A Chelsea Apartment with the Latest Home Automation Technology

by Jamie Mitchell in Designer style at home

This city stopover flat has been made to feel more like a second home.

For some people, home is more than one place. That’s all very well, but splitting your time between different residences can mean that nowhere really feels like home – and nobody likes the feeling of coming home to a house or apartment that feels cold and un-lived-in.

This apartment in London is the second home for a family that spends most of its time elsewhere; but they still want it to feel like home, rather than just a stopover pied-a-terre. Interior design plays an important role in turning a flat into a home; but just as important is the way the flat functions – its heating, lighting and audiovisual equipment, which in this case was expertly managed by West London AV Solutions.

‘The client was using the property as a London base. Therefore when they arrived it needed to be functioning perfectly,’ explains Katie Sparrevohn of West London AV Solutions. ‘They spend very little time in the apartment so they did not want to be inconvenienced by an unreliable AV system.’

As well as having full control of heating, lighting and AV equipment when they were staying at the flat, the client also wanted to be able to control some features remotely.

‘The apartment is very high tech – yet you would have to really look to see where the technology is hidden.’

‘When they knew they were arriving they were able to set the temperature of the apartment to 22 degrees, so that when they arrived it was at the perfect temperature. This also enabled them to switch the heating off when the apartment was not in use,’ says Sparrevohn.

West London AV Solutions was asked to focus on two areas of the apartment, the living room and the kitchen/dining area, and although the family wanted the latest technology, they also wanted that technology to be discreet, and to fit neatly into the interior design scheme.

Equipment was chosen that blended into the modern interior of the apartment, such as the Bowers & Wilkins PV1D subwoofer, which is small and stylish; discreet in-ceiling rear speakers in the living room are paired with a speaker bar beneath the main television screen – a far more subtle arrangement than using obtrusive floor-standing speakers.

The client asked for a large format screen and after measuring the chimneybreast the AV team decided on a UHD Samsung 75-inch LED display. However, installing this necessitated some creative thinking: ‘If we had mounted this straight to the chimneybreast the viewing angle would have been too high,’ explains Sparrevohn. The solution was to use a Future Automation electrical bracket (omit electrical), which carefully moves the screen out and then lowers it to a suitable position. Says Sparrevohn: ‘The Future Automation drop-down fireplace bracket is unique. It operates smoothly and quietly and overcomes a common problem in regards to screens mounted too high above fireplaces.’

A Triad speaker bar is mounted to the screen, while a Bowers & Wilkins PV1D freestanding subwoofer provides the additional bass required.

The living room is controlled with a Crestron MTX-3 colour handheld touch screen remote but can also be controlled using a dedicated house iPad. ‘The Crestron system integrates the AV, lighting, heating, cooling and blinds so all these systems can be controlled from these two devices,’ says Sparrevohn.

In the Kitchen, West London AV Solutions used another UHD Samsung screen (this time a more modest 55-inch) mounted on a bespoke Future Automations electrical swivel wall mounted bracket. This enables anyone using the kitchen to be able to see the screen, even when they are cooking. There is another Triad speaker bar mounted beneath the screen, this time paired with a Bowers & Wilkins PV1D subwoofer.

In the bedroom, West London AV Solutions integrated an existing Aquavision bathroom mirror screen onto the main Crestron system, and this is controlled using a Crestron handheld waterproof remote.

All the equipment in the house is operated by a Crestron Digital Media distribution centre, with the main equipment rack housed out of sight in a utility room. This rack houses all of the control equipment and the central sources needed to service the property.

The clients requested a Kaleidescape movie server system, which gives them access to all the latest Blu-Ray quality movies via the Kaleidescape store, and they also have the option to load their own movie collection to the server.

The apartment already had a Lutron lighting control system, which West London AV Solutions reprogrammed and integrated with the Crestron system.

Although West London AV Solutions has plenty of experience in undertaking projects like this, no two are ever quite alike. Every client brings a specific set of wants and needs, and they aren’t always straightforward to manage. In this case, the client asked to have an Xbox connected to the main screen to keep their young sons entertained. ‘The problem with the Xbox,’ says Sparrevohn, ‘is that the Kinect sensor needs to be attached directly to the console so we had to position the console close to the screen.’

To keep the installation neat and discreet, West London AV Solutions sourced a bespoke wall mount from a company in Denmark and mounted the Xbox at low level away from view yet close enough to connect to the sensor.

Important as it was to get the right technology, the client didn’t want a load of speakers and controls to detract from the interior design scheme, says Sparrevohn: ‘The apartment is very high tech – yet you would have to really look to see where the technology is hidden. Having the equipment housed away out of sight leaves very little to see in the main living spaces, yet everything is available at the touch of a button.’

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