Nestled atop a hill overlooking California’s famous Sonoma Valley wine region sits a dream retirement home that is the perfect place to entertain family and friends. The homeowners, who were new to the area, wanted to blend smart home technology into the space without making it the focal point of the house. So they brought in audio and video integration company Sync Systems to help them bring their vision to life.

“The concept of keeping things simple — clean lines, aesthetically pleasing and easy to use — was the overall goal for them,” said Mike Camotta, owner and operator of Sync Systems, explaining how the clients didn’t want to go over the top as far as the technology went. After all, the surrounding beauty of the area was what initially drew them there in the first place, and they wanted to accentuate that as much as possible.

Overcoming Every Smart Home Obstacle

One challenge that presented itself during the project was internet service provider restrictions in the area. Camotta explained that they couldn’t access any standard ISP companies like Comcast or AT&T, so they were stuck with microwave internet, a type of internet access that connects to providers with radio signals instead of cables.

While microwave internet does have some downsides compared to standard internet access —such as needing a clear line of sight and having a higher potential for interference — it turned out to be a great fit for the particular needs of this project.

“It kind of worked out perfectly as far as limiting the over-the-top tech but still giving an aesthetically pleasing finish and ease of use,” said Camotta.

Another obstacle that put the entire job in jeopardy was the wildfires that blazed through the region between 2017 and 2019. The fires tore right through the property’s backyard and almost burned the whole thing to the ground, delaying the project for more than two months. However, thanks to firefighters and general contractor MastersTouch Construction, the fires were eventually beaten back and the house was saved.

Keeping Things Simple

After several meetings with the homeowners to identify their needs and experience with technology, Sync Systems decided to focus on independently controlled systems rather than a whole home integration platform. Robert Manley, chief technology officer at Sync Systems, explained that this option allowed them to create an excellent entertainment system with the limited bandwidth they had to work with.

Sync Systems decided to go with Control4 for universal remotes in the different media rooms. Compared to other smart home technology companies, Camotta said that Control4 provides the most versatility and gives a lot of programming options back to the end user.

“A lot of people can only speculate that ‘this is what I’m gonna use now,’ or ‘this is how I foresee using the house,” and then they get in there and live there and things change,” said Camotta. “Having the ability to adjust those things on their own as they grew into the house was a huge selling point for [the homeowners].”

Lutron was used for light integration, and Sonos components were chosen to control several zones of distributed audio, including the kitchen, master bedroom, master bathroom and throughout the entire landscape. The backyard was an especially important area and Sync Systems used a “resort-style” approach for the outdoor audio experience.

“Overlapping fields of audio allow for music to be evenly distributed as background music,” said Manley. “By creating a resort-style audio layout, we can focus the audio on specific areas of entertainment evenly. By adding eight satellite speakers and two in-ground subwoofers, we accomplished this.”

Creating the Perfect Media Rooms for a Smart Home

Aside from the outdoor entertainment space, the clients wanted to create a media room with great audio where they could have the occasional movie night. Sync Systems fitted the den with a Sony TV and Triad’s in-ceiling cinema speakers to provide a completely immersive surround sound experience.

“Framing was slightly adjusted to accommodate the depth of the speakers since aesthetics of the space played an important role in the design process,” said Manley. “In addition to the in-ceiling speakers, we collaborated with the millwork team to create our own version of a ported subwoofer.”

To create the ported subwoofer, Sync Systems routed a vent into the adjacent cabinet’s toe kick and placed the woofer of the sub downward inside of it. This was done so that air would be able to flow freely from the subwoofer out of the cabinet, which helps to prevent rattle noises or any other acoustic issues that typically occur in similar projects.

The great room was also an important entertainment space for the homeowners since that is where they spend time with guests. For this room, Sync Systems used Sonos components to enhance the TV’s audio output. They also incorporated a custom Leon speaker grill and mount over the sound bar below the TV to enhance the room’s aesthetics at a minimal cost.

A Smart Home Project Worth Celebrating

After overcoming the initial challenges, the homeowners and Sync Systems worked closely together to make sure the project came out exactly as planned. Now the clients finally have their wine country escape — and it is a prime example of how to integrate easy-to-use technology into an aesthetically pleasing design.

“It’s just a phenomenal home when you go and actually walk in the front door and see everything that’s there and how seamless it looks,” said Manley. “It all works together and just flows.”

Project Resources


Sync Systems
1800 Empire Industrial Ct, Suite D Santa Rosa, California 95403

General Contractor:
MastersTouch Construction

James McCalligan Architect

Lighting Installation:
CNC Electric

Bart Edson Photography

Equipment List:
Sony TVs
Leon Speaker’s TCFIT soundbar mount Triad Speakers
Sunfire subwoofer
Episode Landscape speakers
Ubiquiti network products