Luxury home owners are often challenged when trying to incorporate the often polar opposite technological advancements with visual appeal. This is usually a result of the fact that, traditionally, interior designers and custom electronics integrators go head-to-head when it comes to the layout and needs of a room. Interior designers want to remove big, bulky industrial boxes that interfere with the flow and style of a room while electronic integrators struggle to meet the needs of the homeowner’s desires to have a space that has both form and function. The compromise is often that formal living spaces are left alone while other areas of the home are fitted with the electronics that make life fun. This doesn’t have to be the case, though. When custom electronic integrators join forces with interior designers, the results are elegant, well-designed homes that are both functional and immaculate.
As both the son and brother of interior designers, I understand that room aesthetics often play a larger part in our industry than electronics do. But, as our lifestyles become increasingly dependent upon technology, the need to create a flawless union with design has become critical. Debbie Baxter, President and CEO at Baxter Design Group, explains it like this, “It is critical for the interior designer and the AV subcontractor to partner when it comes to the integration of electronics in a space.” However, this can feel like a daunting task, especially when there is a large amount of equipment and design that necessitates them being hidden. To that end, the Branson Design Group utilizes three clever strategies to ensure that our products assimilate into the plans of the designer as opposed to competing with them. The three strategies for integrating electronic components are: moving them, hiding them and showcasing them.
Putting electronics into a centralized location can do wonders for minimizing clutter and streamlining the look of a room. One way we do this at Branson Design is through the use of equipment racks that can be easily recessed into a closet space, wall or small room. This type of centralized audiovisual system keeps the room’s aesthetics intact and is easily incorporated in new and existing homes. It allows everything throughout the whole home to be stored in one central area.
A big draw to having components hidden is that elements like video and music can be played throughout the home without having to display electronic components in every room. Not only does this remove clutter from the main rooms, but from the entire home as well. Using a high quality, two-way control system virtually eliminates the need to access these components because the equipment is communicates with and is controlled by keypads, touch-panel controls and remotes.
According to Baxter, “Designers love to design for something. We look for challenges like the containment of televisions [and] the covering of unsightly speakers.” There are several novel ways that this can be done. When components can’t be hidden away, camouflaging them creatively is another way to integrate them into a design. One way that this can be done is to custom paint them to match the existing decor / theme of the room. Speakers, for example can be made to look like the wall or area surrounding them. The matching of tone and color can make any component disappear into the design instead of being a stark contrast to it. An alternative to painting would be covering your components with fabric that matches the color palette and theme in the space. Wall accessories, such as electrical outlets, keypads and cable ports, can be swapped out for flat, flush-mount kits that can also be painted to match the surrounding area, allowing them fade flawlessly into the design.
Covering large pieces, such as television, can be done with the use of motorized lifts that allow them to pop up from custom furniture or even drop down from the ceiling. Also, they can be covered with large scale pieces of art that lift away when in use.
High performance gear may just be made to stand out! If the piece is unusual or grand, make it a prominent feature. Modern and contemporary designs are excellent vehicles to boast the electronics of a room; don’t be afraid to use them as focal point. Electronics can also substitute for art. Pieces like retro amplifiers and vintage turntables or reference speakers can be a fun and inviting element in a room.
Even though audio/visual integrators and interior designers have historically been at odds, one thing they always agree upon is that a lighting control system is the best way to show off a house once the interior and electronic designs are complete. Controlled light adds elegance and charm to any room in the home. Centralized systems don’t require multiple switches in the walls, thus creating visually appealing and decorator friendly spaces. Existing homes can also easily be retrofitted with communicating switches without the need of running any additional wire. Controlled lighting systems allow for moods and scenes that highlight the grandeur of a home and can be controlled instantaneously with the single touch of a button.
As the owner of the Branson Design Group, I understand that forging relationships with interior designers can lead to the creation of homes that include the best of both worlds. Debbie Baxter expresses this best when she says, “Any great interior allows for the various experts to come together and create as a team; the result is divine!” While it is likely that there will always be dissenting ideas, I hope that this trend of cooperation grows so that more homes can be practical in usability and beautiful to look at. Working together ensures that everyone is happy, from the technologically-crazed to the aficionado of elegance.
The Branson Design Group can be found at: www.bransondg.com
The Baxter Design Group can be found at: www.baxterdesigngroup.com