About this Project
Integrators know that one of their most effective sales tools is demonstrating technology to architects, builders and homeowners in fully functional showroom. Well-appointed vignettes of kitchens, family rooms, and home theaters offer visitors a realistic glimpse of how life happens in a smart home. Home systems integrator Gordon van Zuiden of cyberManor in Los Gatos, California, has taken this strategy a step further by outfitting not just a portion of a storefront, but an entire bungalow with all the bells-and-whistles, including a slick disappearing SI screen in the master bedroom.
Open for in-person appointments and virtual tours since April 2020, it’s become van Zuiden’s secret sales weapon, converting an impressive close rate. The latest phase in van Zuiden’s Home Technology Center is perhaps the most unique and ambitious. Earlier this year, he and his wife Michele listed the show space on Airbnb, hoping to expose even more people to the benefits of a smart lifestyle, gain credible customer feedback, and create a solid, stable base of recurring revenue.
It’s relatively easy for an integrator to sidestep minor technological snafus during an on-site demonstration. Not so much when Airbnb guests are left to experience technologies solo. For many of van Zuiden’s Airbnb guests, it’s their first run with control keypads, voice control of electronic devices, motorized shading, and whole-house AV. Visitors expect a comfortable, enjoyable, and hassle-free stay, so there’s absolutely no room for error. “The systems needed to be programmed and customized for flawless performance and intuitive operation,” says van Zuiden, who took advantage of the COVID-19 lockdown to perfect the operation. It was also important that none of the home’s 100-plus components conflicted with the cozy, welcoming ambiance he and Michele hoped to impart. “The last thing we wanted to do is make our guests feel as if they were staying in a science lab,” he says.
The peaceful union of design and technology and simple, straightforward control is pervasive throughout the residence, but resonating the strongest with Airbnb guests, says VanZuiden, is the disappearing 80-inch SI short-throw, ambient light rejecting projection screen in the master bedroom. “It’s the one thing that’s mentioned time and again as being a favorite part of their Airbnb experience.” Watching movies on a huge screen from bed is always a pleasure, but it’s the clever motorization of the SI unit that really blows guests away.
Matching the wooden slatted ceiling that angles slightly downward toward a pair of windows is a custom-built soffit concealing the SI Solo Pro 2 motorized screen housing. The soffit passes as an interesting architectural detail. A few feet from the foot of the bed stands what appears to be a dresser, but inside, the Salamander Miami 229 custom cabinet holds an LG 4K Ultra High Def short-throw laser projector. The screen-projector duo delivers a pristine picture day or night, and disappears from sight when it’s not in use.
Designed and engineered for design-forward installations such as this, the SI screen epitomizes the level of customization that’s possible when you have the right products, van Zuiden says. Thanks to SI’s disappearing screen and other carefully curated technologies, the “smart home experience” is booked most of the time, providing van Zuiden valuable insights from a broad cross section of customers and creating a steady stream of recurring revenue. “But no matter who stays,” van Zuiden says, “SI is always a big hit.”