Name: Ethan and Amy
Location: Toluca Lake, CA
Years Lived In: 6 months
Living With Technology: Make technology augment things you normally do, not replace. Also strive to make it transparent in terms of your interaction with it. My wife doesn't much care one way or another about technology. Whereas I would have computers everywhere, with this house, we had to make sure we could both harmoniously use what we put in. This challenged me to make things work "normally" but also in a "smart" fashion.
Full, but functional best describes the technology in Ethan and Amy's home. They have every gadget, device, and technology imaginable, but one would never know it from a quick glance into their living room. Ethan designed all of the technology in his home based on the principle that his home was one huge Internet platform. He said this means that any device with internet capability was given full access, but we think he's being a bit modest. Their home really functions like one, giant computer and it does so really well and with grand style.
From their gadget-lovers dream of an Entertainment Center to their ingenious total-home lighting system, it's too bad they were just a tad too big to enter our contest. However, we couldn't pass up the chance to share their home with you.
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Ethan and Amy's entertainment center definitely does the job, and they've done a great job of choosing harmonious devices and installing them well. No media form is overlooked, and nothing is out of place. This is one geeked-out home, but you couldn't tell it from the surface. And, the coolest thing they've done is the complete automation of their entire home's lighting system. Controlled from a touch-screen system in the kitchen, their lighting system runs with motion detectors, specialized switches, and every imaginable scenario is accounted for. (He's equipped his home with motion detection so that lights turn on and off as you are using a room. And it also knows at night when their garage door opens to turn on certain lights to welcome them home.) There's a lot going on, but with the right equipment and some forethought, we could all strive to have such a beautiful and functional home.
Our Style: My wife and I agreed only on contemporary modernism. Bright colors with references back to mid-century modern. We both come from art backgrounds so applied minimalism to it all.
Favorite Feature: The combination of the glass wall that looks up into the dining room, and polished concrete fireplace.
What Friends Say: Everyone really digs the glass wall, and most everyone comments on the colors on the wall.
Best Advice: Simplicity. I like clean lines, as does my wife. We both hate cluttered rooms, so we try to keep everything super sparse.
Dream Source/Inspiration: Dwell magazine, European houses and Los Angeles mid-century modernism
Favorite Source: B&H Photo Video for the electronics, as well as Abes of Maine. I got really good deals. Furniture wise, Blue Print furniture for the entertainment unit, Sofa Factory for the sofa, and West Elm for some other items.
Biggest Challenge: Hiding the wires and equipment so my wife was OK with having that much stuff in the living room.
Biggest Embarassment: Nothing much, just some cable lengths.
Proudest DIY: Our home automation system, which is housed in the kitchen on a Mac Mini. Also, the cables from the TV to the set are run through PVC pipe that is behind the dry-wall, which we sound-proofed with some putty.
Pioneer VSX-1016TXV-K 7.1 Channel A/V Receiver
Sonos controller and remote
DirectTV HR20 DVR
Panasonic up-sampling DVD player
HDMI switcher (3 sources, 1 TV)
Apple Airport Extreme (used as a bridge for the Slingbox)
Mac Mini + Insteon home automation gear, along with a 15" touch screen (all housed in the kitchen)
Logitech Harmony 880 Remote
Panasonic 42" plasma set
Speakers are all JBL Venue series. Center channel, right and left. I have JBL PS5's in the ceiling. 4, with swiveling tweeters.
Check out more of their home renovations here.