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Game On

March 26, 2008 By B.A. Hoffman



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Game On media room
Game On media room
Game On media room with pool table

What to do if your son takes beer brewing very seriously, and Dad loves to knock back son’s brew with the guys while playing poker or taking in every Saturday or Sunday afternoon football game that’s on, whether it’s collegiate or professional? The answer is easy if you’re the wife of the owner of this private sports bar. You either walk away from the marriage or you succumb to your husband’s crazy fantasy—of being able to watch several sporting events on several TVs in one room—with, of course, his buddies and plenty of beer by his side. So the wife stayed in the relationship and allowed her hubbie to build what he wanted ... knowing that she would have a very happy partner and that she would get to use the sports bar for her girlfriend get-togethers.

“I knew I wanted five TVs so I could watch five different games if I wanted to,” says the homeowner of his private sports bar. “You know how many sports games they put on at a time?”

Game On media room

In addition to being a sports junkie, the homeowner is also wild about technology. “I read that the homes of the future would be computerized, so when I first started building the house I decided to wire for everything,” he says. “I wasn’t sure what I’d put in there, but at least it would be there for the future. All the technology was so interesting, so as I got more involved I kept adding more.”

This sophisticated 1,200-square-foot sports bar shares the lower floor with a wine cellar and a tasting room. Double doors open onto a large grass area with a cabana that boasts, of course, a 30-inch flat-screen TV that’s tied into the home’s A/V and automation system. “Walking into the sports bar is like walking into a movie theater with lots of screens,” says the homeowner. “It’s really exciting.”

“Exciting” in that the homeowner and his friends can easily go back and forth between sporting events with ease. “One of his requests was to make the system very simple,” says custom installer Navot Shoresh, principal/owner of Spire Integrated Systems LLC in Detroit, Mich. “Not only can you watch five different games simultaneously, but if you want to move a sporting evnt from one of the smaller TVs to a bigger TV, you can.” The touchpanel interface mimics the layout of the TV wall for ease of use.

Set within the custom stained cherry cabinetry is a 70-inch Sony XBR, and four 32-inch Samsung LCDs. “When we started the project, plasma couldn’t give us this size,” Shoresh says. “It’s the best screen for the money without going into rear projection.” He selected the Samsungs before the Sony Bravia hit the market. “It was the best LCD you could find,” Shoresh says. The sound system is just as superior with 10 pairs of speakers and two subwoofers, which are concealed in the cabinet, below the TV cabinet and in the back wall. Even the nearby bar is tied into the AMX control system, which feeds from the 500-CD Escient Fireball music server and the Escient Fireball movie management system, which stores 400 films.

“The key to the whole thing is the [MVP 8400] AMX controller,” Shoresh says, and the customized touchpanels. The main wireless touchpanel, which can be used anywhere, docks into the bar’s wall. Since the homeowner is a big Pistons fan, Shoresh customized the cable TV interface to look just like a basketball court; the numbers on the basketballs reference various cable TV channels. “When you select a channel, a reference picture comes up on the screen to illustrate what you have selected,” says the custom installer.

While the sports bar’s audio and video systems aren’t a departure from the rest of the home’s elite technology —which includes seven other TVs and a home theater—the interior design is a very big departure. “They wanted to have an informal, casual, and laid-back space,” says interior designer Kimberly Corera, adding that balance of the house is extremely formal. In the sports bar, the materials had to be easy to care for. The maintenance-free floor is slate with glass inserts instead of marble or mahogany wood, so spilled drinks don’t damage—an amenity that comes in handy when the family invites 200 people for a Christmas party. The open layout accommodates large groups, and it makes the bar as accessible to the card table as it is to the area that doubles as a dance floor. The warmth of the cinnamon-glazed cabinetry, which wraps the Venetian plaster walls, keeps the space from feeling too cold or capacious.

Game On media room with pool table

Corera gives the homeowner full credit for much of the sports bar’s look. “He picked the size of the TVs and came up with the design to fit them,” she says. While the homeowner can discuss his extensive wine collection with friends as they sit and sip in front of the double-sided stone fireplace—which divides the floor’s two recreation areas—he can also gather with friends for a game of Texas Hold ’Em in the sports bar. “They love to host card parties,” says the interior designer. “They’re very down-to-earth people.”

“All of the ‘toys’ are great,” says Shoresh, “but if the owner comes home at and wants to turn on the TV and can’t, that’s an issue. The key is the AMX touchpanel. There’s a lot of technology, but it’s simple to use.”

“I would recommend [automation] to everyone,” says the homeowner. “My wife is the perfect example—she gets flustered when using technology, but she can handle any of the technology in the house. It’s so user-friendly. People who have not experienced [automation] should learn about it—they’ll want to have it in their home. It’s the way of the future.”

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