Home Entertainment


Hidden Beauty

September 12, 2008 By Brooke Lange

Click the images below for bigger versions:
Station Earth's Hidden Beauty media room. Indigo blue Venetian plaster walls set the media room’s tone. The sofas are customized in a deep blue velvet; the swivel recliners are bathed in a Ralph Lauren paisley fabric.
In the library, the TV lift is equipped with a Swiss motor made by a company that makes hospital beds. “It’s really quiet and strong,” Stumpf says.
The gas fireplace here, and in several other rooms in the house, can be controlled from a touchscreen controller.
The master bedroom
In the wife’s office and sitting room, above, the 32-inch Sony LCD screen can be viewed from the sofa or the desk.
Antiqued Cabrian black granite graces the countertops. The walnut plank flooring and the coffered ceiling with beadboard detailing is a nod to the home’s elaborate ceiling treatments. The kitchen’s beer tap is connected to the media room’s tap.
Pool anyone?
Main Staircase
Living room
The guest room

In this award-winning home, what’s new is meant to look old. Translation: This house was designed to resemble a finely restored Georgian home. And that means every ounce of technology is hidden and out of the way.

The clients who own this 14,000-square-foot, two-story Georgian-style house in Canada are, in many ways, living oxymorons. Their interior design taste is traditional, yet they love contemporary art.

So they have incorporated, accordingly, modern paintings into their living spaces. In addition, they love the entertainment benefits of modern technology, yet they don’t like to see it. So they have incorporated, accordingly, technology into their living spaces in an invisible manner.

“They wanted a media room, but they didn’t want it to look like a media room at all—no theater seating, no floor elevations,” says interior designer Alison Knapp of Barnard & Speziale Design Associates in Ontario, Canada.

The end result is a classically designed home and home theater that’s loaded with technology—most of which is invisible to the eye. “The client wanted the technology to be hidden and nonexistent to someone walking through the house,” Knapp continues. “You’d never know the house is as technologically advanced as it is—it’s all hidden in armoires and the cabinetry.”

“Every pair of speakers is hidden either in a wall or in the ceiling, and is painted to match the environment so they don’t impair the design,” says John Stumpf of Station Earth in Ontario, adding that the home won a 2007 Cedia gold award in the integrated home category. “The amount of wiring—and there’s more than 47,000 feet of it—the technology [including 12 TVs], and the time and effort blends seamlessly with the décor.”

Take, for instance, the 510-square-foot media room, which boasts, says Stumpf, “an understated Golden Age of Cinema feel” with fully concealed technology. The 110-inch Draper screen isn’t visible until it descends from the ceiling bulkhead; the Runco DLP projector is tucked into the back bulkhead; the speakers are built into the walls and are faux finished to match the wall finish perfectly.

The only hints that this room is, in fact, a movie-viewing space include the film reel art work hanging on the back wall, and the eight framed sepiatone portraits of movie stars that the designer had custom printed.

“We were going for more of an Old World feeling down there,” Knapp says, referring to the media room and the entire lower floor.

The walnut-paneled library follows the same design approach in that the look and feel of the space honors the past, while the hidden technology is a nod to the future. The antique Georgian-style fireplace surround in polished black marble, the custom leather chairs and sofa, and the custom-crafted bookshelves and cabinets epitomize the owners’ love of traditional architecture and design.

In the library, the TV lift is equipped with a Swiss motor made by a company that makes hospital beds. “It’s really quiet and strong,” Stumpf says.

Couple that with the pop-up 42-inch Pioneer Elite plasma TV that vanishes into custom cabinetry when it’s not in use, and it’s no wonder why this room has become a favorite entertaining venue for the couple. “It’s used a lot more than they anticipated,” Knapp says. “It’s a very cozy place for before and after dinner.”

Only two rooms in the house showcase technology in the form of fully exposed flat-screen TVs: the kitchen and the family room. “This is the most commonly used room to watch news or Sunday afternoon golf,” Stumpf says, alluding to the family room’s 42-inch Sony LCD TV.

Originally, this space was slated to feature a motorized painting that would slide up and down in front of the TV, but that request was removed from the interior design equation when the owners decided that this space would be used as a daily use TV room. “Because the room is used so much, they wanted to leave the TV exposed all the time,” Knapp adds.

In the kitchen, a 23-inch Sony LCD screen peers out from the custom cabinetry that was designed with glass-fronted doors to showcase the homeowner’s extensive collection of silver pieces. The cabinetry, along with the pendant lights on pulleys, which are designed to look like old gas lights, is reflective of a 1920s-style kitchen.

Antiqued Cabrian black granite graces the countertops. The walnut plank flooring and the coffered ceiling with beadboard detailing is a nod to the home’s elaborate ceiling treatments. The kitchen’s beer tap is connected to the media room’s tap.

“Everything in the house is new,” Knapp says of the custom home that’s almost 2 years old. “But the clients wanted everything to look old—like the real thing with modern conveniences.”

With 190 lighting loads spread across 14,000 square feet, those modern conveniences include the Vantage control system. “Because of the sheer scale, the automated lighting system is functional for energy conservation and ease of function,” Stumpf says. “Rarely will a lighting load be above 80 percent. In a house this big, this system will make the lightbulbs last longer.

They can run the entire home with very little effort.” The blinds and draperies are also wired into the Vantage control system. Hit the “good morning” button on the touch screen in the master bedroom, for example, and the curtains open like magic. The Vantage control system also accomplishes the homeowners’ goal of keeping walls clutter-free.

“There’s lots of intricate lighting throughout the house—from pot lights to wall sconces, chandeliers, outdoor uplighting. In a home that’s not done with a proper lighting system, you’d have a massive wall of switches, which looks horrible. We call that wall acne or scarring.” The Vantage control system streamlines all of the home’s lighting and automated functions into one keypad in each room. “It doesn’t cut into the trim work or molding,” Stumpf says. “It’s not an eyesore.”

Looking back on the numerous challenges and layered complexity of the project, Stumpf couldn’t be happier. “In this project, everyone clicked. And this is becoming more the norm because we’re seeing architects and designers accepting [installers] more because we can make the equipment blend with the décor, or hide it all. Guys like us are so geeked out on the tech that we often throw design to the wind. We try to learn more about what they’re trying to do and work with them instead of trying to work against them.”


This was truly a very amazing house or should I say a mansion.Just by looking at the pictures of it,I am amazed how beautiful this house is.

Great job..

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