Designer home

With an emphasis on lighting design and window treatments to have a positive impact on the décor, plus a reference grade cinema room and audio, this home is a designer’s dream. Amy Wallington investigates.

More often than not, we see home integration projects where the technology must work with or around the design and décor of each room. This install is no exception. The family home in Putney is very much a designer house where the look is as important as the functionality and performance of the installation.

As well as considering the overall design, the family wanted to have complete control over their home and the technology but without it being too complicated. Adding to this, they wanted a dedicated home cinema, but the only room they had for it was extremely small, presenting multiple challenges for the installer.

UK integrator, Progressive Home Technology took on the challenge of this whole-home install, with owner and director, Liam McLaughlin taking charge. He says: “The main focus of this designer home was the lighting and window treatments, and their fundamental impact on the rest of the décor. At the press of a button, a change in the lighting scene and lowering or raising a fabric over the window will change the mood of the room dramatically. The challenge on our part was to give the family this power to control their environment without making it complicated, clunky, or worse, unreliable.”

Making scenes

As lighting was a big part of the brief and it needed to be fully controllable through scene integration, McLaughlin chose a Lutron HomeWorks system to manage the lighting and window treatments throughout the property.

“It has a clean and simple to use app which the client can use to tweak their own lighting scenes, as well as a well-earned reputation for bulletproof reliability and integration possibilities for us to integrate with the Crestron automation system,” explains McLaughlin.

The Lutron HomeWorks is split amongst five HomeWorks enclosures: two together behind the mirrors in the gym, and three together behind a false wall in the master dressing room. “Discrete bedside Lutron controls can set the lighting scene and open the sheer shades or lower the automated roman blinds. Using the touchscreen by the door, the homeowner can close all the blinds and turn off the lights throughout the house at the press of a button.”

“The challenge on our part was to give the family this power to control their environment without making it complicated, clunky, or worse, unreliable.”

A Crestron system was chosen for the whole-home control via the app, touchscreens or wireless remote control. “Crestron gives our client a single interface to manage his smart home,” he adds. “Whether that be the opening all the blinds in the morning, turning off all the lights at night, playing a song, watching something from the Kaleidescape movie system, adjusting the heating, or viewing a security camera.”

McLaughlin also reveals how the house is bolstered with an enterprise grade wired and wireless data network. “In this case, bonding both cable and VDSL internet feeds to reduce downtime to an absolute minimum. The whole network, including the Crestron control system, is protected with UPS backup and monitored from our office for any anomalies and failures so we can respond to the site before the homeowner might even know anything was wrong.”

Faradite motion sensors are also implemented throughout the house to allow for more seamless automation and control, such as lights and blinds.

Movie time

A key factor to this install was the cinema room. As a sporty family, the lower level of the property was mostly made up of a large gym, leaving a very small space for a cinema. Obviously, this presented multiple challenges. The room needed a sound system that would be immersive and powerful but not overbearing in such a small space, a projector that would fit comfortably above the seating area, a screen that would be comfortable to watch at close range, and acoustic treatment to provide the required sound isolation.

The client wanted the highest quality overall movie experience possible that would be reliable and able to fit into the small room. It was decided that a reference grade audio system would be installed into the room.

“When you are asked to build a reference audio system, the job is made both easier and harder at the same time; easier because there are only so many products that can achieve the performance needed, but harder because choosing between those few can be just as impossible,” explains McLaughlin. “For this project, we were given a helping hand by the limitation of the room size – we did not have much room to play with so big speakers were out.”

McLaughlin took the clients to visit the Meridian Audio headquarters in Cambridgeshire, UK to demo some of the systems and they all quickly agreed that Meridian was the right choice for the cinema room, and the rest of the house in fact.

“Meridian’s in-wall speaker range has featured in several of our builds based on their incredible performance, and rather handily, they are only 10cm deep which was ideal for this room,” he adds. “This install was also the first ever installation of the new DSP750 speakers from Meridian which was exciting. These active powerhouses feature five drive units and 10 amplifiers in each speaker! The amplifiers are digital, with built in Meridian Digital Signal Processing, and a totally lossless digital connection back to the rack, guaranteeing performance.”

“The projector itself was problem as our room was not long enough for a typical projector to work…”

With the DSP750 in-wall loudspeakers, Progressive Home Technology also installed DSP320.2 in-ceiling loudspeakers for the height channels and DSP640.2 in-wall loudspeakers as the rear channels.

A Meridian 271 Digital Theatre Controller was also installed to integrate any analogue or digital AV processor on the market with Meridian’s DSP loudspeakers. The 271 was then paired with a Trinnov Altitude32 processor. McLaughlin says: “The Altitude32’s digital output can run directly to Meridian’s speaker system, and the result is glorious immersion of clarity and grace, not achievable by many other setups.”

The display side was another tricky aspect of the cinema room. Projection was the obvious choice so that the speakers could be hidden inside the walls with an acoustically transparent screen over the top so that it would take up none of the room’s limited space. It also gave a more cinematic experience from a performance perspective as the sound would be coming directly from the screen.

The projector, however, was a big issue, as McLaughlin highlights: “The projector itself was a problem as the room was not long enough for a typical projector to work and projecting in from the room behind was not an option due to space and ventilation requirements.”

A Sony projector was specially adapted with a short-throw lens and a Future Automation lift was installed into the ceiling which would drop the projector down when in use. This meant it was high enough above the clients when they were using the room and hidden away when the space was not in use.

“The rest of the room pretty much started to make itself once we had the high-performance AV decided,” he adds. “Thick block walls with soundproofing treatments on both sides keep the cinema sounds inside the room and, working with the interior designer, we integrated Lutron blackout shades to the window and door adjacent lightwells. The lighting in the room was already part of the Lutron HomeWorks system, and it really brought out the engineering beauty of the Meridian speakers on the back wall, so much so that we changed our plans and left them totally unhidden.”

Music

There are Meridian speakers hidden in the ceilings and walls throughout the house, delivering audiophile-grade sound without ruining any décor. In the gym, the integrator chose to install four Triad Silver Series monitor speakers and two Triad subwoofers in the ceiling to create a big sound system that would suit the family of athletes. The family have complete audio control from the touchscreen on the wall or through the Roon music app, which curates the client’s music library and provides the ability to play music in any of the 12 audio zones.

McLaughlin shares: “The music system in this house is something rather special, using the Roon platform for library management and playback in CD or studio master quality audio in any room in the house. Using the feature rich Roon app, the music server in the basement streams lossless quality music to any of the Meridian 218 zone controllers that either feed the signal digitally direct to Meridian DSP speakers, or through Meridian 258 power amps to Triad Silver Series monitor speakers throughout various zones. Every room in this house is an audio fan’s dream with quality music from a rich, simple to use interface.”

 

Tech Spec

2N Door Entry

Apple 4K TV

Blustream HDMI Matrix

Crestron Custom Home Automation System

Crestron HR-310 Remote

Crestron TSW-760 Touchscreen

Display Technologies Frontier Screen

Faradite Motion Sensors

Future Automation PD3.5 Lift

Heatmiser Heating & Thimble Air Sensors

Kaleidescape Strato Movie System 12Tb

LILIN CCTV

Lumagen RadiancePro 4446 UltraHD Video Processor

Lutron HomeWorks Lighting Control

Lutron Motorised Roller Shades & Custom Roman Blinds

Meridian Audio 218 Zone Controllers

Meridian Audio 258 Power Amps

Meridian Audio 271 Digital Theatre Controller

Meridian Audio DSP320.2 Height Speakers

Meridian Audio DSP640.2 Rear Speakers

Meridian Audio DSP750 LCR Speakers

Oppo UDP-203 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Disc Player

Penn Elcom Racks

Roon Nucleus Audio Server

SkyQ

Sony LED 75” TV

Sony OLED TVs

Sony VPL-VW870ES 4K Laser Projector

Sony VPLL-Z7008 Short Throw Lens

Triad InWall Bronze/6 Subwoofers

Triad InWall Silver/4 LCR Speakers

Triad OD26 Outdoor Speakers

Triad RackAmp 700 DSP Amp

Trinnov Altitude32 AV Processor

Velux Motorised Windows & Shades

Zwift Cycling Simulator