Idea House: Home technology

“Alexa, unlock my door then play The Who at 5:15”

Home technology has come a long way from intrusive cameras, massive Marshall speakers and oversized AV equipment. Gone are the days of “my woofer is bigger than your tweeter” and a door sign that says, “Smile, you are on camera.” The priority in the Idea House was simple and invisible, which meant they needed strong internet connectivity and of course, a professional who knows the internet of things! The security cameras, speakers and even the doorbell run on wifi. With framework of concrete and steel, that signal can be tricky so the pros at Custom Audio Video installed a network that would provide total coverage throughout the home.

To get advice on how to make your home smarter, LOCAL Life spoke with Sandy Benson, owner of Custom Audio Video:

What was your top consideration in designing the home technology system for The Idea House? [Sandy Benson] We always begin with the client’s lifestyle and what they are trying to achieve. Our clients were very specific in what they wanted to achieve and moreover, how they wanted to control it. It was up to us to design a system that is very simple, elegant and invisible. The home is quite large but the primary living area is on the ground floor and deck so that was our focus in order to maintain the homeowner’s budget.

What was a low-cost, high-impact thing you did? [SB] Many of our clients ask us to install art over their television, especially when the television is large and in a main room. Admittedly, it is often the women who ask for that as many of our male clients actually like looking at an 85-inch television, even when it is off. For this house, we suggested the Samsung Frame, a TV when it’s on and art when it’s off. This allows the owners to change up the art to set the mood. There can be a Picasso at one party and a painting of the dogs at another.

What can we expect to see in this design? [SB] Hidden technologies are key! This is more about what you won’t see. You won’t see wires and cables. You won’t see speakers and equipment. You won’t see a phone or a television dish or cable service. Netflix, Hulu, Apple and You Tube TV will be streamed, hence the investment in a reliable and fast internet connection and strategically placed access points is critical.


Sound and security design may not be the most glamorous part of home design, but it is one of the most critical and many times overlooked until you are down to the wire, literally. Nothing is more important than feeling safe in your own home and nothing is more empowering than the ease of controlling the technology that provides that safety.


Three priorities for the Idea House were:

1. Alexa The homeowners treat Alexa as a member of the family and insisted “she” be included in every room.

2. Access Even a moderate control freak loves the convenience of being able to control every aspect of their home, from anywhere, at anytime. That includes checking the locks, spying on the dogs, turning off the lights and setting the alarm system.

3. Atmosphere From closing the blinds, to dimming the lights then playing Quadrophenia on volume 9, Alexa combined with Sonos, oh and of course some programming by your AV professional, will let the owners set the mood, from the sofa or back patio.


Alexa Tips

Flash Briefing – While getting ready in the master bath, “Alexa, Play my Flash Briefing” will read: The Skimm (General news headlines), ESPN sports scores, People Magazine gossip and CNBC business headlines.

Alexa, Play my Flash Briefing”

Favorite Routine – “Alexa, Good Morning”. At this prompt, the Idea House’s Alexa will: Say “Good Morning,” give the weather update, announce the first appointment of the day, then play “My Generation” to get the blood pumping.

Reminders and Notifications – Never forget a birthday, miss a delivery or be late again. Alexa reminds the homeowners when to leave to be at Happy Hour right at 4 p.m., when a package is en route and when to give the dogs their heartworm meds.