A Behind-the-Scenes Tour with Audio Innovations
by Cassidy Mantor
Last winter, WHJ featured Goose Island, an ultra-modern home in Sun Valley, Idaho. It was fully automated by Audio Innovations and was fit for a futuristic lifestyle. The client, a resident of Seattle, was familiar with how automation simplifies life and knew he wanted it all here. With the change of seasons and an entire summer of fun ahead, WHJ went back to the house for a deeper look at how it shines in the summer. Whether watching the river flow, smoking a cigar at the fire pit, having a party, or grilling with music, Goose Island encourages imaginative play.
A VIP Staycation
The courtyard at Goose Island is an impressive entryway. An outdoor weeping wall creates an organic first impression. Statement planters with hidden speakers and lighting are centrally located and line the walkway of cut lava stone. The entry water feature, as well as a soothing waterfall that cascades from the main doors to the north meadow off the backside of the house, have been interfaced into the one-of-a-kind automation system programmed by Audio Innovations. Following this water runnel, guests are led down a path to fun where they can play on landscaped piano keys in the backyard, start a frisbee game with the kids, or sit by an outdoor fire next to the river. A stargazing amphitheater with a moonroof, a raised patio with a fire pit, and a hot tub are some of the destinations Audio Innovations designed in conjunction with the homeowner and architect into a custom home automation system for maximum year-round enjoyment, but they offer unparalleled fun in the summer months.
The indoor/outdoor connection is strong in Goose Island. Glass doors retract at the touch of a button so one instantly feels outside. By simply opening the Audio Innovations app and selecting a door to open, the inside space grows tenfold. Motorized bug screens offer an extra layer protection and enjoyment in the outdoor living spaces. Additionally, the windows and door were smartly designed by architect Susan Desko to draw cool air from the river through the living spaces in the summer. A motorized pass-through area off the pantry gives access to the backside of the house from the kitchen to the BBQ and seating area.
Goose Island was designed for having fun. Jess Goitiandia, founder of Audio Innovations, saw that intention come to life first-hand at a party when a couple of little kids began playing on a piece of outdoor art. Instead of asking them to get off the lawn, the owner stopped his conversation to take a picture of the girls. “It was a large party, and we were talking about how I’d never seen the house animated like it was at that moment, and all of a sudden, these kids began playing on the art. The homeowner said that was why he built the house – for people to be able to have fun with it,” says Jess.
“It was a large party, and we were talking about how I’d never seen the house animated like it was at that moment, and all of a sudden, these kids began playing on the art. The homeowner said that was why he built the house – for people to be able to have fun with it.”
–Jess Goitiandia, Founder, Audio Innovations
For as modern as the house is with its concrete, glass, and high-end automation, it offers a warm and welcoming experience. On the second floor above the kitchen, an amphitheater with a panoramic moonroof and outdoor fireplace is a great place to listen to music. Whether on the patio enjoying a cool beverage or sitting at the fire pit by the river, one gets a vision of the night sky accompanied by their favorite soundtrack. The ambiance of this space is made more comfortable by the warmth of the fire that takes the chill out of a cool evening. “Especially after COVID, there’s a greater desire to take advantage of our outdoor living environments,” Jess shares. “Why worry about taking a vacation when you can have a luxurious experience at home?”
At the crux of home automation is the desire to simplify life. “Everyone wants the sense of luxury you get at a high-end resort, so why not spoil yourself at home?” Jess says. With Audio Innovations’ technology, music, shades, doors, and other amenities are easily controlled by the touch of a button on a keypad, phone, or tablet.
One of Goose Island’s prime places to gather in the summer is a raised patio and fire pit overlooking the river. The patio gives an elevated view looking down approximately 25 feet onto the natural water feature. The fire pit is activated by remote control and can be turned on at the touch of a button. Elsewhere along the river, sunken patios and additional alcoves offer more secluded options to experience the environment.
A hot tub is nestled in another raised patio at the back of the house and is controllable from the automation system. “You don’t have to go inside to turn it on or adjust it,” Jess explains. It’s yet another example of how the automation system was designed with a living environment that gives the homeowner a seamless experience. He quips, “They can go from admiring the Big Dipper in the stargazing amphitheater to flowing into a smaller dip in the hot tub.”
Although some clients are skeptical of technology, Audio Innovations provides full support and service to make sure systems continue to run smoothly even when the internet goes down. With web-based solutions, the dependency of the internet is always required but with Audio Innovations automation systems, the owner can be confident in the control of their home as they are designed for local connectivity.
“Goose Island showcases how we offer a certain invisible elegance. Although the sound is incredible, the wiring and mechanical spaces are buried underneath landscaping and hidden. He adds, “Creating a plan for speakers is straight forward, but the challenges come when we have to solve where to dig trenches to put cables or conduits.”
–Jess Goitiandia, Founder, Audio Innovations
The homeowners love music, and with a multitude of speakers and in-ground subwoofers, the property is completely blanketed with good acoustics and the sound is phenomenal everywhere.
Audio Innovations designed a program with five exterior zones so that no matter where one is, there would always be good music. The speakers were matched seamlessly into the landscaping, hidden between grand boulders and cottonwood trees. The north meadow – where the homeowners set up a tent and entertain larger groups – has four systems with four subs and over 30 speakers. The river side has two subs and eight speakers, the hot tub has eight more speakers, and the south meadow has more. The courtyard has sound built into the planters as well as an overhead mix with the ground speakers.
“Goose Island showcases how we offer a certain invisible elegance,” Jess says. Although the sound is incredible, the wiring and mechanical spaces are buried underneath landscaping and hidden. He adds, “Creating a plan for speakers is straightforward, but the challenges come when we have to solve where to dig trenches to put cables or conduits. We manage the disparate systems so they function with ease and are tucked away discretely so they don’t interfere with the aesthetics of the home.”
When it comes time to test the sound, the team at Audio Innovations plays Bob Marley to make sure the acoustics sound right. “I’m a music guy, so to me it’s all about the sound quality and being able to sit out there and listen,” says Jess. Bob Marley allows Jess to hear the base kick and lower frequencies mixing with the highs and helps him find the right balance. Jess points out that in the spring when the river runs higher, it makes more noise, so to compete with the rushing water they’ll turn the volume up on startup. Although Goose Island technically has two neighbors, the house is situated in a way that makes it feel like a private island. It’s a good thing it’s tucked away – the speakers can turn it up to sound like a live concert.
The point of a house like Goose Island is to be able to settle in immediately. “It’s ready to go when they arrive with their exact preferences and it instantly feels like home,” Jess says. In the times when the homeowners are not in Sun Valley, automation helps protect the property. “When high water came this year, they were able to monitor the river based on the cameras.” He notes that through the simplicity of automation, they monitored the river through the automation system.
Audio Innovations simplifies living. The company offers a streamlined experience that makes larger homes more manageable through one app. The homeowners enjoy Goose Island throughout the year and – thanks to the ease of automation and the premium sound experience that Jess and his team engineered – their summers in Sun Valley rock.