By Nicole Wroten
When Bruce and Ellie Wainer decided they wanted to build a house in Old Metairie, they knew they wanted much more than a great home: They wanted a smart home. The Wainers teamed up with Leo Golubitsky, owner of SMILE Inc., to create a full-house technological system to control everything throughout the house with only touch screens.
“It’s one of the best projects we’ve done,” Golubitsky says.
In addition to the cutting-edge technology, SMILE also gave the Wainers two high-tech, fully functional media rooms in the form of a family living room and a billiards room.
Creating a place to sit back and relax with their children and golden retriever was crucial for the Wainers. In the living room, the Wainers have a 50-inch flat-screen television on prominent display, and SMILE incorporated a hidden 5.1 surround-sound system into the ceilings to keep the room aesthetically appealing. One of the greatest features of the system is that all of the television’s accessories, such as the DVD player and the cable box, are stored in a separate room upstairs and controlled remotely so that the television doesn’t have numerous cords and wires coming from it.
“It makes it very simple for us,” Bruce says. The system also contains a DVD server with the ability to load more than 400 DVDs on it, all playable from any television in the house.
While creating this system, the couple really wanted to keep a room just for Bruce in mind. Bruce is an avid pool player, so creating a billiards room with elements of a media room was an ideal choice. The room features a 50-inch plasma screen with two smaller 32-inch LCD TVs on either corner. This allows Bruce and a few buddies to enjoy a game of pool while watching boxing, basketball, football, golf or just about anything they want on all three televisions.
Bruce especially loved this idea because he calls himself a huge LSU, Hornets and Saints fan. “It’s like my own little sports bar,” he says. And with the laid-back vibe of the billiards room, it truly is a sportsman’s paradise. •
Hollywood Home Theater
By Alex Gecan
You no longer have to travel to Hollywood Hills to feel like a star — you just need to solicit an invitation to hang out in Ben and Ruthie Birdsall’s new media room. “We were going with a 1940s Hollywood-slash-Grauman’s Chinese Theatre look,” Ruthie says of the room’s concept.
The Birdsalls and their guests can enter the media room through its main door or make a sneaky appearance through a secret passage from their living room, concealed by an ornate faux ticket counter. The passageway also houses the electronic brain of the media room and the rest of the entertainment units in the Birdsalls’ Old Metairie home.
Interior designer Frank Gambino of Frank Gambino Interiors offered artistic support for the Birdsalls’ Hollywood-inspired remodel. Elegant burgundy wood acoustic panels, piped with gold, line the room over a gold travertine floor. A custom down sofa, upholstered in red and gold, dominates the room — but not to the detriment of Ben’s favorite chair, an armchair-and-ottoman combination that the Birdsalls bought for a song at Renaissance Interiors. The bathroom, adjacent to the media room, is wallpapered in delicate gold leaf.
The room is soundproof and devoid of windows, providing total sensory deprivation perfect for watching movies or just getting away from it all. On the ceiling over the sofa, electronic stars wink softly — just in case you made it halfway across the room and still don’t feel like you’re getting the star treatment.
Opposite the specialized screen (married to a Sony projector) sits an elaborate wet bar, buffered in ostrich and covered in red-and-black glass tiles. Behind the bar are two Sharp flat-screen televisions so thirsty guests won’t have to crane their necks to enjoy the show. The remodeling and appliances were a service of Mandeville-based Campo Better Living.
The Birdsalls love their new home theater. “We use it every day!” says Ruthie — and it’s easy to see why. •
Where the Boys Are
By Alisha Murphy
Keeping three boys who range in age from 12 to 16 entertained and content at home seems like something out of a sitcom: Alice the maid is baking them cookies while they cause mischief to the sound of canned laughter. In reality, little Timmy may be found in his room in his own iPod world or breaking his curfew every Saturday night.
A great media room makes a difference for one Northshore clan. Explains Dad, “I want to be an influence on my kids and have a place they feel comfortable asking their friends over to enjoy.”
Campo Better Living handled the electronic aspects –– a 50-inch high-definition plasma screen flanked by two smaller TVs, whole-house audio and system networking –– and the cypress cabinetry. For this family, a warm and traditional atmosphere was sought because they wanted flexibility in entertaining. The oversize couch, plush carpeting, pool table, board gaming station and bar for the 21-and-older set complete the ensemble.
Dad says that the trio of heavenly screens is “for when I want to have three football games on all at once.” Fair enough. And when only one game is on, photos can be displayed on the others as a slide show; a computer server holds the digital family album. Electronics and speakers are concealed inside the furniture and in the ceiling.
The room is adjacent to another family room, separated by French doors that can be closed for particularly rowdy football games amplified by super-surround-sound. Visible through the glass panes, the media room fits with the design scheme of the rest of the house thanks to charming details such as exposed brick, a fireplace next to the viewing area and stunning arches and beams that frame the view.
It is the “multi-functional” room the family desired, an example of a cool room for boys and girls of all ages –– and a good reason to stay safe at home on a Saturday night! •