NEWS / BLOG

What are the Advantages of Custom Motorized Window Shades?

As chic as they are functional, motorized window treatments provide elegance and convenience to any space. They harvest natural daylight in sleek, sophisticated styles.  Motorized window coverings integrated into your home’s automated system make life easier, especially since many can now be controlled with your smart phone or tablet.  And, as they have become more popular in recent years, an added benefit is the increased value they bring to your home or office space.  But that’s just scratching the surface.

Designer-centric

There is a fabulous array of styles and custom solutions available that will complement any setting.  Aside from the huge variety of colors, patterns and weaves, the types of coverings are also extensive, ranging from pleated to honeycomb and roman shades to automated draperies.  Motorized treatments are even available for skylights, vertical and bottom-up applications for a unified design across all openings.

A 2017 trend is “clean”, multi-layered window treatments, pairing simple drapery panels or sheers with blinds or shades for the perfect combination of light and privacy.  As a CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association) professional, we’ll partner with your Interior Designer to create an expert blend of technology and design, pairing the right combination of weave and color with exquisite patterns and luxurious textures.

Another design-friendly benefit is the prevention of fading of fine furnishings through the UV protection properties of the shades. Aside from the practical aspects, the design applications seem endless! Window treatments no longer rely on wired connectivity and power. Battery-operated units allow for use on doors and other applications where wiring is not possible.  Motorized shades and draperies are not confined to windows either. Imagine the drama of elegant draperies parting at the touch of a button to reveal your home theater screen! Or being able to install a hidden drop-down projection screen in front of a window thanks to having black-out shades! For more ideas, visit our gallery.

Eco-friendly

Energy-saving is a prime function of shades. They are designed to both harvest daylight and block generated heat, offering substantial reduction in costs.

People-friendly

Window shades promote biophilic design, maximizing sunlight while reducing glare and fatigue.  While natural light is often sought to fill space however, according to a recent blog in ASID’s icon, “…sometimes natural light is just too bright. Blocking it out can be as important as letting it in. New innovations and technologies in shading are making it easier for designers to obtain the optimal balance of highly sought natural light and much needed light control.”

Another people-friendly feature is serving as nature’s alarm clock.  Imagine the peaceful, subtle awakening to the natural glow of sunrise.  Shades can be set to open gradually in the morning and close again at sunset.

Safety & Security

An important advantage to motorization is the lack of chains or cord pulls that entice children and pets, posing a serious safety hazard.  Another advantage is in your home’s security.  Just like programming lights to go on and off throughout the day while you’re away, shades opening and closing simulate a lived in look, deterring break-ins.

Privacy

Shades are an elegant solution for privacy.  They are perfect for hard-to-reach windows such as those surrounding your garden tub, an elevated vaulted ceiling area or featured stairwell niche.  In a space with multiple windows and French doors, this is a tremendous convenience and time-saver. And some fabrics even offer a one-way weave, blocking visibility into your house or hi-rise without interrupting your view to the outside.

In an office environment, shades are a simple solution to transforming glass-enclosed conference rooms into private meeting spaces.  Coupled with their acoustic properties, they also contribute toward privacy compliance measures.

If you’re considering updating your window treatments, consider not only integrating them into your home’s design, but into your home.  Let us show you why LaScala is “The Art of Technology” and how shades can transform your home or office.

Additional Resources:

Houzz: Small Luxuries: Motorized Window Coverings Offer Benefits to All

Electronics House: 10 Things to Know About Motorized Shades

http://www.lutron.com/en-US/Residential-Commercial-Solutions/Pages/Residential-Solutions/ShadingSolutions.aspx

https://www.lutronfabrics.com/fabrics/shade-type/roller-shades and check out inspiration gallery

Are millennials making smart technology more common?

With more millennials buying their own homes, smart home technology is on the up-and-up. 

Houzz’s recent survey found that first-time home buyers – millennials in particular – are prioritizing smart home technology in new home construction and renovations.

New residential developments are emerging across the country, equipped with the latest and greatest features in smart technology. Texas, for example, is about to be home to a new development incorporating room for the smart technology decades from now, and how could impact its construction. High-speed fiber networks, outdoor technology with interactive capability and neighborhood safety and features have become a mainstay in residential construction, right at the top of their wish list.

Houzz’s survey also uncovered an interesting trend in integrating smart technology into their home renovations, for those who don’t want new construction. If you’re one of the 33 percent of recent home buyers who are considering investing in some form of smart technology in their homes, make sure you’re hiring the right pros to do it.

With home automation technology on the rise, it’s widely available. The demand for more innovation and creativity in smart technology is good news for both the home buyers and the integration professionals – especially now that more home owners are spending money on optimizing their space with tech. The right smart home technology has the ability to transform any home into a stylish, comfortable and safe home environment.

Even though smart technology can keep you safe, it’s just as important to protect your devices from hacking and other threats. According to Twice, customers are consistently seeking out IT support services in order to protect themselves from hackers. Consulting with professional integrators will help you determine the best tech for your needs and your home, without compromising safety.

Simple Collaborative Presentation Systems

It’s a basic expectation really. You want to walk into a meeting room, easily connect your laptop, and make a presentation.  And you can.  Your conference room or huddle room system can be a simple plug-and-present; a wireless solution or one that is controlled by your smartphone. But, like all good designs, great outcomes depend on great input.  While any of those solutions may be an effective presentation system, if it doesn’t suit the needs of the user, it will fall short of expectation.  An effective presentation system is not as much about the technology as it is the user experience.  A few simple questions will uncover the right solution for you and your team.

Define and Design

The first step in designing a system is to define the desired user experience for all users.  The right solution will depend on:

  • Who will be using the system? Will it be a defined group or will the room be open to visitors or personnel from other offices?
  • What is their experience level?
  • What are your company’s workflows?
  • Are you wanting teleconferencing, video conferencing, content sharing, whiteboarding?
  • Is there a company standard such as Skype for Business?
  • What is the desired interface?  Minimal interaction, single-button press or plug-n-play? Do you want to avoid the use of small, uninstalled units such as a hand-held remote control that may disappear in a huddle room?
  • Will users be mobile – on smart phones or tablets?
  • How many connections are anticipated?
  • Do you want the system to detect user mobile phones, syncing the system based on the room’s scheduled calendar event?
  • Are you wanting to create a standardized solution that will be replicated across the enterprise?

 

Let’s Be Clear

In this era of rapidly evolving technologies, new acronyms and terminologies abound. VC, VTC, VMR and UC, for example, can mean a variety of things depending on who you’re talking to.  One person’s definition of video conferencing may mean a traditional conference room setting with dual-screen monitors and sophisticated cameras that track movement, displaying far side participants as well as shared content.  Another may be imagining a video call in the cloud with a completely remote or mobile staff.  Collaboration is another term that requires a clear definition.  To some it means simple screen sharing via Webex or Go-to-Meeting while others imagine a fully interactive experience that allows wireless sharing of multiple PCs or collaborative whiteboarding.

Wired, Wireless and your IT Department

Wireless presentations from a laptop, tablet or mobile phone (Bring Your Own Device) can offer seamless, convenient connectivity to the shared display, but not all IT departments allow this accessibility due to network security. Several solutions on the market today offer point-to-point connectivity, enabling connectivity via a self-contained Wi-Fi without being on your network.  Some companies require heightened security measures, restricting wireless and providing only a secure wired solution.

 

Designed to Scale

Your communications, conferencing and presentation systems are a strategy, not a trend.  Be sure your system is based on your needs and desired outcomes and not the latest solution offering by a particular manufacturer.  It should take into account your potential for future needs and growth and provide the required scalability.  As you add spaces and staff, standardizing on a solution that can be replicated throughout the building or across the campus is a clear cost advantage.  Not only will it save in design and installation costs, but users will be more likely to adopt and use the technology in the room if they are already familiar with it.  Savings are also realized on employee training.

Scalability needs to support technology needs as well. A well thought out strategy and design will provide IT infrastructure to support growth over the next 5 years or more. Network and data requirements, multiple VLANs and robust Wi-Fi can be implemented now, along with conduit and pre-wire for future expansion.

The solution drives the best possible outcome. Partner with an AV/IT professional to create huddle spaces, meeting rooms and board rooms that are efficient, effective and impactful, for your users and for your bottom line.

Additional Resources:

PC Magazine’s “The Best Video Conferencing Software of 2017

Crestron fully Integrated, Effortless Meetings

Extron features simple, intuitive collaboration

LaSala’s Engineering, Design Services and Deliverables

How to tech-out the most important rooms of your home

Incorporating smart technology into your favorite rooms creates aesthetics and luxury in any home.

Style and comfort are crucial to any home’s design; and implementing smart technologies into your design plan can provide a custom solution that gives you full control and accessibility of your favorite spaces. Equipping key rooms in your home with technology can provide endless comfort, while still complementing your individual style.

Keeping your style in mind is key. Seamless built-in panels, hidden television units and in-ceiling speakers are just a few ways you can customize your audio, video and lighting experience, without compromising your rooms’ style.

With the proper technology in your design plan, “you can have full control of the technology in your room, and around your house for that matter, from the convenience of your bed.” For instance, by discreetly enclosing television in a beautiful cabinet that matches your décor and in-wall speakers covered by your custom paint or wallpaper, bulky and aesthetically unpleasant equipment are hidden.

But this trend expands beyond just your bedroom. Imagine catching your favorite show while you’re in the shower, or checking up on your home’s surveillance video while you’re cooking dinner. More and more, homeowners are deciding to add technology in their bathrooms and kitchens – ensuring continuous accessibility at an arm’s length.

Finally, don’t forget your favorite outdoor spaces! Integrated lighting, video and audio technology are just as important in your indoor living spaces as they are the outside. Mood-lighting and discreet surround sound speakers can provide the same level of comfort and style in any livable space.

Call us to discuss your indoor/outdoor wish list!

How to Add Music Outside

Your patio is an extension of your home’s living space, especially this time of year!  It can also be a seasonal seating addition for your seaside restaurant.   At home and at work, we’re taking to the outdoors more and more.  We’re gathering around our fire pits and BBQ Grills, relaxing poolside and enjoying dinner at a favorite outdoor bistro.  Whether you’re engaged in an intense Bocce Ball Tournament, sipping cocktails on your chaise, or just puttering in your garden, there’s one thing that could really add to your enjoyment: music.

Choices in Outdoor Speakers

Outdoor audio comes in all shapes and sizes!  Where do you start? Here are some things to consider:

  • How would you like to use the system?  If you have an automated home control system, such as Crestron, your outdoor entertaining space can be added as an audio zone, allowing you to select any of the available sources (your audio library, streaming subscriptions, AV receiver or CD Player).  This integration also allows for signal interruption when the phone or doorbell rings – a convenience when throwing a party poolside!
  • Where would you like to have the music play?  Your outdoor area may consist of one or multiple zones.  You may find that you enjoy the ability to play music in some areas while broadcasting TV in others.  You may also enjoy having separate volume controls in each of those areas. Even if you elect not to do so right away, it is cost-effective and easier to wire for these future upgrades now.
  • Do you want to play the TV’s audio through the outdoor speakers?  The system can be set up allowing you to select either a music source or audio from your outdoor LCD to play through a selected zone or zones.
  • How do you want to control it?  Your smart phone makes a familiar, convenient control device.  You can also choose from simple remotes or waterproof models, either independent to the system or integrated onto a whole house remote control.

What’s the difference between indoor and outdoor speakers?

Quite a lot! Outdoor speakers are designed to endure the elements and to complement their environment.  They are durable, featuring marine-grade finishes and water-tight enclosures.  Speakers intended for interiors can’t brave Vancouver’s extremes of sun, sand, sea, snow, rain or even wind.  All-weather speakers also offer various installation locations. Speakers can be mounted under the eave or on a trellis, placed as an elegant patio planter, installed in your landscaping disguised as a spotlight or even buried underground as a subterranean subwoofer (James calls theirs an earthshaking experience!).

System Design meets “Interior” Design

Outdoor speakers are sleek and aesthetically designed, but the most important part of designing an outdoor audio system is proper speaker placement.  With no obstructions, sound travels easily from yard to yard.  In fact, a swimming pool or waterway can actually help to amplify it.  Speakers offer varying dispersion patterns that can be aimed and controlled within a specified area for smooth, consistent volume.  If you rely on having a pair mounted under the eave to cover a large area, the volume close to the source may be uncomfortably loud, while those at the edge of the patio can barely hear it.  Or, while you may be listening at a comfortable level at your BBQ Grill, your neighbors may be subject to a rock concert.  This is where a few well-placed landscape speakers would serve well, allowing for background level audio to play evenly throughout your space.

At the core

Control of the system requires connectivity.  You’ll want to make sure your Wi-Fi is reliable and accessible. This may mean setting up a separate network (think about the conveniences of a guest network) or at least ensuring adequate antenna coverage for a strong signal throughout the space.

Years of enjoyment

Your outdoor audio system will provide years of entertainment and enjoyment.  While it will endure everything Mother Nature and the Pacific has to throw at it, you can rest assured knowing that your high quality, professionally installed system will be supported by the manufacturer warranty and your integration specialist.

Additional Resources:

https://www.electronichouse.com/home-theater/planning-your-outdoor-audio-and-video-system/

https://www.newhomesource.com/resourcecenter/articles/bring-it-outdoors-the-latest-in-sound-and-tv-for-your-deck-yard-or-patio

http://www.cepro.com/article/6_tips_for_tackling_outdoor_audio

http://www.bowers-wilkins.com/Speakers/Installation-Speakers/Outdoor-Marine/Outdoor.html

http://www.triadspeakers.com/product-tag/outdoor/

James