How to Begin a Home Control Project

Whether you're building or remodeling, learn how you can benefit from integrated home technology.


Kitchen at the HGTV Smart Home 2013 located in Jacksonville, FL

Photo by: Eric Perry

Eric Perry

By: Krissy Rushing

An integrated home uses technology to make life easier by aggregating various home systems and letting you control them all via one simple user interface. Security, lighting, audio, video, climate, pool/spa and even appliances can be connected in an integrated home, offering the ultimate in convenience, control and energy savings.

Imagine touching a "Sleep" icon on your iPad before bed to turn off lights house-wide, set the alarm and adjust the thermostat to your preferred temp. With an integrated home, that functionality can be yours. Fortunately, the integrated home is easier to set up and more affordable than ever, making it viable for those with little technological expertise and those with small budgets alike.

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Tech Trends for Comfort and Convenience

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When building a new home or embarking on a remodel, it's important to start thinking about integrated home technology at the get-go. It's especially crucial to have a plan before walls are erected. Whether you are hiring a pro or doing it yourself, if the technology is incorporated early enough, in-wall wiring can be done before drywall goes up, ample electricity can be routed to electronic locations, and displays and speakers can be oriented within a room to their best advantage.

First, think about what sort of functionality you want your integrated home to have, and what subsystems — such as lighting, security and whole-house audio — you are going to incorporate. "The best way to determine what a homeowner needs is to ask questions about how they live," says Christian Lawrence, director of business development for Insight Home Solutions. "Every person is unique and every solution can be custom."

At this point, it's ideal to pinpoint future needs. "For example, you may want to budget for audio distribution only at this point, but the correct wiring or component decisions now can scale to full-fledged video sharing later, protecting more of your initial investment," says Bob Dodge, director of Talk of the Town. Wiring for future components now can eliminate untold retrofitting headaches in the future.

This complete guide to all things home automation and integration will take you through the process of planning your integrated home, covering every conceivable facet to make it a simple, straightforward and exciting endeavor.

20 Must-See Media Room Designs

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The design possibilities are endless when it comes to creating an elegant, inviting dedicated media room. In this urban space, a custom frame and a welded-steel support "float" the backlighted screen in the urban condo pictured here. White LED lights create a custom glow around the screen. The spiral staircase leads from the media room to an upper-level living area.

Originally a garage, this media room doubles as the client's boardroom. The TV acts as a video monitor and LAN network device for work presentations.

This room has open space for card tables, a foosball table and a large wine bar, and it also allows ambient light for daytime activities. As for its media room role, it has custom sconces that won't rattle during movie explosions, reclinable seating and a 120-by-68-inch acoustically transparent woven-microfiber screen that conceals the center speaker. The projector is concealed in a noise-reduction soffit to ensure clean architectural lines.

His and hers HD DVRs as well as two additional DVRs for guests takes this charming living room to the next level of entertainment. Homeowners have access to four DirecTV HD DVRs, Blu-Ray movies, AppleTV content, ROKU content, a computer and dual Mirage Media sources such as Pandora, Rhapsody, LastFM, XM radio, iTunes music and an iPod dock.

This room's 65-inch plasma display is recessed for a clean, polished and unobtrusive installation. A massive hearth made of native stone visually dominates the rustic room, and all the speakers and the subwoofer were positioned in the ceiling so they wouldn’t distract the eye.

When it's time to watch a movie in this room, the projector drops out of the ceiling and the screen drops down from a reclaimed beam in the ceiling. The control system allows the house sources to be shared in the media room along with a local Blu Ray player.

Photo By: Alex Fenlon

Hand-scraped wood floors and traditional design details anchor this luxe living room, which features discreetly placed audio and video components for a high-end entertainment experience that doesn't overshadow the room's design. Design by Audio Video Interiors

Photo By: HOWARD TUCKER 216-696-4616

Genesis Audio & Video turned an unused shell above a garage into a multifunctional media room to a include access to the house-wide DVD and music server, in addition to the home's security cameras, the Internet and house-wide lighting controls. Rather than hang the projector from a pole in the ceiling, technicians used a cantilevered wall mount to install it sleekly at the top of the rear wall. Photo courtesy of Genesis Audio & Video

Go back in time and spend a night at the movies with this Hollywood-inspired media masterpiece. The audio system features eight powered woofers, 10 surround speakers and three massive screen speakers. That equals 8,400 conservative system watts. Design by by Cantara Design, Interior Design by Slayman Design Associates

A large projection screen drops in front of the flat-screen TV from the 10-foot ceiling when the owner of this home wants to watch a movie. The movie screen drops enough to hide the television but doesn't cover the surround-sound system's front speakers.

Photo By: Barry Schwartz

In the 2013 HGTV Smart Home canvas artwork retracts to reveal flat-screen TVs. When not in use, TV covers scroll down to create a framed art experience. The media system is controled by a smart tablet or Web-enabled device

Photo By: Eric Perry

Moore Audio Design tamed reflective surfaces with acoustic treatments identically matched to the paint color, and added an area rug. Window treatments help eliminate natural light, while a Screen Innovations 97-inch Black Diamond Zero Edge screen amplifies light coming from the projector. Aside from the main screen, homeowners can view either of the 40-inch Samsung LED TVs if they are playing poker or getting a snack in the back of the room. Floorstanding surround speakers by MartinLogan offer true, immersive surround sound that is hard to beat. Photography by Jim Schmid Photography

Photo By: Jim Schmid Photography

This inviting room combines traditional design with a high-tech home system that allows homeowners control heating, security, and the entertainment hub. Design by Architectural Electronics, Inc.

Photo By: CEDIA

Optimized for both daytime and nighttime, this room lets viewers choose from a recess-mounted flatscreen and a projection screen that resides in the ceiling when not in use. Design by Starr Systems Design


For must-have media room products, the Panasonic ZT60 series is one of the most venerated TVs available, with stunning image quality. The My Home Screen feature allows you to personalize your experience and seamlessly integrate apps and content as you choose.

With a custom-cast space to fit the TV and a specialty finish on the TV frame, this room provides the best in entertainment without interrupting the design appeal of the home. Design by Starr Systems Design

A swivel-mounted flatscreen lets homeowners follow the action on the screen from all angles, including above. Photo courtesy of Innerspace Electronics, Inc.

With 5.1 surround sound and a sleek recess-mounted plasma TV, this cozy retreat overlooking the kitchen offers a change of pace in this combination live/work residence. Design by Beyond Home Theater

From family movie night to prime-time sporting events, the geometric patterns and artwork, a commanding 85" plasma TV and a full bar area set the stage for everyday this media room. Design by Starr Systems Design

Photo By: Alan Gilbert

In the 2012 HGTV Green Home a 59-inch flat-screen TV, mounted above the fireplace, is a family room focal point. When mounting a TV above the fireplace make sure seating is located far enough back to avoid irritating neck strain.

Photo By: Eric Perry

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