Photography by Chris Lo
When the owners purchased this 9,000-square-foot home 18 months ago, the only electronic components that had been used were four TVs and two loudspeakers. Sparse in smarts, yet an open canvas, the owners dove in to create a home environment that nearly runs itself.
It helped that the owner came into the project with years of home tech experience under his belt. Having dealt with a number of systems in the past as a custom integrator, his plan for this project was plain and simple: Install best-in-breed products, employ state-of-the-art technologies, and automate to the nth degree.
The strategy worked. The high-tech systems operate as a natural extension of the home, impacting every facet of the family’s lifestyle in some very practical, useful and remarkable ways. And rarely do they have to lift a finger to make the systems in their smart home operate appropriately. Going from barebones to bells-and-whistles, this home’s journey to smart home excellence makes it a worthy recipient of our 2018 Gold Traditional-Style Smart Home Award.
Laying the Groundwork
Handling the extensive makeover was BlueSpeed AV, of Bixby, Okla. Before getting into the nitty-gritty of installing speakers, light switches and other gear, the BlueSpeed AV team installed a high-speed Ruckus wireless network and hardwired backbone to support the wide range of systems selected for the interior and exterior of the home.
The second crucial element was the implementation of a control system that could pull all the pieces and parts together to work as one. BlueSpeed AV chose Savant for complete, comprehensive home control. With this networking and control groundwork laid, the team went to work, installing, configuring, and programming each high-tech facet of this smart home.
Hands-Free Lighting Control
One of the most beneficial parts of any smart home is an architectural lighting system, and the wireless Lutron HomeWorks QS solution added to this house takes charge of more than 180 light switches. The HomeWorks QS dims and brightens lights to preset intensity levels based on occupancy in rooms, time of day, home security status, button presses, mobile app, and voice commands. Although elegant seeTouch keypads installed near each doorway offer quick and easy control over the lights in the room — as well as access to and control over music — “we rarely touch them,” says the owner. “Most of the time, we let the occupancy sensors and timers manage when the lights go and off.”
For example, when the sensors notice that someone has walked into a room, it signals the Lutron HomeWorks QS system to brighten them to a certain level and stay on until the room is vacant. However, at night, the sensors ignore movement so that the lights stay off while people are sleeping. The exceptions are the hallway lights which brighten to 10 percent to lead family members to the bathroom and kitchen.
26 Zones of Audio; 50 Outdoor Speakers
The home’s whole-house music system, which is driven by a Savant matrix switcher, requires more human interaction, but it’s still a cinch to handle. A user simply taps a button on the room keypad to play songs on the built-in Bowers & Wilkins speakers in the space. The music, which is curated from streaming services such as Pandora and Spotify, also travels to 50 outdoor Coastal Source and Episode speakers around the decks, swimming pool, and landscape.
The whole-house system also features a pair of striking B&W floorstanding speakers in the living room and a full Phase Technology dARTS Speaker System in the media room. Even if a keypad isn’t handy, the owners can use the Savant app to find music, adjust volume, and direct it to any or all of the home’s 26 listening areas.
The switcher also delivers video from a central rack of equipment, which includes four cable boxes, two Apple TVs, two Kaleidescape media servers, three Xbox One players, and a PlayStation 4, to numerous Sony, Samsung, and Séura TVs. A 160-inch Screen Innovations Transformer screen paired with a Sony projector in a media room and 120-inch Screen Innovations screen and companion Digital Projection International (DPI) projector in the indoor basketball court also tap into the video sources.
All-Out Integration and Voice-Activated Scenes
Lighting and whole-house AV are just the tip of the iceberg. Also integrated into the Savant control architecture are a full-blown security system with 35 surveillance cameras, motorized window shades, the aforementioned TVs and projectors, four thermostats, six electronic door locks, and garage door openers. That’s a slew of systems to manage individually, so to simplify BlueSpeed AV programmed several housewide “scenes” into the Savant systems.
For example, there’s no need to visit each door, window, thermostat, TV, or A/V component before for bedtime, thanks to the “Goodnight” scene specially crafted by BlueSpeed AV for the family. Instead, the owners can have the house ready in seconds from wherever they are — even while under the covers. The “Away” scene can be activated from the app on any mobile device, keypad, or by voice. BlueSpeed peppered several Amazon Show and Echo Dot devices throughout, so the every command is heard.
“Voice control really comes in handy when we’re hosting a party,” says the owner. “I just say, ‘House Party,’ and the outdoor entertainment area springs to life. My favorite Pandora channel streams through 50 speakers, three outdoor TVs turn on and tune to preset sports channels, and if it’s evening, the landscape lights activate. When you’re walking out to the barbeque with a tray full of meat, being able to yell at Alexa to control things is very helpful.”
Personal Wake-Up Calls
Other scenes are engaged in a similar manner, but with a few tweaks personalized for each family member. Next to the bed of each family member is a keypad with a button labeled “Goodnight.” When the kids press their button, only the lights and A/V in their room turns off. The rest of the house is unaffected. In Mom and Dad’s bedroom, the button initiates a global sweep where every light, A/V component, window shade, door lock, alarm, thermostat and motion sensors are adjusted. The TV in the master bedroom stays on, but automatically shuts off after 45 minutes.
In the morning, a “Wake-Up” scene activates automatically — at a different time for each family member. At their set wake-up time, which is adjustable through the Savant app, the bedroom lights slowly brighten and a favorite music channel plays through the room’s built in speakers at their preferred volume level. “It’s one of the most effective ways to wake up my son for school,” the owner enthuses. And if that doesn’t work, there’s always Alexa. “Because we have them in nearly every room we can use them as intercoms,” the owner says.
High-Tech Lifestyle Fully Embraced
With control options galore, there’s no way this smart home gets unruly. The family can let the system handle certain functions automatically, tap a button on a keypad or mobile device, and launch scenes through voice commands to Alexa. It’s a high-tech lifestyle that the family has fully embraced, as it’s enhanced every aspect of their at-home existence.
Systems & Equipment
- Savant control system
- Savant A/V distribution
- Savant thermostats
- Lutron lighting and motorized shading
- DPI, Sony projectors
- Screen Innovations 160-inch, 120-inch screens
- Samsung, Sony, Séura TVs
- Bowers & Wilkins, Coastal Source, Episode, Sonance, Phase Technology speakers
- Sonance, Marantz amplifiers
- Yale electronic locks
- IC Realtime, Luma surveillance cameras
- Amazon Alexa Show and Echo Dot smart speakers
Systems Design & Installation