Putting a New Heart Into a Home

For hundreds of years, the fireplace was the heart of the home. It was the centerpiece the home revolved around; it was where the family gathered, where you got your heat, even where you slept on cold winter nights. But with today’s smart house, where you can control nearly everything from your smartphone or tablet, it’s the automation system that is the new heart, pumping the blood to everything in the home.

When this Maryland family moved into their 12-year-old house, the home automation heart that was originally installed wasn’t pumping at its full capacity. Simply imagine how far TVs have come in the last decade, from standard definition to a new world of 4K Ultra HD. The same is true in the world of home automation. Twelve years ago, this technology was in its infancy; the technologies and options we have today simply did not exist. For a home whose automation system may have been top tier when it was first installed, it couldn’t hold up to where it needed to be in 2015.

A change of heart

When you’re the second, or in this case, the third owner of a home, you often want to make updates to meet your specific needs and desires. Paint color, cabinets and carpet are all things people change upon moving in. And when Magnolia System Designer Tyler Hagen and Project Manager Justin Winchester came to the family’s home and did a consultation, they found the home automation system also needed some updating.

“When we did the walk, we realized their old home automation system was only working at about 60%. It wasn’t giving the family the experience they wanted or needed,” Justin told us. While this system was great in 2003, with a lack of upkeep over the years, and many of the components being removed by the previous owners, it couldn’t deliver the experience the family needed.

“Even though they had in-ceiling speakers, they had boom boxes playing music in many of the rooms. That’s when we realized they weren’t getting the most out of the home automation they bought with the house,” Justin told us. The old system was replaced with an entirely new Savant system with all new audio and video switching. The hard-wired in-wall touch screens were also removed and replaced with LaunchPorts, which now hold and charge their iPads when not in use. They now have a wireless home automation system they can control with their smartphones or tablets.

“It was a 10-year-old pre-wire we had to update to work with current technology,” Justin added. “We had to find different pieces and parts to work together. It was a lot of backward engineering of what was already here and finding out how to make it all work in 2015.”

“We also salvaged what wires we could, and added what we needed,” Justin told us. “We kept a lot of the hardwiring and TV locations, and made them work with the new system. We wanted to be conscious of the fact that, when the family bought this house, they paid an elevated price because of the home automation system that was in it. Knowing they invested a lot of money there, and investing even more with us for a new system, we wanted to be efficient and make what they had work with the Savant system.”

In all, Magnolia gave the family control of some of the home’s window blinds, all the electronics, and are currently adding Lutron lighting control.

Now, with Savant, not only does the family have a home automation system that can properly control their home’s electronics, but a much easier system to use as well. Savant also allows for easy upgrades. Where the old system became unusable if they changed out certain components, with Savant’s software based programs, changing out a component simply requires a software upgrade. It’s that easy.

A family affair

Being a close-knit extended family, this home often hosts as many as 100 people. With so many visitors coming over repeatedly, the Savant app makes it easy for these guests to also have control of this amazing system. “When someone comes in, they can simply download the Savant app to their smartphone, and with the Wi-Fi password, they’re on the system and can use it on their own device throughout the home,” Justin told us.

This ability for others to control the home is not only great for guests, but also has enticed other family members to want this in their own homes. “We’ve done projects with several relatives and other siblings are considering it. It’s branched off into all of these leads,” Tyler told us. What started as a chat in a Magnolia Design Center has turned into a few really nicely outfitted homes, a family style friendship and a number of really happy-smart home owners.

The Magnolia CrewLeft to right,
Tyrone Twitty: Lead Installer
Adam Chen: Apprentice
Tyler Hagen: System Designer
Justin Winchester: Project Manager
Brian Parker: Lead Installer
Art Shokhirev: Programmer
Matt Stevens: Specialty Sales Manager

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