Name: Judith and Ashley Abraham
Location: The Lux Loft, Liepaja, Latvia
Size: 140 square metres
It was over a year ago we spotlighted one of the most impressive tech-laden small spaces we've ever Tech Toured here on Unplggd. Judith's London 101 square feet ">Lux Pod proved to be a cozy and comfortable place for a night's stay during a backpacking sojourn across the British coast. Now Judith is back with a larger loft space in Latvia, with even MORE technology infused into just about every corner. The LuxLoft is Old World meets New Tech, complete with its own robot floor cleaner and just about every high tech amenity a person may want while staying abroad.
My/our style: Contemporary, fun and hi-tech with attention to detail on lighting enhancements. The newly built apartment was completed this year and is being rented out as a vacation apartment to cover the costs of the hi-tech, exclusive specification.
The inspiration for my home office/home theater: Home Office: I wanted something very different and striking, so I chose bright pink, glossy desks. I purchased the desk tops and legs from Ikea in Germany, driving en route from London to Latvia. A Latvian furniture designer, Mebeles Designs, cut and fitted them into the space and arranged for them to be sprayed with the pink color I selected. He finished them in a very glossy coating. He then created a wall of dark cupboards and continued the pink theme, by adding a horizontal stripe of the pink gloss wood, so the line of the desk looks like it continues horizontally through the cupboards.
Home cinema: The home cinema is in two stages of development. The fist stage, now completed, includes a Panasonic Plasma 65" 165cm Full HD TV and surround sound, including support for DTS Master Audio, top of the range Time Domain speaker system from Eclipse TD. Eclipse TD is in Abbey Road Studios in London and I am told Sting is an owner, as well as Mick Hucknall of Simply Red. There are three speakers at the front, plus the huge sub-woofer. At the rear of the seating area are two speakers.
Favorite element in your space: Availability of different lighting effects. The space looks completely different at night, with the glass shelves back lit on the hi-fi stand and glass on the subwoofer. The Boffi kitchen has LED lights underneath the bottom, which color wash the floor with a choice of colors to suit your mood. The fire place area has glass shelving, which is also back lit. A remote control enables the three large round LED lights on the mezzanine floor to change colors and create strobe effects which is great for party nights. We experimented with many suppliers' products before sourcing the thinest light strips for back lighting the glass shelving on the hi-fi stands.
The LED lights in the Villeroy & Boch floor tiles in the bathroom are pretty cool at night also. They lead the way to the Finnish sauna, and remind me of an airline landing strip with lights on the runway. The sauna has chromotherapy lights, which is lovely to lie back and be soothed by the heat and the colors.
Biggest challenge in designing my space: Hiding the cables in the walls for the home cinema, TV, audio system (on both terraces) Wi-Fi set up, Lutron electric blinds, security system, so they would be placed in the correct areas before the decorators arrived. There are no cables in view, as everything was chased into the walls.
The six Velux roof windows were ordered with motorized black-out shades and electric operated opening and closing windows and rain detector system. The ceiling height is over 5 metres high, so having a remote to control them was very important, as well as the rain detector. There are six remote controls strategically positioned throughout the apartment.
Ensuring the stereo system would work with all the other units was also challenging. When the Bose outdoor speakers were purchased we had to find a way to switch the audio onto the terraces and to be able to choose one terrace for the music, or both, or a combination of audio inside and outside.
What friends say about my space: They have never seen such attention to detail and they love the home cinema and music system. They say it is very romantic. Everyone comments first on the funky floor boards. They are stamped as if they are made from old fruit boxes. It creates a great sense of nostalgia and is perfect for a loft style apartment. They also ask if there is a kitchen, as the Italian Boffi Norbert Wengen kitchen looks like a piece of furniture when the sliding stainless steel top is slid into the closed position.
Area where there is room for improvement/future projects: Home Cinema (second phase) and installation of motorised projector lift and dual motorized screens for 16:9 and Cinemascope films.
I would like to create a huge light box for the wall, of a photographic image of Latvian fishermen, fishing on the frozen canal in Liepaja each January. It is a magical, unique experience, watching them sitting on the iced over canal, surrounded ice, especially when the sun is about to set and everything turns pink.
Proudest DIY (do it yourself) project: Creating the floor plans in SketchUp, a 3D computer package and sourcing all the items for the apartment. I'm happy with the steel cover, placed over an air vent, in the fire place area, laser cut to match the design of the wall paper. Input came from the local metal artist, Reinis Kuncitis, who also manufactured the brushed stainless steel staircase, leading to the mezzanine. It looks stunning. A great deal of time was spent on selecting the lights and sourcing them throughout Europe and working with suppliers. Turning on the lights for the first time was also very exciting!
Biggest indulgence with respect to my space: Purchasing the best quality audio system including super audio CD player and Time Domain theory speakers for accurate music reproduction. Pre-emplifier Arcam AV9 and power amplifier is Arcam P7.
Underfloor heating throughout the apartment, which is great on winter nights with the open fire place lit, sitting in the bubble chair and listening to music or watching a Blu-ray movie.
Best advice about organizing or incorporating tech into the home: Spend a lot of time in the planning stage. It is critical in achieving a stunning result. Consider putting the design into SketchUp or a similar 3D visualisation package. It is an easier way to communicate the vision when people can see it in a 3D model. Make sure you check that everything you buy is compatible as a whole and they will work together. Ensure your purchases are "future proof" and you know what you are buying. A lot of hi-tech items now need to be connected to the internet for upgrading firmware. Make sure you have a connection near the equipment. Also, plan the placing of electrical sockets meticulously, so they are out of sight and there is no evidence of lots of cables. Placement of furniture is also critical in getting the look right, as you may find the furniture is in the way of the sockets!
Dream source for stuff: Exhibitions whether it be art, photographic, new products, inspiring museum talks by great whimsical people. Keeping up with new high tech developments in lighting internationally and smart home technology. Flicking through lots of interiors and specialists magazines also helps for inspiration.
Home Tech Hardware:
- Roomba iRobot vacuum cleaner
- Arcam AV9 processor coupled with a P7 power amplifier
- Full HD Panasonic 65" 165cm Plasma TV
- Panasonic BD-80 Blu-ray player
- Arcam CD37 Super Audio CD player
- Bose exterior speakers on east and west outdoor terraces
- Eclipse TD 725sw subwoofer
- Eclipse TD512 surround sound system
- Eclipse Time Domain theory amplifier TDA501
- Apple Mac computer
Miele hob, dishwasher and fridge set into the Boffi Norbert Wengen kitchen,
Miele washing machine
Open fire place by Atraline, France.
- Norbert Wengen, Boffi kitchen with sliding top, which reveals the sink and hob. When closed it looks like a piece of furniture and not a kitchen
- Bespoke made stairs and cupboard by Latvian designer
- Adelta Design Bubble chair by Eero Aarnio
- Italian Vibieffe couch
- Italian Vibieffe table
- Italian Casa Design wall unit, which holds TV
- Philippe Starck EroS chairs by Kartell around kitchen table
- Book shelf and three piece wall unit made in Australia and purchased in the 1990s
- Italian table with specialist treatment marble look design and stone base (from Antique's auction house in Lots Road, London)
- Outdoor gigantic green tub/planter on the west facing terrace is a model from Netherlands company Ego2 bought from Conran Shop, London
- Glass shelving which holds the stereo equipment -Apollo Hi-Fi, British company
- Funky chrome wall radiators, Tekne Chrome radiators by Italian company Gruppo Ragaini
- Wall tapestries from the Riga Art Academy
- Velvet cushions purchased in Riga
Parador laminate floor covering stamped with wine and fruits design.
- Lutron Grafik Eye QS system
- Rose free standing lamp by Vibieffe
- Large round chrome pendant lamp, 1960s Italian collectable, purchased in Kensington, London
- Large Luceplan Titania lamp, designed by Alberto Meda and Paolo Rizzato (over dining table)
- Flos Fucsia light (over Boffi Kitchen)
- Morisini Fog 70 suspension - Large, designed Andrea Lazzani & Massimo Tonetto
- Oligo lamps over bed. Touch by finger to control light intensity
- Villery & Boch floor tiles with LED lights to show the way to the sauna at night
- Harvia Elegant Sauna, Finland
- Staircase by Latvian metal artist: Reinis Kuncitis
- Office furniture by Latvian designer: Mebeles Designs