When installed correctly, technology can enhance the look as well as the functionality of an interior. To save us from tangles of cables and rooms full of not-so-chic equipment, we asked home technology specialist Matthew Tillman to give us some tips on incorporating tech without tears...
What’s your philosophy when it comes to bringing technology to a home?
‘I’m very keen that our clients should have the right level of technology for their home rather than having too high a spec for their particular needs. I also aim to make all technology as easy to use as possible and iPads have revolutionised how accessible home integration systems are.’
We love a lovely living space, and we’re not averse to a big telly, too. But how do you make sure the TV doesn’t dominate?
‘If you place a TV above a fireplace, mantelpiece or in any other central position, it does tend to become a focal point, but it’s still visible – and not as dominant – placed in the corner of the room. Alternatively, we often integrate AV into bespoke cabinetry or hide mechanisms behind wall panels or within bookshelves for those who want their technology to be discreet. High-tech solutions such as TVs that disappear into mirrored panels when they are switched off are a more expensive option.’
For those of us without the luxury of a home cinema, are there any elements that we can bring into an average British home so we can have an authentic big screen and popcorn night without going out, and without wrecking the decor?
‘You can create a mini-cinema without going to the extent of building a special soundproofed room with state-of-the-art lighting and surround sound as in this very high-end example. It is relatively simple to fit a projector and a motorised screen into the ceiling of an average-sized family room or spare room, which can be put away when not in use. Also, many homeowners opt for a very large TV screen instead, which gives them the feel of a cinema without the investment in kit, and the mood of the room can be changed simply by altering the lighting.’
Tell us about tech in the kitchen – cooking along with the TV, accessing recipes online, entertaining ourselves while we’re choring. What’s out there and how do we fit it in?
‘No one perches their TV on the edge of a breakfast bar in today’s high-tech properties. Even in a modest home, it’s not uncommon to see built-in TVs and there are even extractors and fridges with built-in screens. In this kitchen, we installed a TV that pops up and down out of the kitchen island and swivels around so that you can watch while you cook and swivels even further to continue viewing while you eat at the bar. The ideal time to add the latest technology is when you’re having your kitchen refitted, but you could simply wall-mount a TV if you don’t want to change the kitchen.’
This is a scary amount of kit. Is this the future for homes – do we need it all now, and where do we put what we do need?
‘The rack of equipment shown here is so extensive because it services a very large property and, although it is definitely the future of homes to store the brains of the home in a central place, a modest-sized home would require a lot less electronic gadgetry and it depends what you opt for. This system includes Kaleidoscape, which holds the family’s film library of over 1,000 films. Typically we install a half-rack of equipment in a small terraced home and it could go under the stairs or in a cellar or cupboard, but ventilation is very important.’
Tell us about what you can control from one panel – can we make a cup of tea remotely?
‘This touchscreen panel is on the wall of a kitchen and operates the lighting, blinds, room temperature, security alarms and audio-visual including accessing music playlists and the pop-up TV. These are programmed for each individual home, so what the panel controls will vary from property to property. It can’t really make a cup of tea as such, though if it was linked to a Teasmade it could at least switch it on!’
Thanks to Matthew at Tillman Domotics
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Sarah Warwick, Guest Editor
View all posts by Sarah Warwick, Guest Editor