by Lori Williams
Home System Solutions has created a smart home experience center designed to provide an elevated showroom experience for Central Oregon homeowners, builders, architects, and designers. The 3,300-square-foot showroom home in east Bend is the culmination of the company’s 17 years of expert design and execution of home technology solutions, offering clients the opportunity to immerse themselves in a seamless automation experience within a real time, real home environment. It’s so real that HSS Vice President and Co-owner, Austin Arruda, and his family, actually live in the home. HSS makes regular weekly appointments in the beautifully staged residence that also exhibits the interior design work of Austin’s wife, Jennifer Arruda.
“Technology translates more realistically when you can walk into an actual home setting and experience the wide range of possibilities in a smart home system,” explains Lawrence Fisher, HSS President and Co-owner. “Austin and his wife are able to share and explain how the systems work for them and their family.” The home was built to showcase the design and beauty of these integrated home technologies while also showing the infrastructure required to make these solutions work. It’s a powerful way of educating clients by demonstrating the technology that HSS recommends and installs in their clients’ homes every day.
The HSS experience center home is packed full of state-of-the-art tech, including the quiet elegance of motorized Lutron shades, tunable-white smart lighting, discreetly controlled climate zones, a whole-house sound system, frame TVs, and home security. A multi-purpose media/playroom features an 85” TV and a Dolby Atmos surround sound system to rival the most impressive dedicated home theaters. Clients will feel the difference, but not see it, thanks to HSS’s intelligent design.
What sets HSS apart is the approach to meeting clients’ technology needs through design-focused solutions, specifically technology that is designed to disappear. “We ask clients to tell us what they want to accomplish by way of experience, and we engineer solutions that meet those goals without compromising the design of the space,” says Austin. Adds Lawrence, “While we love to work with builders and designers on new construction, HSS has also consistently maintained a focus on remodel work. With our licensing as general contractors, we can execute all levels of construction by bringing in the teams to help us frame, drywall, install cabinetry, or complete rock work.
“Technology translates more realistically when you can walk into an actual home setting and experience the wide range of possibilities in a smart home system.”
–Lawrence Fisher, President & Co-owner, HSS
The beauty of the technology implementation within the experience center is that all aspects are designed to disappear and be easily controllable from the same convenient interfaces. On several wall touchscreens, one can control the entirety of the house, from temperature to music to lighting. Discreet multi-button keypads allow for customized control over lighting, music, and shades. “We minimize the wall clutter and instead offer a single elegant keypad that can be flush-mounted, integrating seamlessly with the wall and providing controls for any tech in the room,” says Lawrence.
“Rather than having a large black box distracting from the design of the fireplace, we have a beautiful piece of art that turns into a TV and quietly drops down to a comfortable viewing height on its motorized arm when it’s viewing time. It’s an elegant way to get the best of both worlds, especially for those clients who don’t want a dedicated home theater or media room.”
–Austin Arruda, Vice President & Co-owner, HSS
One of the most exciting elements of the home is the use of low-voltage tunable-white lighting. Says Austin, “We chose this solution to demonstrate the elegance that good lighting design can bring to a space. Multiple layers of light accent the stone, tile, and wood elements, while the fixtures themselves naturally adjust in brightness and color temperature to mimic the sunlight outside. After living in the home for nearly a year now, I can attest that the difference is profound. Once you’ve experienced a lighting system like this, you won’t want to live without it.” HSS chose a low-voltage lighting system because it uses substantially less energy than LED bulbs in a high-voltage fixture and offers additional installation flexibility, thereby increasing the collaboration opportunities with builders and electricians.
Another hidden technology highlight is the use of Samsung Frame TVs, televisions with matte screens camouflaged as framed art. HSS showcases a framed TV in two places that can be a home design challenge. In the kitchen, a strategically designed picture gallery wall incorporates a flush-mounted Frame TV, with equipment in a special box positioned in the wall between studs. Another Frame TV was mounted in a niche above the fireplace, serving both as a television and an art piece. “So many homes in Bend wind up with a TV above the fireplace,” explains Austin. “Rather than having a large black box distracting from the design of the fireplace, we have a beautiful piece of art that turns into a TV and quietly drops down to a comfortable viewing height on its motorized arm when it’s viewing time. It’s an elegant way to get the best of both worlds, especially for those clients who don’t want a dedicated home theater or media room.”
Often, technology can be an afterthought of unsightly equipment and an execution that takes away from the design of a space. Says Austin, “While anything can be done in a remodel situation, the cost goes up significantly compared to incorporating the same solution into new construction. We are passionate about technology that improves your standard of living, but the home design should lead with technology subtly running in the background.” HSS aims to align with architects, designers, and builders who share this passion for design in an effort to elevate the incorporation of home automation technology in the design/build process.
“We are passionate about technology that improves your standard of living, but the home design should lead with technology subtly running in the background.”
–Austin Arruda, Vice President & Co-owner, HSS