Meet the great room: before

We fell in love with this old house as soon as we walked in. While the house was a traditional American Foursquare, previous owners opened up the main floor creating a modern open floor plan.


We visualized the great room as the main gathering space, serving a few purposes:

  • Entry way
  • Entertainment
  • Chilling

For each of these purposes, we’re working to automate features.

Entry way

We’ve identified a couple features to automate in our entry way:

  • Security
  • Lighting


As the main entry and exit point of the home, our first project was security. This was simple to complete as we already had Vivint at our previous home and continued the contract.


With the installation, we received a new control panel which was a relief as our original Vivint control panel had an unresponsive, inaccurate touchscreen. With the old panel, we (okay, mostly I) set off the alarm several times only because it was so difficult to enter the code.

The new control panel’s touchscreen has given us no trouble at all. However, we prefer to use the smartphone apps to arm and disarm, particularly since you can opt for no entry delay. No entry delay means the alarm sounds the minute someone enters the home, so we have to remember diligently to disarm the alarm before entering the house to not set it off ourselves.

Ideally, we’ll set up a notification when we return home asking us if we’d like to disarm the alarm before entering. We prefer this kind of control over having the house automatically disarm if we’re within a certain radius of home.

The next security-related feature we’d like to enable is the door lock. Since we’ve had a positive experience with the Yale Security Real Living Electronic Touch Screen Deadbolt we use for the basement walk-out door, we’ll probably get another for the entry way.


Our front porch light came with the house. It lights up when it gets dark and brightens when it detects motion. You have to be on the porch for it to notice you.

Through the front-door there’s a set of three switches: one for the front door, one for the entryway lights, and a dimmer switch for the great room.

Would love to set these up to turn on with motion detection. Also want to set the lights to different room scenes like movie watching. (And hey, with plans to entertain, we might as well automate a party scene with black lights and strobe lights topped off with a smoke machine.)


Our first investment for entertainment in the great room was the projector set. The set up includes the projector, ceiling mount, screen, and wireless HDMI. We’re impressed so far.

We brought with us the surround sound system. Took us awhile to get the motivation, but once we got the projector, we wired the system through the basement.

To automate, we’ll want to tap into the IR-remotes to power the projector screen, projector, and surround sound system from our connected system.


In the center of the first floor, the great room serves as an excellent gathering place and chill zone, featuring an L-shaped sofa, a swivel chair, and two benches circled around a practical coffee table ottoman. A Duraflame electric stove livens the decorative fireplace while surrounding remote-controlled flameless candles warm the scene. Eventually, we’ll hack into the IR-remotes for the electric stove and candles to set a mood.

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