There are numerous factors to consider and measures to take when building the ideal home. At the base level, the house must be large enough to meet the needs of the client and the location should be prime for living in long term. For the owners of a multi-acre home in the greater Des Moines, Iowa area, the suburban haven became the perfect location for them because of its community, comfort and convenience. All that was left was to build the home, though the question remained: where to start?
“There is always that question in this day and age,” said Todd Guerrero, President and CEO of Reference AVS, an Iowa-based provider of entertainment, security and smart technology systems. “Is the main driver entertainment, security, lighting, or shades?” Determining which of these categories a client wants to be the focus of their forever home is crucial.
Luckily, ReferenceAVS, short for audio-video-security, has two decades of experience under its belt in completing projects with all these categories. Guerrero has been the President and CEO of ReferenceAVS, since 2001 and from the beginning the company distinguished itself as high-quality, “[The name] Reference came from the audio business where reference is typically the highest standard,” Guerrero explained. The high caliber of commitment combined with a customer-focused approach has made ReferenceAVS a trusted and respected provider of customized technology solutions for residential and commercial properties in Davenport, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Des Moines, as well as Rock Island, IL.
When this installation in the greater Des Moines area was brought to ReferenceAVS, they were enthralled by the residence’s location on a beautiful acreage and the client’s vision of building a contemporary home with all the services the business had to offer.
Setting the Stage
Guerrero and ReferenceAVS were involved in this project with the homeowners from the outset. “The homeowners reached out to us because we were in close proximity and we are known for doing high-end, luxury projects.” The modern vision the clients had for the home juxtaposed with the farmland setting was a dynamic that intrigued ReferenceAVS.
No matter the level of the project, any integrator knows that establishing a game plan with the clients is essential, especially when the project began in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and supply chain disruptions inhibited timelines for every actor involved. Guerrero noted that these considerations, in addition to the size of the residence and the clients’ concept for their home, dictated what kind of systems would be most suitable for the project.
Adjusting for Scale
A residence that is composed of multiple acres requires the right automation system to make it sing. As Guerrero explicated, “The size and scope of the home demanded certain amenities and qualities, so we thought it would be optimal to have an automation control system” that could easily integrate and control “the various [technological] elements of the home,” whether it be motorized shading, an audio system, or an indoor/outdoor camera system.
ReferenceAVS decided that Control4 did the job. The residence was fitted with a Control4 automation system that included remote controls, an in-wall touch panel and a mini-door station. By virtue of its status as a smart home operating system, Control4 played the role of the foundation for ReferenceAVS’s installation at this residence. The automation system integrated with the lighting and shading, as well as the security system. For instance, the Control4 mini-door station provides users with high quality audio and seamless HD video to communicate with a front door or security gate via intercom, allowing them to monitor their home.
To accommodate the scope of the home and all of its various technologies and IoT devices, ReferenceAVS deferred to using products from Araknis Networks that could provide the required support and bandwidth. The result was a seamless integration that allowed the clients control and comfort in a contemporary-style home.
Security and Privacy with Modern Touches
Though the property is relatively secluded, the clients wanted an extra layer of security for peace of mind. Peppered around the property are HD cameras operating on a Luma NVR surveillance system. ReferenceAVS does the actual security monitoring for the home.
Where the clients wanted more of a say in how automation could enhance their privacy was through lighting and shades. “Privacy [wasn’t] a big deal for them, but they wanted the ability to have some environmental control with the lighting and shades.” To achieve this, ReferenceAVS used recessed motorized shades from J. Geiger finished with walnut covers. To play into the contemporary aspect of the clients’ design, the shades were placed behind a descended wooden panel in the ceiling. J. Geiger hides all the wiring inside the system to ensure the motorized shades exude elegance. So, when the shades were placed behind this panel, the result was seamless and modern.
One of the other notable aspects of this installation is the number of TVs that are placed throughout the home. Most of the TVs installed are 75-inch Sony X90s, with DirecTV, Roku Streaming and Blu-ray sources for maximum access to media entertainment in all forms.
Contrary to times past, the TVs in this residence are not the focal points of the rooms they are in. Rather, they accentuate the communal aspects of each room. In a sunlit bedroom with tall windows, the one focal point is the stunning wooded scenery that surrounds the property. Another is the TV that sits on the floor in front of rustic furniture made of logs, close to the electric hearth. The scene evokes a modern and updated version of the campfire storytelling tradition that exudes communal warmth.
This theme of combining natural aesthetics with modern technology flows throughout the home. In the living room, a TV sits in the corner atop a woven desk with a decorative birdcage set next to it. Oriented around the room are chic seats with a wooden giraffe figure on a rustic coffee table. A room with lots of natural light thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows illuminates a bar area with wooden bar seats with cowhide accents. A low wall made of stone that runs throughout the home ties up the room. Where it ends, two stone pillars are flanked by three TVs side by side. For full immersion and none of the sightliness typical of audio systems, ReferenceAV fitted the “zones of video” with James 853SAQ 3-Way Loudspeakers as well as VP66R In-Ceiling speakers and SP8130 multiroom amplifiers from Sonance. Outdoor areas had products from the Sonance 8.1 Landscape Series.
ReferenceAVS’s coalescence of the technological with the natural scenery is a sight to behold, enhancing the clients’ contemporary vision for their home.
A Classic Cinema Experience
One impressive aspect of the project was the home theater. Stationed in the lower level of the home, it is modeled after the classic drive-in. Guerrero said ReferenceAVS utilized a 7500 Lumen Laser Projector for digital projection, Screen Innovations 185-inch Acoustically Transparent Screen, Sonance Performance Speakers, Dual Paradigm 15-inch Subwoofers and an Anthem MX1140 Surround Processor Receiver.
The seating area sets the scene. ReferenceAVS delivered custom cushioned theater seats which were then placed inside the back half of a ‘57 silver Chevy convertible created by local fabricator Dave Carnock at Carnock Creations of Des Moines, Iowa. “The drive-in theater is down where his car collection is, which is under the garage and even has a carwash at the end of it,” Guerrero noted. “It is an interesting place for congregating and enjoying a game or a movie.”
The home theater served as a way for the clients’ personalities to shine through. It was also a means by which ReferenceAVS could find the best way to execute the clients’ vision. “We use a client needs analysis,” explained Guerrero. “We work hard to understand what the client wants and what matters to them” so that they can paint a picture of the process and “what the end results are going to be.”
A Nod to the Midwest
The project was a labor of love, beginning in the middle of 2021 and culminating in September 2022. The COVID-19 pandemic prolonged the 12-month timeline typical of ReferenceAVS’s luxury projects. But, as any integrator knows, the final product is worth it. For Guerrero, the installation harmoniously complemented the home’s beautiful interiors and the property’s stunning natural scenery.
Location is everything, and Guerrero lets this sentiment come to fruition when speaking about the Midwest. What interested him about this installation was that its contemporary design aesthetic contrasted with the public’s conception of the Midwest: “They call us flyover country,” began Guerrero, but “[Iowa] is where corn grows tall and a lot of amazing things are going on.” He explained that the Midwest is often overlooked when it comes to luxury installations because many of its states lack scenic coastal views by virtue of being landlocked, as well as the designation of the region as mostly farmland. But Iowa and the Midwest have a lot going for them. And Guerrero wants everyone to know it. “It seems like it has become the butt of the joke in some movies, but it is an amazing place to live, work and build a beautiful home.”
Address: 1120 East Kimberly Road, Davenport, Iowa 52807
Phone: (563) 386-7800
CMBA Architects, Des Moines
Address: 319 SW 5th St #102, Des Moines, IA 50309
Phone: (515) 244-2111
Erickson Balmer Construction
Address: 2453 106th St., Urbandale, IA 50322
Phone: (515) 252-1510
Address: 4905 Hubbell Ave, Des Moines, IA 50317-4856
Phone: (515) 265-0293
Anthem MX1140 Surround Processor Receiver
Control4 Smart Home automation system
Control4 Remotes and In-wall Touch panel.
Control4 Mini Doorstation
J. Geiger Elite Recessed Shading System
James 853SAQ 3-Way Loudspeakers
Lumen Digital Projection 7500 Laser Projector
Paradigm Dual 15-inch Subwoofers
Screen Innovations 185-inch Acoustically Transparent Screen
Sonance Performance Speakers
Sonance SP8130 multiroom amplifiers
Sonance VP66R In-ceiling
Sonance 8.1 Landscape Series
Sony 75-inch X90 TVs with DirecTV, Roku Streaming and Blu-ray sources