Case Study: Cozy and stylish home tech

Cozy media room

(Photo credit: Keith Henderson Photography – Exclusive Home Tours)

Since Alan is a realtor, he knows the value of great Vancouver views and location, location, location. He and his wife Pamela wanted a cozy and stylish place with all the amenities that is well suited to entertain guests. (And Simba their cat just wanted to ensure we didn’t encroach on his sun bathing spot.) In short, they wanted it all. And why shouldn’t they?

Once they chose the perfect Beach Ave space, they focused on the renovation. The folks at Synthesis Design created beautiful plans, Edgewood Construction took care of transforming the space, and we handled the home tech design and implementation.

The kitchen and living room forms the hub of the home. Here they wanted their favourite music in the air while they entertained guests in their gourmet kitchen. They also wanted an immersive media room when it was time to curl up to watch golf or Netflix. We worked closely with the team to create a custom fireplace design that incorporates a fantastic Panasonic plasma TV and tailored-to-match Triad speaker bar that is part of the 5.1 surround sound experience. The rest of the equipment is out of sight to keep the focus on the beautiful living space and stellar views of English Bay.

Media spaces were also integrated into the cosy den and luxury master bedroom to allow for flexibility. For these rooms, existing DenTVs were freshened up with new equipment. As a backbone of the system, we implemented a wired and Wi-Fi network that can keep up with everything from work tasks to Alan’s endless DJ’ing on Spotify. We focused on creating solutions that not only matched their needs and lifestyle but also didn’t detract from their style and living space.

Home technology is increasingly important in homes, but it doesn’t have to dominate rooms. This home is a great example of where you can have immersive home tech solutions while maintaining the feel of the living space. Alan and Pamela deserve to have it all, and we hope they enjoy it.

Case Study: Game for a Refresh

PS4

Sometimes you have a great media room, but it may need a little refresh when something new comes along. This family had an nice setup – top quality plasma TV and a good surround sound system, but the tipping point was the recently added PlayStation 4.

The PS4 was plugged directly into the TV, as they couldn’t get at their AV receiver to plug into it. Wires were hanging out, and they didn’t get the benefit of their sound system. They also wanted to add an Apple TV for use with their iDevices and streaming services like Netflix. Finally, their last universal remote had long stopped working, and they were fumbling with multiple remotes.

Integrating the PS4 was the first task. Their Blu-ray player had also stopped working, so it was a matter of using the PS4 to cover disc needs as well as gaming. This cleaned up the clutter – the dangling wiring disappeared and the broken Blu-ray player was swapped out for the PS4.

The Apple TV required more thought as their AV receiver didn’t Apple TVhave a spare HDMI input for it. Since their receiver was otherwise good, we simply used another HDMI input on the TV and an optical cable for sound to the receiver. There was no need to force an expensive AV receiver upgrade when some affordable cabling covered for the receiver lacking HDMI inputs.

A universal remote brought the system together without blowing the budget. It provides simple, one-touch activity control. The one remote does all the thinking for them by switching the appropriate inputs on the TV and AV receiver for their gear including the Apple TV. Its now easy for all family members and guests.

Media roomHome technology is constantly changing, but it doesn’t mean that your current quality gear necessarily needs to be scraped and replaced with expensive new items. Sometimes small updates and tweaks are all that’s required to bring your system up to date. It just takes some thought and planning – little things can make a big difference.

Case Study: User Friendly – “nice and simple”

Living Room cropped shrunkThis busy couple were looking to update the home technology in their new high-rise home to work for their tastes and lifestyle. When they took over the space, it had a weak and dated music system in the living room, kitchen and master bedroom & bath. The old system didn’t provide any flexibility for their preference for satellite and iTunes music, and the only space to watch TV and movies was shoehorned into the den.

They previously had expensive and complex systems in other homes, but those didn’t live up to promises and were wrought with reoccurring issues. We decided to step back to focus the technology side of their home renovation on what truly mattered to them: simplicity with music throughout, and immersive but not overbearing TV & movie experiences. For this update, we worked with Sandra McIntyre of McIntyre Cresswell Design to meet this power couple’s aesthetic and home tech needs.

DenThe first task was to allow easy access for their satellite and iDevice music throughout the home.   For this, we employed Sonos Hi-Fi audio components and custom installed in-wall and in-celiling speakers for all the living spaces: living room & kitchen, den, guest bedroom & bath, and master bedroom & bath. The Sonos system not only offered full access to satellite and iPod music, but also Internet radio & streaming services and even their computers.

Next we turned our attention to design their unassuming but entertaining video spaces. In the living room, master bedroom and guest room, we layered Apple TV, cable boxes and high quality AV components with Sonos to allow flexibility and fun. Now the full range of options from broadcast TV to iDevice AirPlay to Netflix to satellite radio is at their finger tips.

Every room had its unique goals and needs, and as with most Vancouver homes, space is a premium. We countered this by designing the solution to tuck away AV amps and gear in a small laundry room cabinet. This not only saved valuable floor space, but also helped maintain living space aesthetics. We also retrofitted a Nexus21 TV lift in the master bedroom that conceals the TV and front speakers to work in conjunction with the master’s in-wall speakers for flexibility for music Connected Home In-Wall iPadand surround sound for movies. The home solution can be controlled using universal remotes and iDevices, including the convenient wall-mounted iPad Mini in the master bedroom. Care was also taken to ensure the wired and Wi-Fi network was solid not only for today’s work and play, but also for whatever tomorrow brings.

Home solutions should be easy to use and match lifestyles.  In the end this great couple got the perfect system they deserved – “Nice and simple!”

Master Bedroom TV Lift

Case Study: PNE Waterfront Townhouse Gets Savvy

This fun and hip urban couple wanted seamless home tech in their new townhome.  As often is the case, although the home was recently built, it wasn’t well thought out for home tech. The plan was to smarten up the home while maintaining a modest budget. For this project, we worked with Tamara of Philosophy Design to realize the couple’s vision.

The tech updates had three focus areas; the living room, master bedroom and office/spare room. The overarching principles for this update were simplicity, clean lines and minimized tech footprint. As with any update, it was also important to provide a home network to connect all the gear.

The home’s living room is an ideal entertaining hub as it flows from the dining room and
Living Room - TV & sound barkitchen. Here we mounted an awesome and affordable Panasonic 58” TV and Harman Kardon sound bar over the fireplace. The other gear was discretely tucked away in the funky console and the wireless subwoofer hidden. This was nicely tied together with a Harmony remote. Now the homeowners can watch TV, stream from their Apple TV or listen to music from their smartphones throughout the ‘great room’.

Master bedroom - mounted TV & sound barThe master bedroom has similar functionality. A Panasonic 42” TV is tidy on the wall with a matching sound bar. Again the TV set top box and Apple TV were hidden away, but this time on a tiny shelf in the walk-in closet behind the TV.

The office space, which also doubles as a spare room, has similar touches with another Panasonic TV and sound bar. A PS3 was desired instead of an Apple TV, so the PS3 and TV set top box were again tucked away in the closet.

We used the office as the hub for wired and wireless networking. The building developer had put the TV, phone and networking panel in the ground floor entry room. This would have been fine, but unfortunately only one networking wire was installed when originally built! Luckily it went to the office/spare room, so we used this to branch out the Internet connection. Desk power & EthernetPhysical network wiring in the office maximized performance there, and we put an excellent Wi-Fi access point to ensure solid Internet access for all the homeowners’ wireless gadgets through the living area. When it’s time to get some work done, a handy grommet is built into the office desk providing power and wired Internet.

Nest learning thermostat & Power2U AC/USB wall outlet A few thoughtful touches round out the home. A Nest Learning Thermostat provides simple temperature home automation including smartphone control while away. Combination USB and power outlets were installed in the kitchen and bedroom for i-device charging convenience

This home tech update provides streamlined TV, music and Internet experiences the savvy couple wanted without breaking the bank. As they just welcomed twin girls into the world, it will also provide a solid base to grow as their digital demands expand.