With 20,000 sq. ft. of property, £200,000 worth of hardware and four generations to accommodate, Inspired Dwellings had one goal with this project: to create the ultimate party house.
With a vague concept of ‘technology’ for ‘entertainment’, the clients wanted a home which fitted family life and socialite status, but had only the vaguest idea of how to achieve it. For the next few months the company’s workshop became a lecture hall, showcasing centre, playpen and debate court, as family and contractors came to fully understand just how diverse the expectations of this new build were.
The housekeeper wanted a comprehensive control system to keep this giant property under her watchful eye. Grandma wanted simplicity – to be able to turn the television on when visiting. The younger children love colour and wanted their home to be an ‘exciting’, visual experience.
Mum, a socialite business women with a keen eye for fashion, was determined to maintain a minimalist design. The teenagers wanted the coolest technology, the coolest bedrooms and an education of how it all worked. Dad just wanted somewhere he could kick back, relax, entertain and watch the game.
An ambitious design was drawn up; 16 televisions, 16 audio-zones, Wi-Fi, lighting control, HVAC, motorised shades, door/gate entry, CCTV, magnetic-locking doors/windows, water features, insect repellent, yes insect repellent, an endless list which only continued to expand as the family realised just how much their home could do for them.
The first decision – which control system could bring the whole house together? Control4 ticked all the boxes, providing comprehensive control through an intuitive (read: ‘guest friendly’) interface, and accessible chic in-wall touch panels for every room. Every member of the house can access the system through iPhones and iPads and longer term guests can be added to the system. The team also integrated a Lutron Homeworks QS system and placed bespoke keypads at key points in the home. ‘Party Mode’, ‘Garden On’, ‘Chill’, ‘Work Out’, ‘Welcome’, all adjust various elements exactly as the client’s briefed.
In the communal rooms the design is chic yet powerful, with rounded in-ceiling speakers and ultra-thin, flush mounted LED flat screens, all linking to Apple TV and satellite channels. Colour-wash lighting became an unobtrusive way to add character throughout the property, becoming a stylish design feature through textured hallways and bespoke kitchen panelling. The younger children particularly enjoy their LED bathrooms and the team integrated their dual treehouses (one each) with Wi-Fi and colour-wash lighting, complete with their own engraved (weatherproof) keypad.
The eldest teenager’s bedroom, a student at a local Uni was another highlight, using a static headboard into a three-screen video-wall, which uses sensors to alternate city-scape images libraries depending on SW15’s time and weather. To create a truly dramatic ‘Manhattan loft experience’ Lutron Sivoia shades hide the set-up when not in use. The wall can also be used for gaming sessions and to stream Facebook photo albums – although for the son’s peace of mind, images are streamed at a 24hour delay, allowing plenty of time to remove incriminating evidence.
Across the hall, the girls were starting to embrace the idea of technology and design working together. Motion censored frosted glass was added to the en-suite sauna’s and shower rooms, whilst bespoke under-bed television lifts were added to the master bedrooms and eldest daughter room.
Downstairs is dad’s haven, a large media room boasting a powerful 7.1 cinema set-up, with playfully spaced B&W in-wall/ceiling speakers and a flush mounted 75in LED flatscreen. Rearrange the modular seating and the bespoke colour-wash bar takes centre stage, with space for up to 30 people to party, discuss the game or enjoy a little poker. Next door, the spa and pool area is synced to provide ‘splashes’ of vivacity or twinkling tranquillity to the subterranean retreat, with an additional two subwoofers and seven in-ceiling speakers to get the party going.
The five racks needed for this project sit in their designated war-bunker-style rack room beneath the garden, only accessed through a hidden entrance. Within the bunker, the company’s engineers designed an MDF shell with removable panels to house the Middle Atlantic racks, providing easy access for monthly maintenance visits. Although the project has finished, the clients have not. In addition to a potential smoke machine and disco settings in the media room, the family plan to revisit their entertainment relatively regularly and plans are already being discussed to include a water proof cinema in the pool area when the children get a little bit older.