“Practical” and “beautiful” were the words used by homeowners to task Ada, Mich.-based firm TruMedia Home to handle the technology integration aspects of their new property, situated on a remote 40 acres that overlooks extraordinarily stunning scenery. According to TruMedia co-principal Amanda Wildman, “it was important when we curated the products to keep that in mind — and why we used Lutron HomeWorks lighting and tied it in with Lutron shades.”
A Classic Control Aesthetic
The phenomenal architecture of the premises — a steel skeleton supporting multiple windows so that occupants could enjoy landscape vistas from anywhere in the home — also needed to be respected in the tech planning. The owners didn’t want a lot of control paraphernalia on the walls, mindful that “tech always changes, so they wanted something that would be classic,” Wildman said. “That’s where Lutron was a big part of it, because we could tie the shades into those light switch keypads, instead of having multiple places to search for everything. It’s super easy for them.”
The owners were definite about their wish to keep the steel exposed as a design feature, so TruMedia worked with architect 42 North to place wiring in unobtrusive spots, while devising a motorized shading scenario that would make it possible for the clients to easily control outside heat from entering the home through the expansive windows. Lutron’s KoolBlack motorized shades — with specific qualities to allow heat to reflect outward — were used; in daylight, with the sun at its peak, they can be set to descend automatically (and quietly) or through voice control. Wildman noted that they are so unobtrusive that when the insurance adjuster was in the home, he didn’t even realize there were shades there, since the pockets were custom-painted to match the steel.
“I know they may not be the sexiest thing people think about, but it was such a unique process to fit them into the space,” said Wildman. “If we do our jobs as properly as integrators, our technology should not be noticeable. Part of the beauty of that project was to let the architect’s design shine through, let the designer’s aesthetic show and not let the technology be overbearing. It’s all part of a living system in the home and having all those things work together.”
Multi-Purposing Inside & Outside Spaces
Inside the home, the basement was outfitted to the hilt for the family’s numerous interests and hobbies. The owners’ love of golfing was accommodated with the installation of the HD Golf simulator in the basement area, for which TruMedia Home recorded video content at the manufacturer’s facility; it works in tandem with URC’s Total Control system to adjust lighting and measure golf swings with cameras. And to address the owner’s hunting hobby, a Laser Shot shooting simulator was also added; sounds can be monitored through Origin Acoustics speakers. Also set up there was a space for movie-viewing, where the owners’ son can have friends over, connect his gaming system and play video games. Outdoors, Origin’s Bollard speakers, which blend into the landscape quite naturally, have a look that also complements the overall steel look of the home.
“They are well spaced, with each one pairing with a subwoofer,” said Wildman “When you sit in the patio space on the Adirondack chairs with a glass of wine, dim the lights, and watch a sunset while listening, there is no place you’d rather be.”
Wildman gives high marks to 42 North Architecture, citing their smooth relationship. “They were phenomenal as far as the design, and since then, we’ve done quite a few projects with them,” she explained.
And 42 North principal Ryan LaHaie returns the compliment. “They say you don’t have to be the smartest people in the room, just know who to contact,” he said. “For us, working with integrators like TruMedia makes us all look smarter. Integrators really take our designs to the next level, with sound and lighting providing the ultimate sensory experience to our clients. Home automation should be something that is thought of at the early stages of design, and professionals like TruMedia can help make integrating everything seamless.”
Design firm Refresh Design’s Amy Pottenger also weighed in about the importance of close collaboration among disciplines in the successful execution of a project of this type. “Integrating technology into your design from the beginning is so important,” she said. “Design is definitely in the details, and things like lighting placement, outlets, switches, speakers and motorized shades all play into the overall design aesthetic. Streamlining these things with the design of the home not only makes for a beautiful, finished look, but it also provides practicality and function for the homeowner for years to come.”
And the clients provided the ultimate thumbs-up on the final result of this grand collaboration, contracting with TruMedia Home’s installation team to manage the technology when their “party barn” — a structure that will mimic the residence’s design — is due to be completed next spring.
“Working with TruMedia was fantastic,” the client said. “They listened to our needs and offered ideas and suggestions to make our home feel personalized to our family. Technology is one of those things that can easily be overcomplicated, but at TruMedia they provided solutions that worked for our whole family — all while keeping the design in mind. My favorite piece of the entire home is the Lutron HomeWorks system; I have everything set up on timers and as a busy mom, I love that I have a variety of ways to control it, and if I think I forgot to turn off a light, I can easily check it from my phone and turn it off. That gives me great peace of mind, and it’s one of my favorite features to use.”
8162 Fulton St. E., Suite D
Ada, MI 49301
Ponch & Amanda Wildman, Owners
Lutron HomeWorks (KoolBlack Shades & Lighting Control)
Origin Acoustics Bollard Speakers (Outdoors)
High Definition Golf (HD Golf) Golf Simulator
Laser Shot Shooting Simulator
Epson Pro L1060U Projector
URC (Universal Remote Control) Total Control (Whole House Control System)
Samsung The Frame TV
Lift Master LA400PKGUL (Mechanism to open the custom gate to the property)
42 North Architecture 42northarchitects.com
Principal: Ryan LaHaie
Epique Homes www.epiquehomes.com
Builder: Troy Shrock
Refresh Design www.refreshdesign.net
Designer: Amy Pottenger
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Nancy is a contributing editor for Connected Design