The master bedroom is the one room that’s truly all yours, which means it’s a great place to let your imagination run wild. A big-screen TV? Why not. Speakers over the bed? Makes sense. Maybe his and hers remotes on each nightstand? Good idea. Above all, your bedroom should be a reflection of your personality, your pastimes and your passions, and electronic systems can help you create that unique space. A lighting system, for example, can evoke an environment that’s perfect for curling up with a thick, juicy novel or watching one of your favorite action movies. A whole-house music system, meanwhile, can feed you the morning news as you get dressed for work and sing you to sleep when you’re ready to call it a day.
There’s nothing better than watching TV in bed. The problem in some master bedrooms is that the technology can clash terribly with the decor. Conceal and reveal is the name of the game in a master bedroom. Adding an entertainment cabinet that suits the style of your bedroom is one solution. Just make sure the cabinet has doors that you can close to hide the equipment when it’s not being used. Another option is utilizing a cabinet for the TV only and stashing the DVD player, A/V receiver and other components in a closet. Ideally, the closet should hold nothing more than the gear—no clothes or linens, for example. A home systems installer can fish the appropriate wiring from the equipment to the back of the TV. If there’s no available closet space in the master bedroom, look in other rooms. As long as your installer can get the wire where it needs to be, the equipment can go just about anywhere.
A flat-panel LCD or plasma TV can also help downplay the appearance of technology in a master bedroom. The appearance of the screen itself can be improved by putting a frame around it or covering the blank screen with a piece of art. The top of the frame can hold a perfectly sized canvas that unfurls when you press a button on your remote control. When you’re relaxing, you can enjoy a beautiful painting; then, when you’re ready to watch TV, the canvas can lift to reveal the screen.
An RF Remote Control
Of course, you’ll need a special kind of remote control to operate audio and video equipment from afar and through cabinet doors. Radio Frequency (RF)-based remote controls are made just for that purpose. Unlike an infrared remote (IR) control, which has to be aimed directly at the equipment, an RF remote can get its commands to the gear no matter where the device is pointed. In fact, it’ll even work when it’s tucked under the blankets.
The master bedroom is the last place you want to be fiddling around with buttons, so look for a remote that can be programmed with macros. A macro is a string of commands that can be launched from a single button. For example, a macro button labeled movie could sequentially turn on the TV, the DVD player and the A/V receiver. When you’d rather watch TV, a different macro could display a list of your five favorite channels, while another macro could do the same for your spouse. When you’re ready to sleep, a bedtime button could turn everything off, including the lights.
Lighting Control System
There should be more to lighting a bedroom than just turning the fixtures on and off. By dimming the lights slightly, the room will instantly look warmer, cozier, more elegant and more romantic. Simple dimmer switches can adjust the intensity of the room’s light fixtures, but you’ll need to monkey with the switches a bit to get the lights to the perfect setting. A lighting control system, by contrast, can set the scene with just one button. You’ll probably want to incorporate several lighting scenes into your master bedroom—one for reading, one for watching TV and another for sleeping, for instance. For convenience, these buttons can be consolidated on a single keypad, which can be placed on a wall anywhere in the room. Most home systems installers recommend putting a keypad at the entrance to the room and above both nightstands. That way, you can engage a scene as soon as you enter the room and modify it on the fly from the comfort of your bed.
Lighting scenes can help set the mood in a master bedroom, but also consider integrating a few practical settings into your lighting control system. For example, a sensor planted underneath the carpet by your bed could automatically activate a pathway of lights to the kitchen, the kids’ rooms or the bathroom. And when you hear a mysterious bump in the night, a security button could activate groups of interior and exterior lights.
Motorized Draperies & Windows
Forget those crazy eye masks. A motorized drapery system can lower the bedroom drapes Friday night so you can sleep in on Saturday. Of course, your bedroom shades or drapes will need to be attached to a motorized roller or track. Ask your home systems installer to connect a timer to the motor to have the window treatments open and close automatically at preset times of the day. For example, you could have the shades lift at 7 a.m. during the week but stay shut until 9 a.m. on the weekends. Be sure to integrate a switch that can be used to operate the shades manually, just in case you need a cat nap in the afternoon.
A similar type of system could be applied to your bedroom windows (casement or awning style) to let cool, fresh air drift into the room. These windows could be programmed to open and close automatically at certain times of the day and according to the weather conditions. Should the sensor mounted to the exterior of your house detect rain, for example, it could signal the windows to shut.
Zoned Heating/Cooling Control
Getting a good night’s sleep is all about being comfortable. If the air in your bedroom is too warm or too cool, you’ll be fighting to catch enough z’s. For this reason, you may want to give your bedroom a separate heating and cooling zone. With a zone controller attached to your home’s existing heating and cooling equipment, you can set the temperature of your bedroom differently from the rest of the house. Your bedroom will need its own thermostat, preferably one that can be programmed to modify the settings automatically according to the time of day. That way it could lower the temperature to 65 degrees at 10 p.m. and raise it up to 70 degrees an hour before you wake up.
There are other benefits of a zoned heating and cooling system besides comfort. It can reduce your monthly heating and cooling bills by allowing you to keep the temperature set low in unused areas (like the guest bedroom) of your house. A simple readjustment can bring the temperature back up again. That readjustment can happen directly at the thermostat, or, for greater convenience, you can integrate the settings into the lighting control system. A sleep button that turns off the bedroom lights could also adjust the heat, for example. Similarly, a wake up button that activates a group of lights in the morning could also instruct the heating and cooling system to reset itself.
By Lisa Montgomery, senior editor for Electronic House magazine. To see more articles from the editors of Electronic House magazine about the connected home visit www.electronichouse.com.