Electronic House – January 2013 | by Lisa Montgomery

Oceanfront Home Opens Up
with Motorized Shades

46 electronically controlled Lutron shades lend privacy, energy efficiency and a cozy feel.

Tucked into its natural surrounding on the ocean’s edge in Maine, this 6,500-square-foot home takes advantage of the view via huge floor to ceiling windows throughout. Its minimalist interior design allows the exterior to be the main eye-candy, but there are times when the owners feel more comfortable covering the glass—especially in the main public space where 12-foot-tall windows make the room feel as if it’s part of the outdoors.

The custom electronics (CE) pros at System 7, Winchester, Mass., were able to turn this space into a private, enclosed, cozy space by installing 18 Lutron roller shades—one for each window. The hardware was carefully tucked into the wooden plank ceiling to remain completely undetectable. When the owners touch a button on a Lutron keypad or an icon on their iPad the shades quietly lower to cover the windows. The owners can stop them at any point or let them travel all the way down. They were all programmed by System 7 to move at the same speed, in perfect alignment. The rollers were so that there’s a 1-1/2 inch gap between each shade.

As important as the movement of the shades was the opacity of the fabric, says System 7 president Gerard Lynch. Lutron offers a huge assortment of fabrics in a variety of colors and weaves. For this project, System 7 hung sample swatches over the windows so that the owners could compare the opacity of each. “We brought a weaves of 3, 5 and 10 percent and compared them at different times of the day, from both the inside and the outside of the house,” Lynch explains. The owners chose the 5 percent weave, which is open enough so that the owners are provided a hazy view of the landscape through the fabric. “It’s a transformative experience,” says Lynch. “When the shades are down you feel like you’re in a completely different space. We used technology as a tool to produce a new feeling for the room.”

The lights in this space are also controlled via the keypad and iPad, as is a Sonos whole-house music system that delivers audio to Sonance architectural speakers that sit flush with the wooden ceiling. System 7 tweaked the speaker bezels so that they’d resemble pegs that are commonly used to hold planks of wood together.

Although this family room exemplifies the high-level of craftsmanship and planning involved in integrating technology pleasingly into a space, there are many other areas in this house where technology lends a hand. In total, 46 motorized shades and 80 lighting loads are tied to the Lutron system. An Elan g! home automation system also operates the lights, as well as the thermostats and security system.


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