It’s Easy When You Plan Ahead
As a homebuyer, you are excited about the prospect of building a new home or planning a major remodel of an existing one. It’s easy to get consumed with a mountain of details to consider, such as material selection, plumbing fixtures, colors, appliances, lighting, wall finishes, and so much more.
Smart home technology requires thought and detailed planning too, and the choices made can affect construction as well as finish-out details. The last thing you want is intelligent technology that looks like an afterthought and is not well-integrated into your carefully designed spaces. That’s why it’s critical that a smart technology professional is involved early in your planning process with your architect, builder, and interior designer.
So if you’re planning a new residence in Houston and you want today’s — and tomorrow’s — intelligent automation features, here are some reasons why you’ll want to bring a local smart home professional early into the design phase.
Modernize Your Office Audio-Video Installation
Modern business moves at a fast pace. New communication and software technology enable people to share information and get things done faster than ever before. Emails and faxes are still around and have their uses, but new software-based collaboration tools like Skype, Zoom, Slack, Trello, Asana, Microsoft Teams, and many more have changed the nature of work, whether it’s internally or with partners, clients, and suppliers.
Are your meeting spaces equipped for modern collaboration? We are not talking about basic connectivity like full Wi-Fi everywhere and fast Internet connections — although those should be up-to-date to deal with today’s data requirements. Today’s workers want to be able to use multiple devices for communication and collaboration — whether it’s an iPhone, Android phone, iPad, Chromebook, Windows laptop, Mac laptop, or something else.
Have you ever been in a meeting where someone wanted to connect their mobile device to the room’s projector or display for a presentation, but there was only an HDMI or VGA cable? That conference room left a lot of today’s devices out in the cold in their ability to collaborate.
The good news is that there are a variety of ways to modernize your offices and meeting spaces to bring them into 21st-century technology. Read on for some ideas on upgrading your audio-video installation to maximize productivity in Houston.
Explore The New Options in High-End Home Audio
A curious thing has happened in the past 15 years or so with the advent of the iPod and the revolution it brought to how you could listen to music. To be sure, the iPod (which wasn’t even the first product of its type) was a revolution, but it was the second one when it came to digital music. The CD was a monumental change which brought music into the digital age. CD technology put music in a high-quality digital form factor which was very portable, and unlike the vinyl records and cassette tapes that ruled before it, CDs did not degrade over time.
When the portable digital players first came out, they were somewhat limited in how much digital music they could hold. Converting uncompressed digital CDs to digital formats like MP3 for portable players took up a lot of storage space, so people started listening to music at something less than optimal quality. The portability and convenience of music on devices like iPods, and now smartphones, took precedence over the quality of the sound. Enter the massive popularity of streaming music today, and in most cases that still holds true – most of the services today like Spotify and Pandora stream at something less than CD quality, although that’s improving.
Why all this (admittedly brief) history? Because advances in digital audio technology are changing this landscape, bringing new options for enjoying high-end audio in your Houston home with all the convenience and flexibility of today’s digital music. Read on to learn more.
Plan the Low-Voltage Wiring Early in Your Next Project
A new build or remodel project has many details that must be well thought out and planned. It’s easy for architects, designers, builders, and the homeowners to get wrapped up in many decisions that must be made to balance requirements, desires, budget, and time constraints. Often there are many design revisions to floor plans, lighting plans, materials, and much more. Something like low-voltage wiring might not be the thing that most of the parties involved are worried about – yet it is critical infrastructure for enabling many smart home functions. Low-voltage wiring is easier and less expensive to do before drywall is installed, and even if changes are required in that stage where the framing is still uncovered, it is still relatively simple to do.
What kind of things depend on low-voltage wiring? Quite a few with today’s smart home features. LED lighting is one excellent example. A home with LED lighting and smart lighting control might have more low-voltage wiring requirements than regular electrical wiring. Other features like smart security sensors, alarms, and cameras all depend on low-voltage. If the owners want a whole house audio system, planning for that early makes it considerably less expensive than adding it later. How about a media room or home theater? Planning the low-voltage infrastructure makes it easy to install all these features when construction is completed.
Refined Systems is expert in residential AV systems and smart home technology. Read on to learn more about the benefits of bringing in a low-voltage contractor like us early in your next Houston residential project.
Whole Home Audio for Audiophiles
If you really love music, it’s likely that you’re particular about how you listen to it. If it’s on headphones, you don’t just have any headphones. If you’re an avid listener in your car, you probably have the upgraded audio system. If you have a listening room in your home, you likely have high-end speakers and electronics.
In today’s busy lives in Houston, people rarely sit and listen to music. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have audiophile sound in every room – even outside – throughout your home, as you do other things. That’s where a whole home audio system comes in. A centralized system with speakers in multiple rooms and outside spaces can fill your home with pristine sound, without adding equipment in every room.
Here Are Five Ideas to Delight Your Clients in Houston
Your client has asked that you incorporate a custom home theater in their new home. Building, remodeling, or just redecorating is a perfect time to incorporate some fresh ideas for their dream media space. Whether you go with a traditional movie theater look or match the interior design of the rest of the house, there are many options. Some of these options do involve planning ahead in the construction process to accommodate specific aesthetic and functional desires.
Home theaters have an almost infinite variety of forms they can take, but the best ones will all share a few things in common – a large high-quality screen, a high-quality sound system, comfortable seating, and simplified operation.
Beyond those basics, the sky is the limit for what can be done with a home theater design in Houston.
Read on for some design tips to create a dream home theater for your clients.
Is Your Home Network Up to Par?
In today’s world, it seems like smart technology is invading almost every device or appliance in our daily life. You may remember when a phone was, well, just a phone. Today our smartphones are always with us, a powerful pocket computer that can do banking, serve up audio and video entertainment, keep us connected to the world via social media, and make phone calls too. This smart device is joined by smart doorbells, locks, cameras, motorized shades, lights, thermostats, refrigerators, and more in the home.&
The common thread across all smart devices is that much of the intelligence that makes them “smart” comes from their connection to powerful software applications on the Internet. Amazon’s Echo speaker is just a speaker unless it is connected to Amazon’s cloud, which has the processing power and intelligence to enable the little speaker to accomplish a wide variety of tasks. Without an Internet connection, some of these devices don’t seem very smart.
As we add more and more devices for smart home control and automation of lighting, climate, security, and entertainment, we need networks with the capacity to handle it all. Is your home networking system up to the task in Houston?
Read on to learn more.
Why Crestron Is The Leader in High-End Home Automation
You might say that home automation technology is almost mainstream these days. Google, Apple, and Amazon are making devices and home control platforms that enable control of smart home devices like thermostats, lights, AV equipment. But home automation technology is older than you might think, and some companies have been at it for a long time.
Crestron is the company that practically invented home automation. Starting in 1971 by building a variety of automated machines, it began focusing on electronics control in the late 1980s with one of the first wireless remotes for commercial systems. The company’s long history and focus on automation have made it a staple of control systems from corporate boardrooms to the largest homes.
As the premier Crestron authorized dealer in Houston and operator of a Crestron showroom, Refined Systems has the experience and expertise to automate virtually any aspect of your Houston residence. Read on to learn more about what makes Crestron stand out from other home automation systems.
To Get Cinema-Quality Sound, Acoustics Matter
You have wanted that dream home theater forever. Now you are ready for it. You have the right room in your house, and the time to enjoy it with family and friends. You are thinking about screen sizes, sitting arrangements, and maybe even the classic popcorn machine to achieve that authentic movie theater experience.
There is one thing that you should not overlook in your home theater. A great cinema experience is as much about the sound as it is the picture. If you want to immerse yourself in the movie, you want to hear the explosions, the bullets flying overhead, and the dialogue clearly amid other ambient noise in the soundtrack.
Choosing the right equipment and setting it up correctly is a big part of achieving that experience, but some rooms are challenged in the sound department. Sound may reflect off hard surfaces, and the room shape may not be optimal. These reflections can result in uneven bass across the room, and sibilant and annoying higher frequency sounds.
But there is a cure for subpar home theater sound in challenging rooms – acoustic treatment. When you use Refined Systems to design and build your home theater or media room, this is something we consider to help you attain the optimal cinema experience in your Houston home.
Read on to find out more!
3 Ideas to Reap The Benefits of Smart Home Technology
If you have heard a lot about smart home technology, you know there are a plethora of devices out there that promise to make your life so much easier. Smart devices can make your home function better, adding convenience, luxury, and often energy savings too.
But what are the best ways to really take advantage of this technology? Some solutions add real value, and some are more of a novelty that may not make much difference in your daily life. In this blog, we want to identify what we believe are the best smart home control applications that will make your life easier, day in and day out in Houston.
Read on to find out more!
4 Design Ideas for A Sleek Modern Look
Smart home technology is everywhere. From smart speakers to smart thermostats to smart cameras, there are a host of devices that can automate home functions and make everyday life simpler. But as a designer, you don’t want a bunch of electronics or devices dominating your interiors. Can the desire for the convenience and automation of modern smart devices mix with great design?
The answer is yes. In fact, some of the new tech has beautiful industrial design that makes a statement. And other smart home technology can be discreetly incorporated without taking anything away from you and your clients’ design sense.
Read on for 4 excellent ways to marry smart technology and style.
Why Crestron is the Ultimate Smart Home System
If you’re looking into adding smart features to your current home or perhaps building or renovating a new one, there are a few home automation systems to consider.
You might wonder what the differences are between these systems. There is one overarching reason why we at Refined Systems recommend Crestron – it is supremely flexible. Crestron’s approach to home automation is to deliver the best customer experience, and that means one that is as personalized as possible to the customer’s requirements.
Intrigued as to what that means? Read on for a couple of examples of what’s possible with a Crestron-powered smart home system in Houston.
Beat the Houston Heat With Motorized Shades
Perhaps you’ve already invested in some home automation. You may have a smart thermostat that you can control and program from your smartphone. Maybe you have smart lights that go on and off at specific times or groups of lights that you can easily brighten or dim. You may even have security cameras that alert you to presence or activity in your home or outside.
But there’s one piece that you may not have thought about to complete your very efficient – and convenient – smart home technology, and that’s motorized shades. Of course, there are regular motorized shades that can go up and down at the push of a button on a remote or a smartphone app. But the advantages of automating your shades – making them smart – are more significant when you integrate them with your other smart technology. And with our Texas summer getting into full swing in Houston, smart shades can keep you cooler and more comfortable.
Just keep reading to learn more.
Consider it an Electronic Entertainment Hub
Mention home theater to someone and more likely than not it conjures up a vision of a darkened room, a large screen, lounger-style theater seating, and sconces for soft lighting. In other words, a luxurious dedicated room that simulates the movie-going experience. But that vision of the home theater is changing.
We have a vast array of electronic entertainment available to us. We may want to watch sports on the large screen, binge-watch Netflix or music videos, play games on an Xbox 1 or PlayStation, or even have a virtual reality experience in a home theater or media room space. On top of that, the media experience may be accompanied by games like pool and ping pong.
That means that today’s home theaters may be more like multipurpose entertainment rooms than places to sit and watch a film uninterrupted. These new trends will make a difference as you plan media rooms and home theater installations for your clients.
Read on for some considerations on planning your next home theater or entertainment room project in Houston.
Make the Most of Your Landscape Investment
Perhaps you are thinking of building – or remodeling – a pool and patio in your River Oaks home. Along with that will come an investment in landscaping, to set off the new additions, and create a beautiful and serene environment for your outdoor relaxation.
With our warm Texas weather, we have a long spring and summer season that’s perfect for outdoor enjoyment and entertaining. So don’t forget about landscape lighting in your project – it can make the most out of your lawn, garden, and outdoor spaces.
Read on to see how.