Take a photo tour of our House of Innovation
The Sunset-Popular Science House of Innovation helps you wake up, reminds you to lock the door, and adjusts the shower to
individual preferences. It also delights the eye and offers the best of the West’s flexible, indoor-outdoor living.
A digital wine vault tells you the optimum time to serve each bottle. A mini robot mows the grass. Windows capture stunning views. For more privacy, flip a switch, and the glass becomes opaque.
Click ahead to see more ways this home in Alamo, Calif., points to a future where design and technology create comfort, ease housework, save energy, and entertain.
Innovations: Tall glass pocket doors by Roder (through Heartwood Window & Door) open the living room to a courtyard and a shimmering pool. Inside, an air quality system filters particles down to one micron.
Lighting levels adjust to the time of day.
Takeaway idea: Simple lighting and a light palette add to the room's spaciousness.
Innovations: A sculptural stainless steel GE hood over the concrete-topped island keeps the room open. The counter is a natural place
for Sony's VDC-LS1 tabletop, which has a built-in keyboard cover designed for kitchen use. A web-based security video system
from iControl monitors the entrance path, pool, and patio.
Takeaway idea: One side of the red-accented island functions as a breakfast bar or buffet. Stainless steel stools tuck under the counter.
The tech: When the floor gets dirty, don't reach for the mop. The iRobot Scooba gently scrubs hard surfaces, using infrared sensors to find its way around a room. Scooba can assess how dirty a floor is and adjust its scrubbing mechanism accordingly.
Innovations: A wall painted with Benjamin Moore Chambourd (AF-645) anchors the dining area. Chrome and leather Brno chairs ― modern classics from Room & Board ― contrast with the simple, deeply grained wood table and bench by Mebel Furniture.
Takeaway idea: Group small art pieces for impact. Here, six square works coated with epoxy resin from the Lola Gallery hang in a single row, echoing the horizontal niches built into the corners of the room.
Innovation: Between the informal entry and the kitchen proper, this space is used for messages, dining, homework, and meal planning.
The outdoor grill is just outside, making this room a perfect staging area for entertaining.
Takeaway idea: Counters are for more than chopping and holding appliances. This granite-topped surface from DuPont contains a built-in trough for icing bottled drinks.
Innovation: An abstract mural of Claymonde ceramic tiles from Fireclay Tile in energetic ochres, reds, and greens complements sleek outdoor appliances by Viking Range Corporation. The bisque Corian counter is long enough to function as a buffet.
Takeaway idea: Most countertops have a backsplash of some kind. Extend it higher, and you have an accent wall.
The tech: This panel from Oregon Scientific displays local weather info, including four-day forecasts via MSN Direct's FM broadcast service.
Innovations: Concrete floor tiles in tans and gray-greens echo the colors of the landscape. A slide-and-fold door system from NanaWall also links the house to its surroundings.
Takeaway idea: Extend floor tiles outside for your own indoor-outdoor connection.
Innovation: The curvy fixture from Artemide bathes walls and ceiling with soft light.
Takeaway idea: Lighting can do more than illuminate. These sculptural sconces add elegance and character, too.
Innovation: The wine room contains the new Big Kahuna wine vault by GE. Its computerized, bar-coded inventory system lists the optimum
time to drink each wine.
Takeaway idea: Add interest to a room by using contrasting materials ― like this table of reclaimed redwood and concrete (by Holmes Wilson Tables) and smooth stainless steel pendant lamp.
Innovation: Running lights from the home theater equipment glow behind textured glass.
Takeaway idea: Design a space for your stack of electronics, turning them into a visual statement of their own.
Innovation: A desk on casters keeps the room flexible.
Takeaway idea: Love technology? Embrace the look with stainless furnishings and glass-fronted cabinets.
The tech: A remote control switch makes it possible to close or open the shades (by Budget Blinds) from the bed. The bedside panel also controls home security, lighting, and audio.
Innovations: A computerized shower system by Kohler lets you set individual water temperatures and spray actions. Phase-change windows from Glass Paradigm change from clear
to cloudy at the touch of a switch.
Takeaway idea: The warm cafe au lait color of the concrete tiles (by Sonoma Cast Stone) warms the space. Understated stainless steel fixtures add to the calm.
The tech: The heated glass and metal rack from Thermique Technologies keeps towels warm while preserving a view of the tile wall.
The tech: Tanita's BC549 Ironman InnerScan Monitor looks like a bathroom scale, but it also analyzes your percentage of body fat and water, muscle mass, and basal metabolic rate ― and stores results to help you monitor progress.
The tech: Rooftop solar panels from SunTechnics can generate most or all of a home's electricity.
The tech: The Kyodo America Lawnbott mows up to ¾ acre using sensors and transmitters to find thicker or taller grass. The Lawnbott returns to its docking station for recharging when batteries run low.
Design: The house wraps around a pool courtyard and climbs a hill to capture beautiful hill views. Herbs and vegetables mix with ornamental plants in the front yard. The two-story veranda off the master suite was inspired by a similar feature at playwright Eugene O'Neill's Tao House in nearby Danville, Calif.