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Sand Castle, A Vacation Home Comes to Life on Command


If this Laguna Beach house were any closer to the Pacific ocean, it would be in it. But even with its killer location, nobody lives here full time. Instead, the stunning two-story home, perched right on the water's edge in sunny southern California, serves as a vacation home for its owners, friends and family. And even though it's not a primary residence, it makes the most of home automation, so every guest who stays here feels as glamorous as the views. The beachfront property went through a major remodel, and while automation was always part of the owner's plans, it was pretty bare bones at the beginning. "When we first got in on the remodel, it was just going to be to add some music, put a TV here or there," says system installer Steve Stary of Brilliant AV. But once the owner learned more about the potential of automation, he decided to add more. " He ended up saying. 'go for it," Steve notes. Sweeter words are never spoken to custom installers.

In addition to audio and video zones and interfaces control, the smart home system now incorporates lighting control, automated shades, alarm system, and thermostat control. For the owners, the upgrade brings with it all of the improvements of living large: turning on music or the TV in various rooms, setting scenes, and dimming lights. If the owner is down on the beach when guests arrive, he'll hear the doorbell through the outdoor rock speakers and can unlock his front door remotely and tell his friends to come on down to the water. It's a pretty snazzy system, but, surprisingly, some of the coolest features are used only when the owner is miles and miles away from it.

"Even though the client isn't here all the time, he wants his property to be used by friends and family." says Steve. "Being able to control the house remotely is really kind of a cool feature for him." The Control4 home automation system makes it easy for the owners to prepare the house for visitors from afar - he can turn on the lights, fire up the audio system, and control the thermostat before the guest's arrival. When guests are ready to enter the house, the owner can open the garage door, disarm the alarm system and even unlock the front door remotely. Normally, when nobody's home, the shades are down, protecting the furniture and floors from the intense coastal sun. "But when you walk in this door, you don't want to have anything impede your view," Steve notes. The owner can also lift the shades remotely, and his guests get to see the sea as soon as they step into the house.

So... is the owner happy he gave his installer carte blanche? "So far, he's ecstatic," Steve says with a smile. "He's been blown away at one new feature after the other when he learns about them." Sounds like a rave review and a prime example of how smart home systems and home automation can help improve your second home and its well worth the effort.

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