Harpenden Country Home

Brief

A young professional couple who had recently invested in their long term family home were seeking to add an extensive choice of lifestyle technologies to their complete building renovation plans.

Systems Provided

Lighting Icon The services of leading lighting designer John Cullen were used to design all of the interior and exterior lighting. Automated Smart Homes were involved from the design stage onwards to provide over 70 light circuits, controllable using an Intelligent Lighting Control system from Lutron. Lighting Keypads could also be engraved to provide instant “mood” lighting at a touch of a button.

Additionally, all windows had motorised blinds from Lutron to control natural light and add privacy and security, all set to automatically open/close based either on sunrise and sunset times, or via a lighting settings keypad.

Video Icon Using latest HDBaseT Multi-Room Video Distribution matrix from Wyrestorm, up to 8 High Definition Video sources, such as Sky HD boxes, Movie Servers and DVD players could be watched on any of the 12 Samsung Screens around the property, and in the dedicated Home Cinema room.

Cinema Icon The homeowner had a vast collection of DVD and Blu-Ray movies, so the Kaleidescape movie server was the natural choice. All of the home owner’s collection could be stored in one of the multiple jukebox vaults, and played instantly on an of the screens around the home.

A dedicated Home Cinema was top of the homeowner’s initial wish-list. A 6 seat dedicated home cinema with a 3m wide curved, masking projection screen from Screen Research, a LS12 projector from Runco, and surround-sound processing from Datasat routed amazing sound to the Triad and Pricilla speakers. Full lighting control including a DMX star ceiling from Starscape completed the ‘at the movies’ feel of the space.

Audio Icon Instant music streaming was available in all rooms via a Multi-Room Audio distribution system from Control4. Music from internet streaming services, such as Spotify could be selected from the multi-source Autonomic Music Server and listened to through a variety of high quality on-wall and sounder Artcoustic and invisible Sonance speakers.

HVAC Icon Full control of all wet and electric underfloor heating, period style radiators and a mitsubishi air-conditioning unit was handled by the Honeywell Building Management System (BMS). Discreet thimble sensors were the only visible hardware used to monitor temperature in all rooms.

Control Icon Given the extensive level of systems in the property, a Control System was key to the simplicity the homeowners were looking for, and the natural choice was using the Control4 Home Automation system to integrate seamlessly all the services. In-wall and portable touchscreens, along with universal remote controls using on-screen displays allowed for a consistent and very easy to use interface to control all audio/visual, lighting, window treatment, heating even the fridge/freezer!

Security IconNaturally, CCTV cameras were used to monitor and record areas around the vast property. Additionally, integration with the ADT alarm was completed, this allowed automation of heating reduction, motorised closing of windows, turning off of audio/visual equipment and lighting when the alarm was set…all automatically.

Network IconWith so many network devices, it was vital to use a commercial grade networking infrastructure.

Challenges

Providing and invisible 7.2 surround sound in an Orangery

The homeowners’ main living area was part of the original property’s Orangery. This space had also been opened up as part of the building works to provide an open plan Kitchen/Living area. This resulted in a space with one brick external wall, one wall constructed of glass windows, two open sides and full glass lantern roof.

Locating the amplification and video sources was not an issue as these were centrally located in the basement. However, the open plan and challenging material substrates utilised in the area left very few options for locating the 9 speakers needed to deliver the 7.2 surround sound.

We introduced Sonance in-wall “invisible” speakers, and placed the 3 main Left, Centre and Right speakers and the 2 large subwoofers into the front TV wall, building a false wall in front of the original brick wall. This wall was then plastered and a flexible skim was used to cover the speakers so that they appeared invisible. The Interior Designer on the project then, rather worryingly for the resulting acoustic quality, selected quite a heavy wallpaper to create a feature wall.

The 4 surround speakers were placed facing downwards on the underside of the glass lantern. These were also plastered over and painted.

The result was amazing, absolutely no speaker was visible but yet the homeowner enjoys the true movie experience every night with powerful almost eerie sound seeming to emanate from out of nowhere.

Wall ready for Sonance Invisible Speakers
Wall Sonance Invisible Speakers fitted
Finished wall and no visibility of speakers

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