yard? Technology maintains order there, too. Thanks to slick programming by the Conundrum Technologies team, an Apex Destiny 6100 security system and Vantage/LeGrand Q lighting system keep the beasts at bay. Whenever strategically placed outdoor motion sensors detect that a critter has stepped into the yard at night, they signal the Vantage system to pop on a few exterior lights to scare the unwanted visitor away.