ListenUp, a Colorado integration firm, and design experts spec the perfect balance of automated window treatments, smart technology, and modern western design for a custom home.
Rural, rustic, and rich with real estate prospects, the town of Sedalia is home to some of the most breathtaking real estate and custom-build opportunities in Colorado. Offering sweeping Rocky Mountain views and just a 30-minute drive from Denver, homeowners are jumping to create their forever home in this historic sliver of Douglas County.
While mountain life is uniquely beautiful, it does come with some home design challenges that are well known to the custom-build community in the region — namely with balancing that sought-after view with natural light regulation for the fluctuating climate and Colorado sun. The build team must be prepared to address the challenges presented by the landscape and respond accordingly, offering the right solutions and partners to help alleviate any risk to comfort and visibility within the home, while also enhancing additional technological integrations and design elements.
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When Jay and Stacy Albright decided to create their perfect home nestled in the quaint balance of town and country living, it was clear to them and the build team alike that modern home technology was essential. Selecting a one-of-a-kind spec house by Ken Gray Construction in Sedalia, the home’s unique layout required a carefully curated mix of home furnishings and technology to match the geographical demands of the sunny region. A busy family with two children coming of age, the Albrights wanted a forever home that enhanced their lifestyle with day-to-day ease as they enjoyed the view of the peaks and valleys they lived among.
While careful networking and integration expertise for a rural location are a given, controlling the lighting of mountainside properties presents an especially unique challenge in product selection: No homeowner wants their stunning view obstructed, but the powerful sun rays that come with high elevation cause several concerns for the homeowner. For one thing, the sun can damage fabrics, furniture, floors, and more, especially in an open concept home designed with large windows. And, while traditional window shades can alleviate some of these problems, they don’t prioritize convenience. The shades selected for the home needed to operate on a schedule or via command remotely and adjust easily based on the sunlight’s strain throughout the day.
The house was prewired for smart shades, which was great planning from the start, but the right product selection was still key. The smart shades needed to fulfill a series of requirements to ensure the perfect fit for the space; they needed to be customized completely, with special attention to headrails that would work with the existing architecture, headrail size, technology, and the right opacities and designs to transform incoming sun rays. And, of course, the shades needed to complement the design of the home across several different spaces and aesthetics — so variety and customization played a key role in solving the puzzle.
Nearly 50 years of experience and leadership in the custom integration space has positioned the team of tech and design experts at ListenUp as the go-to firm for custom builds in the Colorado market. With the firm’s specialties encompassing a broad assortment of lighting control, automation, home theater, audiovisual, and more, ListenUp serves a fast-expanding range of luxurious home experiences tailored for any lifestyle and locality. The team takes a personalized approach to each client, recommending and implementing the perfect products and brands from a suite of options, made smart with automation solutions like Control4, Crestron, Savant, and URC.
“We’re seeing more products and services outside the traditional AV projects our business began with, and that’s especially advantageous for these complex projects,” Gorski shared. “As lighting control, security, surveillance, and shades get smarter and smarter, they fall much more naturally into our category instead of stepping on the designer’s toes, and we’re seeing a huge escalation in what we can integrate into our automation systems to deliver on lifestyle simplicity while resolving some of the functional lighting challenges in locations like Sedalia.”
Gorski approached the project with his colleague Jules Oliva, ListenUp’s in-house shade, drapery, and shutter expert, to identify the perfect product mix to accommodate the tricky lighting conditions and complement the modern western design. Since joining the ListenUp team in 2020, Oliva’s keen eye for design has played a pivotal role in blending technology and design in custom projects, with a focus on lighting and shading experiences especially.
Every window treatment in the home was purposefully designed and selected for the specific light filtering and design needs of their space, and the automation platform delivered the same: A Savant smart home system sat at the foundation for the automation, supporting functionality for the home’s network distribution, Lutron lighting controls, and home security. Hunter Douglas’ PowerView Automation fit seamlessly into the mix to offer pre-set scenes, adjusting on a schedule based on the sun’s location or at the touch of a button for one-off adjustments. As a result of ListenUp’s meticulous system design approach and product selections, the window treatments interoperated with other light regulation technologies to achieve an elegant, connected experience across the entirety of the home — all from the same keypad.
At the end of ListenUp’s installation, the home was tailored to the Albright’s specific needs in a way that truly enhanced day-to-day living. The home automation system added a new level of simplicity to the home’s technology control, and with the addition of Hunter Douglas window treatments, instilled the confidence that natural lighting would never be a barrier to enjoying their space. The portfolio also offered Stacey and Jay the option to add manual shades in lower traffic areas, which matched the smart shades precisely without delivering too much granular home automation.
“Like any project we do, I looked at this house overall and learned how they live in the space. My job is really to make their dream home come to life, creating a space in which they can create memories and feel comfortable day after day,” Oliva said.
Human-centric lighting is so important in the context of comfort, and the technology and design convergence is where the magic comes together to make it happen. Cosmetically beautiful and functional alike, the different fabric and style choices presented by Oliva helped the Albrights achieve the challenging balance of unobstructed mountain views and comfortable lighting, the best of both worlds enjoyed in the rustic Colorado terrain.
With more growth on the horizon for ListenUp, Gorski is on the front line of the busy Denver-area market looking for additional projects to support, collaborating with builders and customers to share his unique perspective given the experience gained in the Albright’s home installation. As the Hunter Douglas portfolio continues to evolve and expand, the opportunities for growth in the Custom Integrator Program will only multiply, especially as a one-stop shop for home technology expertise and service.
“As advocates for smart home technology, the Albrights embraced window treatments and lighting control, which, although it pains me a bit to say given my passion for AV, is arguably more important than audio and video since it’s applicable to every space in the home,” Gorski said. “Jay and Stacey’s relationship with ListenUp is lifelong. They will reach out and recommend us because they are happy with how things turned out with the deep-dive product selection and integration. That’s what we want for the other customers looking at this market — going beyond the known. We hope that as more folks build their dream homes, the ripple effect from customers like them will allow us to extend our reach, educate more homeowners on what benefits window treatments can offer, and ultimately create more healthy, happy homes for as many people as possible.”