Connected Design Magazine
Sugar Land Haven
By Nancy Klosek
A haven, defined as a place of safety or refuge, is an apt description, by Texas-based integration firm and ASID award-winner Echo Workshop’s account, of this magnificent 12,000-square-foot new home in Sugar Land, Texas, just south of Houston – truly a mecca of convenience, aesthetic beauty, and security.
The Echo Workshop team met with the homeowners, who are in their mid-40s and have an appreciation of technology. “The home was a step up from their last residence and they wanted it to include a lot more features and amenities,” said Echo’s vice president, Pamela Cortes.
With that general directive in mind, the integrator’s aim was to devise a collaboration of the best features of a Lutron HomeWorks System and the interfacing of a Savant control system, so that the two offerings would work together seamlessly in the background while offering the client an ambiance of luxury for entertaining, relaxing, or just providing another welcome home from the weekly routine.
In addition, the homeowners, the installer explained, were extremely easy to work with, making the integration progress a smooth journey from start to finish. “We guided the client through our process of offerings and let them select levels of importance. This helped us assess the quality of product selected for that particular offering. They were definitely open to new ideas, and even offered some of their own that we were able to include.”
One client suggestion that was readily accommodated was a desire to greet guests with music as they approached the house. “To fulfill that request, Echo Workshop’s team provided landscape speakers as part of the driveway landscaping to make this happen,” Cortes said.
An Enviable Entryway
The home’s inviting front appearance welcomes visitors with an ornate water feature interfaced into the two control systems via 220V HomeWorks switching. The fountains, inset driveway lighting bricks, and outdoor home lighting come on through automation schedules in the late afternoon and create a romantic appearance across the entire property at sunset.
These same schedules affect the dual grand staircases within the home, and the awe-inspiring 1,200-pound chandelier that hangs in the 42-foot-tall foyer dome between them.
“The homeowners love to entertain,” said Cortes. So one design that was enthusiastically embraced by the clients was the idea of having an open kitchen concept, which faces the landscaped pool and outdoor area – with everything mood-manageable by lighting control. “This sets the perfect party atmosphere for family and friends,” she added.
The client’s initial desires included the ability to control all aspects of the home from anywhere within the property via wireless and hardwired devices. The use of Lutron HomeWorks’ QS product provided the Echo Workshop team with the ability to place multiple button keypads strategically throughout the home for convenience. The use of a panelized system, explains the integrator, gave the team the flexibility to delete any semblance of light switches throughout the main areas of the home. These units add to the aesthetic value of using such a system. This, together with the deployment of dimmable LED lighting throughout the entire home, produced maximum energy efficiency.
The interfacing of HomeWorks with the Savant control system, the Pentair pool system, the Ruckus wireless system, and the Leviton security system fulfill all the offerings of a welldesigned symphony of connectivity – beautiful aesthetics, convenience, security, and energy efficiency.
Cortes said there were no real issues with the execution of the homeowner’s desires in this project. “It was a large project, and we knew we had to interface with other trades like the designer, builder, electricians and pool provider to be sure all of our systems worked together.” Cortes added that “it’s important to keep good communication with all the parties involved in the building process, as it’s easy for items to fall through the cracks or for misinterpretation of design expectations.” And it was to that end – clarity of understanding of the wants of the client – that the integrator skillfully leveraged a longstanding builder relationship.
Echo Workshop has worked with the home builder, Lespreance Construction, for almost 20 years. “He runs a reputable operation and builds some pretty fantastic homes, mostly designed by the same architect,” Cortes said. “It has been a pleasure to participate in projects with them.” And it was through them that the Echo team met the designer for the first time. “She was cooperative and receptive through our processes and offered solutions for fabric selections and overall design strategies.
“The proudest achievement is the interfacing of all of the systems into one common user interface. Being able to show the client on his own telephone that he can control so many aspects of his home, and seeing his reaction to ‘the cool factor’ of what we do is fulfilling,” she said.
With the clients still in the early phase of ownership, Echo Workshop keeps in close contact with them, and remains at the ready for any questions that arise during the learning curve.
This accessibility and willingness to be ultra-responsive to the client’s educational needs is seminal to how the company conducts business. “This is the third project in a succession of referrals,” explained Cortes. “I’m sure if the opportunity arises, we will get a good review and referral.
“It was a wonderful project to be part of.”