Felicity Haythorn

Connected homes and the smart technology that powers them are diverse, just like the people who live in them. Some homeowners require all their tech to be behind the scenes, while their decor does the talking. Others, like Equippd’s client at Burlington Road in Chiswick, West London, want it all on show. If you’re looking for some inspiration on all-singing, all-dancing tech, you’ve come to the right place. Equippd co-founder Charlie McCourt explains how the team created a smart home with a multifunctional media hub at its heart.

The client’s brief was to create ‘the best entertainment system to show off to his friends and entertain his family,’ says Charlie. ‘A lot of people come to us and want to focus on the environment, sustainability and security, but this home is now a media lover’s paradise! It’s a dream for anyone who’s in lockdown.’

The highlight has to be the basement media room. This is where all the design, programming and set-up prowess comes together to create a truly multifunctional space encompassing a cinema, a games room, somewhere to watch TV and a space to enjoy music. ‘It’s an amazing room – several entertainment and environment systems work together to create an incredible, immersive space,’ enthuses Charlie.

To turn it into a cinema is simple, and the entire process begins with just a single button push or voice command. Charlie talks us through the transformation. ‘It has a 77″ TV and 124″ cinema screen combo. When you ask Alexa to “turn on the bloody cinema” – our client’s colourful voice command! – the screen starts to descend, the projector drops from the ceiling, the lights dim slowly to dark blue (or whatever the client requires) and the TV is timed to turn off just as the screen passes so you don’t miss a second of what you were watching! It’s a really seamless transition.’

This room has to work hard because it has to serve as an entertainment space as well as a home cinema – no one wants to sit in a pitch-black room when they’re listening to the Archers omnibus, after all. The client required a brighter room for daily use in order to watch TV, the football on a Saturday afternoon or a live concert. This is how Charlie and the team did it. ‘We sourced a higher light output projector, which works better in brighter environments, as well as a grey cinema screen, which is better in high ambient lighting settings. You get a brighter, clearer image, even if the blinds are up.’

It’s an amazing room – several entertainment and environment systems work together to create an incredible, immersive space

It’s not just about the show, it’s about performance, too. When they have a night in, the family is experiencing the best-quality audio and video, from TV to films to gaming. ‘We installed some very high-quality speakers from brands such as KEF and Triad,’ explains Charlie. ‘The cinema room boasts Dolby Atmos – a combination of seven speakers around and above for full immersive, 3D surround sound.’

Multiroom audio speakers are also dotted around the house, so the family can listen to the radio, music and podcasts in kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms and study.

Although entertainment was high on this client’s list, the environment has to feature the complementary tech to match – after all, there’s no point having a fantastic entertainment system if the lighting is lagging behind. This is where Control4 comes in.

‘The home has lots of tech throughout, from Lutron lighting to zoned music to advanced security systems, and we installed a range of TVs, projectors and speakers. But to control the whole lot, we use Control4, the brain of the house,’ says Charlie.

Control4 is a smart home operating system (OS) that connects virtually all of the technology in your home. With Control4 Smart Home OS 3, you can control nearly every device and system in the house in ways that are easy and fun to use. ‘It means you just press one button to watch a film, and the screen will drop down and Sky or Netflix will turn on,’ explains Charlie. ‘You can also control the lights, the heating, you can check the security cameras on the in-wall touch screen – Control4 is a really good unifier, one simple way to control everything in the house.’

Equippd also uses Lutron, a flexible, efficient and reliable lighting control system that can be used on its own or alongside Control4. It means that your lights can be programmed to be switched on, off, dimmed or brightened by zone, room or the entire house, with one swipe on your phone. Charlie describes how this works in practice. ‘Walk into a room, push one button and control whole banks of lights rather than turning lots of different knobs,’ he says. ‘For example, in the kitchen, you can have a lighting scene that sets the ambience to “entertain” – it’s a quick way to create and pre-programme different moods in a room.’

In a departure from their usual brief of keeping the tech behind the scenes, Equippd were tasked with coming up with some seriously automated tech. ‘As well as the projector that drops from the ceiling in the media room, the kitchen TV automatically moves away from the wall on a motorised bracket to face the garden – perfect for that barbecue/football combo!’ laughs Charlie. ‘We work with a fantastic bespoke joinery designer, Felicity Interiors, who were able to accommodate all this appearing and disappearing tech.’

Working closely with Felicity Interiors to integrate all the technology into the furniture was one of the highlights of the project for the Equippd team. ‘It was super fun, and comforting to know that it would all fit perfectly!’ says Charlie. ‘They created beautiful bits of joinery for the cinema room, the snug and the master bedroom, and we worked to bring the technology into their design, so it all looks like how it’s meant to, sitting flush in the units, with no cabling on show and no gaps bigger than they need to be. Seeing our work turn from concept to the units working beautifully was a really rewarding part of the project.’

Burlington Road shows what is possible for both automated and connected tech in your project. Working with carefully selected partners, Equippd was able to bring the client’s dream of an entertainment hub within the wider, multi-functional home environment to reality. Charlie sums up: ‘The tech looks great and performs even better.’

Inspired by what we achieved at Burlington Road? We live and breathe technology – browse through our clear and simple guide to what you can install in your home here. If you already know what you want, click start your home. Chat about your project with one of the team, by contacting us here.

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