Connected Design Digital Edition

In this Issue: We are taking you out of the chaos of everyday life to a remote hunting lodge completely outfitted with connected audio, lighting, DISH TVs and more, all under a Southern-charm-meets-outdoorsman design. Continue your escape with a psychedelic art experience illuminated with smart lighting, and enter a New England home addition designed specifically for recreational fun. And don’t return to reality before checking out the install with lighting that celebrates architecture, or the project that merges art and technology in one stunning installation.


Life never seems to slow down, and this season is no exception. In-person events are returning, businesses are booming and the industry keeps right on evolving and growing.

    But for this issue, I’m hoping you’ll take a step back and find the ways technology can actually bring your stress down. Take a swim at a New Hampshire recreational addition, complete with oceanic lighting and underwater speakers. Find yourself at a mountain home on 40 acres and outfitted with a golf and hunting simulator. Loose yourself in extraordinary artwork that works together with connected lighting.

    And I particularly hope you enjoy our cover story, which is a hunting lodge an hour outside of Atlanta where I’m based. Since it’s so close, I jumped on the rare opportunity to see a project we feature in person and shoot it myself. With the assistance of my husband (who happened to take the cover photo), we got to spend a glorious afternoon touring this 15-bedroom home on 2,000 acres, guided by the talented integrator who completed the install.

    So I’ll invite you to cozy up as you open the pages of a very special Winter issue. And take a moment to relax — that’s what your technology is helping your clients do!

Erinn Loucks Signature

Erinn Loucks, Chief Editor, Connected Design


We are thrilled to bring you in this issue the Connected Design Award Winners for 2021, and we know you’ll appreciate the level of excellence we are so pleased to honor in these pages.  

That said, can you believe how fast 2021 went? With all of last year’s challenges behind us, we feel that this wonderful Connected Design Winter issue gives us a terrific running start in 2022.  

We are showcasing a beautiful lodge in Georgia that chief editor Erinn Loucks visited and photographed. It is the perfect spot in which to stay warm and savor the beauty of nature while enjoying the best of integration tech. We thank our great partners at Dish for enabling this coverage. 

We also have a selection of impressive features that will give readers a peek at an in-home recording studio, insights into the importance of experience centers, and a view of design opportunities for a sustainable working world — plus our usual awe-inspiring collection of tech installations by the best integrators in the business. 

As we move into 2022, I want to thank the loyal Connected Design staff for all their arduous work in bringing this wonderful brand to your desktops.  We wish you and yours all the best and look forward to seeing everyone in the new year.

Tony Signature

Tony Monteleone, Group Publisher CT Lab Global Media


By Joe Whitaker

If 2020 and 2021 have taught us anything, it’s that the normal we once knew will never be fully realized again. These changes and realizations may have created the biggest boom to the home technology industry we have ever seen. Homeowners now realize that at the drop of a hat their favorite past time may be shut down, their favorite places to go may be closed, and they and their families might have to work and attend school from home. This has placed a new heartfelt need for quality entertainment, convenience and communications in the home. Fortunately for us, manufacturers of residential technology have been working tirelessly to fill these gaps. Here’s just a few of what I consider the most important technology advances and product opportunities for 2022.

An eero three-pack is a whole-home Wi-Fi system that replaces a router and covers up to 5,000 square feet.


It’s only fitting that I start with Matter. Some of you are aware of Matter because the large tech companies like Apple, Google and Amazon are touting this as the universal method for interoperability between personal and home technologies.

I know you are thinking that this is just another “weave” or “thread,” but I would argue to not dismiss this one so easily. Not only was Matter started by the folks you all know from Zigbee, not only did they make this communication protocol totally open source, but it’s already being backed by some of the biggest names that have real influence in our industry. Brands we know like Assa Abloy, Legrand, Resideo and Somfy are already on board and just recently Samsung has dived in head first adding this technology to not only their entertainment segment but also their appliance side of things. For 2022, with all the big brands and money behind it, Matter WILL MATTER. I would assume it’s only a “matter” of time before our favorite flavor of control systems (Control4, Crestron, Savant, RTI, Elan, etc.) show us full interoperability.

Artificial intelligence, matter and new security devices will become the norm next year.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Mass media, science fiction and tinfoil hat people have been shoving the impending doom of AI down our throats for longer than I have walked this earth. And have we really seen a compelling demonstration for use in the home yet? I didn’t think so either until I had recently watched the Amazon/Ring press event. When you looked at all the sensor technology and machine learning opportunities it was obvious 2022 will be the year AI hits you and your clients homes. The reason I am leaning in this direction is the obvious shift in how the manufacturers, programmers and end users perceive AI today. Companies like Amazon, Google and Apple are teaching our audience that the way it worked in “iRobot” is not how it really works at all.

For machine learning AI to work it has to “experience life,” or at least your life. Just like when my dad told me to look both ways before crossing the street (programming), I later learned (machine learning) that he was right by experiencing a squirrel that didn’t look both ways! The hold up all this time with AI for our homes was the lack of multiple input devices to get these “learned experiences” into a database to run its own “conditional outcomes.” This is why I believe 2022 will be the year we really start to see this in action. Amazon all by themselves proved this to me once I added up all the backend technologies they announced in their press event. This coming year your home will know if it’s you in a room, if you’re alone, if you’re with another “saved family member,” what your body temperature is and even if you’re slouching. Put all this together in a learning profile, and a room could be set up to create an environment to change itself, but maybe even to change you.

Available as a wired or wire-free, battery-operated system, the Palladiom Shades from Lutron look beautiful from every angle and are designed to be installed without a fascia, pocket or recess in exposed applications.

Lutron Palladiom and Ra3:

Lutron is constantly evolving with the demands of the market and its users. In the last five or so years we have seen Lutron evolve and create even more exciting opportunities for homeowners and dealers and they continue to do so. 2022 will be no different.

While we all get caught up in tech and product announcements, I want to bring out the bigger picture for 2022 when it comes to Lutron. I feel like Lutron is stepping up by giving us all a subliminal brand promise, and what they are saying I like. And with Ra3 and Palladium Wireless Shades, I think they are even promising to make it more accessible to homeowners. The increased accessibility is why in 2022 Lutron is going to be an even bigger part of your arsenal.

Alarm Pro with Router/Eero and Web Security:

  Being a residential network expert today has its ups and downs. We wish we could put true enterprise network gear in every home we do, even when the client only has an “Office Max” budget for the network. So there’s got to be a safe middle ground product that can cover a ton of bases for us, right? Until recently I would’ve said it was unlikely.

Then along comes a partnership between Ring and eero for the Ring Alarm Pro Base Station. For under $300 you get the best combo device since the TV/VCR — or arguably better than even that. The big deal in this “combo device” is the Advanced Network Security platform that can be user managed through the app. Now I know this isn’t the enterprise level-security I’d like to use on my clients’ homes, but without them having to buy an expensive security appliance, licenses, subscriptions and service plans, it’s honestly the best thing available to us right now.

My reasoning why this product stands out has nothing to do with Enterprise networking — because honestly that’s not what this product is for — but it has a few items that should be built into the typical small business grade-residential network products we are used to and deploy today.

The first reason is an obvious one: it has a built-in battery back up. This is a total no brainer. Why aren’t we already providing network products with this feature? And my second reason is actually the most important. The Ring and eero for the Ring Alarm Pro Base Station has a built-in, optional redundant cellular internet connection. That’s right, your work Zoom call goes down because of your dumb ISP and you don’t miss out on the rest of your meeting. Or anything else for that matter requiring internet, because it has redundant internet and a battery. Seriously, why isn’t everyone doing this? Welcome to 2022.

Joe Whitaker

Joe Whitaker is the president of Thoughtful Integrations, an HTA certified integrator and contributing editor for Connected Design.

Connected Design is pleased to announce the winners of its annual awards program, recognizing the best-designed technologies and solutions that are improving and accelerating the smart home industry and the disciplines they serve. Products and software solutions were judged by an esteemed panel of experts from the custom integration, design and architecture communities. Congratulations to the winners!

CD 2021 Award Logo for Winners

01 | Bowers & Wilkins 801 D4

801 D4 is the flagship and the most powerful model in the new 800 Series Diamond range. Its no-compromise design includes all of the company’s most advanced technologies in their purest, most optimized form alongside crossover components of the highest quality.

CD 2021 Award Logo for Winners

02 | Hunter Douglas Duette Honeycomb Shades with LightLock + Rechargeable Battery Wand

Made smart with PowerView Automation, the shades can cloak rooms in darkness with a simple voice command, a touch of a button or a schedule personalized to a homeowner’s lifestyle.

CD 2021 Award Logo for Winners

03 | Noon Home by Savant

The NOON Director is a multi-functional control solution that fits in place of a standard switch or dimmer. The Director’s rocker-style switch is also a glass touchscreen with a high-resolution OLED display that provides users with access to key features, services and scenes.

CD 2021 Award Logo for Winners

04 | FIBBR's Pure3 2.1 8K HDMI Fiber Optic Cable

HDMI cable easily supports the new ultra high speed with bandwidth capability up to 48Gbps. It can transmit up to 8K@60Hz or 4K@120Hz and is compatible with Dolby Vision.Dolby Atmos, and DTS-X.

CD 2021 Award Logo for Winners

05 | D-Tools Cloud

D-Tools Cloud is a powerful multi-OS, web-based SaaS solution that drives sales and productivity from any web-enabled device. D-Tools' platform offers sales pipeline management estimating from any mobile device, intelligent visual quoting, interactive system design presentations and more.

CD 2021 Award Logo for Winners

06 | Crestron Home

Designed to deliver a dynamic user experience both in the home and on the go, and across phones, tablets, Crestron touch screens and more, this highly intuitive interface is easy to use for management of connected devices in the home including entertainment, lighting, shading, comfort, security, communication systems and more.

CD 2021 Award Logo for Winners

07 | Crestron Thermostat

Horizon Thermostats are versatile, wall-mounted heating and cooling thermostats with integrated humidistat capable of controlling two stage heat/cool systems, two stage heat pump systems with two auxiliary heat stages, floor warming systems and humidity systems.

CD 2021 Award Logo for Winners

08 | RTI Music

RTI Music MS-3 Music Streamer allows homeowners to tap into their streaming services as part of their whole-house audio and a key amenity of their RTI smart home.

CD 2021 Award Logo for Winners

09 | Blackdove Art

Blackdove delivers a curated digital art and video platform that is both fully integrated with the top home technology brands and compatible with any LED or LCD screen.

CD 2021 Award Logo for Winners

10 | Legrand BCS LHUMAN Human-Centric Lighting System

The Vantage LHUMAN human-centric lighting system is designed to put the natural lighting cycle in the control of homeowners, allowing them to easily replicate it indoors and on their schedule.

CD 2021 Award Logo for Winners

11 | LG Electronics WashTower

LG WashTower offers a full- size dryer above a full-size front-load washer, delivering ultra-large capacity plus advanced washing in under 30 minutes. LG's exclusive Center Control panel is positioned in the middle of the unit and displays both washer and dryer controls.

CD 2021 Award Logo for Winners

12 | On-Q: Dual Purpose In-Wall Enclosures

Available in 9-in. and 17-in. form factors, On-Q dual-purpose In-Wall Enclosures can be used for AV storage behind a TV or as enclosures for structured wiring.The solutions are designed to conveniently house cable boxes, streaming players and more.

CD 2021 Award Logo for Winners

13 | Pentair Connected Salt Level Sensor

Available online, the connected device makes it simple for homeowners to monitor their water softener’s salt level. The new Connected Salt Level Sensor, paired with the Pentair Home app, makes it simpler for homeowners to ensure their water softener never runs out of salt.

CD 2021 Award Logo for Winners

14 | Samsung Electronics 65-in. Terrace Full Sun TV

New this year, the Terrace Full Sun’s panel is designed for brightly lit outdoor viewing environments. The Terrace is slimmer, sleeker and lighter than the outdoor TV competition and easier for professionals to install thanks to a wealth of easy connectivity options.

CD 2021 Award Logo for Winners

15 | Samsung Electronics 85-in. The Frame QLED 4K Smart TV

The 2021 version of the Frame builds on its innovative legacy of design and technology, offering a more customizable experience in a slimmer form factor. A brand new 85-in. version launched in the second half of the year gives custom integrators a perfect option for those who desire larger screens.

CD 2021 Award Logo for Winners

16 | Savant Power

Savant Power provides homeowners with the hardware and software required to measure and manage energy consumption, generate and store energy, creating independence from aging grid infrastructure and the increased prevalence of power outages.

CD 2021 Award Logo for Winners

17 | Signature Kitchen Suite Undercounter Convertible Dual Drawer Refrigerator/Freezer

This industry-first innovation boasts precision for preservation and minimizes temperature fluctuations to help keep food fresher and longer. Completely unique to this multi-temp refrigerator are dual refrigerator drawers that operate independently – with the option to convert to a freezer when needed.

CD 2021 Award Logo for Winners

18 | Sony HT-A9

The premium HT-A9 home theater system delivers new and revolutionary multi-dimensional sound experiences that allow users to feel the action happening above from every corner of the living room.

CD 2021 Award Logo for Winners

19 | Stealth Patio Theater

Stealth Patio Theater offers three versions of complete
outdoor cinematic entertainment solutions ranging from 103-in. to 273-in. and beyond. The Extreme, Transformer and Megalith all feature large format LED screens designed to be viewable in broad daylight.

CD 2021 Award Logo for Winners

20 | Leon Speakers Terra LuminSound TrLs50

Leon’s Terra LuminSound TrLs50 outdoor speaker is a high-fidelity, handcrafted speaker that features a slender and contemporary aluminum cabinet and can be customized in any of six new finishes.


By Chris Smith, TheCoTeam,
Photography by John Frattasi

An artist uses connected lighting and paper — among other things — to create his work

Trying to describe art — or an artist — in written or verbal form is tricky. It’s an assimilation at best and nothing beats the first-hand, in-person experience. The same can be said for the effect of tunable lighting and how it changes everything you see, including art. We also have psychedelics, which are definitely better experienced than explained. Interestingly, all three converged during an unseasonably warm night in late September.

The team at OneButton hosted an event in the Red Hook area of Brooklyn, N.Y. They gathered architects, designers and lighting designers at the studio of renowned artist Dustin Yellin. While the art alone would be reason enough, we all came to see how light (and, as it turns out, other things) changes the perception of the world around us.

After the mingling, networking, trips to the bar for craft beer, repeated visits to the food table for mini lobster rolls, self-guided viewing of the art on display, and snooping around the art studio, it was time for the main attraction.

Yellin invites us to gather around him. He is pacing in front of the group, and his energy and passion are palpable. The words overflow from his mouth, unable to be contained, and it is undeniable that his creativity is boundless. We also hear about his initial (and ongoing) use of psychedelics, and how they opened his mind and began his artistic journey.

“I literally had a vision for my entire life,” he began, explaining matter of factly that his psychedelic of choice is intramuscular ketamine injections. “Then I went and did it.”

For anyone who has taken the time to learn about and experience Yellin’s work, he did indeed do it.

The backdrop of this discussion is “The Politics of Eternity,” a septych (seven-piece) that is tall, wide and measured in tons. Each piece is multi-layered glass stacked from back to front, and sandwiched between each layer are incredibly small paper cut-outs from magazines, each meticulously excised by hand. The effect is jaw dropping and one could, and often does, spend hours marveling at the intricacy of the work. This would be true of just a single piece out of context. With seven of them pieced together, we are provided a glimpse into past and present — a cohesive storyline that provides a fascinating narrative and opportunity to reflect on the choices we make as individuals, society as a whole and the inevitable consequences of said decisions. Or you know, a typical Thursday evening in Brooklyn.


Now that we have psychedelics, artist, context and art, it is time to layer in the light. Matt Emmi from OneButton is a huge fan of tunable lighting and here has taken the use of that technology to another level. He also happens to have the best Ketra (tunable lighting by Lutron) lighting demo I have ever seen. Emmi realized that while the underlying tunable technology makes a great lighting product for architectural applications, it also has a unique ability to shape spaces and the art within said space.

OneButton formed a relationship with Yellin to combine his art with optimal lighting. The collaboration began with Yellin’s studio, which was outfitted with Ketra lighting to illuminate the workspace as well as the art on display. Individual works can be tuned to allow certain colors and wavelengths to “pop” or become more subdued as the artist intends. The drama it creates in a piece can change immensely based on the given treatment. As an example, “The Politics of Eternity” is illuminated by an array of Ketra fixtures from above as well as a linear Ketra fixture from behind. Each fixture can be tuned individually and mixed and matched to create varied experiences.

This doesn’t have to end at the studio space; it has now extended into clients’ homes. While not a requirement to own the art, it is strongly encouraged to bring the art to life. The team at OneButton is brought in to accommodate the technical aspects of ensuring that the lighting system is ready to accommodate Ketra. The system is installed along with the artwork. Finally, OneButton is brought in to tune the lighting to Yellin’s specification, yielding a perfect representation of the given piece. The artist has come to refer it as “Yellin Lighting.” While the client has the ability to infinitely adjust the lighting in their space to suit their mood or taste, they always have the ability to return to that “just right” setting that highlights the work.

Actress Mae West said, “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” One gets the distinct impression that Dustin Yellin is doing it right, and that seeing life through his lens is enlightening.


A New Perspective

Don't underestimate the fresh faces of the industry; youth does not equal inexperience

By Vanessa Zitzmann

As the technology industry continues to evolve, the hope is that the individuals within it can adapt and grow as well. Brandon Carey is the perfect example of that ideal. Based in New York City, Carey has been employed with Cloud9 Smart since 2017 as the head of engineering and has worked in the industry for eight years. With a bachelor’s degree in business marketing from Wilkes University and an MBA from Walden University, Carey has education and experience on his side.

“Brandon is an incredibly versatile and adaptable employee. He is equally comfortable knocking out a 3D rendering, guiding an electrician though a Lutron panel installation or meeting with the demanding architect/high network individual to identify the best tech for the project,” said Cloud9 Smart founder Fernando Zorrilla. “Patient, thorough, energetic and exhibiting an incredible work ethic is how his colleagues would describe him. We are lucky to have him on the team.”

Meet Brandon Carey, part of the new generation taking over the technology sector

Carey really shines when it comes to interfacing with his clients, meeting people, learning their stories, understanding their vision and bringing it all together. His favorite tech to use personally and professionally is lighting.

“I enjoy working with architects and lighting designers to blend lighting and control into a space,” he explained. The new Lutron Alisse Keypad is on top of Carey’s product list right now for its sleek and aesthetically pleasing design. “At one point everything got too complicated,” Carey continued. “I prefer products and technology that keeps everything simple and easy to use. I would rather have technology do three or four things really well, rather than a product that has too many functions that don’t always work.”

As far as technology in his own home goes, Carey will be the first to tell you he is the ultimate beta tester. “I drive my fiancée crazy always tinkering with stuff,” confessed Carey. “I have a smorgasbord of everything.” Right now, his house has Control4, Lutron and Ketra along with a Savant system for control. Audio wise, Sonance in-ceiling speakers are installed along with a mix of Sonos throughout the house.

Carey has some great advice for the next generation of integrators entering the field now. “Discover what you are passionate about within the space and focus on that. When you love what you do, it doesn’t feel like work,” he said. He also advises everyone to keep an open mind and be adaptable. “The industry is constantly moving. As soon as you get a foothold on something, the technology changes. You have to be willing to continually learn and be open to that.”

Contact Info:
Brandon Carey, Cloud9 Smart


The New Room Your Clients
Are Asking For

Walters-Storyk Design Group outlines the popular trend for e-studios

By Erinn Loucks

(Left) Groovyland Studio in North Miami Beach, Fla. Photography courtesy of WSDG.

The Abbott Road Studio is 600 sq.-ft. all-in-one room with a 14-ft. tall A-Frame ceiling. Photo by owner Rob Jaczko.

As a result of the pandemic, the definition of home and its main functions have changed forever. What once was just an occasional work-from-home desk is now a full-time office space; basements have been converted into school rooms and gyms, or sometimes both. The idea of having multi-purpose and flexible spaces has grown and evolved over the last few years, culminating in a completely new space: the e-studio.

At the forefront of this trend is Walters-Storyk Design Group (WSDG), an international company known for designing lavish recording studios for legends like Jimi Hendrix, Harry Connick Jr. and Whitney Houston. Once the pandemic started, they found themselves bringing their acoustical and technical knowledge to smaller residential spaces that they transformed into exemplary work and collaboration areas. They coined the term “e-studio” to define this trend, as they continue to find more clients looking for this type of room in their own home.

Finding a Niche Need

According to partner and director of business development Sergio Molho, the e-studio concept is a charming way to describe this mission-control style room meant for anything from distance learning and teaching to making remote speeches and directing a company.

“It’s amazing the vast locations, ages and profiles looking for this,” said Molho. “From teachers to CEOs, people need excellent audio and visuals to work effectively.”

Content creation seems to be a standard need across the board for these clients. Younger generations are recording podcasts and Youtube videos at home; celebrity artists are doing more recordings in their own personal studios. Now it is also very possible — and often more practical — for content collaborations to take place remotely, but this also means that the network, acoustics and video need to be above and beyond.

However the biggest issue with these spaces is that room size and geometry has an impact on the acoustics of a space. There is also a common interest in lower frequencies, which is difficult to enhance in a smaller room. Fortunately WSDG has developed specific tools and methods in order to optimize these locations as they have for larger scale projects.

“Low frequency analysis (LFA) is especially important in these smaller residential spaces,” said John Storyk, founding partner and director of design at WSDG. “The development of NIRO has helped to simplify a complex process and give us the ability to optimize any room into a critical listening space.”

NIRO software analyzes the geometry of a space — sending it through an algorithm hundreds of times until it settles the optimum geometry — and advises the team how to move and implement acoustical panels.

Don’t Skimp on the Vibe

The e-studio is not turning out to be a purely pragmatic space. When clients call in looking for one, they also are asking for a specific feel that will make working in the e-studio more creative and fun.

“Convincing people that these rooms should be cool is easy now,” said Joshua Morris, partner and COO of WSDG, explaining that they have a technical interior design team on staff. “There has to be an experience factor now.”

      The design of these small e-studios is incredibly detailed and immersive. Dep-ending on the use, the team uses LED indirect and dimple lighting, and if there is a strong video conference situation, they also work to get rid of unsightly shadows. The furniture layout is thought through, sometimes allowing for collaborative spaces or simply comfortable pieces for creative thinking. Along with the strategically placed acoustical panels, the architecture is also critiqued and enhanced with details like slotted wood, metal structures and more.

“The last year and a half has taught clients that it doesn’t matter where you are, you just need a good connection and a reasonable room to work and create,” said Storyk. “We predict that these rooms will continue to get smaller, and the threshold of entry for these spaces will get less as more people live, work and collaborate remotely.”

Contact Info:
Walters-Storyk Design Group
110 E 25th Street
New York, NY 10010
+1 786 501 9384


Seeing is Believing

Experience centers show consumers firsthand how high-end, high-tech appliances can help them better preserve, prepare and share food

By Katye McGregor Bennett

As a foodie and wine lover, and someone who enjoys cooking and loves to fill her home with people and delectables, I have had my eye on high-end appliances for years. At one point, I even had the opportunity to upgrade to one of those big, beautiful stainless-steel ranges with beefy steel grates, thinking ‘my cooking is going to a whole new level now!’ At the time, I had been heavily influenced by ads, especially those that celebrated a brand’s professional or commercial kitchen expertise as though that validated them being in my kitchen. Looking back, I now realize that it was never about the experience I’d gain or be able to offer my guests, it was about the look and the perceived lifestyle it represents. Unfortunately, the beast’s temperature was hard to manage (simmer never happened), lipped grates dictated where pots sat, the knobs had inconvenient stop points that were hard to read, and the thing was just a nightmare to clean. It didn’t live up to my expectations one bit and left a poor taste in my mouth.

Fast forward to today, where I’ve just returned from a trip to Napa, Calif. to learn about Signature Kitchen Suite’s line of built-in appliances, a line I first saw three years ago at KBIS and have been intrigued with ever since. You see, while Signature Kitchen Suite (SKS) is a fairly new brand, its parent company LG has arguably some of the most robust technology in just about every product category in use today around the globe. Yet, SKS is all about, and only about, the contemporary residential kitchen and helping people like you and me be better cooks, bakers and entertainers. You won’t find flashy, unnecessary features here, just innovative, thoughtful ones that really do make a difference. 

It’s with that in mind that I now better understand why my prior attempt at ‘high end’ in the kitchen didn’t pan out so well and how tech has changed the way people can now cook and cater to a group at home. The reality is, tech is now facilitating a kitchen experience that provides tangible benefits for essentials like preparation and cook-time optimization, food waste reduction and as needed, recipe guidance and temperature setting assistance. Until you’ve experienced it though, tech in the kitchen can seem like a luxury no one needs. Au contraire!

“I always try to bring my kitchen design clients where they can touch, feel and even use the appliances themselves. I mean, would you buy a luxury car without test driving it first?  It’s amazing what my clients learn through these hands-on experiences and how their priorities and preferences come to light.  They come away with great excitement over their new appliances, realizing just how much their whole approach to cooking can change with the right equipment.”

– Sarah Robertson, Studio Dearborn

MV_ST_03-Wide3Qt V5 8k (FLAT)

You’ve heard the saying “smart is beautiful,” right? In my opinion, that saying is especially true when it comes to kitchen appliances. While some may cringe at the Wi-Fi logo on an appliance, for me, I see convenience. I may not use this feature often, but Wi-Fi-enabled appliances allow me to remotely check how much time is left on a timer and see if anything needs service, proactively, before the holidays ramp up. They also typically provide additional information that can come in handy. For instance, Wi-Fi-enabled appliances with built-in displays allow me to focus on my guests and the food I’m making and provide easy access to step-by-step instructions that the appliances can then execute flawlessly, all without me being fixated on my phone or having to make room for a tablet on the counter amidst all my ingredients. “Smart” appliances and devices may seem like a distraction no one needs but in my opinion, it’s the phone in the kitchen that we don’t need. Imagine if we could all simply disconnect at night or on the weekends and enjoy making and eating meals, celebrating life, and experiencing food with others rather than being prompted to watch a video, view a text, get swept up in social media or try to scroll a touchscreen with gooey hands and mucking up your phone in the process.

Now to be fair, tech in the kitchen has expanded well beyond basic Wi-Fi connectivity and plays a role in just about everything, but that shouldn’t be off-putting. Tech is an enabler and creates a sense of empowerment once its use is understood. For instance, I’ve been in the ‘why would someone want a dedicated sous-vide basin in a range top?’ camp ever since I saw them come to market. But after seeing how easy it was to essentially set it for the day and come back to perfectly cooked chicken that one would find in a fine dining establishment, I now totally and completely get it. The last thing I need is another countertop appliance that needs a place to live when not in use (even if it does five things and knows how to speak Mandarin too). I just didn’t understand the benefit of an integrated onboard unit until I had experienced both the process and the result. And that, to me, is where we should be focusing our collective efforts.

The experience of making and sharing food is what memories are made of and how traditions are formed. If tech can make it better, easier, safer and more fun, who wouldn’t want that? I encourage everyone reading this to get out to an Experience Center to see appliances like this firsthand. The SKS Experience and Design Center in Napa was a real eye opener and any designer or interior designer considering appliances for clientele would benefit from seeing and experiencing them firsthand as I have. To have a chef explain why, show you how and let you taste the result really brings it all home. Design and technology seamlessly merge in a way that a spec sheet, webinar or ad simply can’t.


Bringing all the pieces together to create a showcase home for Southern Living Magazine’s Custom Builder Program

By Vanessa Zitzmann

From inspiration to reality, Paragon Building Group Builder is the go-to home builder in Raleigh, N.C. Founder and president Joshua Mauney runs his business as more than just a stereotypical home construction company. The Paragon approach to home design is an all-encompassing client experience with a focus on the end goal.

His passion for design started early on in his career while working in the field. “I saw areas of design being overlooked in builds and places to improve what homes can be,” said Mauney, adding that his goal is designing and building a house that is not just a commodity but a home to grow old in. “What should the home experience be like for the client? We want to create a different sense of what a home can be.”

By partnering with interior designers, technology integrators and accessibility designers, Paragon Building Group can achieve the ultimate client experience and create a customized home. As members of the Southern Living Custom Builder program, Paragon built the 2021 Southern Living Showcase Home in Pittsboro, N.C. The Southern Living Custom Builder Program from the Southern Living publication is an invitation-only program that selects custom builders that are acclaimed for their quality of service as well as the quality of their builds.

Providing Inclusive Home Designs

Universal design makes homes, public spaces and products more accessible, safer and more convenient for the widest range of people possible. The principles of universal design ensure equitable use, provide accommodation, are intuitive, communicate effectively, have tolerance for error and are designed for efficiency and use of space to incorporate all manners of people.

Raleigh-based company LifeStage Home Design provides inclusive home designs for all styles of families and offers several designs through the Southern Living Custom Builder Program. They brought their ideals of universal design to this Southern Living Showcase Home. Their touches are seen throughout the home design, from the first-floor master bedroom and walk-in showers to the wide doorways and no-touch water bottle filling station, complete with an elevator to provide an aging-in-place home.


Weaving Together Technology & Interior Design

Southern Studio Interior Design from Cary, N.C. got involved early in the building design along with technology integration company Neuwave Systems, based in Raleigh, N.C.

“We did virtual electrical walk-throughs making sure the interior design and the technology were both congruent with the overall build and with each other,” said Elizabeth O’Neal, Southern Studio creative director and lead interior designer for the Southern Living Home.

She designed an interior that was warm and inviting but still allowed potential homeowners to come in and imagine themselves in the open rooms. Livability and texture — along with the interior design and technology — display ultimate hospitality and educate potential buyers on universal design. The accessibility, ease of use, comfort and enjoyment the home will bring is apparent in even the smallest details.

Establishing Whole Home Control

Neuwave Systems was able to seamlessly integrate technology throughout the home, starting in the driveway and leading all the way through to the landscaping in the backyard. With security cameras visible on the drive in, it was apparent home security was an important part of the design. Alarm.com was the security manufacturer of choice for the home, which featured Alarm.com doorbells and control panels.

Control4 panels were accessible in every room providing audio, temperature and lighting control for the eventual home owners. “We wanted to ensure that the future homeowners had the basics already installed but also leave the door open for upgrades and further integration,” said Neuwave’s vice president, Mark Masters. In-ceiling speakers skillfully installed throughout the interior and exterior blend in with the interior design of the home flawlessly and are controlled from the AV rack hidden in the upstairs closet. Legrand lighting and control were also installed throughout the home, rounding out the interior.

Designing for Outdoor Living

Audio with stunning acoustics from the installed Sonance landscaping outdoor sound system, along with wall-mounted loudspeakers on the deck, make full use of the outdoor space. Two motorized Phantom Outdoor Screens along with an outdoor Sunbrite televisions allow for a comfortable area to gather on the porch regardless of weather. Neuwave also prewired for additional outdoor televisions and speakers on the deck.

Reaching the End Goal

The two million dollar home is complete with smart appliances, a central vacuum, full outdoor kitchen, beautiful landscaping and the ability to grow. Paragon’s end goal of the Southern Living Showcase Universal Designed Home was achieved: to create a different sense of what a space can be by creating a home that is loved and that can love back.

Project Resources

Paragon Building Group
Josh Mauney, President & CEO
829 Purser Drive
Raleigh, N.C. 27603
(919) 329-0008

Interior Design:
Southern Studio
119 West Park Street
Cary, N.C. 27511
(919) 362-5143

Technology Integrator:
Neuwave Systems
2800 Highwoods Blvd
Raleigh, N.C. 27604
(919) 582-7474

Accessibility Design:
LifeStage Home Design
108 Wind Chime Court
Raleigh, N.C. 27615
(919) 630-1224

Southern Living
Showcase Home 2021
Southern Living Magazine


URC Automation caters to an integrator’s
out-of-the-box ideas

By Erinn Loucks

Automated smart lighting matches the time of day and highlights powerful art in this contemporary, open-concept space.

Integrator Jay Dobensky has often been accused of pushing the boundaries when it comes to systems design and hardware capability, but that never seems to dissuade him from taking on tasks considered extremely difficult, if not impossible. When a pair of openminded clients came to him with their ocean view dream home in Santa Monica, Calif., he worked with URC Automation to create both a technical and visual work of art above and beyond the expectations of the client.

“I wanted this project to ‘show off’ to this particular client what it means now in 2021 to have a fully integrated home,” said Dobensky, who is the founder of Beverly Hills Smart Homes. “They were the perfect client in the sense that they essentially gave me carte blanche to create the ultimate automated and integrated home environment.”

“As an advanced level end-user, I thoroughly enjoy the vast array of controls and customization that we have available with URC, yet my family can also use the system with ease with Amazon’s Alexa or from one of the many uniform interfaces,” said the homeowner.

Ensuring the Latest and Greatest Home Automation

These clients had extensive familiarity with the URC family of products from their previous home on the East Coast and were fully on board with going to the next level for their new home. Relative to the design of their condo, they wanted a clean aesthetic that allowed them to showcase their extensive artwork collection, while making every system — lighting, audio, HVAC and more — extremely functional and sustainable.

This started with URC Automation’s Total Control line of custom hardware and the newest version of their software platform, along with its corresponding operating system known as Accelerator3, which was released roughly during the middle of the project. Dobensky had completed most of the programming with the previous version, Accelerator2, but he was able to go back in and give the clients the latest and greatest version of the platform. These upgrades included a pair of URC’s new TRC-1480 remotes with built-in Alexa voice control, a substantial upgrade over the initially proposed TRC-1080 remotes — at no extra cost to the client. The inclusion of voice control was one of the most surprising expansions to the initial project scope.

“At the beginning of the project, the client just wanted the option of voice control,” said Dobensky, adding that voice control is a big focus for URC Automation this year. “By the time we finished, the entire house was controlled with Alexa voice commands through URC.”

At the beginning of the project, the client just wanted the option of voice control, by the time we finished, the entire house was controlled with Alexa voice commands through URC.


Controlled with URC’s MRX-30 premium system controller, the TKP-9600 touchscreens and TRC-1480 handheld remotes allow one touch or seamless voice control of the entire system.

Overcoming the Challenges of a Modern Design

It was important to Dobensky that the technology in the space did not impede on the overall clean and modern design. However, at more than one point in the project he had to overcome a few challenges to install the functionality the clients wanted.

“The general contractor, Blanco Construction, had to do a lot of structural steel installations in order to carry the significantly altered load distribution, as they blew out most of the original walls in favor of a mostly open concept floorplan. This involved literally tons of steel beams and floor joist supports across the second floor, which can wreak havoc with anything wireless,” he explained, and while this did indeed open up the layout, it also made cabling more complex because it limited places where he could run wire.

Sonance in-ceiling stereo speakers were used throughout the space.

The necessity to ensure optimal wireless signal coverage was managed with the use of four Luxul Wi-Fi Access Points, meshed together with the Luxul AP Controller and tied into the 300Mbps network backbone with a Luxul Managed Switch and Router.

“We also discovered that once the steel beams were installed there was a significant degradation in cell phone service within the home,” Dobensky explained. To counter this, he installed a Wilson Pro 70 cell phone booster, which gave the clients full service in the space regardless of cell carrier.

Proving that Smart Climate Control Works

The multi-zone HVAC system in the home also turned out to be a big challenge. There was some pushback from the initial HVAC contractor about Dobensky’s plan however, which included installing the Lutron LR-HVAC controllers with matching flush-mount wall sensors in place of the wall thermostats. Dobensky proved to the clients as well as the general contractor and HVAC contractor that his plan for controlling the four different zones of the condo would work, and he ultimately won the approval of everyone involved.

With URC’s support and staff, Dobensky was able to incorporate the controls for these typically commercial-grade controllers on the HVAC with Total Control and Accelerator — which is not something they work with every day.

“I will admit that it did take a while to bring this unique brainstorm to life, and the URC Systems Support Team had to be patient with me,” said the integrator. “However once I told them what the hardware was and what my theoretical goals were, they were fully engaged as always to create the best solution along with me, while enjoying the process of building something unique that didn’t previously exist.”


Integrator Jay Dobensky poses with the clients’ T800 Terminator prop, which was cleverly connected through URC automation and Alexa voice control.

Project Resources

Whole Home Automation:
URC Automation
Ron Pence
500 Mamaroneck Avenue
Harrison, NY 10528

Beverly Hills Smart Homes
Jay Dobensky
132 S Bedford Dr. Suite 201B
Beverly Hills, CA, 90212

Equipment List:
URC Automation: MRX-30 Controller, TKP-9600 Touchscreens (2), TRC-1480 Universal Remotes (2), MRX-4IR, TRF-ZW3 ZWAVE Controller, URCL-9601, URCL-9640, URCL-9642, URCL-TR9605
Amazon Echo Show and Echo Dot Alexa Voice Control
August Z-Wave Exterior Deadbolt Locks and EMTEK
Entry Door Locksets
Automated Honda Outdoor Generator and APC Transfer Switch and Battery Backup
Luxul AC3100 Controller. Wireless AMS-2624P PoE Gigabit Managed Switch, EPIC5 Router
Fibaro Z-Wave
Multi-Functional Sensors
Lutron LR-HVAC Thermostatic Controllers with Flush-Mount Wall Temperature Sensors
Lutron Sivoia QS
Roller Shades (9)
Middle Atlantic 24U Enclosed Equipment Rack
Sonos PORT (3), AMP Zone Controllers (4), ARC Soundbars (2) and SUB (2)
Sonance In-Ceiling Stereo Pairs and Single-Point Stereo Speakers
Russound D850 Eight
Channel Amplifier
Wilson Pro 70 Plus
Cell Phone Booster Kit
WBOX Managed Power
Rack-mounted UPS


A 15-bedroom hunting lodge offers whole-home connectivity in remote middle Georgia

By Erinn Loucks

(Left) The grand room of the hunting lodge is two and a half stories tall, complete with a masculine elegance established by a large rock fireplace and touches of local art, comfortable fabrics and patterned rugs.

There are 17 distributed audio zones in the property including six zones outside, such as the circular driveway at the front, where music greets visitors as they walk inside.

An hour outside of Atlanta, across a railroad track and through a charming small town, there is a mile-long, tree-lined driveway. A giant field of fading sunflowers and a hunting platform also greet visitors to this oasis outside the city, which was first envisioned by 15 friends looking for a place to escape.

               When this group invested in 2,000 acres of property in middle Georgia, they aimed to build a hunting lodge getaway that still had the ability to connect back with the real world when necessary. However the land had not been managed for nearly ten years and included an abandoned structure and frequent trespassers, who were surprised to find their favorite fishing spot now under new ownership.

The team the owners put together had a daunting challenge ahead. The existing structure needed to be gutted, rebuilt and augmented with 14,500 square feet containing 15 suites, several common areas, a board room, an immense kitchen and a bar and game room. The land needed to be secured and managed for hunting trophy deer and fishing bass, trails blazed through the trees for four-wheelers, and fields put under the care of a local farmer.

This grand hunting lodge in Georgia boasts 15 bedrooms spread across 14,500 square feet of space.

All of this needed the best connectivity the industry could offer. Especially with the pandemic looming, the homeowners wanted the ability to work remotely from the property. They wanted the ease of a fast network, with TVs and audio in every room. While several guests were well acquainted with smart home technology, everyone had different platforms at home and so whatever was installed needed to be intuitive and simple.

“We were given a lot of creative license that we normally don’t get,” said integrator Jason Caponi, owner of Performance Audio and Video in Atlanta. “However this in itself presented its own challenge, since there were no plans of any real substance to start with.”

Getting Service in the Middle of Nowhere

While the 15 owners and their families are not necessarily all at the hunting lodge at the same time, the network needed to accommodate that much activity, plus more for events and entertaining. It also had to work well in the outdoor common areas, including a nearby barn that contains 15 garages filled with everyone’s recreational gear, a fishing dock and a fire pit area.

“There was no internet or service at all when we got there,” said Caponi. “There was literally nothing there.”

The initial plans for the property were daunting. Most of Caponi’s technicians lived over an hour away, so the homeowners allowed them to use one of the garages to hold their equipment. They worked primarily off of the elevation plans and worked closely with the clients to establish what was first needed, most importantly of which was a solid network.

Getting Wi-Fi on the property was no easy task. It took several months for the team to get AT&T to install a business fiber line, which ran from the highway and all the way up the long driveway. The team then installed eight indoor access points to the Wi-Fi system, as well as five commercial grade access points with a Wi-Fi 6 Dual band. According to Caponi, the Wi-Fi is substantial and includes the nearby outdoor common areas as well.

“It was like providing for a small hotel,” Caponi added.

The dining room off of the kitchen and bar offers seating for every guest along a long wooden table illuminated by modern chandeliers underneath an exposed beam ceiling.

Easy TV for Everyone

When it came to the TVs, the clients wanted something that was simple for everyone to use, was reliable and provided all of the streaming and cable services any member of the clients’ families — including children, wives and girlfriends — would want to use.

“We suggested DISH for TV because they are so easy to work with,” said the integrator, adding that the provider might be associated with sports TV but also provides standard streaming services, as well as live, on demand and recorded shows. The homeowners also agreed that DISH would be easy for everyone to figure out.

Frank DeFilippis, who led the DISH team on this project, took on the responsibility of designing the large and complicated satellite video system for this project, but let Performance AV be the contact for the homeowner. In total, the project involved 30 TVs, 30 Dish boxes and two satellites.

“We are here as a support system for our dealers,” said DeFilippis, adding that this advantage is available through DISH’s new concierge service, which is a dedicated support team for VIP clients. “Not only do we engineer the system, but we also install it and own the responsibility to service it should anything ever need attention.”

The DISH entertainment system offers both live broadcast TV as well as integrated Netflix streaming, four channel multi-view for watching sports, eight terabytes of shared DVR storage and 99 percent signal reliability — even in rural areas such as this one.

Simple But Dependable Systems

Along with intuitive TVs and a solid network, the homeowners wanted technology that enhanced the overall environment without the stress of having to learn a smart home system they didn’t know.

“This is definitely a project that could have been more complicated and more complex,” said homeowner David Oyler, who is a frequent client of Caponi’s. “We needed to dumb it down.”

Sonos was an easy choice for streaming music through the house, as everyone can just control the audio throughout the home — from the outside walkup to the kitchen — via an app on their phone. The AV team also wired the house for Lutron, which will be installed next year. The cost of the lighting integration was substantial but deemed necessary once the homeowners realized it took half an hour to turn all the lights off in the house.

With people still wandering unknowingly onto the property, a solid surveillance system was also necessary. However, the homeowners had two requests: make it comprehensive, while also respecting people’s privacy. The 24 Hikvision cameras on site do not blanket the entire area, but do cover every entrance and are motion activated. They can also be turned off during events if the homeowners want.

Performance AV’s ProActiVe Membership Program provides 24/7 service and support to assist with any questions or issues that arise with the system. Anyone staying at the home can reach a support technician immediately should the Wi-Fi go out or if they just need some guidance on turning on the music.

Establishing the Right Appeal

While this was always going to be a hunting lodge, the owners’ vision was that of casual elegance. Interior design team Angelyn Lewis and Caroline Schmidt of Chadwick and Company Designs were brought on board to ensure that the home was aesthetically pleasing to everyone — not just overly masculine, even for a hunting lodge.

“I don’t like things over the top one way or another,” said Lewis, when asked how she balanced the masculine with softer touches like welcoming fabrics and local, nature-themed artwork. “I incorporated more interesting details than just all heads and leather. People then gravitate towards what they like.”

According to Lewis, the main room might have a huge rock fireplace and old beams for a beautiful, manly space, but each piece of furniture got the sit test for comfort. The nearby bar, complete with two TVs and seating for six, boasts a wood beam ceiling, a decorative brick wall and dark countertops. Contrasting these rooms is a modern kitchen with rift cut, white oak cabinets,  a marble backsplash and a cozy sitting area.

Each individual bedroom might be a different size and shape but are similar in standard. Everyone has the same bedding and overall clean, transitional appeal but different names and artwork to correlate: the bottom level theme is fish, the middle is land and the upper level is named for birds. Together with the simple integration systems, the homeowners feel at home while escaping here.

“Just everything is very comfortable and elegant,” said Oyler. “No one felt like they were getting an inferior space.”

Project Resources

Performance Audio and Video
Jason Caponi

Wilkins Construction

Chadwick and Company Designs
Angelyn Lewis & Caroline Schmidt

For information on the DISH CI Program visit www.dish.com/customintegration or contact customintegrationsales@dish.com

Erinn & Barry Loucks

Araknis Network Switches
AT&T Dedicated Business Fiber
Cat7A Wiring
Dish Hopper
Dish Joey 4K
EnGenius Wi-Fi 6 Access Points
Episode Signature Speakers and In-Ceiling Subwoofers
Hikvision ColorVu Cameras
Hikvision NVR based Surveillance System
Klipsch Outdoor Speakers
LG Nano Cell 4K Display
LG OLED 4K HDR Display
Rockusticks “Cherry Bomb” Outdoor Speakers
Rockusticks Periscape4 Outdoor Speakers
Samsung 4K
Sonos Amplifiers
Sonos Arc
Sonos Sub
Sura 75-in. Outdoor TV
TPD Complete Breaker Panel surge protection
TPD Surge Suppressor & Lightning Protection
WattBox IP Backup Battery
WattBox IP Managed Power Conditioners


Lighting That Celebrates Architecture

A modern structure nestled in the mountains was the ideal showcase for a lighting design triumph

By Nancy Klosek

“Practical” and “beautiful” were the words used by homeowners to task Ada, Mich.-based firm TruMedia Home to handle the technology integration aspects of their new property, situated on a remote 40 acres that overlooks extraordinarily stunning scenery. According to TruMedia co-principal Amanda Wildman, “it was important when we curated the products to keep that in mind — and why we used Lutron HomeWorks lighting and tied it in with Lutron shades.” 

A Classic Control Aesthetic

     The phenomenal architecture of the premises — a steel skeleton supporting multiple windows so that occupants could enjoy landscape vistas from anywhere in the home — also needed to be respected in the tech planning. The owners didn’t want a lot of control paraphernalia on the walls, mindful that “tech always changes, so they wanted something that would be classic,” Wildman said. “That’s where Lutron was a big part of it, because we could tie the shades into those light switch keypads, instead of having multiple places to search for everything. It’s super easy for them.”

The owners were definite about their wish to keep the steel exposed as a design feature, so TruMedia worked with architect 42 North to place wiring in unobtrusive spots, while devising a motorized shading scenario that would make it possible for the clients to easily control outside heat from entering the home through the expansive windows. Lutron’s KoolBlack motorized shades — with specific qualities to allow heat to reflect outward — were used; in daylight, with the sun at its peak, they can be set to descend automatically (and quietly) or through voice control. Wildman noted that they are so unobtrusive that when the insurance adjuster was in the home, he didn’t even realize there were shades there, since the pockets were custom-painted to match the steel. 

“I know they may not be the sexiest thing people think about, but it was such a unique process to fit them into the space,” said Wildman. “If we do our jobs as properly as integrators, our technology should not be noticeable. Part of the beauty of that project was to let the architect’s design shine through, let the designer’s aesthetic show and not let the technology be overbearing. It’s all part of a living system in the home and having all those things work together.”

Multi-Purposing Inside & Outside Spaces

       Inside the home, the basement was outfitted to the hilt for the family’s numerous interests and hobbies. The owners’ love of golfing was accommodated with the installation of the HD Golf simulator in the basement area, for which TruMedia Home recorded video content at the manufacturer’s facility; it works in tandem with URC’s Total Control system to adjust lighting and measure golf swings with cameras. And to address the owner’s hunting hobby, a Laser Shot shooting simulator was also added; sounds can be monitored through Origin Acoustics speakers. Also set up there was a space for movie-viewing, where the owners’ son can have friends over, connect his gaming system and play video games. Outdoors, Origin’s Bollard speakers, which blend into the landscape quite naturally, have a look that also complements the overall steel look of the home. 

     “They are well spaced, with each one pairing with a subwoofer,” said Wildman. “When you sit in the patio space on the Adirondack chairs with a glass of wine, dim the lights and watch a sunset while listening, there is no place you’d rather be.” 

Wildman gives high marks to 42 North Architecture, citing their smooth relationship. “They were phenomenal as far as the design, and since then, we’ve done quite a few projects with them,” she explained. 

And 42 North principal Ryan LaHaie returns the compliment. “They say you don’t have to be the smartest people in the room, just know who to contact,” he said. “For us, working with integrators like TruMedia makes us all look smarter. Integrators really take our designs to the next level, with sound and lighting providing the ultimate sensory experience to our clients. Home automation should be something that is thought of at the early stages of design, and professionals like TruMedia can help make integrating everything seamless.” 

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Design firm Refresh Design’s Amy Pottenger also weighed in about the importance of close collaboration among disciplines in the successful execution of a project of this type. “Integrating technology into your design from the beginning is so important,” she said. “Design is definitely in the details, and 

things like lighting placement, outlets, switches, speakers and motorized shades all play into the overall design aesthetic. Streamlining these things with the design of the home not only makes for a beautiful, finished look, but it also provides practicality and function for the homeowner for years to come.” 

And the clients provided the ultimate thumbs-up on the final result of this grand collaboration, contracting with TruMedia Home’s installation team to manage the technology when their “party barn” — a structure that will mimic the residence’s design — is due to be completed next spring. 

         “Working with TruMedia was fantastic,” the client said. “They listened to our needs and offered ideas and suggestions to make our home feel personalized to our family. Technology is one of those things that can easily be overcomplicated, but at TruMedia they provided solutions that worked for our whole family — all while keeping the design in mind.

My favorite piece of the entire home is the Lutron HomeWorks system; I have everything set up on timers and as a busy mom, I love that I have a variety of ways to control it, and if I think I forgot to turn off a light, I can easily check it from my phone and turn it off. That gives me great peace of mind.”

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Project Resources

TruMedia Home
8162 Fulton St. E., Suite D
Ada, MI 49301
Ponch & Amanda Wildman, Owners

42 North Architecture
Principal: Ryan LaHaie

Epique Homes
Troy Shrock

Refresh Design
Amy Pottenger

Interior: Ashley Avila Photography
Photographer: Ashley Avila

Brian Kelly Photography
Photographer: Brian Kelly

Epson Pro L1060U Projector
High Definition Golf (HD Golf) Simulator
Laser Shot Shooting Simulator
Lift Master LA400PKGUL
Lutron HomeWorks (KoolBlack Shades & Lighting Control)
Origin Acoustics Bollard Speakers (Outdoors)
Samsung TVs
Samsung The Frame TV
URC Total Control


Integral Systems upgrades a media room to solve AV issues and to better fit the aesthetic of the home

By Vanessa Zitzmann

Several years ago, integration company Integral Systems designed and installed a complete AV and smart home solution into a home in southern Florida. The homeowners are art enthusiasts and the home is filled with stunning artwork from all over the world. When designing the original installation, the goal was to weave the technology throughout the home while maintaining the art as the focal point. The home is a masterpiece of architecture, interior design, art and technology — however even the best homes need upgrades from time to time.

“With a sleek and modern stainless-steel bezel and 8K resolution, not only was the television less intrusive on the wall next to the art, but the television became a piece of art itself.”

Overcoming a Video Challenge

At the time of installation, a 6-ft. by 6-ft. 4K SDR video matrix was installed and for many years met the needs of the homeowner. Being able to share the Apple TVs and cable boxes across the six displays from the master suite to the lanai and guest bedrooms was ideal. This eliminated excess equipment underneath the TVs and allowed the design and art to remain the focus of the home. 4K displays were used along with one of the slimmest televisions on the market. However four years later, as technology has grown and higher quality video is becoming standardized, the limitations of the 4K SDR video matrix began to show.

    With the media room being a focal point of entertainment and art, the original display and video distribution was no longer a suitable solution. The six televisions in the home were 4K SDR displays, and the SDR televisions did not support HDR10 or Dolby Vision. 

When designing the original installation, the goal was to weave the technology throughout the home while maintaining the art as the focal point.

The Solution & Upgrade 

“We needed to not only upgrade the quality of video but also the aesthetic of the TV as well,” said Spencer Heckman, project manager for Integral Systems. “We wanted to provide the customer with a television that complemented the quality design and art, which meant a less intrusive bezel, smaller mounting depth and of course higher quality video performance.”

    Heckman and his team decided to go with the 85-in. Samsung 8K QLED display. This display included the Quantum HDR 64X processor and Infinity Bezel for unparalleled color and a truly immersive experience. 

    “With a sleek and modern stainless steel bezel and 8K resolution, not only was the television less intrusive on the wall next to the art,” explained Heckman, “but the television became a piece of art itself.”

    With the full force of Samsung’s 8K Processor, the team opted to localize a 4K Apple TV for premium video while still utilizing the video matrix for standard viewing such as cable. The audio was then distributed back to the AV rack for the 3.1 Martin Logan audio system to still ensure quality audio reinforcement. 

Project Resources

Integral Systems
HTA Certified Integrator
2170 Sunnydale Blvd.
Clearwater, F.L. 33765
(727) 559-1265

Greaves Construction
109 N Burlingame Ave.
Temple Terrace, Fla. 33617
(813) 985-2739

Interior Design Consulting
Johanna G. Seldes, ASID
1511 Hutchison Rd.
Tampa, Fla. 33625
(813) 244-7700

Jon Cancelino Photography
Tampa, Fl.

Apple TV 4K (Gen 2)
AVProEdge AC-AEX-Kit
Control4 EA-1 with SR-260 Rechargeable remote
Samsung 85-in. 8K TV (QN85QN900A)
WattBox WB-300VB-IP-5
(IP managed PDU with
Surge Protection)


By Erinn Loucks

“In this space, it’s never over the top or too crazy,” said Stallings. “The homeowners use that space to its fullest potential, and it’s pretty wild.”

Overlooking a New England lake is a family vacation home that recently got a serious upgrade in entertainment. An indoor pool, bowling alley and paddle tennis court were all planned for this space, and the homeowners came to TSP Smart Spaces in Boston to help bring it to its full potential. 
“The original AV design had visible speakers and traditional TVs for the bowling alley displays,” explained Aaron Stallings, director of smart spaces at TSP. “For this project, we needed to create a space that is much more than just lights and speakers.” 

Creating Scenes for Every Occasion

        This building is meant to be a hub for family fun, so it needed to be easily usable by any member of the family. The homeowners fortunately had some experience with home automation and let TSP have a lot of creative power, beginning with the lighting. 
         TSP worked closely with Peter Romanelli of Conceptual Lighting to install Ketra Lighting throughout the space. According to Stallings, Ketra is often used in art galleries and museums, so their product offers the broadest spectrum of white color on the market as well as a diverse range of colors. Ketra also integrates with Lutron’s lighting controls, which enabled the team to create specific and fun scenes for the space.
       In the bowling alley, lead design engineer Chase Rowe took inspiration from his own midnight bowling experiences and created dozens of space-themed scenes, such as “Mars” and “Saturn.” Colorful lights like pink, blue and midnight purple make the bowling alley feel like a dance party. However when the space is not being used, the lights synchronize with the outside sunlight. 

       Ketra was also installed in the recessed lighting fixtures around the pool. Paired with the walls’ wavy plaster, the blue light creates an aquatic effect that makes this New Hampshire home feel like it’s surfside.  

       “We enjoyed coming up with solutions for this space,” said Stallings, adding that one of his favorite touches is an LED stretch light fixture above the pool that makes the space feel like part of a luxury resort. 

Music for Both Partying and Relaxing

        Providing audio across several acoustically challenging spaces was no small feat, but TSP found that Amina gave them what they needed. Amina’s invisible speakers are featured in the faux beams in the pool’s ceiling, allowing for sound to resonate throughout the pool without any visible speakers or grills. Lubell Labs’ underwater speakers were installed in the pool so that even while swimming guests can hear the music. An in-wall subwoofer and four invisible speakers were also put in the bowling alley. 
       For the outdoor tennis court — which would be subjected to extremely cold temperatures in the winter — the team used Revel Speakers’ Extreme Climate line of products. Four satellite speakers, which were designed to function in the coldest of temperatures, were installed throughout the area. In the core of the court, a direct burial subwoofer was installed for a completely immersive experience. All of these are connected to a Sonos system, which can stream from Apple Music, Pandora, Spotify and Tidal.  

Establishing a Comfortable Environment

      This is a vacation home for a family with young children and people coming and going, so security was top of mind in the project. 
      “Security received a particular amount of attention during the install,” said Stallings, adding that he’s been seeing more requests for intricate security systems from high net worth clients. “Figuring out the security was one of our biggest challenges.” 
      There are several door access requirements for the different entrances — internal and external — which can give some people access to one space but not another. There were special requests for pool sensors, including glass-shattering sensors around the pool and a sensor that will even detect a break in the water. TSP worked hand in hand with a local alarm company to manage the installation of these. 
     “When it came to the alarm company, we were the interpreters for the homeowners,” the integrator added.
       Along with remotely monitoring the security of the property, the homeowners can also control the indoor climate. Smart Savant CLI thermostats were integrated into the building so that the owners can maintain control of each room in the complex from anywhere in the world.  

      “Then we installed Meraki cloud-managed sensors in the server/maintenance room for the unit to ensure our IT infrastructure is always safe and protected from damage without us there,” said Stallings. 

This Lutron Homeworks QS system provides control of the home’s 70 Ketra bulbs and 90 Lutron lights and was fully integrated into the main home’s lighting system.

Bringing It All Together

       The addition’s fun factor would be dampened were it not easy to control. This is why it was integral that the addition worked seamlessly with Savant, which also now controls the main house. The homeowners had been using another platform they disliked, so the addition gave TSP an opening to introduce them to Savant. After trying it out, they decided to make the switch in the main house and in their other properties as well. 

        “With all of the types of activities going on in that facility, you need something more than Lutron to control everything,” said the integrator, explaining that touchscreens throughout give the homeowners a higher level of control. “Savant made this project possible and seamless.” 

Project Resources

TSP Smart Spaces
Aaron Stallings, HTA Certified Integrator
1280 Massuchusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02138

Lighting Installation:
Peter Romanelli
Conceptual Lighting

Conceptual Lighting
Shope Reno Wharton

General Contractor:
KVC Builders.com

Interior Designer:
Manuel De Santeren

Equipment List:
Amina ALF80 subwoofers
Amina MOBIUS in-wall loudspeakers
AV over IP 4K video distribution from Savant
Axis network cameras
LG commercial displays
Lutron Homeworks QS system
Lutron Sivoia QS roller shades with blackout capabilities
Palladiom and Pico keypads and remotes
Revel Extreme Climate landscape speakers
Savant smart thermostat
Savant in-wall touch screens
Savant Pro Remotes


SAV Digital Environments creates a home theater that becomes the heart of the home

The fusion of interior design and technology can create amazing spaces that showcase not only the home but the beauty of technology. SAV Digital Environments collaborated with Montana Expressions Interior Design and Journey & Sons Contractors to create a home theater and lounge space for the homeowners that accomplished all of that and more.

WKP - Montana Ranch - HR-20
WKP - Montana Ranch - HR-9

Overlooking the beautiful vast landscapes of South Central Montana, tucked away in the Rocky Mountains between Bozeman and Big Sky, lies a sweeping hilly paradise. The design reflects the homeowners’ present-day style while keeping the traditional “ranch feel” design elements and build intact. 

“It was a highly collaborative effort and could not have turned out any better,” said Scott Abel, director of quality and customer satisfaction of SAV Digital Environments. 

This theater is a sanctuary for all of the senses, from watching movies, listening to music, drinking wine, reading or taking in rustic smells of reclaimed lumber and paperback books. It’s a gathering place where people can come together and enjoy each other’s company, lounging together, vinyl playing in the background or watching the latest blockbuster. Or it can be a hiding place that one can lay back and indulge themselves in a glass of wine. This rustic and refined multi-purpose home theater is the heart of the home.

WKP - Montana Ranch - HR-10
WKP - Montana Ranch - HR-14

Creating the Right Feel

Design was the driving force behind the creation of this home theater. Naturally, the designer wanted the AV equipment to fuse seamlessly with the modern rustic aesthetic. The homeowners meanwhile requested that the screen be fixed, noting its rigidity as a selling point. For its part of the puzzle, SAV knew that screen material engineered to maintain the picture quality of 4K and 8K images was imperative, as were its design-friendly attributes. Collaboration between the three parties—amid the COVID-19 pandemic—to settle on a screen that would meet everyone’s objective turned out to be the biggest hurdle of this project. 

This lower-level remodel would function as the heart of the home, making the proper appointment, calibration and placement of AV gear even more important. As people gathered here, the entertainment needed to look and feel as natural as the reclaimed lumber and rustic touches in this sanctuary for the senses.   

To satisfy both the design and performance demands of the project, SAV specified a 5 Series fixed projection screen frame from Screen Innovations. As a permanent fixture, it defined clearly the intent of the theater portion of the multipurpose room from the lounging, reading and wine tasting areas while complementing the theater’s dark wooden ceiling beams. To the frame, SAV added SI’s Slate-AC.8 screen fabric. Measuring 137 diagonal inches, acoustically transparent and 8K-rated, the screen simultaneously conceals the front speakers of the theater’s Dolby Atmos system and enhances the video quality of the Sony 4K projector. 

Letting design dictate a home theater project can be a risky endeavor for home systems integrators. By customizing a dynamic, engaging and immersive video solution that met everyone’s preferences and high standards, SAV, its design and build partners, and Screen Innovations exemplify the teamwork and trusted technology required to create an award-winning home theater of this caliber.

Project Resources

SAV Digital Environments
HTA Certified Integrator
618 North Wallace Avenue, Bozeman, MT 59715
(406) 476-1658

Journey & Sons Contractors

Interior Designer:
Montana Expressions Interior Design

Whitney Kamman
WK Architectural Photography

Control4 Neeo touch-screen remote and central processor
Dolby Atmos 9.2.4 Home Theater
JBL Synthesis SDR-35 Professional 16-channel media receiver with 7-channel amplification
JBL Synthesis high-performance cinema-grade SC-4 and SC-5 in-wall/ceiling loudspeakers
JBL Synthesis SSW-2 dual 12” in-cabinet subwoofers w/ Crown Audio CDi 2–1200-watt sub amp
JBL/Lexicon DD8 8×125 multi-channel amplification for Atmos and surround back speakers
McIntosh MT5 Turntable w/ McIntosh MP100 Preamplifier
McIntosh Analog Cabling with connection to new Crestron Audio Extender to theater system
Panamax M5400-PM Power Management w/ Voltage Regulation
Sony 4k Projector VPL695ES
4k Video Balun set with for projector and an Aux input for local AV Source
Screen Innovations acoustically transparent 16:9 fixed wall mounted Series 5 screen
Sonos Whole Home Audio System
Sonance DSP Amplifiers


Design – Opportunities for a Sustainable Working World

Interior Designer Bianca Edda Webber discusses the future of the home office

Interview by Heike Gessulat

Compact retreat in the changed office routine: The mobile Bosse telephone box “Bosselino” for creativity, communication and time-out is combined with the sit-stand stool “To-swift” from Trendoffice.

Agile working requires mobile multifunctional furniture, which, as in the Bosse “Modul Space” concept, brings a homely feel to the office with a warm mix of materials and colors.

In 2020, office work processes changed enormously due to the pandemic. What impact will this have on our working culture in the long term?

Bianca Edda Weber: The pandemic has reduced physical meetings to a necessary minimum. All processes have been digitized and are a new challenge from the home office. Companies are now challenged to act by developing long-term hybrid work cultures that are more resilient to crises and address both external influences and the internal individual needs of employees. 

“New Work” is the buzzword of the new world of work. What are the most important parameters for working in the future? 

Empowerment, self-organization and responsibility are decisive criteria. The 9-to-5 presence culture is being replaced by trust-based working hours with leadership by objectives. The time-honored business plan is giving way to iterative MVP (Minimum Viable Product) attempts, which are also allowed to fail at the first attempt. Change processes are no longer dictated from the top down but are created collectively; the rigid parameters of the “old” working world must be questioned and new dynamic patterns of thinking and behavior must be allowed. The focus is on a meaningful redefinition of the relationship between 

Whether in a meeting, at the kitchen counter or at the ironing board, the individually adjustable in height and equipped with a rocking function “To-swift” Trendoffice sit-stand stool is a flexible companion in everyday office or home office life.

“New Work” is the buzzword of the new world of work. What are the most important parameters for working in the future? 

Empowerment, self-organization and responsibility are decisive criteria. The 9-to-5 presence culture is being replaced by trust-based working hours with leadership by objectives. The time-honored business plan is giving way to iterative MVP (Minimum Viable Product) attempts, which are also allowed to fail at the first attempt. Change processes are no longer dictated from the top down but are created collectively; the rigid parameters of the “old” working world must be questioned and new dynamic patterns of thinking and behavior must be allowed. The focus is on a meaningful redefinition of the relationship between the company, society and the individual, with the goal of sustainable and responsible management.  

How are remote working and agility reflected in design concepts?

The design concepts are becoming more application-oriented, flexible and homely. Mobile multifunctional furniture made of a warm mix of materials and colors is used for team meetings, the discreet conversation is handled in the telephone pod, and people retreat to the home office for concentrated project work. If the children are too curious, you can switch to the recently opened co-working space with living charm around the corner. Work no longer adapts to the location, but the location is chosen according to the work content. 

In the best case, office concepts relate to the respective corporate and management culture. How do you approach planning and implementation in this regard?

With its white components and transparent mesh backrest, the AGR-certified “@Just Evo” from Dauphin conveys the necessary lightness in the home office. 

Whether it’s a dynamic start-up, an owner-managed medium-sized company or a major global corporation, we always start with the actual situation. In addition to the regular inventory of space and requirements, an intensive exchange with the employees on site is crucial. Experience has shown that involving people is a decisive success factor for a sustainable and accepted working environment. The design concept should also visualize and emphasize the values of the leadership and corporate culture. If the foosball table is almost a must-have office toy for a start-up, it would look out of place in the entrée of a serious financial services provider and at best be interpreted as an expensive work of art.

What role can an optimally planned work environment play in terms of well-being aspects, employee retention, productivity and cost savings?

A well-planned work environment has a versatile affect and ideally represents a win-win situation for all involved; employees are more productive, motivated, creative and feel valued. The company benefits from strong employee loyalty and motivation, can streamline processes, increase the degree of innovation and lead the company safely and profitably into the future. 

How has your company, Dauphin, come through the Corona crisis so far?

We too have been challenged to adapt our ways of working and processes and to explore new, digital paths in order to maintain the valued exchange with partners, customers and colleagues. That’s because the Corona crisis is also a social crisis. It is putting the way we live and work to the test and ushering in a paradigm shift. For more than 50 years, we have been passionately addressing the changing worlds of work and living. In line with the credo “the future is now,” we see the crisis as a task and an opportunity to help shape a sustainable and future-proof living and working world.  

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