Creating a High-Tech Haven

Many home entertainment projects are called retrofits, which for all intents and purposes translates as a remodel. An installer needs to have the same skills that new construction projects require. But when a project combines both new construction and remodeling, the challenges intensify.

Audio Video Design (AVD), based in Newton, Massachusetts, is always up for a challenge and so was the owner of this greater Boston-area home. The homeowner used AVD as one of the prime subcontractors on the project. The owner also constantly interfaced with the general contractor, Thoughtforms, and architects Zaras and Neudorfer.

“The size and complexity of this project took all our expertise to design and integrate due to some unique challenges,” said AVD systems designer Andy Bentinck-Smith. “While the home was not completely gutted, there were many aspects of the systems integration that had to be blended with an older part of the house, along with newer sections under construction.”

This installation’s key objective was to seamlessly blend lights, climate control, and wholehouse A/V into a single easy-to-use interface that would complement the clean, contemporary lines of the home’s interior design. In order to keep all the technology virtually invisible, installers had to carefully place flat-panel TVs in the living spaces, add in-wall touchpanels to control major functions around the house, and house the A/V equipment out of sight.

The main feature of the installation is a top-quality screening room. The client was opposed to a dark, dedicated theater and wanted the living room to do double duty as a media room and a casual, comfortable living space. The living room, framed by floor-to-ceiling windows, is bathed in warm, natural light. A stunning contemporary zinc-panel fireplace is the focal point of the room. With the press of a button, the room literally transforms. Shades cover the windows, and a retractable screen drops over the fireplace to reveal a high-performance home theater. The millwork around the fireplace houses in-wall speakers that work as part of the main home cinema and the whole-house audio system.

AVD also provided climate control for the wine cellar and installed a wall-mounted touchscreen panel to monitor and change the temperature. The home’s extensive phone system uses multi-cell cordless handsets. Installers placed base antennas for the cordless phones throughout the house. When the residents walk from room to room or outside, the handset automatically jumps from one antenna to another, which ensures that the phone is always in range.

One of the advantages of new construction is that the homeowner does not usually live in the house during the construction. However, since this was primarily a renovation, the client lived in the home the entire year and a half that it took to complete the project. AVD set up most of the equipment, especially the media/living room, in a temporary fashion so that the homeowners could still enjoy their home while the work was underway. As construction progressed, AVD broke down the various systems individually and enhanced the baseline capabilities by adding A/ V zones, shades, and HVAC integration.

CONTACT Audio Video Design, (617) 965-4600,