When we look at a stunning master bathroom, we are often drawn to the beautiful tiling, the expansive shower, elegant bath tub, and dramatic mirrors. These are a few of the interior design elements that distinguish the most attractive master bathrooms in luxury homes. When design aesthetics are enhanced by the home technology solutions engineered and integrated by a home technology custom integrator, these master bathrooms can rise from beautiful to “magical.”
Our custom integration expertise is a complementary fit with the members of the National Kitchen and Bath design community (NKBA) and their affluent clients. Whenever I give tours of our Control4 Certified Smart Home, it’s the master bathroom part of the tour that gives me — and our clients — the greatest excitement. Here’s a highlight of my showroom home tour “pitch” to help give you an idea of how our CI expertise enhances the master bathroom experience for our clients.
In this master bathroom you wake up in the morning and say, “Okay, Josh, good morning” the following automated actions take place:
- smooth jazz music softly plays from the Origin speakers above the master bathroom mirror,
- the Lutron motorized shade rises to reveal the sunrise over the local Santa Cruz mountains,
- the Kohler DTV+ Shower turns on and rises to your preferred temperature and then pauses, waiting for your arrival,
- the NuHeat electric floor heating and Kohler towel bar begin to warm up,
- and the Control4 centralized lighting system above the mirror turns on the ceiling LED lamps to a warm low-temperature setting.
We are also working on a “his and hers” button wakeup scene using the Fibaro Z-Wave button that communicates wirelessly to Flex Automation’s Control4 gateway and initiates the same wake-up scene that we created with the Josh voice command. This button will be placed on each nightstand next to the bed and allow a customized wake-up scene that is created uniquely for the husband and wife, invoked with the push of a button so as not to disturb the partner who might still be sleeping.
When you walk into the master bathroom to brush your teeth in the morning, you can watch the morning traffic or stock reports on the Electric Mirror TV hidden behind the bathroom mirror, a TV that disappears when it’s not in use. The Electric Mirror is actually a large Android-based computer display that will play all of the Google Play apps — even the Control4 and Josh control dashboards can be controlled from this intelligent mirror.
You can also adjust the music, lighting, shades, and floor heating all from the convenient wall mounted 7-inch Control4 touchscreen or contemporary 6-button keypad. Or just ask Josh to make these personalized adjustments. If the downstairs Control4 front door station rings, you can see and talk to the person at the door from the Control4 7-inch touchscreen located just to the left of the master bathroom mirror — no need to run to the front door while you are enjoying your master bathroom experience!
The Kohler hydrotherapy shower experience is one that frequently generates the most interest on our tours. This shower does not have a standard physical valve to turn the shower on and off and set the temperature — it has a digital control interface (similar to an iPhone app) that gives the user full control of temperature and which of six different spray shower heads will operate. There is even a massage setting that pulsates the warm shower spray through a programmed series of shower heads. This hydrotherapy shower experience is run by the Kohler network connected digital controller that communicates with each of the six different thermostatic valves. If the power should go out in our showroom home, then the shower, as well as the entire home, is supported by a sonnen EcoLinx whole-house backup battery.
To make all this master bathroom “magic” happen requires that we meet with the kitchen/bath designer and/or client at the very beginning of these projects so that we can install the necessary low-voltage wire and components that will provide power, control, and/or content to the music, lighting, shades, TV, heating, and control interfaces in this room. This pre-wiring is difficult, if not impossible, to add later in the construction cycle — wall and floor tiles don’t lend themselves to retrofit wiring solutions.
In addition, we are also instructing the electrician to add power behind the mirror for the Electric Mirror TV, power behind the toilet for the Kohler Veil heated, hygienic, flush toilet, and power for all of the Kohler DTV+ shower components. Similar to how we now plan for a serviceable AV or Telecom Rack for our AV and/or networking products, we need a serviceable cabinet for the Kohler DTV+ intelligent shower products.
In the last column I wrote for Residential Systems, I discussed how this is the right time for our CI channel to explore and integrate the intelligent, networked products that are being installed in the high-end kitchens of our clients’ homes. While the kitchen is generally considered to be the most used room in the home, the master bathroom isn’t far behind. Without a doubt the master bathroom is one of the most important areas of the home where the CI’s home technology solutions can greatly enhance the comfort, convenience, and enjoyment of the space our clients use every morning and evening.
Gordon van Zuiden is president of cyberManor, a home networking and systems integration firm based in Los Gatos, California.