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Dedicated Luxury Home Cinema Design & Construction Guide – Part 1

A dedicated cinema may seem like an inefficient use of space to some and they would rather make it into a multi-purpose media room; but to others it’s the crown jewel of their home. A place suited to make events that create lasting memories, from a genuine movie night in with the family, to watching the big game on a big screen with the best of friends. It’s a place that truly changes the experience, a place that allows you to suspend reality for those two hours and immerse yourself in the film the way the director intended. However, without proper planning, design, and execution, a cinema room could be disastrous to a home, disrupting the audio throughout the structure. Today we’ll go over general points and tips in creating a great cinema room. There is a lot that goes into a great cinema, so this article will be split into two parts. Planning Planning your cinema is key to a successful space. Every aspect of a cinema is harmonious and will feed into each other, so it’s important that every part is up to par and there are no bottlenecks. Budget With dedicated theater rooms, it’s important to start with a budget, or at least a range that that spans plus or minus 20%. You need to start here because the cost of a cinema can vary drastically, mainly as a result of the wide range of products you are able to choose from. For example, an effective projector can cost as little as $5,000 dollars and go all the way to $100,000+. That’s why a full turnkey cinema... read more

Why Lighting Design? Part 3.

In the third and final installment of our blog series covering the effects of lighting on our health and quality of life we will be covering the changing world of lighting technology. For better or worse, most new homes now feature LED lighting. The efficiency of LED fixtures is well documented, but many have never been happy with details such as color, quality, and dimming performance. Modern LED fixtures now have the ability to more closely match traditional incandescent lighting in all of those categories, along with one really special trick. LED technology allows a nearly infinite amount of control over the color of light emitted by a fixture. This allows the tuning of light to match the look desired within a space. Incandescent light, while beautiful, was limited in the color temperature it provided. LED manufacturers have also made huge strides in improving the quality of light they emit, with high CRI (Color Rendering Index) options available at almost all price points. The biggest improvements in LED technology are related to dimming performance. High quality LEDs, when specified correctly, no longer suffer from flickering and erratic performance. In fact, higher performance fixtures can now dim to candlelight levels when combined with the correct dimmers.  Additionally, dim-to-warm technology allows LED bulbs to shift in color, much like an incandescent bulb does when dimmed. This provides that warm, candle-lit, atmosphere perfect for a date night or just a relaxing evening at home. Without question, the most exciting improvement in LED lighting is circadian rhythm lighting, also known as human-centric lighting. Our body is designed to use cues from the environment... read more

The Sound and Silence

Balance of sound and silence can impact health and influence emotions. Prolonged excessive exposure to a deficient sound environment causes a range of problems, including stress, poor concentration, productivity loss, communication difficulties, and fatigue. When designing a home, consideration needs to be given to whether you are trying to stop sound getting into a room to keep it quiet, like a bedroom, or trying to stop sound getting out of a room, like a home theater. Value of a healthy sound environment We do not always consider the health effects of a poor sound environment. Here are a few things to think about. Any noise above 85 decibels can damage hearing. Everyday life is full of noise above 85 dB: a gas lawn mower (91 dB), hairdryer (94 dB), headphones turned too loud (100 dB), and a plane takeoff (120 dB) are just a few commonplace noise sources that can damage your hearing. At 85 dB, hearing damage occurs after about 8 hours of exposure, but at 91 dB — only a 6-dB increase — damage occurs after about 2 hours. Sleep disturbance is the most harmful effect of environmental noise pollution. Short-term effects of poor sleep are mood changes, daytime sleepiness, and decreased cognitive abilities. One significant long-term effect of poor sleep is cardiovascular disease.  Noise can also trigger a stress reaction that includes the fight-or-flight response of the nervous system and an increase in stress hormones such as cortisol. Over time, this repeated flooding of the system with stress hormones can damage the cardiovascular system.   Designing for healthy sound When we look at designing for acoustics,... read more

Building for Peace of Mind

Even before COVID-19, Safewise reported that 58 percent of people living in the United States report feeling worried about their safety every single day. States where this concern ranked markedly higher than the rest of the country include Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, and Tennessee. The top health and wellness concerns in the home include falling and carbon monoxide poisoning, and one-third of Americans have experienced an environmental safety issue before, with poor air quality/air pollution and water quality being top concerns. As we build and renovate our homes, more and more, we start to consider what we can do to make them a safe place for our family to live in and for our friends to visit. In this blog, we are to look at five ways you can bring peace of mind and some safety to your home. Access Systems When building a safe home, we can use access control systems to manage who can come and go from the premises. While typically found on commercial locations, more and more homeowners are using these systems to track and log who comes and goes. The idea is not just to restrict access but to make sure when someone needs to get into the home they can. Integrated with your home automation platform, a good access system ensures a safe and welcoming entrance for everyone.   A doorbell or gate system From adverts on the television, it would seem that porch pirates have been driving the sales of devices like Ring Doorbells. To deter these pests, you may want to consider a video doorbell.   Depending on... read more

Hiding the Clutter

Professionals will tell you that clutter can sap confidence, reduce creativity, impact your sleep, and increase tension. Yet in a modern home or office, all our devices, cables, tools, and technology increase clutter, which ruins your design and messes with your health. When you design for a healthy home, you look to hide some of this, or at least make it invisible. From speakers in the wall to hidden TVs that look like art, there are many things you can do to cut the visual noise and streamline your home’s appearance. TV Concealment Since we’ve been stuck indoors during the past several weeks, we’ve probably spent more time in front of our TVs than we’d care to admit. But when the TV is turned off, and a blank screen takes up a significant amount of wall space, it detracts from the design of the entire room. Wouldn’t you rather look at a beautiful piece of artwork or a mirror to enhance the space? In some areas, a TV may look out of place. A Bravas design expert can work with you to install a system that has your TV smoothly and silently lower from the ceiling, rise out of furniture, appear in a mirror, slide out from an otherwise empty wall, or hidden entirely behind your favorite piece of artwork. Hide the Speakers, Not the Sound If you are working with an interior designer, they will tell you that speakers are best heard and not seen. One of the most popular ways to achieve this is to install your speakers in your walls or ceilings. Bravas works with speaker... read more

Something’s in the Air (and Water)

If we remember the first half of 2020 for anything, I am guessing most of us will remember the amount of time we ‘sheltered at home.’ Looking after the health of our family, our friends, and our community has been our most important priority. Some people will be ready to head outdoors or into public spaces the moment they are allowed, and others will take time before they want to be back in their wider community. Either way, as we start the process of being back to whatever our ‘new normal’ will be, our communities will need to decide what to do to make our outside world as safe as possible.  At the same time, we should consider if there is more we can do to make our indoors as healthy as we can, too. Here are three ideas to consider. Improve Your Air Quality We spend more than 90% of our time indoors. Unfortunately,  more than 100,000 Americans each year die of heart attacks, strokes, and other illnesses caused by air pollution. That means that getting the quality and quantity of air in your indoor spaces right is essential. Achieving this requires three key steps – installing sensors to measure and monitor the air; installing high-quality filters that remove odors and pollutants; and using particle filtration systems. ​ There are critical designs to be made, and where and how you live makes a dramatic difference in your air quality. So does the design of your air quality management systems. Getting these designs right the first time is essential before you start building your home. ​Adequate monitoring systems allow... read more

Lighting Control & Wellness

Great lighting design involves using layers of light to deliver the desired result, and that layering typically results in a large number of fixtures. To dial in the ideal lighting levels, most homes depend on banks of switches and dimmers, particularly in rooms like the great room, kitchen, and master suite. Those banks of switches are unsightly, complex, and inelegant solutions to a problem that didn’t exist when the light switch was invented. In the past, a room was most likely lit by a single light source, or worse, a few fixtures controlled together by one switch. Lighting control allows precise, repeatable control of the light in a space and allows us to do so while replacing that bank of controls with a single, customizable keypad. That keypad can be programmed to control a room, or even entire home, with a single button press. Beyond removing the clutter and confusion from the wall, we also gain the ability to “design” the light in the space, taking full advantage of the lighting design we spoke about earlier. With a single button press, dozens of individual lights can be automatically adjusted to provide the perfect light for any situation. Imagine your kitchen having a button called “Cooking,” in which every light is used to provide a safe and productive workspace, while another button labeled “Dining” dims the lights, creating a perfect space at the table for conversation over the dinner you just prepared. By controlling the light, we also can impact the health of the home automatically. Creating a consistent lighting schedule can help reduce some common sleeping issues, like difficulty... read more

A Happy Home Is a Healthy Home

We all wish for the happiness and health of our families and friends. We all understand how diet, exercise, and even time spent with loved ones, is a critical step to achieving this wish. We also know that when designing a new home or office, we should devote considerable time to make our spaces comfortable and productive. The right materials, fabrics, and textures create an experience that makes us feel at home, but there is more we can do. Few use the right technology in the right place to improve quality of life. Correctly done, home technology can reduce stress, increase your quality of life, and make you more productive. Here are four ways the right home technology can help you achieve healthy spaces. Wake Well and Sleep Well Light can change your life. It affects what we can see and alters how we feel. It creates an atmosphere and impacts emotions. We use windows to give us natural light but we also rely on artificial light. Getting the right mix of natural and artificial light is critical to both how you sleep and your well-being while awake. That means getting the right combination of brightness, color, and saturation.   Sound and Silence Sound and silence can impact health and influence emotions. Prolonged and excessive exposure to a deficient sound environment can cause a range of problems, including stress, poor concentration, productivity loss, communication difficulties, and fatigue. Correctly adjusting the mix of sound and silence can be complicated and should be designed optimally. From the right speakers to the right damping material, getting sound right can change how you... read more

Pimp Your Home Office

While we’ve all been living with social distancing and quarantine for the past few weeks, there is one thing every person working from home has in common, and there are millions of us. We are all struggling with crappy equipment and room setups, and therefore having terrible experiences with video conference calls. We almost all sound like crap, look way too small on a laptop screen, have delays and echoes, and it is affecting everyone’s business in a negative way. With remote work becoming the new normal for the foreseeable future, these problems need to be addressed and resolved. We’ve outlined the potential problems that exist in every home office or virtual environment and how we intend to solve them: Bad network – Could be slow ISP, cheap equipment, or distance from the nearest AP, but a significant percentage of people have obvious issues such as voice lag. There should be a full-speed, multiple AP network in every home and home office. Bad acoustics – The dining room table or an empty guest bedroom affects the way a person sounds on the conference call. A room where you have video conferences should be acoustically treated to make your voice sound more effortless and natural. Bad Echo – Generally caused by mismatched gear, when a microphone and speakers aren’t tuned right, you get a horrible delay and echo. You need a quality PC, microphone, and audio gear. Echos will destroy a presenter’s effectiveness and distract their audience. Tiny Screen – You will never pay attention or learn as much from a presentation on a 13″ laptop vs. an 85″ LCD.... read more

Why Lighting Design? Part 2

Before the harnessing of electricity, artificial light was expensive, and therefore relatively scarce. Over the last 100 years or so, the cost of lighting our world has become negligible, which has had enormous economic consequences. The home and the workplace became safer, factories increased productivity, and social activities extended late into the night. Humans Need Natural Light Unfortunately, there was one significant negative impact that only recently has begun to be understood. Our bodies have adapted to natural light, yet many of us spend the vast majority of our day indoors under artificial light. Most people understand that there are health benefits to natural light, but it may come as a surprise that the absence of it is actively harmful to our bodies. What is it about natural light that is so important to our bodies? Our bodies are controlled by 24-hour cycles called circadian rhythms, and they affect us physically, mentally, and behaviorally. Circadian rhythms control when our bodies signal us to sleep, wake, eat, and more. The way our bodies keep up with these daily rhythms is largely based on exposure to the sun. As the sun rises and moves across the sky each day, the intensity and color of the light changes in a consistent and repeatable way. That daily sequence helps our bodies reset our circadian clock so that it runs in time with the rest of the world. If we don’t get these clues from the sun our 24-hour cycle drifts, it’s harder for us to sleep or wake, and leads to lost productivity and a broad range of health consequences, including obesity, heart... read more