TVs, DVD players and surround-sound systems have firmly crossed over into the backseats of all makes and models of automobiles. It’s an evolution that’s enabled us to take our entertainment on the road, and has been particularly beneficial to frequent travelers like our featured Home-of-the-Month family.
Unlike most people, though, they went high-tech in their 35-foot-long motor coach years before tricking out their house.
“They liked the Crestron systems in their motor coach so much, they decided to go with a similar setup when they started building their new dream home,” says Mark DiPietro of Custom Home Integrations of Mooresville, NC.
As the 7,500-square-foot custom home was being framed, DiPietro and his crew inspected the site and talked with the owners to get a feel for the project. “The owners told us they weren’t trying to max out a system; they just wanted something that would make it easy to operate their audio and video components.”
The Crestron system chosen for the task would be able to stream music from a suite of audio and video components, including a Crestron hard-disc drive with dual audio servers, an AM/FM/XM Radio tuner and an iPod docking station.
All of these components, including four DirecTV satellite receivers, would be tucked into Middle Atlantic racks inside a specially constructed utility room in the basement. This setup would ensure that no technology would compete with the magnificent woodwork throughout the house.
Although the gear is located out of sight, the owners are able to easily operate each and every component from one of several Crestron controllers. Custom Home Integrations fitted the home with a combination of five portable touchpanels, three in-wall touchpanels and six handheld remotes, which provide the owners a variety of control options.
In the atrium, which features an indoor pool, for example, it would be more convenient to grab the waterproof clicker to operate the whole-house audio system. In the kitchen, though, a nearby in-wall keypad would be the controller of choice. The portable 8-inch units, meanwhile, would be best used while in the home theater, where a Vidikron projector and 119-inch Da-Lite screen pair up with an Integra surround-sound system.
Although the shape and size of the controls may be different, they were programmed to all have a similar layout of buttons and commands. This approach would minimize the learning curve for the family. Mastering just one style of remote meant they’d be able to easily handle them all. The portable touchpanel in the theater was designed to simplify matters for the family even more.
“It creates a favorite channels list based on the number of times the family watches a certain satellite channel,” DiPietro explains. “The menu is able to change as their viewing preferences change.”
Knock on Wood
In addition to satellite programming, the family can pop a disc into their Sony Blu-ray player. The Blu-ray player and projector both provide full HD 1080p resolution, which enables them to maintain a pristine picture all the way to the screen.
The audio reproduction is stellar as well, thanks to a beefy Integra processor and amplifier combination that feeds sound to seven built-in Sonance speakers and two Sonance subwoofers. This many speakers and subs could have stood out like a sore thumb against the timber walls, floors and ceiling, but Custom Home Integrations worked closely with the cabinet maker and builder to ensure that everything would blend in nicely with the woodwork.
Even before the speakers were installed, 11 rolls of sound dampening material from Acoustiblok were laid on the ceiling joists then covered with wood paneling. The beautiful pine woodwork is a highlight of the space, so the family requested that the screen be made to disappear when it’s not being used.
On command from a Crestron touchpanel, an electric motor rolls the fabric into the ceiling to reveal an authentic bank vault door. The door opens to the owners’ safe room, where both a cellular and a LAN line phone are available. The theater touchpanel can be carried into the safe room so that once the owners are inside they can lower and raise the screen for additional security.
The theater caters to serious movie viewing, but there are other wonderful entertainment areas for moments when the viewing is more casual. The great room, for example, features a 52-inch Sony flat-panel TV above the fireplace mantel and four Sonance indoor/outdoor speakers suspended from the rafters.
“This is not a surround-sound area,” says DiPietro. “The speakers were positioned to blanket the entire 30-by-18-foot area.”
Sound travels to just about every room of the house, courtesy of more than a dozen Sonance speakers planted in the walls and ceilings.
The deck and patio at the back of the house are well-appointed too, with 12 Sonance weatherproof speakers mounted across the length of the house. “They fire out at the fishing lake in the backyard,” says DiPietro. “With 196 acres of property surrounding the house, the owners can crank the music and never bother a soul.”
Something for Everyone
The nearest neighbor might be miles away, but the house is always open for friends and family. The owners made sure to outfit each of the two guest rooms with a TV and seamless access to the rack of A/V components in the utility room. The exercise room has its own entertainment setup, too, complete with a 46-inch Sony TV, two Sonance Virtuoso speakers, and two handheld Crestron remotes.
Custom Home Integrations constructed special backboxes around the speakers to enhance the bass. “More bass makes the music easier to hear when the exercise machines are running,” DiPietro explains.
The family didn’t forget about their beloved pets, either. A Sony surveillance camera watches over the fenced-in dog run and adjoining garage. The owners can see a real-time view of the pooches from any portable Crestron touchpanel in the house.
They can do the same when they’re on the road, too, but instead of catching the dogs on a touchpanel, they can see them on the screen of their laptop computer. No matter how long they happen to travel in their motor coach, the Crestron system helps them feel right at home.