Sometimes installations fall into your lap, perfectly molded and planned. But most of them are the result of a series of tasks, revisions, and learning curves. The key to making an installation come together is clear communication and collaboration every step of the way, from the idea stage to the installation process, culminating in the final product. “A project is like a loom machine,” said Amanda Wildman, co-founder of TruMedia with her husband. “One hiccup in that can cause it to unravel or have a hole or weak spot.”
Any integrator will tell you that the process is worth it for the finished product. When TruMedia was brought in to do an installation in Ada, Mich., the company had to align its installation with the client’s vision of a forever home with clean lines and modern finishes. This vision seems antithetical when compared with the surrounding town, however.
Ada is a suburb of Grand Rapids nestled between the Grand and Thornapple Rivers with a vibrant village vibe that permeates residential life. The town hosts a variety of events throughout the year for the community, such as the Beers at the Bridge Summer Concert and the Tinsel, Treats, and Trolleys holiday event. Modern aesthetics can tend to evoke a cool aloofness that goes against the small-town charm the Ada community brings. TruMedia took this in stride and integrated a home with light that exuded warmth and magic with the trappings of a modern aesthetic.
An Unfamiliar Assignment in Familiar Territory
With over two decades of experience providing custom integration, this installation brought on a unique challenge for the TruMedia team: “It was the first home we had done, not just the low voltage and all the AV, but a hundred percent of the electrical lot,” said Wildman.
Luckily, the TruMedia team was not on an island by themselves in Ada. By the time this project came around, they had done several other projects in the neighborhood. Additionally, TruMedia was working with patient clients who had experience building custom homes and knew exactly what they wanted.
This installation was full of firsts for the TruMedia team. Usually, an integrator will work with one or a team of electricians on an installation. On this project, however, TruMedia called the shots as the sole electrical contractor. In addition to doing the entire electrical lot, TruMedia implemented the A/V on this project, giving the team a chance to experiment with new products.
“It was kind of great because it was the culmination of all the things that we have learned from working with all these other people,” explained Wildman. “How did we want to take an integrator’s perspective and do it a little bit differently and a little bit better?”
TruMedia incorporated the lighting to enhance the clean and angular lines of the home, meeting the clients’ vision of a sleek, modern aesthetic. The home’s open floor space allowed for plenty of lighting options and room to experiment. TruMedia decided to incorporate low-voltage lighting like LEDs. They opted for a wiring infrastructure capable of providing a reliable and even glow throughout the entire home that could also accent specific pieces.
TruMedia selected a full Lutron HomeWorks QS Lighting Control System to automate this house to the nines. In the kitchen, there are Lutron Ivalo light fixtures with a square trim kit outlining a descending ‘cloud’ over a center island. The LED lights are individually addressable, which provides a variety of lighting options. In combination with the matte black cabinetry and clean lines, the lighting enhances the overall polished aesthetic of the modern kitchen.
Meticulous Modern Design
“We pay attention to the little details,” Wildman told Connected Design when discussing TruMedia’s process for installations. “We treat it as if we are going to live here, how we would expect it to be.” The clients had a specific vision for this installation: sophisticated lighting that accentuated the sleek and modern design of the home. Achieving this vision involved detailed planning and coordination.
A strong foundation of communication and collaboration is essential to execute a project such as this. For TruMedia, this meant staying on the same page as the client, the designer, Bruce Heys Builders, and everyone else involved in the project. Wildman stressed that the key is to bring in the integrator early. “An integrator should be able to have a plan to get the proper wiring infrastructure,” said Wildman. “We’re really good partners.”
Perfection is woven through every stage of the process for TruMedia, not just in the final product. “Everybody wants the beautiful showcase and to genuinely have your stamp,” explained Wildman. “It shows that you take pride in your work.” This drive for perfect execution of the design idea can be seen throughout the installation.
One feature of the home where this is embodied is the entertainment area. “[The clients] have a custom concrete fireplace with concrete panels that stack on top of each other to give this smooth, modern look,” said Wildman.
She explained that the clients were particular about how they wanted the TV and soundbar to be installed in the space. TruMedia chose a Samsung 65-inch QLED TV Neo QLED TV & FrameTV with a Sonos Arc and a custom-made Leon Tonecase TcFIT-U. The clients stressed that the TV and soundbar had to match the exact dimensions of the fireplace to have it seamlessly blend with the electric hearth. The result is a velvety smooth integration that, with the off-center placement of the TV, soundbar, and fireplace, exudes modern elegance.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind
TruMedia chose a minimalist aesthetic for this project. This meant making any technology out of sight and out of mind to integrate it into the entire flow of the home. It also included taking into account the home’s modern design along with the clients’ desire to have enough open space for the lighting to accentuate the features that make it so.
A major feature of the home that TruMedia graced with subtle detail was the spine staircase. Each of the steps has LED lights from Proluxe (American Lighting) inlaid underneath the front edge of each tread, so each step is illuminated in a sophisticated glow.
TruMedia made sure to extend this to the matte black kitchen cabinetry. They incorporated under-cabinet tape lights from ProLuxe (American Lighting) installed with black aluminum extrusions. The light is surrounded by a charcoal diffuser to scatter and mute the light’s brightness. The charcoal diffuser’s muted tone makes the lights blend in seamlessly with the cabinetry when turned off. This design cohesion between the spine staircase and kitchen cabinetry adds to the home’s modern feel.
TruMedia installed Minima Recessed floor boxes from UK-based Cableduct, a manufacturer of cable management products. The recessed electrical floor box was specially ordered from the UK and is designed to have the clients’ electrical system fit seamlessly into the box. The lid is outlined with a slim metallic design that opens in a modern reveal. Underneath the floor box lid are four electrical sockets.
The living area is also outfitted with seamless technology that does not have to be seen to be believed. To achieve this effect, TruMedia opted to install Lutron Palladiom Wire-Free Shades. Wildman noted that these shades were an easy choice considering the windows’ design: “[The clients] had these giant windows with steel wrapping around them, which would have made it difficult to do traditional wired shades.” Wildman continued, “We used Lutron Palladiom Wire-Free Shades to make them look like one solid piece across the windows.” The shades are unobtrusive, disappearing when they are rolled up. This preserves the homeowners’ view of the lake behind their house and delivers on their desire for a clean look.
Onwards and Upwards
On the challenges that arise during an installation, Wildman pointed out the lack of formalized training in the industry. “That is probably where some of the biggest pain points come in,” stated Wildman. “Right now, there are not enough people in the industry, we cannot share enough of our knowledge and information, and people just do not know about who we are when our businesses are not slowing down.”
She reiterated that the integration industry is booming and goes beyond building entertainment spaces. It is about creating new spaces to make everyday lives better. Challenges are being thrown at integrators at a constant pace, but it is these pain points that help them along the way. Just look at how TruMedia’s first one hundred percent electrical project turned out. A big undertaking can reap great rewards for integrators and clients alike.
“We have the coolest job in the world,” concluded Wildman. “I think if anyone is in the industry and they are not excited about it, they need to find something else [to do].”
Address: 8162 Fulton St E Suite D, Ada, MI 49301
Bruce Heys Builders
Address: 5990 East Fulton, Unit C, Ada, MI 49301
Lutron – Palladiom Wire-Free Shades
Lutron – Palladiom Thermostats
Lutron – Ivalo Light Fixtures
Lutron – Homeworks QS Lighting Control System
LED Lighting – Proluxe (American Lighting)
CableDuct – Minima Recessed floor box
Stealth Acoustics – Invisible Speakers
Origin Acoustics – In-ceiling Speakers
Leon Speakers – Tonecase TcFIT-U
Sonos – Amps & Arc
Samsung – Neo QLED Televisions & FrameTV