The genesis of this project, executed by the Clearwater, Fla.-based integration team at Easy Living with Technology, was a custom integration  in a new home in the Georgia golf community of Reynolds Lake Oconee, east of Atlanta and west of Augusta (of Masters Tournament fame), for an existing client who had been over the moon about the integrator’s earlier work on a condominium in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Prior to that first experience, explained Mike Stram, Easy Living’s president, “They had come in to look for a 60-inch TV and two theater chairs in St. Pete. They’d had their den re-done, had spent $25,000 on cabinets, and all they needed were those things. When we met, I did the demo for them of the 160-inch Stewart Filmscreen with the motorized masking that blows out to 2.35:1 [aspect ratio], and they were so excited and said, ‘Wow! We want that! How can we get it?’” That project eventually ballooned from a cinema room into a half-million-dollar technology extravaganza. Stram automated that property with what he called his “house specialty – a base of Vantage lighting control, with a dash of motorized window shades, custom-designed art lighting, wall finishes a sprinkle of LED cabinet lighting, along with our trademarked ‘Technology Closet.’ And for dessert – a rockin’, state-of-the-art Savant automation system to control everything.”

So, for their new Reynolds Lake Oconee, Georgia, home, these clients wanted nothing less.

“After living with that,” Stram explained, “they wanted to order up the same for their new custom home – but this time, with a huge, huge custom cinema. We got involved at the very early design stage, and set the tone for the size of the theater, its location, the Technology Closet development, lighting design – the works.”

Stram traveled to Georgia and pow-wowed there with the client, builder, and architect. The design for the theater was settled on 18 seats. The rest? “They left it up to me: ‘Do your thing.’ The entire house, with the huge theater as the centerpiece. They’re the perfect client, very trusting; they find people they like and trust and then move out of the way.”

The project went forward with methodology planning that included setting specifications for hardware, brackets, wiring for the lighting design and automation, with Vantage’s InFusion as the main hardwired lighting system, security electronics, distributed 4K video, and multiroom audio.

Savant Simplicity

Custom Integration

Savant standardized remotes were used throughout. “The Savant system does some things exceptionally well,” Stram said. “You know, you don’t want to need to be teaching – setting up an automated home and having to give a homework assignment every time someone comes to visit – having to teach them how to run it. We have our own methodologies. You pretty much want people to walk into a room and all the buttons on the wall are the appropriate height and laser-engraved, and backlit.”

Simplicity was a paramount concern, but especially so, for guests. ”Their remotes are easy,” he said. “They grab the same remote the owner has, but it only gets them access to the sources that make sense for that guest room. They watch their own TV and change their own channels, and it doesn’t step on anyone else.”

The cinema room’s fabric-covered acoustical panels, fiber-optic ceiling panels, and millwork for the crown molding and the baseboard molding was CAD-crafted by Carey Schafer, and Stram’s team worked in close in concert with him. The choice of seating entailed a trip to Dallas to CinemaTech to choose the fine leather theater chairs.

The 14-foot theater ceiling was a particular focal point of his design, Stram said – coffered, with an oval area showcasing a starfield at the ceiling’s highest point.

“It was a fun project”, reflected Stram. “We got along great with the custom builder, their interior designer, electrical contractor and of course, our clients.”

“It was so nice to see a real mutually respectful relationship develop over the course of this project, with the real benefit coming to the owners who now have an incredible automated home, with all the latest 4K video distribution, remote monitoring, etc. The home is very comfortable, inviting and relaxing, with great golf course views in an upscale community.”