OutSmart at Home

Look and Listen: From innovative doors to high-tech toys to local art, these ideas can make home a better place to see and hear.


Want to upgrade your home but not quite ready for a 100-inch TV set? Will Breaux of Audio Video Designs offers other ideas:

FlatScreen• “Flat panel plasmas and LCDs continue to improve, get slimmer, and get larger. The newest generation can be only 1.5 inches thick.” New sets from Hitachi (like the model, right) in store this spring range from 32 ($1,999.95) to 47 inches (price not announced at press time).

• “Home automation continues to be a growing trend. Even the lower-priced systems have added features comparable to much more expensive systems, bringing the price to a much more attainable level.

equipment• “Lighting control is another area that is growing. Newer systems can be added to any house without changing or adding any additional wiring. This allows huge flexibility to anyone with a home for a relatively small amount.

Tie that in with an automation system, and everything can run seamlessly and conveniently. Both home automation and lighting control have the potential to pay for themselves in energy savings.”

• “Distributed audio is quickly changing from a luxury to a standard in many new homes. Newer, less expensive, and more energy-efficient systems give you the ability to dock an iPod and control it from any room of the house. Listen to satellite radio in one room and scan your computer’s music for your favorite song in another. All of this can happen on a small screen that fits in the space of a standard light switch.” The Essentia system by Nuvo (above) is one brand. “This system is also the only system of its kind to be EnergyStar certified for energy efficiency,” Breaux says.

Audio Video Designs. 7300 Southwest Frwy., 713/776-8444, www.avdesignshouston.com.


avdesigns“Projection technology is one trend that continues to amaze people,” says Will Breaux, one of the owners of Audio Video Designs. “Projectors have been good for a few years now, but with the prices continuing to become more affordable and the quality continuing to improve, many people are using projectors in places that would have been previously reserved for smaller TVs. Outside of a media room, projectors are showing up in living rooms because new screen technology allows projectors to be used in rooms with more ambient light. Rear-projection setups are also being used in more unconventional ways. Many people are spending a great deal of time outside around the pool or barbecue. Why not put a 100-inch rear-projection system in the back yard to give you the best backyard TV any of your friends have ever seen?”

Who not indeed? The system pictured is by Stewart’s Starglass. Other brands are Vutec and Stewart Filmscreens. Breaux advises, “If you are thinking that is a bit over the top, consider that a 100-inch television system like this can start under $5K installed.”

Audio Video Designs. 7300 Southwest Frwy., 713/776-8444, www.avdesignshouston.com.


roomdividerSliding-glass room dividers from SpaceMan Home & Office offer an elegant solution for homeowners who want to wall off an area but maintain a sense of light and openness (or renters for whom a construction project isn’t an option). The glass-in-aluminum-frame doors can be custom made to order, but SpaceMan stocks doors—manufactured by Houston-based Sliding Glass Door Company—in various standard widths, says owner and president David Linda. Doors range from $500 to $800 each, depending on the size and type of glass (plus installation costs). The four doors for the 12-foot span pictured would cost about $3,500, a sum that includes installation. “If you were to actually frame, Sheetrock, and paint, it’s really not that different,” Linda says of the cost comparison. “So you’ve got a completely different look and a different style. Besides, we’re in and out in about half a day with no mess.”

In addition to the frosted glass pictured, other types of glass are available, including clear, mirrored, and milky. Clients appreciate the convenience and the ease of operation of the glass doors, Linda reports. “You literally flick it with your finger and they go flying across.”

SpaceMan Home & Office. 3556 West T.C. Jester, 713/688-8808, www.spacemanager.com.


artworkArt is not as high tech as a 100-inch television set, but it can spruce up a home. The trend of collecting art is stronger than ever, observes Karen Derr, owner of Karen Derr & Associates Realty (713/862-1600, www.karenderr.com )—“even if you don’t know much about art, have much money, or care if it ever appreciates,” she says. “You may not think it is all good, but you have to admit this proliferation of artists working breeds an atmosphere of innovation and inspiration that Houston is perfect for.”

Local talents include the two openly gay artists, Nicholas Kersulis and Gabriela Trzebinski, whose work was selected for the prestigious Houston Area Exhibition at Blaffer Gallery, the art gallery at the University of Houston (713/743-9530, www.blaffergallery.org ). The annual juried show opens on May 9 and remains on view through August 2. Trzebinski is represented by her painting, Big Foot (above).


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