Tailgate: Katherine Boorman, Designer
This operations director for the firm OneButton specializes in making technology an unobtrusive part of home design.
At what stage in the design/build process do you get involved?
The earlier I get involved, the better. By making technology decisions up front, everyone from the builder to the homeowner knows what we are ultimately working toward on a job. For example, if you know you are going to have a motorized shade, you would choose window hardware that accommodates it without interfering with its operation. That said, if there is a project that does not address technology up front, an array of retrofit solutions is now available in the home-automation field.
If technology is part of the vision, it won’t read as an afterthought.
Exactly. You wouldn’t start framing without knowing where the kitchen or the bathrooms are, and I feel like technology is entering that realm of importance now.
Do you have a specific area of focus?
I love lighting and shading because it’s detailed, challenging, and constantly evolving. Light affects our health and impacts how we live. I take pride in creating ideal light environments, and I’m driven to demystify technology in the home. Technology should add an elegant layer of comfort, not work. I often tinker with new equipment at my own home before recommending it to clients.
It’s immensely rewarding to touch base with clients once they have spent a night or two in their new home and to hear how the ease of a lighting keypad or motorized shade has improved their home experience.
Is there a learning curve in executing the details of your designs?
It’s more of a wall than a curve. We put together clear plans and wiring labels for our electricians, but working on the control system can be a wall for our partners in the field to leap over. We are there from the beginning, however, to explain how the system infrastructure is created and to ensure that the process moves smoothly.
Tell us about Savant.
Savant is the most sophisticated software platform we utilize. It’s a centralized system that is capable of tying many elements of the home together—temperature, security, television remotes, music, gates, garage doors, and so forth. We like Savant because it’s incredibly reliable, flexible, and powerful while being elegant and easy for the homeowner to use. It pairs beautifully with the Lutron Homeworks QS lighting and shading hardware, and it also has a sleek thermostat offering that keeps total control as simple and centralized as possible.
Will technology integration become the new normal?
I think we have been normalizing technology in the home for quite a while now. It’s how we stay connected to the outside world. It generates an emotional and intellectual response, because more and more we live through it as a medium. Consumers have a precedent based on their interaction with smartphones and tablets. We take all of those aspects into consideration when determining how to design a space for a client.
What are some of the other platforms you use for automation?
Sonos is our go-to for sound systems and speakers throughout the home. Again, Savant does a fantastic job of tying everything together on its software platform. Right now, many of our systems are proprietary, but some—and hopefully more over time—are in the process of developing more open standards for integration devices on the market such as the Apple Watch.
Have you encountered any visionary concepts?
One item that we have been using recently is the August Smart Lock, which can be accessed by a smartphone from anywhere. Having the peace of mind and a sense of security about their house being locked is important to many people.
Is information security a concern?
All high-end control systems provided by a controls design firm like OneButton have security protocols in place. Multiple layers of security settings help protect our clients’ information and make their systems readily available to appropriate users. For example, even with a fully integrated system that taps into a homeowner’s alarm system, an authorized user would still need to type in the security code in order to arm and disarm the system.
Do you see a wireless future?
I think we will find the world more connected to all of its devices through the internet. We will see a migration away from proprietary systems and toward adding specific items (locks, shades, lights) to a pool of connected items throughout the home. Homeowners will be able to tailor their technological environment to their unique tastes.
For the complete interview, visit FineHomebuilding.com/extras.