Sunday, December 21, 2014

Building a Better Home

My name is Ben Wade and I am the family IT guy.  I'm really ok with title/burden.  I get to help set up the occasional new TV, or de-virus grandma's laptop or get uncle Joe's DirecTV working again.  I think its fun and part of it is nice to get that recognition for people.

I live with my wife Ellen and my dog Mervin in central Iowa and we have decided to stay in our house after 6 years of mulling around whether or not to move.  Actually the housing market made it a pretty easy decision.  After listing for 3 months and only getting 3 showings, it was abundantly clear that no one wanted to buy a house in the last quarter of 2014.  So instead of just talking about leaving, we decided to lean into it and make the most out of this house.

There are some big projects that we envision for the house over the next couple years.

  • Remodeling the basement
  • Remodeling the kitchen
  • swapping the wood privacy for a chain link 
  • A new deck and shed
Our objective is the improve the house into a higher sales bracket for the next time we want to sell.  But really what I think will be interesting, and what I plan on putting in this blog, are the projects that build intelligence and convenience into our home.  I have several major project areas that dearly need upgrades.

The Living Room

Right now this is the area we spend the most time in.  This is where we watch all of our TV, movies, play video games or read.  However, once the basement is finished, this is going to become more of a casually used room where we might watch for dinner and large get-togethers, but really much time will be spent on the basement.  So we're not looking to put a lot of money here, just doing some small modifications like moving the components to the cabinet, hiding the wiring and swapping out the old 5.1 theater in a box with a sound bar.

The Basement

We have big dreams for this year.  Our goal for this room is to create a home theater hidden in a home library.  My wife and I love to read as well as watch a good movie, so what better place to combine both activities.  We'll install a large screen UHD TV, with 7.1 surround sound (maybe even a Dolby Atmos setup), that's hidden within the walls covered by shelves full of books.

Components will be stored under the stairs along with the home server.  The Xbox will come down here for my video gaming needs.  And I think eventually, I will cave and come back to DirecTV with a whole home DVR setup again (bad experience the first time that ended in me quitting their service).

Ellen and I love to cycle as well and in the winter we put our bikes on trainers so we can watch The Sufferfest.  So we'll be setting up ways to incorporate that into the basement.

The Master Bedroom

This is our fortress of solitude, and the one spot that Ellen has full domain over.  Which means electronics all not the focal point and everything must meet the wife acceptance factor.  We're going to around the electronics so they are less in the way, some lighting for different moods and some enhanced sound for rocking out while getting ready for the day.

Home Automation

Home automation has come a long way.  When I first started checking this stuff out in 2008, you had to have all kinds of expensive software and computers and the selection of devices was limited.  Now you can get a small hub that controls all devices from outlets and switches to door locks, garage doors and the thermostat all from the convenience of your phone/tablet.

The plan is to wire up the house for:
  • Internet connected thermostat, front door lock and garage doors
  • Lighting scenes and timers
So this is some of the fun we are going to get into.  I'll get into detailed plans later.

Peace G-Shock.

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