New or old? Traditional or modern? Add on or rebuild? It’s a decision many of us must make when looking for a home. For Virginia couple Rob and Kendall, they had a very nice, traditional-style home, but with three young children, they needed more space. They loved their neighborhood, so they decided adding on would be a great option. But after some long thought and research, they found rebuilding worked better for their needs. This gave Rob, who’d dreamed of incorporating the latest technology into their home, the opportunity to start anew, trading their 1940's traditional home for a more modern design, and extending their technology well into the future.
Getting the right service
A new home meant more space. More space meant more room for Rob to get some of the high-tech gear he had always dreamed of. “I didn’t know exactly what I wanted, I just knew I wanted something nice,” Rob told us. “We both listen to music, so I knew I wanted the house wired for speakers; and I watch a lot of sports, so I wanted it to be integrated into the home and controlled on my iPhone – I like that gadgety stuff.”
“I did some research. I called some smaller companies first because I thought I’d get better service. But when I went into Magnolia, they put me at ease and answered my questions. They did a really good job. And I liked that they had people with dedicated jobs. Adam, the Project Manager, and the installers really knew what they were doing.”
What started as a Magnolia Home Theater consultation was passed on to the local Magnolia Design Center once the System Designer at the Baileys Crossroads location learned all that Rob wanted to do in his home. Specialty Sales Manager Aaron Owens told us, “This is a great example of how the relationship between a Magnolia Home Theater store and a Magnolia Design Center can work. An MHT System Designer originally did the consultation. He noticed Rob needed more and handed the job off to a Magnolia Design Center, who showed him what else was possible.”
From the ground up
While Magnolia can create incredible home entertainment solutions in any home, new builds make bringing the technology in much easier. As Aaron told us, “We like to own the entire system. I like to say, the pre-wire is the skeleton – we need it in place to do everything else. If we can own the pre-wire and the home’s network, then we have the backbone and brains of the system. So this was the perfect scenario. We often do pre-wires where clients don’t know what they want – but they know where they want things for the future, which was the case here. We were able to pre-wire the home for lots of future possibilities. It’s like we’re almost future-proofing the home.”
Specialty Sales Manager Kenneth Eddy added, “With these types of jobs, it’s also important to have a great relationship with the general contractor, which we had here. With it being a custom home, things from a construction standpoint were changing all the time – timelines, designs of rooms, all kinds of stuff that we had no control over. It was important to keep constant contact so we could deliver our portion of the home design.”
“With these types of jobs, it’s important to have a great relationship with the general contractor ...”
Putting the home in their hands
Deciding on the right home automation system is a key aspect when building a robust home entertainment system. It’s the interface you deal with every day – so making sure you get it right is very important. To land on the system that was right for this family, Ken spent a lot of time learning what Rob and Kendall wanted, finding out how they wanted to control things, and ensuring the system was a comfortable one for them. But in the end, it may have come down to one thing. As Ken told us, “The thing that really sold Rob on Savant was when I showed him video tiling on our home theater screen in the store. He likes sports, and I told him, ‘Imagine watching 4 games tiled on one screen at one time,’ and he thought that was pretty cool.”
Aaron added, “Other companies were making bids, and some, because he was a sports fan and wanted multiple screens, talked about putting two 60" screens on each side of a 75" TV. But once he saw tiling, and the fact he could have four 60" TVs for game day, and one 120" screen for movies and everything else, he fell in love with it.”
Game time, family time, friends time, all the time
Many of us have that friend in our neighborhood who everyone seems to just gravitate to; in this Virginia suburb, Rob and Kendall’s home is that place. Creating a space that would encourage this was important to this couple, as a place not only for them and their friends, but a fun place for their kids as well.
To achieve this, Magnolia first brought sound into every room – all the bedrooms, closets, hallways, the laundry room; they all have Sonance in-ceiling speakers. That’s a total of 16 zones of audio, including two in the master bath, with a Sonance Extreme waterproof speaker over the shower.
To add to the audio, there are 8 zones of video distribution, including 4K TVs in both the family room and master bedroom, a Sharp 65" class TV in the playroom, an LG TV in Rob’s office, and a custom 27" class Suera mirrored TV in the master bath. The house is also wired for 2 future outdoor TVs in the backyard, plus they have an HDMI plate on the front of the house so they can bring a TV out to the front porch allowing Rob and his buddies to watch games while the audio plays through two rock speakers. Not a bad way to bring the neighbor guys together.
“He likes sports, and I told him, ‘Imagine watching four games tiled on one screen at one time’...”
But it’s not until you head downstairs that you see the home’s biggest screen: the 120" class Screen Innovations Slate Screen with an Epson projector. It’s here that family and friends alike can take in the home cinema that’s attached to the kids’ play area. The theater boasts a 5.1 Sonance surround sound system with an REL sub. Magnolia also provided the Bell’O reclining home theater seats that combine the feeling of a fine cinema with the comfort of home.
Below the projection screen and the TV in the attached kids’ playroom is a wall plate that is connected to the receiver in the rack – so Rob or his kids can hook up their Xbox to either video signal. This way, when Rob tiles the screen on the 120" projection screen, one of the four tiles can also be a video game. Now he can watch his sports, keep up on the latest news and challenge his kids to a game, all at the same time.
For a strong Wi-Fi signal, no matter where you are in the house, Magnolia installed a Luxul Access Point, which is hidden in a closet, out of sight. This single access point completely covers the entire home all the way out to the street. “He can even go across the street and get a great signal,” Ken told us.
Even the door lock is a connected product. Linked to the Savant system, each passcode can turn on any of your connected devices — lights, stereo, TV —s o you’re not walking into a dark or quiet house. Each member of the family can also have their own passcode. Not only will this create their own unique lighting scenes, but it can be programmed to send e-mail or text alerts notifying you when each child gets home. Now that’s a smart lock.
Geeking out over the rack
All of this amazing gear is powered by one equally impressive rack. Rob was so fond of the rack Magnolia Engineer Lucas Cervi built for the home that his wife joked after it was installed, “He’s just going to sit down there with a glass of scotch and admire that thing.”
Part of the beauty of this rack is what Magnolia calls the “Dave” panel, because it was designed by Magnolia’s Sr. Manager of Technical Services, David Barnett. This panel takes the elephant’s trunk of cables and wires that usually comes out of the wall and goes into the rack, and puts them into a clean panel inside the wall — then the rack simply hooks into that panel. Why is this important? First, it allows for testing of the installation prior to the equipment being connected, but more importantly for the end user, it makes changing and upgrading the system incredibly easy. And if they decide to move, they can bring their rack of components with them, and the only thing left in the rack room is a clean panel the next family can hook their components into. Most of all, it’s proven to provide greater reliability for your system.
In this home, there are two “Dave” panels, one with all the distributed audio/video and the other with all the localized cables. The rack itself is mounted perfectly in the center for easy hookup.
Their dream, realized
Today, a house is more than just walls, windows, doors and floors. Technology is that added layer that often completes a home, bringing together family and friends like never before. And for this Virginia family, incorporating the technology of their dreams, also helped them create the home of their dreams.
Aaron Owens: Specialty Sales Manager
Adam Robinson: Project Manager
Yasufumi Kataoka: Lead Installer
Art Shokhirev: Custom Programmer
Kenneth Eddy: Specialty Sales Manager
A word of gratitude:
Rob and Kendall wrote a letter before Magnolia was done to personally thank the team for how great a job they did. Here’s that letter:
I know we have a few items to wrap up, but just wanted to write to say thanks. The system is awesome! Equally important, the process has been relatively painless. I feel like we have been handled professionally from the beginning and everyone we have dealt with has been courteous and knowledgeable. Obviously that goes for 3 of you but also the installers have been really great to both Kendall and myself (my 3-year-old son refers to all the installers as his “buddies”).
For all Magnolia employees, letters like this are extremely appreciated. “We care very deeply about that experience, and building that relationship is hugely important,” Project Manager Adam Robinson told us. “These are custom installs and we want to custom program their environment to them — so getting to know them, asking them what their daily routines are, helping them program the lighting scenes and sound playlists for them goes a long way.”
“They were constantly doing what they said they would do. They were working hard, really nice and nice to my kids. They did a great job dealing with the contractor, who could be difficult at times,” Rob said. “I felt like they were honest, straightforward and did what they said they would do, and that’s hard to find.”