In this Issue: Let’s introduce clients to innovative and joyful ways to be healthy, live sustainably and find joy in their homes. Learn what the sustainable smart home really means and find the best places for products that are both beautiful and eco-friendly. Create immersive movie experiences, and dive into installs at the intersection of technology and design.


Spring is synonymous with renewal, which is something that can be very individual. It’s not just about cleaning and sprucing up but also about thinking more about what makes us and our families happier and healthier. More sustainable products are essential to that. Technology, as you will see in this issue, plays a key part in helping homeowners use less energy, live responsibly and even give back to the environment. 

But the health of clients and ourselves is even more than that — it’s also about creating spaces that bring joy. That’s why we’re also highlighting home theaters, a place where we have more chances to play together, interact with each other and feel the depth of emotion that films evoke in us. It doesn’t hurt to have a good break from reality either!

So step into our Spring Issue and find the inspiration you need to make your projects the breath of fresh air clients are looking for. You never know how the intersection of design and technology will improve another life.

Erinn Loucks Signature

Erinn Loucks, Chief Editor, Connected Design


I just got back from Orlando, and KBIS was the first show since the pandemic that felt alive. There were many meetings, many exhibitors, sessions, events and innovation to be seen. The halls were buzzing with people and traffic, and it felt so good to be back at a “show.” 

In the Connected Design Spring issue, we are featuring Outdoor Living trends and products that every installer and designer should know about. We also cover the very cool and emerging trend of “Hidden Tech,” giving the owner the best of tech and still holding up to the beautiful aesthetic of the interior designer and/or builder. 

We feature beautiful installations that cover tech and/or smart home in living areas that would be perfect for anyone. In addition, we will be featuring a designer and an integrator in every issue to see the business from their point of view. This will give our readers insight on how to work together to reach the common goal for the client. 

Make sure to never miss an issue. You can subscribe to a print or digital issue at www.connecteddesign.com. Make sure to go to the “Subscribe” button to order your issue.  

Tony Signature

Tony Monteleone, Group Publisher CT Lab Global Media


Springing Into 2022 with Real Outdoor Living Spaces

How to specify and install the best audio
and video outdoors

By Joe Whitaker

If the past two years has taught us anything, it’s that people are spending more time at home than any other time in history. I don’t think any of us are expecting this trend to ease up anytime soon. While many integrators and manufacturers have been trying to take the outside inside, this trend is still too early, too expensive and the technology is just not mature enough yet. This year, integrators and manufacturers have a huge opportunity to create amazing living spaces for clients and companies outdoors. It is time we step outside the box in a big way. 

Project by AVLT Solutions

The Challenge — and Opportunity — of Outdoor Audio 

For most of us, audio is where the conversation starts when it comes to outdoor tech. As we approach the outdoor seasons, we need to focus on blending these speakers into their environment just like we do indoors with in-wall and in-ceiling speakers. While in-wall outdoor speakers may have their place, it’s time we start treating the aesthetics of outdoor environments the same way we do indoor. 

Knowing the area you are working with and the acoustic properties — or lack thereof — is one of the most important considerations when doing outdoor audio. In most cases more than one zone comes into play in outdoor environments, and treating each independent zone as a room is of key importance. Does the pergola have a TV or projector and screen? This makes it a perfect candidate for stereo with sub imaging or surround sound.  

Pools and open areas are where we need to pay close attention to create the ultimate audio atmosphere. Most pools do not need stereo imaging; pool or open areas are instead the perfect space for directed mono audio. The point of an outdoor area like a pool is to make sure that an inhabitant’s ears get the audio equally no matter where they are facing. 

The powering of speakers is always a big thing to consider when running outdoor audio. This is where your design cap needs to come into play as it affects the speakers you chose as well. Is this a stereo imaging or surround performance area? The answer is easy — go 8ohm every time. 70v should be your go to when it comes to multiple speakers per pair and for longer distances. Today almost all manufacturers of outdoor speakers have “taps,” so that you can choose between 8ohm, 70v and 100v. This is important when you have a mixed use audio area but need to match the aesthetics.  

The Magic of Outdoor Video 

While watching the big game outdoors or a family movie around a fire has become a big thing over the last couple of years, there are several things integrators need to consider to give homeowners the absolute best experience. 

One of the first things to look at is the viewing area. While technology has come a long way for outdoor video, even the best technology in video displays to this day have issues with the glare factor. The honest truth is that video displays or projection setups that are used during daytime hours should be installed in shaded areas, as combating the sun will always create issues.  

For most of you, your go to is always the good old outdoor TV, but many integrators don’t take everything into account; just throwing a cheap, throw-away TV outside is never the correct answer. All outdoor displays need to be entirely waterproof. And while from the design perspective displays have come a long way — with models like Samsung Terrance and the new Peerless models — you should also take a look at SeaLoc, who not only sells displays but can waterproof just about anything you send them. Need to use a specific high-end display or even an automation touchscreen outdoors? This is the company to look to. 

Project by AVLT Solutions

One of the other considerations in outdoor entertainment environments is the source content. With today’s smart TVs, small video streaming devices and the shift to solid wireless networks, many integrators are forgoing the need to run low voltage cabling to outdoor displays. This growing trend requires some challenges, starting with Wi-Fi. Is my wireless signal solid enough to be able to provide quality streaming content to the display or streaming device? If a streaming device like an AppleTV or Roku stick is not waterproof, does the outdoor display have a watertight housing that will protect and house the device? Once it is determined that the device will be safe and fits, wireless connectivity is always the next struggle. Most outdoor displays are mostly made of metal; this creates obvious connectivity issues. Some manufacturers, Peerless as an example, have added wireless transparent “windows” at the connection point where the streaming device would be placed. 

All integrators are as guilty as clients are when it comes to one thing: we all want the biggest picture possible. I think it is time for us all to realize that those projection screens aren’t just for the indoor theaters any more. With the advancements of short throw projection (UST) and ambient light rejecting screens (ALR) we have finally come to the point in technology where the two can be used together, and they can be used well outdoors. 

Pro Tips to Remember for Outdoor Entertainment Spaces

  1. Always use the appropriate rated wire (direct burial, UV resistant, etc.) Don’t cut these corners as they can lead to bad customer experiences and unneeded van rolls.
  2. Not everything is water tight, but that doesn’t mean you can’t protect them. When water tight connections or entry points are not available, I always recommend using DieElectric Grease in all outdoor data jacks, and I would also recommend filling all unused device ports (HDMI, Data, Audio, etc.) even if a display is weatherproof and has a built-in weatherproof enclosure.
  3. Always use outdoor-rated mounting products. Rust and deterioration can plague an outdoor installation and on occasion be a safety hazard. You don’t have to know the science of oxidation to understand where the big brown streak down a beautiful outdoor wall came from. Not using the proper mounting hardware can lead to displays and speakers falling, lag bolts and screws breaking, and even screws seizing to the point of not being able to remove them. 
Joe Whitaker

Joe Whitaker is the president of Thoughtful Integrations, an HTA certified integrator and contributing editor for Connected Design.


Home is where
the Smart is

A visit to former Philadelphia Eagles tight end Brent Celek’s Loxone-powered, cloud-free and totally-automated smart home

By Tom Samiljan

Four years after helping his NFL team win Super Bowl LII and then retiring from professional football in 2018, former Philadelphia Eagles tight end Brent Celek is alive and well and living with his wife and four kids in a modern smart home among the rolling hills of Chester County, just outside of Philadelphia. Powered in large part by Loxone — the home and building automation company based near Philadelphia since 2017 with roots in Austria since 2008 — the house (with adjoining barn) features a fully connected (but cloud-free) set up that spans from lighting and shades to alarm systems and speakers for music inside and outside. While the bulk of the space consists of seamlessly interconnected Loxone products — the company makes 150-plus different products from lights and alarm system doorbells to speakers and water leak sensors – Celek’s home also integrates with several third-party lights and speakers. It’s all tied together with a central Miniserver that connects to everything via a Tree topology system of interconnected modules – all local with no need for a connection to the cloud. 

We spent an afternoon at Celek’s house to see how this system worked in the field; in the process, we also got a glimpse into the enthusiasm, dedication and depth of involvement that Celek has for his Loxone-powered smart home, which was created together with Scott Hirst of Christiana, Penn.-based Hirst Systems. The Loxone level of personalization is so robust that the experience is just better for clients who are involved.

Achieving True Total Automation

One of Loxone’s unique advantages is its promise of a true smart home that’s completely automated and doesn’t require any human intervention for it to function: total home automation. Thanks to an unparalleled level of versatility and a coterie of sensors, everything turns on and off automatically based on time of day, movement, and the like, with little direct voice or smartphone app required from users.  

Homeowners choose unique modes to be programmed by their Loxone Partner (installer). These modes can either be flipped on and off manually, or also activate automatically depending on the time, season, motion sensitivity and even temperature, requiring almost no manual control, even voice control, from the user. Even so, manual commands can be carried out with Loxone’s distinctive touch- and tap-sensitive Touch Pure controllers, which are externally wall-mounted, as well as on the Touch Surface Tree, which is embedded directly into any hard surface such as kitchen counters, tables, desks and shower tile surfaces. Greater levels of customization and control can be carried out via the smartphone app or with wall-mounted iPads.

True home automation was the main draw for Celek when he first came across the company, which initially rented office space from the former Eagles tight end in a building that he owns in Media, Penn.

“I like to have a true smart home. I don’t think you should be on your phone all the time switching stuff,” said Celek. “That’s why I love Loxone. There’s nothing I have to do, and unless I want to turn on music, I don’t go onto the app. The best kind of technology is technology that frees you from technology.”

There are up to 8 programmable house modes. One is the party mode for “Eagles,” which turns the RGBW lights under the cabinets to Eagles midnight green. All third party lights can be dimmed. Sound can be programmed to be whatever he wants it to do on “party mode,” like mute the TV’s or play the local radio broadcast of the game if the game is on.

Moded Out

All that said, the automation doesn’t quite set itself up. Homeowners will want to participate with their integrators in setting up Loxone’s robust system of “modes,” which are personalized presets that can be customized in unparalleled detail. Full RGBW control over lights means they can be programmed by tone, brightness and more. In Celek’s open-plan kitchen, dining and entertainment area, there are 15 third-party ceiling lights, each of which can be customized for specific levels of brightness – all that in conjunction with music and other controls. 

As we walk through the house, lights turn on and off based on our movements. In the bathroom, for example, ventilation fans run automatically whenever the sensors register that someone is in the bathroom. “Let’s say you’re sitting in there for 30 minutes as my dad does,” Celek joked. “The thing will run for an hour to clear out the air, but you don’t have to worry about that stuff once you go in the bathroom.”

Celek is particularly enthused about the various “night modes” that he has personally set up. These are pre-determined dim lighting scenarios that are optimized for middle-of-the-night bathroom runs, reading and even waking up in the morning. Among the features of night mode are dim lights that automatically go on in the common areas and bathrooms when the sensors detect movement initiated out of the bedrooms. Also blackout shades automatically unfurl and cover the windows as soon as night mode kicks in. When it’s time to wake up, lighting slowly gets brighter, mimicking the sunrise, for a more gradual alarm scenario. There is a specially customized version of night mode for the kids that is a bit more absolute. Once Celek taps the wall controller three times, the lights automatically go off in the kids’ rooms and the sensors stop working until 9 a.m. the next day. 

“Let’s just say I wake up and I want to go get a glass of water; the last thing I want to do is be walking through the dark,” said Celek, “but I also don’t want to have to turn the lights down to a point where they’re dim, because if they go on full bright, I’m awake now. What’s great about Loxone is you can just create whatever vibe you want in a room. I can customize exactly how I want something.”

But it’s not just sleep-optimized lighting that Celek appreciates about his customized night mode. “I would say the biggest advantage of this whole system is at night more than anything,” he says. “For example, turning on the exterior lights. Do I want to have to turn on my exterior lights every day? No. But I don’t have to worry about that because they just automatically go on when it gets dark and turn off when the sun comes out, and the setting can change automatically for sunrise and sunset depending on the season.”

The automation extends beyond the actual house. There is also a smart barn. Celek and his wife, Celeste, have several alpacas that live in the barn, which is of course outfitted with motion sensors for lighting. “If the alpacas are in the barn, the lights turn on,” said Celek. “If they’re not, then they go off.” 

Getting the Party Smarted

Back at the house, the patio features seven in-ground outdoor Bose FreeSpace 51 environmental speakers and two Russound AW10-LSUB-BR landscape subwoofers installed around the pool, patio and garden. These are all powered by four Crown 1200 amplifiers, and the sum total of these outdoor audio components provides consistent sound and bass oomph no matter where one stands. “I’m very proud of what Scott did,” said Celek. “We can basically turn this into a nightclub—you can walk anywhere out here and the sound is going to be the same.”

Speaking of entertainment, music is premium among the entertainment categories for Celek. Inside in the main entertainment, family-room area, there is quite a setup, with several TDG speakers built into the wall and ceiling and RGBW LED lighting under the kitchen cabinets and shelves which, as Celek says, are controlled from the phone. (There are also TDG speakers in all the bedrooms, gym, garage, patio, pool, and garden.) Usable inside the kitchen or out on the patio, the house features a portable Loxone Touch & Grill barbeque food thermometer that doubles as a full-fledged Touch Pure controller. This allows for real-time notifications in any speaker in the house but also the ability to control everything from music to lighting to, say, the doorbell right from the patio.  

Celek also has two Samsung Frame TVs in the open-plan living area, but interestingly, none of them are connected to the Loxone-controlled sound system. “I like having music on sometimes when I’m watching TV, and so to keep that separate from the music to me was big because once you start integrating some of those things, it can be complicated,” he says. “Besides the speakers on the TV are definitely loud enough and there’s no need to have another system involved. It would just be another layer to figure out.”

There are three different house modes in this main room, including a “party mode” that adjusts the RGBW lights under the cabinets to different colors and tones, including midnight green or old school kelly green in what Celek calls “Eagles mode,” which is for watching sports on TV. In this mode, music plays through speakers under the kitchen counters and cabinets, but the TVs are on mute or in picture mode. “Is this room a theater? No, it’s an entertaining space, and when we’re entertaining we usually have music on with the TV on in the background, often in picture mode,“ he says. “We use these TVs more as picture frames than as TVs. I hate TV. I only watch sports games.”

Deep, Accessible and Secure

According to Hirst, a prime advantage of Loxone’s Tree topology setup is its flexibility in the ways that it can connect so many first- and third-party devices. He also calls out the company’s support team. “If a customer says, ‘I want to do X, Y or Z, I usually have to figure out how to make that happen,” said Hirst, for whom this was the first time implementing Loxone technology. “With Loxone though, I can call support, tell them I need to know how to program something from A to B, and they’ll give me four different ways to get from point A to B along with the pros and cons of each way.”

In some ways, the setting up of Loxone for professionals mirrors the seamlessness of the Loxone experience for smart homeowners. “The biggest value for our Loxone partners and electricians is to get the support directly from the manufacturer of the hardware and the software,” said Loxone trainer and coach Andreas Falkinger, on the next day when we toured the company’s showroom apartment located inside its 9,000-sq.-ft. U.S. headquarters in Garnet Valley, Penn..“We produce the hardware and the software, and we have a lot of interfaces to integrate with other systems, and they get imported directly from us. So we don’t have a long chain of things getting in the way.”

Another plus of the Loxone system is that it does not depend on the cloud. Everything operates locally, so if there is any loss of Internet connectivity, everything will continue to work. This also makes Loxone systems secure and private; no data is getting sent to a central server at risk of a security breach. 

Smart homeowners don’t have to have played professional football to see the benefit in that, but just as Celek played loyally only for the Eagles for his entire pro football career, and then settled down in the Philadelphia area, they have to commit to the idea of total automation, because it’s based on precisely what they want.  

“You have to be all in,” said Celek. “If you’re into this stuff and you really want to have a connected home and want to be a part of it, then go all in and get Loxone.”


Sounding Off On
Home Theatres

How to create immersive movie experiences
with great audio

By Randy Blanchard

You’ve probably seen many stunning home theater designs. But no matter how lush the seating, how enveloping the screen, how beautiful the LED stars twinkling in the ceiling are, you’re only seeing a small fraction of the experience. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but when it comes to home theaters, audio is arguably more important than video.

Are those fighting words? Maybe—but I’m not denying the impact of a perfectly calibrated projection system or a stunning video wall; I’m just giving audio its due. Any entertainment system certainly requires a balance of these elements, but when you consider the true goal of a theater, the importance of audio is clear. We can watch movies anywhere: in the living room, on our computers and on our phones. We go to the theater – or the dedicated theater room – to feel. The goal of a theater is suspension of disbelief.

Hearing is Believing

Audio unlocks the audience’s emotional connection with the events on screen. Without the dialogue, the score and the sound design, we’re just watching events through a window. Great audio opens a door and invites us fully into the world of the film. Sound is integral to how the human brain constructs three-dimensional space – we can mentally position objects in a room based on the time difference between direct and reflected sound waves. A well-executed audio system is literally what makes a movie feel real. It lets you feel an earthquake, sense footfalls behind you or hear a whisper in your ear.  

Even among home theater enthusiasts, many clients have only ever experienced a great audio sound system in a commercial theatrical environment. Most people aren’t trying to precisely replicate a commercial theater at home. They’re aiming for a different experience and one that’s more personal and involving. Because they’re not necessarily aiming at commercial experience benchmarks, clients don’t always understand the quality and effects that are possible in the home — and demonstrating the impact of surround, immersive or object-based audio requires a fully installed system. 

There’s no magic bullet for home theater audio. Clients can’t just select a 5.1 or 7.1 system, or an Atmos system, or speakers from a given brand and be guaranteed success.  I always recommend that those interested in creating a home theater listen and shop for a sound system with a local integrator. There are so many variables affecting an audio system’s performance, including the dimensions of the room; the materials used in construction and interior design; the size, power and construction of the speakers; their number and position; and the number of bodies in the space. No matter how good a speaker sounds in a store, it will sound different in the home. Expertise is required to pull all these elements together into an immersive experience. 

The Science of Great Sound

Acoustics have a dramatic effect on the performance of any speakers. We’ve always got to consider how sound w

There are up to 8 programmable house modes. One is the party mode for “Eagles,” which turns the RGBW lights under the cabinets to Eagles midnight green. All third party lights can be dimmed. Sound can be programmed to be whatever he wants it to do on “party mode,” like mute the TV’s or play the local radio broadcast of the game if the game is on.

In terms of confining, especially in the home, it’s critical to ensure sound isn’t bleeding into adjacent spaces. This is somewhat less of an issue for freestanding speakers, but it’s an important factor for installed speakers. Sound that starts off in a solid medium propagates through it very easily — far more easily than air. The movement of sound waves through building materials like plaster or drywall can also damage them over time. An enclosure can prevent bleed-through but also constrain the performance of the speaker, applying pressure to the back of the cone so that it cannot produce as much sound. Beale Street’s patented Sonic Vortex technology was developed to deal with both these issues, sending all the sound energy through the front of the speaker — but for any infinite baffle speaker construction, the integrator must balance the need to refrain from disturbing the sleeping kids upstairs with the need to really feel the impact of the films shown in the space.

Once the sound energy is confined in the space, you’ve got to control interactions between people and materials. A room with lots of highly reflective surfaces will lose intelligibility; too many absorptive materials and the space will sound dead. 

We’re looking for the right level of sound reflection for lively, intelligible and consistent audio.

This is most difficult to achieve in low-frequency ranges because of the length of the sound waves. Subwoofers are vulnerable to lobing effects — the sound leaves the speaker, reflects off the walls and the ceiling, and the reflected and direct waves meet and amplify or cancel one another. As a result, some listeners will get practically no bass, while others will be able to feel their teeth rattling. You can correct for this effect by adding subwoofers. They won’t bring in much additional perceived sound (only 3dB per additional device), but each additional subwoofer reduces lobing effects dramatically. A second sub decreases lobing by 25 percent; a third by an additional 50 percent, and with four subwoofers, lobing effects will be imperceptible in practically any space.  

Come Together

Material selection is crucial for a home theater — not just to complete the look but to support the sound. Carpeted floors, dark colors and flat paint will all help achieve the immersive effect we’re aiming for. A home theater shouldn’t just be a clone of the commercial experience though; it should be personal and tuned to the family that owns it. (As a personal aside, I’m not a fan of individual seating in home theaters; I prefer curve seating for a more interactive design.) At the peak of the craft, a home theater creates an immersive experience that a family can enjoy as a group rather than as a bunch of individuals—what client doesn’t like the sound of that?

Randy Blanchard is the director of audio products at Vanco.


Industry Education & Volunteer Titan

Meet One of the Busiest Women in the Industry for this Integrator Spotlight

By Vanessa Zitzmann

Jamie Briesemeister is one of the busiest women in consumer electronics. She is CEO and co-founder of Integration Controls in St. Louis, Mo. and serves as an advocate for technology considerations. She is a CEDIA Outreach Instructor (COI), avid CEDIA volunteer, member of the Industry Relations Advisory Council and previous chair of the Professional Development Advisory Council. Briesemeister recently became the first female vice president for the CEDIA Executive Committee for 2022, an honor that would have surprised her 17 years ago when she first moved into the technology field. 

“I’m fueled by this connection, the gratitude in giving back and the pursuit for positive change for the whole industry.”

“I had the opportunity to create a company with my husband that simplifies and enriches people’s way of life,” said Briesemeister. “Until then, I had never been ‘into’ technology and, truly, I’d rather not fuss with it if I don’t have to. That’s why we have a company that provides such a concierge approach to our clients: to help other people like me!”

From there Briesemeister saw a need in between the design, build and integration communities. She dedicates her spare time to educate and stay active within the communities. “So many people have offered their time, guidance and advice throughout my 17 years in this industry, with CEDIA playing a large role,” explained Briesemeister. “The annual Expo and ongoing summits, gatherings and educational seminars keep me connected to the industry in ways that simply ‘being a consumer’ of the industry doesn’t offer. I’m fueled by this connection, the gratitude in giving back and the pursuit for positive change for the whole industry.” 

When asked about her favorite product currently on the market Briesemeister immediately responded with lighting and lighting control. “With full-spectrum adaptable lighting that can adjust in color temperature (or become colorized) and dims without flickering is one of my most favorite solutions for lighting spaces.  It’s dynamic in that it can adjust for different users or interior space plans over time with options for control that go beyond a toggle switch: keypads, voice control, smart app control, near-field, etc.,” said Briesemeister. “Of all of the solutions we sell and technologies we see, lighting is the one that makes the most difference to the end user since they access it every single day.”

“I had the opportunity to create a company that simplifies and enriches people’s way of life.”

Out of the many installations she and her team at Integration Controls have done, the “Heritage House” has been her favorite. 

“We blended Old World architecture with new-world technology in a  a Lutron lighting system, Forbes & Lomax antique brass toggle switches and an outdoor audio system that could rock the block! Almost everything is invisible, hidden or disguised – and it works beautifully.” 

In her downtime Briesemeister enjoys spending time with her husband, Jeff Briesemeister, co-founder of Integration Controls and her family.  

Contact Info:

Integration Controls 

9201 Manchester Road
Saint Louis, MO 63144 

(314) 475-3080 



What the Sustainable
Smart Home
Really Means

Technology is making homes healthier and more efficient for both us and the environment

By Michael Don Ham

The first big event of 2022 was CES, where the world gathered in Las Vegas to witness the new and innovative technologies being developed. More so than in past years, there was a heavy focus on how technology can help solve personal and environmental health issues that we are currently facing.

COVID-19 has forced us all to slow down, take inventory of our health and that of our planet, and reflect on our relationships and our place in a rapidly evolving world. In light of this, it was inspiring to witness how the next generation of technology is making our homes better for our pocket books, our well-being and the environment.

Why is it important to incorporate sustainability technology into homes?

As defined by the UN Brundtland Commission, “sustainability” is “meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” 

The convergence of sustainability and the smart home is being driven by a desire to live a healthy lifestyle that also lessens one’s impact on our planet’s natural, finite resources. The U.S. residential sector —  made up of 132 million households that mainly burn fossil fuels for energy — is said to be responsible for 20 percent of the nation’s carbon emissions. If we don’t make drastic cuts to greenhouse gas emissions, our Earth’s average temperature may cross 1.5 degrees Celsius above average pre-industrial levels over the next decade. While this difference might seem small, scientists have warned us that we must stay under that temperature to avoid catastrophic impacts. The benefits of a sustainable smart home can extend beyond the walls of a home, helping to reduce our carbon footprint and combat climate change.

Is sustainability important to people?

Parks Associates’ most recent quarterly survey of 10,000 broadband households revealed a clear demand for sustainability and clean energy services and devices. More than 40 percent of responders would prefer to live in a community powered by solar energy, and 35 percent are willing to pay more for clean energy. 

Green Builder Media reported that at least 80 percent of home buyers and homeowners of all age groups reported that they would pay more for a healthier home.

A Forbes study showed that 77 percent of consumers want to learn more about how to live a sustainable lifestyle.

How is the market reacting to people’s interest in sustainability?

Sustainable smart home projects are still an emerging market, but they are continuing to draw consumer interest and are on an upward trend. For example, Peggy Smedley —  a widely recognized expert and influencer in the tech space — is launching the Project Sustainability Living Lab. This program aims to showcase a home integrated with advanced products and ecosystems that include smart, healthy and sustainable offerings that restore and regenerate natural ecosystems. Non-profit trades organizations, industry publishers and builders are also teaming up to champion sustainability initiatives. The Energy & Environmental Building Alliance (EEBA), in partnership with Thrive Home Builders, Charis Homes and Pro Builder Media, launched the Ultimate Z.E.N. Home and the Showcase Home in the past year.

What are some of the sustainable and healthy smart home features being showcased?

Smart and Clean Energy

Thermostats have shown to save around 10-20 percent on energy costs by automatically turning off when there are no occupants in the home. This helps reduce energy waste and carbon emissions from fossil fuel powered systems. Renewable energy sources such as solar and wind in conjunction with a home battery allow for a further reduction in carbon emissions while also providing resiliency in case of a grid outage. Cities across the country are joining the electrification movement and banning gas in new construction. A new, electrically-run world is on the horizon with homes that will offer full grid-to-plug power management, and it will one day progress into the net-zero and even net-positive home of the future. There are many challenges to overcome, but setting ambitious climate goals is crucial for warding off the worsening impacts of climate change. 

Water Intelligence

A study by Michigan State University revealed that 10 percent of homes in the U.S. waste more than 90 gallons of water per day due to leaks. In five years, almost a third of the population will lack affordable access to water if this trend continues. Smart water devices can address some of these issues by giving users an idea of their water usage and where they can improve. These devices can detect leaks and protect against catastrophic flood damage by shutting down the main water line upon detection. Discovering leaks early on can prevent mold conditions that can have a very negative impact on health. Insurance companies are now offering discounts for homes that have these devices installed and activated. Water filtration units display pre- and post- filter water quality levels, providing peace of mind that one’s water is above bottled quality.

IAQ Automation and Optimization

Most people do not give the quality of air they are breathing a second thought, but in fact 90 percent of people are taking in unhealthy air. The WHO has classified air pollution as the number one environmental health threat to humans and holds it responsible for almost 7 million premature deaths each year. Holistic, real-time indoor air quality solutions that track, notify and automatically trigger filtration, ventilation and humidity control hardware are available in the market today. When the home is not occupied, the system reverts to energy-saving mode to reduce waste.

Human-Centric Lighting

Just by swapping out incandescent bulbs for smart and efficient LED bulbs, smart lighting will reduce energy consumption and waste production over time by automatically turning off when a room is unoccupied. Taking things one step further, we are now seeing LED technology that not only delivers magnificent illumination solutions but also supports our biological circadian rhythms, which enhances health and wellness. This is important because proper light levels and precise color rendering are beneficial for our daily functioning, and negating blue light after sundown significantly contributes to our sleep cycles.

Smart Appliances

Features that keep track of goods and notify you when a fridge door is opened allows you to maintain good energy efficiency while also providing safety features that can prevent fires. There is discussion among major manufacturers to allow for intercommunication among appliances; this could help energy guzzling appliances to recognize lifestyle behaviors and automatically optimize for comfort, reduction of energy use and peak demand management.

Where do we go from here?

The future of the sustainable and healthy smart home will be human-centered, data-driven and tech-enabled. Its related products, solutions and services present an enormous opportunity for custom integrators to add high impact value for families in the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainable and wellness technology is continuing to redefine daily life for people and will continue to play a role in the fight against climate change and regenerating wellness within the home. The ultimate smart home is one that is able to contribute to both people and planetary health.

Michael Don Ham is the co-founder and president of RePure. RePure is a leading supplier of best-in-class health and wellness solutions for residential applications available through custom integrators.


Products That Go Easy on the Eyes (And the Earth)

A tech roundup of products that are great for both your décor and your conscience

By Katye McGregor Bennett

There is no question that homeowners prefer hidden technology these days. Add sustainability to the mix and you’ve got a winning combination consumers are eager to buy. Global research conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) last year (commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund) shows a staggering 71 percent rise in popularity of searches for sustainable goods over the previous five years, with continuing growth during the pandemic. Consumers are paying attention to the choices that they make that impact the planet and are making better ones. So which home technology products, companies and categories get gold stars for being easy on the earth and the eyes? Here are a few favorites from the field.

Screen Innovations (SI)
Lithium-Ion Powered Shades

“In manufacturing, we often see the worst of the worst in terms of waste and disregard for the environment, and it can be tempting to cut corners to increase margin or for some other benefit, but at SI, we will simply never lower our standards,” said Ryan Gustafson, SI founder and CEO.

While other battery-operated motorized indoor and outdoor shades still use up to nine large D Cell batteries per window, SI Shades use lithium rechargeable batteries, which operate for up to two years on a charge and can be recharged 500 times. When they’ve finally reached the end of their lifespan, they can be recycled, unlike D Cells. On the design front, SI automated shades are easily specified and installed, feature much smaller housing, are designed to eliminate light gaps and are just fun to have and use.

Sonos Speakers 

Sonos packs a one-two punch when it comes to sustainability and helping tech be less visually obtrusive. Offering a software-driven sound experience, users not only get access to a wide range of music, podcasts and other content but also the peace of mind that their system is always up to date. That’s because Sonos was designed to continuously refine its software and provide updates over the air to enhance the experience without interrupting it. That’s not only cool, but it’s also incredibly user-friendly. 

On the sustainability front, Sonos claims its hardware “lasts much longer than other consumer electronics,” said Sarah Atkinson, national business development manager at Sonos, citing results from their ‘Listen Better’ report on social responsibility and sustainability. The results of the survey, let alone the fact that they host a website dedicated to the cause, is not only a testament to the quality of Sonos hardware but their corporate culture and commitment to action. Sonos actually has many green initiatives, like endeavoring to be neutral by 2030 and net zero by 2040.

Smart Everything and
Superior Sustainability

Savant leads by example with the recent unveiling of its Vegas Modern 001 showcase home, a 15,000-sq.-ft. residence designed with concealed technology and sustainability in mind. The home also features the largest residential solar array in the region, a fully automated power panel, as well as Savant Energy’s microgrid technology.

In this design-forward home, the Savant Energy app tracks daily energy production as well as usage, with a full history log by load type. Savant paired with the vast solar infrastructure can maintain operation of the home under normal conditions for up to eight hours or nearly 24 hours if only essential devices are active. Most critically, Savant’s microgrid works day and night to intelligently optimize the consumption of power under all conditions. To conceal tech, “gutters” were integrated into the walls and other surfaces for not only cable runs but to house speakers and other tech so that it’s out of sight.

Samsung Bespoke Your Home Refrigerator,
The Frame TV and Studio Stand

Over the years, Samsung has responded to consumer demand and has dramatically improved its accountability. In 2017, Greenpeace gave Samsung a D- for environmental friendliness. However, just three years later in 2020, according to the EPA’s ranking, they ended up using 1,246,201,605 kWh of green power from various sources, which made up 99 percent of their total power use — a dramatic difference to the only 1 percent used in 2017. They just announced a commitment to plant millions of trees to fight climate change at the beginning of this year and are now collaborating with Patagonia to keep plastics out of oceans. 

As for their décor-friendly products, the company’s “Bespoke Your Home” line has such beauties as this BESPOKE 4-Door French Door Refrigerator, which lets you pick the colors of the four doors to create a more custom kitchen. There’s also, of course, Samsung’s The Frame TV, which I especially like atop the Samsung Studio Stand, making The Frame TV look more like a work of framed art on display in a gallery than a standard-issue TV. 

Hide It in the Wall (or Ceiling,
or Other Solid Surface)

Do you have tech that you feel good about purchasing but don’t necessarily want to see? Then check out WALL-SMART. This designer and manufacturer of custom in-ceiling, in-wall and in-surface mounts for home technology devices recently released a stylish enclosure for the Sonos Arc and Beam soundbars. This enclosure gives homeowners and designers an elegant installation alternative to placing the soundbar on media furniture or attaching it to the TV. WALL-SMART also makes mounts for Crestron, Control4, Savant, Apple products, Josh.ai and a wide range of networking gear, voice assistants, videoconferencing and security cameras, tablets, touch panels, keypads and much, much more.

The bottom line? Making tech less obtrusive and more sustainable is clearly becoming even more important to homeowners and consumers in general, who are looking to buy from companies they believe in.


Best in the U.S. Awards

The Home Technology Association (HTA) is proud to announce the 2021 "Best in the U.S." award winners. These awards help homeowners and trade professionals find the very best companies in their city to perform anything from simple home technology installations to very complex automated estates.


There are a plethora of industry awards in the custom installation industry. There are two categories that these awards fall into.  

1. Projects – A firm can win awards for projects in all sorts of categories like Home Theater, Integrated Home, Media Rooms, Lighting and Shade projects or Wellness projects.

2. Sales Awards – A firm can win a badge or award by reaching a purchasing milestone with a particular manufacturer. These designations – Platinum, Diamond, Elite, or Gold Dealer – are based on how much product they purchase over the course of a year.

The existing awards for projects are great as it lets you know that a company is technically sharp. Some of these awards, like the CEDIA Awards, are very technical and require a lot of technical documentation to achieve a win.

The sales awards let you know that a company has purchased and installed a lot of the gear a particular manufacturer sells, which can be important in determining a company’s experience with a product line.

What both of these categories are missing is that neither tell you if the homeowner was happy with the service received or their overall user experience.  Did the system actually work after it was installed? Was the process efficient with good communication? Did the installation firm treat their home with care and respect? Did the firm deliver on their promises? Was the firm honest and fair in their business practices?

The Home Technology Association’s “Best in the U.S.” awards take a holistic approach to a custom installation firm and judges them based on three pillars:

Technical Proficiency – A firm must have the technical skills to provide an excellent customer experience. The Home Technology Association verifies with manufacturers, fellow installers in the market and trade partners that “Best in U.S.” firms have an exceptional technical skill set.

Customer Service – A firm is required to have a stellar history of delivering exceptional customer service. In addition to evaluating a firm’s service capabilities, the HTA checks with 6-12 references to verify the firm’s service history.

Reputation – It is important that a “Best in U.S.” firm have unimpeachable business practices. These firms are notable for being fair and trustworthy.

If a firm satisfies the requirements of these three pillars, the Home Technology Association expects a homeowner to have an excellent home technology experience.

No other award program takes a comprehensive look at a firm’s capabilities and business practice like the ‘Best in U.S.” awards.


The HTA offered three tiers of award in 2021:

Black – The Black award is reserved for firms who routinely work on extremely high-end homes.  These homes are typically from 10,000-100,000 square feet, include multiple structures and entrances and often have a domestic staff. These types of projects represent the most technically challenging installations and require complex engineering, problem solving and the most extreme levels of customer service.

Platinum – The Platinum award is given to firms that specialize in luxury custom homes with complex technology needs. These firms typically work on high-end homes with notable architects and interior designers. Platinum award winners must have excellent documentation and drawing capabilities and superior customer service skills.

Gold – Gold Award Winners are technically adept at homes that require great customer service and technical skills and have standard complexity levels. These homes are typically 6,000 square feet and under and do not have multiple structures on the property.

Award winners are chosen based on their HTA certification application and multiple endorsements and interviews with outside individuals and firms familiar with their work and business practices. All winners are currently HTA Certified, which makes them a great choice for a home technology installation project.


What are some of the details or tipping points to earn an award? The HTA dives deep into a company’s capabilities and looks at many aspects of the business. How many years has the business been in operation? Are they fully licensed and insured? What is their customer service policy? Do they offer after hours service? Do they have a dedicated service department? What are their capabilities to provide detailed documentation and drawings to the design/build team? Is there an excessive history of litigation? Does the company perform background checks on new employees? Can they be endorsed by an architect? A builder? An interior designer?

The HTA leaves no stone unturned when researching a firm. There are many homeowners frustrated with technology systems because they did little to no research on a firm before hiring one. It is easy to hire the wrong firm yet very difficult to find a good firm that fits with the size and scope of your project. The Home Technology Association was established to be a comprehensive consumer resource to direct consumers to the best integration firms and consumer electronics brands in the industry. 

Download Full “Best in the U.S. Awards” here

Learn more at htacertified.org.


Calculating a Home
Theater Design

Designer Lisa Slayman delves into the precision, knowledge and imagination needed to create a successful home theater space

By Erinn Loucks
Photography: Eric Figge Photography

A home theater is like a massive math problem. There are multiple routes to reach a client’s desired outcome, but if one small step is missed, the entire project can fail. 

“In my mind there is only an A or F grade and nothing in between,” said designer Lisa Slayman, ASID, IIDA of Slayman Design Assoc. Inc. and Slayman Cinema in Laguna Beach, Calif. “You will always have an A result when you put together a great team of consultants and the goal for everyone is collaboration. This will result in a great theater that a client has dreamed and fantasized about and wants the world to experience.”

Getting Started in the Field

For Slayman, the home theater specialty is one that is a good place to be right now but not one that is easy to become successful in. When she started in the business in 1995, she worked very closely with a high-end AV company who communicated frequently with her about the best acoustical locations and materials needed. They had specific parameters and requests in regard to the layout, design and finishes. 

One of Slayman’s all-time favorite projects was a home theater dubbed Lady Luck. Complete with a mezzanine level, this project boasts 45 seats, a bar area and a design reminiscent of old Hollywood.

fam_kit-Slayman-Figge-cropped copy
dinningroom-Slayman_Figge copy

“Working with them really educated me on how complicated these rooms really were, and it wasn’t just about finishes and colors,” she said. “I truly loved the challenges, collaboration, forward thinking and problem solving and knew at that time I wanted to do more of these rooms.”

According to Slayman, working in the home theater business is not something one can learn from a book or one class. It takes years of experience, collaboration with different trades and constant learning. 

1737-05-Projector Ceiling-drapes-up-down_Rubin-Theater_LA_SlaymanDesign_EricFigge-Photos

“For me, it’s all about communication with the acoustical person and the integrator. It’s also trial and error,” said the designer. “It can be very intimidating. Designers sometimes think that they do their pretty part and they can leave the rest for the AV integrator, but that’s when the theater doesn’t turn out as well.”

Fitting Together the Puzzle Pieces

While the client might be more concerned about the look of the space first, it’s important that any designer tackling a home theater project understands how essential technology and acoustics are for a successful outcome. 

“It’s impossible for a designer to keep up with every technology advance, so I rely heavily on collaboration with the AV integrator,” said Slayman. “Their work impacts my design and direction. If I don’t work closely with them and understand the technology goals, it jeopardizes the outcome of the project.”

For Slayman, the most challenging part of a theater project is creating a design and the documentation for a unique space that is complicated and also very expensive. The drawings for the contractor need to integrate the AV, acoustics, mechanical and electrical, all while including the beauty that the consumer wants in their space.

“The integrator and I have certain constraints and desires, and we will have to tug and pull a little to accommodate each other,” she added.

lisa slayman headshot (1)

Lisa Slayman, ASID, IIDA,
is the founder of Slayman Design Assoc. Inc.
and Slayman Cinema in Laguna Beach, Calif.


A Southern Home Renovation

By Vanessa Zitzmann

Living Room with Lutron Shades

When approached to create a complete integrated AV solution for a four story, 8,500-sq.-ft. home sitting on the water in Hilton Head, S.C., the team at Advanced Integrated Controls (AIC) was ready to take on the challenge. The luxury residence was being completely renovated to include Lutron Sivoia QS and Palladium automated shades, Lutron Homeworks QS lighting control system, Elan premium control system, dedicated home theater, home office, and most importantly, a robust network. 

The home had antiquated wiring, so the first step was to spend hours in the home’s crawlspace pulling Category 6 cable and conduit. The updated wiring would support one of the most important facets of the technology makeover: a fast, reliable, Wi-Fi network that would cover the entire estate.

Bar Leading to Porch with Automated Shades

A Strong Backbone 

Although the residence was a secondary home for holidays, vacations and weekends, it still needed to have a top-of-the-line network. As the CEO of a large company, the homeowner always needs to be accessible throughout the estate. Needless to say, a well-connected Wi-Fi-enabled home was a priority not only in the office but around the entire home. 

With more than 100 installed devices statically assigned on the network, a solid handoff was a necessity. Lights, thermostat, motorized shading and distributed audio system are dependent on the Wi-Fi network. Curtis Hubner, owner of Advanced Integrated Controls, immediately decided on Access Network as the backbone of the entire installation. “Any time we automate on a large scale like this in a situation that’s more like commercial than residential, we go with products from Access Networks,” said Hubner. “They understand the flexibility and the needs of the AV industry.”

As multiple Wi-Fi enabled remote controls are used throughout the home, an Access Networks solution was installed comprising of a C120 Wireless Controller, six A650 Wi-Fi 6 access points and a managed 76-gigabit switch. This solution effortlessly juggled buffer-free videoconferencing (even when moving throughout the home) and seamless streaming of 4K content. Now the commands issued via buttons through Elan remote controls, a smartphone app, wall-mounted touchscreen or voice reach devices — even those located rooms away — act quickly and seamlessly.

A Beautiful Work Space

The home office was Hubner’s favorite room to integrate. A stunning workspace overlooking the water with high ceilings, the install was designed to distract from the beauty of the space or the waterfront view.  The office included a 65-in. Sony OLED TV utilized not only for entertainment but also as a monitor for virtual meetings and to show real-time footage from the outdoor security system. Hidden from view are subwoofers along with in-ceiling speakers, automated shades and lighting control. One of the first rooms to be completed, the sound quality blew the homeowners away. Initially not wanting large subwoofers in every room, the couple changed their mind and requested the subwoofers be included throughout the home. 

Controlled with URC’s MRX-30 premium system controller, the TKP-9600 touchscreens and TRC-1480 handheld remotes allow one touch or seamless voice control of the entire system.

Above & Beyond Customization

A unique feature in the master suite is the 65-in. Sony television on a cabinet with a Nexus 21 Automated Lift System. The homeowner wanted the TV out of sight when not in use and requested the 24-in. cabinet from the interior designer be used. This left the integrators at AIC with some dilemmas to work through. First, the television was 33 inches tall while the cabinet was only 24 inches. Second the Nexus Lift System was too large to fit the space allotted. Because the home was being completely renovated, the team at AIC were able to come up with a solution that not only looked amazing but also allowed for additional audio equipment (including a subwoofer) to be installed. 

The team cut out a section of the floor under the area the cabinet would be placed and recessed into the subfloor 4 feet. Then they created a weatherproof enclosure for the lift system, television and audio equipment. The end result was a seamless  and hidden TV system that is easily accessible by the integrators. 

Cutting into Subfloor to Create Seamless Hidden TV System

Project Resources

Curtis Hubner
Advanced Integrated Controls

365 Red Cedar St, STE 301
Bluffton, SC 29910

(843) 836-5700

Equipment List

1M Stero/Audio Ruby

Access Networks A610 Core

Access Networks C120

Apple TV 4K- 32GB (2)

Cat6 (WAP Location)  (2)

Elan EL-ITP-8-WH (1)

Elan EL-SC-300 Main Processor

Elan EL-TSTAT-8820 (3)


Elan HR10 (2)

Elan gMV1616 Audio Matrix

Lutron HQRD-6ND-WH

Lutron Homeworks QS Lighting Control System

Lutron Sivoia QS Automated Shades

Lutron Sivoia QS and Palladium Automated Shades

Luxel LX-ABR-5000

Luxel LX-XMS-5248p

Nexus L-75s

Omnimount RE27

Panamax M4315-PRO

Panamax MB1500

Parasound Amplifiers

Quad Shield RG 6 (3) Category 6 (2)

Structured Media Run (1)

Sony XBR43X800H (1)

Sony XBR65X950G (1)

Strong SM-CS-ART2-L

Strong SM-F-L

TS7 Wiring (ElanTouchpanel Wiring (2) Cat6)

TVBU507 (2)

WAP Wiring- Structured (1)

Wattbox WB-100-RSW-8

Xantech 1m HDMI


All the Automated

A home resides at the intersection of posh and ultimate tech integration

By Stephanie M. Adamow
Photography: From the Hip Photography

On the east end of Colorado Springs, a resort-esque estate blooms among towering trees, cushioned upon a lime-green grass expanse. It’s a builder’s dream — a home for his own family after constructing so many others for countless residents. In this forever home, no comfort was left by the wayside; no convenience was overlooked, and every corner was dusted with a keen eye for design.

To the untrained eye, this residence is merely a quintessential example of luxury. Enter Shawn Hansson and his team at Logic Integration — the company named Best Integrator at the 2022 CES — who implemented the highest level of technology to provide functionality, entertainment and security.

A builder connection brought Logic and the builder/homeowner together. The client had lived and built several homes in the past, but this home was different for obvious, personal reasons. They had a vision of integrating audio/video distribution throughout the home, centralized lighting, security, HVAC control and motorized shades. In a 10,000-sq.-ft. home, these requests could easily be overwhelming. Added to that was the typical request that all tech integration be controlled with ease, and the Logic Integration team knew where to start.

Having implemented Crestron home automation systems throughout his career, Hansson — CEO and founder of Logic Integration — was ready to further the clients’ knowledge of the systems, considering they had a basic system installed in a previous home. A far cry from his humble beginnings in 2004 with one truck and a garage headquarters, Hansson and the Logic Integration team now had the ability to set up a destination meeting at Crestron’s headquarters in New York City for the homeowners to see the depth of possibilities for their project. This proved to be key in the decision-making process.

“This was the ‘a-ha’ moment, where they realized that they could integrate everything together and they could see the possibilities of automation,” Hansson explained.

Technological Masterpiece

Logic Integration provided the entire kit-n-kaboodle for this family of four. Beginning with a Crestron Home Processor, Logic Integration also implemented a NVX Digital Media system to send 4K video throughout the home as well as the guest house. The home also features Sony displays. One of these is in the great room, which features a Leon Illusion Art motorized screen and doubles as a work of art when the TV is not in use.

Crestron systems like touch panels, touchscreen remotes and rail-mount thermostats were integrated, but what truly takes the clients’ breath away was the total integration and control of the lighting and shading systems. In the master bedroom particularly, the homeowners have dual roller shades for blackout or privacy, all of which are tucked away, completely hidden in ceiling pockets when not lowered.

“With a house that large, it would be pretty cumbersome to have to run around the house and turn off all the lights, so this was certainly one of their favorite elements along with the shading,” Hannson said, adding that the homeowners particularly adore creating moods with lighting settings to complement entertainment or coordinating scenes such as ‘Good Morning.’ “The shades were not only for privacy but also to protect the floors and the furniture from the harsh Colorado sun.”

The basement features an elaborate media room with a Screen Innovations 120-in. Theater Screen and a Sony laser projector that lowers from the ceiling via a Future Automation lift. Add to this a bonafide fitness gym — featuring a golf simulator — and all hobbies are accounted for.

As the clients enjoy entertaining, it was important for them to easily create a party ambiance at the drop of a hat. Therefore Logic Integration set the stage so music can be played and controlled across the sprawling residence with just a button push. Audio and video extend to the posh outdoor living area, complete with a SunBrite outdoor display and extensive audio system and speakers from Origin Acoustics. Weekend football games transition to cozy dinner parties or a dancing disco with ease.

While it is easy to be captivated with all the eye can see in this home — shades, movies and music prompted by touchscreens — what cannot be 

Project Resources


Logic Integration
Shawn Hansson, CEO/Founder

8204 Park Meadows Dr., Unit A
Lone Tree, CO 80124


Account Manager:
Kai Jordeth

Project Manager:
Tim Nevermann

Crestron Home Processor

Crestron Horizon dimmers and lighting modules

Crestron NVX Digital Media 4K HDR Network AV Decoders.

Crestron Rail Mount Thermostats

Crestron Shades and shade modules

Crestron Touch Panels

Crestron Touch-Screen remotes

Leon Illusion Art motorized screen

Liberty Wire/Cabling

Luma Cameras and NVR

Origin Acoustic speakers/subwoofers/landscape system

Ring Elite Door Station

Screen Innovations 120” Theater Screen

Snap AV display mounts

Sony Displays/AVR

Sony laser Projector

SunBrite Outdoor display


High Style

A fashionable 5,000-sq.-ft. penthouse is updated with new and invisible technology

By Erinn Loucks

When a homeowner puts care into their architecture and decoration, it is even more important that any integrated technology not impede on their artistry. Instead, technology can enhance and beautify the existing space. For Roberto Galvez, director general for Asimov Zero, the chance to transform an already luxurious space came when the owners of a 5,000-sq.-ft. penthouse asked his firm to take their home to the next level of smart sophistication. 

“The main objective of this project was to include the latest technology without invading the interior design and while maintaining the elegance that was sought in the space,” said Galvez, explaining that this home is hidden in an enclave of multi-story condominiums in Bosque Real, Mexico, just outside of Mexico City.

Combining Old and New Under One Platform

According to Galvez, the biggest challenge of the project was integrating multiple subsystems so that everyday operations were as easy as pressing a button or using a voice command. The solution came in the form of the ELAN control platform, which the firm regularly uses in projects because it offers them complete integration, compatibility with main brands and simplicity for the end user.

“On the technical side, ELAN controllers have allowed us to create additional commands and controls to those that ELAN and its network of developers offer on the market,” he added. 

In addition, the system could be easily retrofitted to blend in with the existing technology. For example, some of the home’s lighting had been controlled by the Lutron Grafik Eye system. The ELAN control system integrated with the legacy controller, so rather than removing it, the integration firm complemented it with the newer Lutron Radio RA2 Lighting System. Both the old and new systems now work together under the control platform.  

Eliminating Wires and Adding Simplicity

High-quality audio and video was a top requirement for a family that enjoys entertaining. However the eclectic wall art and fashionable decor made it even more essential to remove all extraneous wires and equipment to create a sleek and modern space.

First Galvez and his team racked all the gear inside a single storage closet, which was possible because the ELAN control system can manage the flow of high-res audio and 4K video signals from various equipment brands. Then they programmed the interfaces — including touchscreens, handheld remotes and a mobile app — to ensure that the user can easily control the audio and video no matter where they are. They also enabled “scenes” throughout the penthouse.

“One of our goals was to allow the simultaneous interaction of audio, video, natural and artificial lighting to create suitable atmospheres depending on the occasion,” said Galvez. 

Several of these scenes affect more than one room at the same time. Starting the “Party” scene illuminates several sconces, chandeliers, table lamps and small fixtures and accentuates the architectural details and sculptures. Some scenes are also set to be automatic and intuitive; for example, each day at sunrise the lights on the terrace turn off. The blackout shades — which are Lutron Sivoia roller shades and drapes — open Monday through Friday at 9 a.m.


Finding the Right Audio System

This project gave Galvez and Asimov Zero an important lesson when it comes to designing audio systems. 

“During the design process, we believed that the client was looking for a residential audio system with good quality and power level. So this is how it was designed,” Galvez explained. “However, when we delivered the project to the client, the client considered that it still did not have enough power. He was looking for something more like a nightclub than ambient audio, so we had to redesign the system to meet his needs.”

Two multi-room audio matrixes, an ELAN IPD-MTX-8CH and a NILES MRC-6430, together with a CROWN DCI8-300 amplifier, are now in charge of controlling nine audio zones. All of these zones can reproduce audio from any streaming service or from nearby video content. The master bedroom also boasts a Sonos Arc and Sub for the TV. 

“Audio is a system that must consider abstract concepts, and understanding precisely what the client is looking for is vital,” said Galvez. “Now we know how to formulate the questions that we ask to avoid designing systems that are over or under what our clients have in mind.”

Turning the Bar into a Home Theater

Since the homeowners have such a love for entertaining, the team gave them a two-in-one space when it came to the bar. On command from the app, remote, touchscreen or with a voice command, a motorized 120-in. screen and projector gently lower from hiding spots above the ceiling soffit into the ideal viewing position for any seat in the room. If music is selected, the screen and projector stay out of sight, and only the room’s speakers turn on.

“The hidden multimedia system of the bar was one of our favorite parts of the project,” said Galvez, explaining that the client asked for a system that was completely invisible when not in use and fantastic when required.

The team carefully arranged the pieces of wood covering the ceiling to maintain the tones and grain of the wood when the projector was stored. This change in the design of the area was a constant challenge, as equipment and design had to be adjusted many times during the construction process. Four NILES CM8PR speakers powered by the CROWN DCI8-300 and a SONANCE i12 wireless subwoofer give this room its audio power.

“The end result was spectacular,” said the integrator. “[The technology] is truly invisible when the system is turned off.”

Bosque Real 16
Bosque Real 09
Bosque Real 10

Project Resources


Roberto Galvez
Asimov Zero


Jalapa No. 68 – PB
Progreso Tizapán
Álvaro Obregón
CDMX, 01080


Kike Belmont




ELAN EL-400-IC-6


NILES CM7FX Surround Speakers




NILES DS7PR Front Speakers


OS-6.3SI Speakers


SONANCE i12 Wireless Subwoofer


Tech We Love

Integrator Jan Vitrofsky delves into his favorite products for wellness, audio and more

By Cat Toomey

Jan Vitrofsky, founder of HEDSouth, has been working in the electronics industry since 1975 and launched his own company in 1984. Along with his team, he has built a portfolio of customized and simple solutions for both private and globally-recognized clients such as ABC, CBS, Sony, Disney and the White House. Today, HEDsouth provides solutions that encompass entertainment, health and wellness, lighting, shades and smart home control throughout Florida and California. Connected Design spoke with Vitrofsky to find out what products he loves to use to accomplish those solutions.

Lighting Fixtures

Ketra & DMF Lighting: “As an industry, we are the educators, and quality of light is one where there hasn’t been as much consumer education on the importance of it. This is typically due to lack of knowledge and information sharing with clients. Lighting and fixtures are often among the first to get cut out of a tech budget. Yet in the end, one of the most important elements of a home or space is the vibe we create for the customer. How their technology, décor, people and artwork look are vital, and lighting and fixtures are core to that overall vibe and the environment.”


Delos: “Wellness is a category we love and have been strong advocates for since 2017 when we first met with Delos. Long before the pandemic, we understood our clients were seeking overall happiness and wellbeing, particularly at home. The wellness category has grown exponentially over the past couple of years, and now sharing the benefits with clients is easier than ever. They want to live longer and better, they want to sleep better, and they want that quality of life we can now deliver through technology. When we educate them on what is available, this almost always becomes part of their HEDsouth system.”

Access and Control

Crestron and Savant: “While it may not seem the case, just years ago control over every subsystem in a home was not top of mind for customers. When we deliver entertainment, shading, lighting and more, the real beauty and elegance of it all lies in our ability to make the use experience as simple as possible to operate for the homeowner. We like control because it makes their investment in individual things, such as TVs or music, achieve their full potential. A touch to turn off the music and start your favorite Netflix series in seconds still wows our customers every time.”

Home Cinema

Pro Audio for Sound and Sony Projectors for Video: “With people going out less due to the current world conditions, creating a special entertainment sanctuary within a home for family members has become one of our most requested spaces. For many, the cinema used to be only available by going out of the house, and we are seeing more clients wanting to invest in creating that unique cinematic experience right at home. We find it also brings people together to nourish relationships between individuals and an entire family.”

Sound and Music

Sonance: “Music has an emotional impact on the brain that can evoke memories and experiences to bring pleasure to people unlike most anything else. Being able to hear and enjoy it in a way that brings that feeling of a live concert or a nostalgic moment in time is so important to every client and project, that we almost never deliver a system without speakers, subwoofers and a multi-room music experience these days. This system also is one of the most used we put into our customer’s homes.”


to Detail

A vacation home is outfitted with technology customized for the homeowner

By Vanessa Zitzmann

Exterior of Meditation Mountain

Once upon a time, vacations homes tended to be properties furnished with leftover furniture and limited technology and were only lived in a few times a year for a few weeks at a time. Now with many second homeowners splitting time between both homes equally, vacation homes are becoming an actual second residence. With working remotely becoming more and more common, it becomes a necessity to ensure these second homes have a secure and strong network. In addition, more money is being spent in interior design, technology and security to make the home complete.  

Customizing with Care 

Luxury homes demand a customized approach for the integration of technology; this includes how technology is installed. Creativity, craftsmanship and an eye for design must be applied. It’s a philosophy that Creative Systems USA stands by and has built a successful business around.  So when the opportunity came to work on a beautiful home renovation in eastern Pennsylvania, Harry Blanchard, senior sales engineer of Creative Systems, was excited to jump in.

“The homeowners trusted us enough to allow Creative Systems full control of the technology design and installation,” said Blanchard. The team prepared for the technology design and implementation of the two homes on the property by ensuring that the homeowners wants and needs were clearly understood. The homeowners wanted comfortable spaces for friends and family, the technology not to impede on the art and interior design, and most of all, they wanted everything to work as intended.  

The technology design included full home control to include shades, gates, lighting, security and entertainment for both homes on the property.  

Crestron Panel with Wall-Smart Mount in Great Room

Embracing the Zen 

The main home on the property was a new build named Meditation Mountain, christened to reflect the calm and Zen feeling the house provides. This home is the primary living space and showcases the homeowner’s art collection. Attention to detail was a priority, as they didn’t want to see bulky boxes or speakers that would ruin the calm of the home.  Creative Systems fully embraced the challenge and designed the space with full home automation from Crestron. Since it was necessary to have touch panels throughout the home, it was important to make sure they didn’t take away from the aesthetic.  

“It pains me to see homeowners spend a fortune on marble backsplashes or rare hardwood finishes only to mare the surfaces by white electrical outlets and surface-mounted screens,” said Blanchard, explaining that Creative Systems decided to use WALL-SMART to create a more pleasing aesthetic and to enhance the interior design. “WALL-SMART’s attention to detail in the design, engineering and fabrication of its mounts make touchscreens appear to be a natural part of the wall, not an accessory that was added later. They become not just a technological addition but a design element that complements or enhances the fine finishes of a home.”   

As the home was being constructed, the team at Creative Systems was able to lay all the wire throughout the home for superior audio, video and control. Each customized speaker or subwoofer from James Loudspeaker was placed not only with superior sound in mind but also with regards to the design of each room.   

True Nature Lodge 

The other home was the original building on the property. Named True Nature Lodge by the owners, it was renovated as a guest house for visiting family and friends and was not neglected when it came to the integration of technology. Creative Systems maintained the attention to detail as with the main home. Customized built-in bunk beds were constructed for the grandchildren, and each bed was complete with an individual light and a customized light switch to turn off lights to the entire room or only in their space.  

Keeping with the technical design of the Meditation Mountain building, True Nature Lodge had complete home automation, and the outdoor space was wired for automation as well. Lights, sound and shades were installed on porches to complete the space. 

Project Resources


Creative Systems, USA
Harry Blanchard
Senior Sales Engineer 

505 2nd Avenue Collegeville
PA 19426 

(610) 450-6580


Equipment List: 

Audio Distribution:
Crestron & Autonomic  

Cellphone: Wilson Electronics 

Control: Crestron Pro series 

Custom Speakers and Subwoofers: James Loudspeakers 

Digital Theater & Arcade systems: Crestron, Sony ES, & PlayStation 

Dimmers, Shades, and Thermostats: Crestron 

Garage doors and Gate:
Crestron & Mobotix 

Gate Hardware: Pedestal Pro 

Power: Panamax 

Video Distribution:
Crestron, Apple TV. & Direct TV 

Mirror TV: SEURA 

Motorized Mounts: Future Automation 

Network and Fiber: Cisco, Ruckus, Fortinet, OVRc, & The Logic Group 

Racks: Middle Atlantic 

Security: Mobotix & QNAP 

Touch Panel mounts: Wall-Smart 


Unifying all Elements

An integration company overcomes challenges to bring together multiple smart features

By Erinn Loucks

Knee deep into the construction of their new home, a client came to integrator Angus Murray of New Wave AV for help. These homeowners were working on a six-bedroom home on a large piece of property, complete with a spa, pool, water fountains, gate control and HVAC. While their knowledge of smart home integration was limited, they knew that all of these subsystems needed to be under one overall system, or they would be too complicated to use on a daily basis. 

“They were quite quick to understand that a house of this size with all of these subsystems needed to be cohesive,” said Murray, who is based out of Kent, England. “One of our jobs is to educate people to understand that the whole point of whole home automation is to simplify.”

The Ultimate of Lighting Control

With an expansive piece of property and many glass windows looking out on it, lighting and shades turned out to be a large focus of the project. Lutron was specified in all of the rooms, with control types including a mix of Mains Dimmable, DMX and DALI. Several scenes were programmed into the system, such as “dusk” and “dawn” as well as “welcome home.” 

Lighting was also woven into the security system; if the alarm goes off, key interior lights will turn on and the external lights will flash. A “mockupancy” is also programmed to mimic the look of an occupied property when the “away” setting is enabled. Three lighting hubs hold all of these circuits, since the company’s late introduction to the project meant a single location for all of the lighting circuits was not possible.

Lutron was also used for the blinds — an extensive collection of roller blinds, roman blinds, pull-up blinds and curtain tracks. According to Murray, the blinds are a surprising favorite of this project because of how well they are controlled. 

“In the kitchen, there are 14 blinds in a row with a curtain  as well,” he explained, pointing out just one of the examples of when the blinds are controlled in a unique fashion. “They come down simultaneously and are perfectly aligned.”

Wherever possible, all roller blind treatments were fitted into the ceiling recesses and housed in headboxes. Visible headboxes were color matched to blend with the window frames, and Palladiom blinds were specified if the roller unit was going to be particularly visible.  

A Future Automation bracket ensures that the TV in the media room faces exactly where it is needed.

An Understated Media Room

For these clients, a huge home theater set up was not necessary. Instead, they were looking for an immersive and carefully designed space where the technology felt simple but intuitive and highly effective. 

“We wanted to be as discreet as possible,” said Murray.

This drawing room — outfitted with brick walls and comfortable furniture — has a Dolby Atmos speaker system with color-matched Artcoustic front speakers, alongside Amina Mobious speakers for surround and height channels. Two Artison in-floor subwoofers with color-matched grills were used in keeping with the ironmongery touches in the room. 

To ensure that the TV is at the correct viewing angle wherever required, a Future Automation motorized bracket was installed. The room was audio calibrated using Anthem Arc Genesis software to ensure the best audio performance. In addition, two profile settings were created for the audio: one with thes curtains opened and one with them closed. The control system automatically selects the right profile depending on the curtain setting. 

Linking It All Together

The lighting and media room were significant highlights for this project, but New Wave AV was primarily hired to also align all of the smaller but just as important pieces of the space. They did this with Control4. 

“There was such a broad scope of subsystems in this project,” said Murray. “Control4 works well for this type of home and is relatively cost effective.”

Along with the lighting and the media room, the clients can control the total of 22 multi-room audio zones across this project, including two external zones of 8.1 audio from Triad landscape loudspeakers. There are six sources feeding six rooms within the property for multi-room video distribution via a Pulse 8 video matrix. Allowance has also been made for future expansion for up to two extra inputs and outputs. 

  The UFH and AC system are both controlled via the Control4 system. The client can regulate the irrigation system as well and can observe the areas being watered and override any actions they’d like. There is also a vehicular and pedestrian gate with Control4 DS2 serving as the main intercom. While a separate security company handles the CCTV system, the video is fed into the Control4 system for the client to view.

Overcoming Challenges for a Better End Goal

According to Murray, the biggest challenge was how late they came into the project. The main issue was that they didn’t have a main server room; instead they resorted to using multiple racks. The two main equipment racks were installed back to back through a wall, and they had to get a route for cables through the wall to connect those two racks. 

In addition, this project was so large in scope that careful and close collaboration with all of the project partners was essential. The integration team, the builder, the architect and the client — who did much of the interior design of the space — would meet every two weeks to go through what was expected and what decisions needed to be made. Fortunately communication went relatively well and decisions were made quickly, which helped bring the integration up to date in the construction timeline and reach the end goal successfully. 

Project Resources

Contact Info

New Wave AV
Angus Murray
Summer Barn
Victoria Road
Golden Green


+44 1732 852500

Photography: Craig Zendel
Architect: Phillips Tracey Architects
M&E Consultant: IWA

Equipment List

Amina Mobius Speakers


Artcoustic Speakers

Artison Subwoofers

Control4 Processing & Audio

Dolby Atmos TV

Future Automation Motorized Brackets

Heatmiser UFH

Lutron Homeworks QS
Ruckus Networking

Triad Speakers


Rep Firm Shines in the Southeast

High-Tech Network has been a manufacturer’s rep company in the consumer electronics space for the past 40 years, covering Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee. With dedicated salespeople and support staff spread out over a six-state territory, High-Tech Network is known for prompt service, their commitment to integrators and growing sales for their manufacturers. 

“I have been doing business with Hi-Tech Network since the late 70’s and still do business with them today,” said Kenny Thugut, purchasing director of 21st Century Distributing. “They are the most professional and highest quality representative in the Southeast.”

In 1979 Bill Morton and Bob Berkman came together to create the rep firm High-Tech Inc. They created a stellar sales team and built a solid reputation with manufacturers, distributors and integrators. That sales team included the recruitment of a young Panasonic salesman, Dave Robinette, who later became CEO of High-Tech Network. By 2005 High-Tech Inc. partnered with the late Jeff Caton and rebranded as High-Tech Network. 

“Like most other companies in the industry, we’ve been through a lot over the last several years with the pandemic and then losing our CEO Jeff Caton,” said Robinette. “Throughout everything we continued to grow. I am very proud of our team.”  

Covering the Southeast for High-Tech Network is Chris Cowdrey and founder Bill Morton for Atlanta, president Rick Gaynor for Alabama, David Nash, Jason Davis and CEO Dave Robinette for the Carolinas, Bill Datz and Tisha Collins for Tennessee with COO Doreen Osborne, who is based in Atlanta. 


American Lighting, Atlona, Brilliant, Chief, Costal Source, Da-lite, Focal Naim, Nest Pro, Klipsch, Leon, Luxul, Middle Atlantic, Monitor Audio, Nexo, On-Q, Prima Luna, Repure, Sanus, Screen Innovations, See Less Solutions, Sony, Stealth Acoustics, Why Reboot and Yamaha

Contact Info

CEO: Dave Robinette
President: Rick Gaynor
Founder: Bill Morton

(770) 435-5370

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