Whistlers Barn

Tyron Cosway
8th June 2018 in Case Studies

Whistlers Barn is a beautiful example of a building that has recently been converted and extended to offer greater living areas while staying true to the elements that give this period property its charm.

Over the last few years, Richard and his wife have only been spending six months a year at Whistlers Barn, and the other six months are spent in Tuscany, Italy. Therefore, being able to control the home from afar was one of the main motivations for this family wanting their Oxford home to be a smart home.

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Richard, the owner of Whistlers Barn, to find out more about this contemporary smart home and a few of his favourite features.

Loxone Partner: HaloHaus

The original part of this inviting property is believed to date back to the 1800s and is nestled in an Oxfordshire village that plays host to a surrounding perfectly befitting of a home of this stature. As the name suggests, part of this home was a barn at some stage and the transformation into a stunning 3000 sq ft home is truly inspiring.

Whistlers barn now boasts 5-bedrooms, a drawing room and an open plan kitchen/dining area. Richard explains that the way they decided to renovate and extend the property meant that the home also has a wing that could be a self-sufficient annexe or the absolutely ideal place for entertaining with room for a 16-seater dinner party complete with a kitchenette for the caterers.

When it came to renovating and extending this property, careful planning not only went into how the spaces would be used but also how Whistlers Barn could also become a Real Smart Home. For this, Richard turned to professional smart home experts; Halo Haus. Noah, Glenn and the rest of the Halo Haus team are no strangers to working with bringing period properties into the era of smart home living. For this property, they commissioned a Loxone Smart Home system for the control of smart lighting, smart heating and smart security.

 

Smart lighting

Fifteen years ago, this property also went through an upgrade and at that time, Richard had been convinced to included so-called ‘smart lighting’ in the home – but there was nothing smart about it. The result was a bunch of switches on the wall with 15 different lighting levels.

However, over time, the technology became obsolete and the components were no longer available. The extension was going to allow for a new smart lighting system to be installed, one that would stand the test of time and provide actual benefits. One challenge though, was that 80% of the original home would need to be retrofitted, while the extension could be wired. This is where Halo Haus confidently chose Loxone for the job after conducting a thorough survey. With both wired and wireless components to intelligently control and automate lighting, Loxone was a perfect fit for Whistlers Barn.

This project was also the perfect opportunity to move to LED lighting. The home features a mixture of ambient, task and accent lighting so having a more energy-efficient solution was an attractive option for Richard.

Throughout the home, you’ll find Loxone Touch switches working to the Loxone Standard. The intuitive control that these Touch Switches offer is one of the many features that the family and their guests have come to appreciate.

“Another thing I really love is the design of the Touch switches. I think they are beautifully designed. We get a lot of comments from friends. It gives me an opportunity to tell them about Loxone. Every time I show somebody how to use it, they soon get the hang of it and find it easy to use the switches.”

Throughout the home, you’ll find Loxone Touch switches working to the Loxone Standard. The intuitive control that these Touch Switches offer is one of the many features that the family and their guests have come to appreciate.

“Another thing I really love is the design of the Touch switches. I think they are beautifully designed. We get a lot of comments from friends. It gives me an opportunity to tell them about Loxone. Every time I show somebody how to use it, they soon get the hang of it and find it easy to use the switches.”

The family opted to not go for any colour changing light but still wanted to be able to use the lighting to create different moods throughout the home. To still be able to achieve different lighting levels and have lighting scenes that complement different occasions, Halo Haus commissioned four different lighting mood in each room which cleverly combine the lighting circuits at different dimmed levels. Selecting the appropriate lighting moods is as easy as a tap on one of the Loxone Touch switches. Plus, thanks to the switches being wireless, they could be placed in practical positions without worrying about having to pull cables in stone walls.

Smart heating

The main part of this home is 2500 sq ft – quite an area to keep warm. An aga keeps the heart of the home nice and warm while three boilers and zoned underfloor heating – all intelligently controlled with Loxone – ensure the rest of the home is at the perfect temperature. The way the heating has been designed means should the potential annexe part of the home be used separately, one of the boilers acts as an independent heat source. The intelligent automation of the underfloor heating is not the only benefit of smart heating in this home. As the family don’t live here the whole year through, Richard explains another fantastic benefit that gives them peace of mind.

When we left for Italy the last time, we left the heating on because of how cold it still was. This was as a precaution for the pipes and in consideration of the stone walls. Then 3 or 4 weeks later, using the Loxone Smart Home App, we could turn the heating off once we were happy the temperatures back in the UK had reached a good level.

When Richard and his wife make the return journey from Tuscany, they drive through Switzerland. This acts as the perfect marker for when they open the app and turn on the underfloor heating. This gives the home enough time to heat up to the comfort temperature so that a warm welcoming awaits. This really helps to ensure the family feel like they’ve arrived home, even though the building may have been empty for a few months.

Smart security

Another fantastic element of this gorgeous property controlled by Loxone is smart security. This is more than just having an alarm siren sound if someone tries to break in. For Richard, it was important that he and his wife would be able to know that everything at home was okay, even if they were 1000 miles away. If someone did try to break in, the lights in the property would start flashing and a notification would be sent immediately to all connected smartphones or tablets. Knowing straight away that something is amiss can make all the difference while your home deters the potential intruder.

In addition, this Real Smart Home includes presence simulation. This means that when the family are away and the property is not being rented out, then it will still appear as though the home is being lived in thanks to the lights turning on and off, in a way that mimics the usual use of lighting.

As part of the smart security in this delightful home, is access control with a difference. Each member of the family has an iButton that identifies them and deactivates the alarm when they get home. Out with the idea of traditional house keys and in with the iButton. Richard explains why he particularly likes this feature:

“I love the little fob for the alarm system. Simple, stylish. It’s not intrusive or too big. I like that it is magnetic so you feel when it makes contact that it has worked. If a friend of ours would like to stay in our house, we can give them that magnet and it takes care of turning the alarm off. It’s the ease of it that I like.”

As part of the smart security in this delightful home, is access control with a difference. Each member of the family has an iButton that identifies them and deactivates the alarm when they get home. Out with the idea of traditional house keys and in with the iButton. Richard explains why he particularly likes this feature:

“I love the little fob for the alarm system. Simple, stylish. It’s not intrusive or too big. I like that it is magnetic so you feel when it makes contact that it has worked. If a friend of ours would like to stay in our house, we can give them that magnet and it takes care of turning the alarm off. It’s the ease of it that I like.”

After more than 15 years of calling this their home, Richard and Ri have decided that it is time to sell. Richard expressed how it seems a shame that they only spend up to 6 months a year at Whistlers Barn so they would like to see a new family start calling it their home so it can be appreciated all year round. Even if it is only a weekend escape for a busy London family, it would still be used more than it currently is by the Thompson’s. One thing is for sure; given the choice of whether their next UK home will be a smart one, it was clear that Loxone would be in favour.

I would do it all again! Without hesitation. There is a general feeling of the house being more efficient, from a power usage and ease of operation point of view.

Richard Thompson

Owner, Whistlers Barn

This is truly a beautiful smart home. A stylish, contemporary interior that pays homage to its 19th-century origins with proud beam work, tapered garden and exquisite stone facade – all the while fully embracing home automation.

Whistlers Barn is currently being marketed by Savills Summertown in Oxford and they have kindly supplied some of the images on this case study page.

This Real Smart Home was commissioned by Halo Haus, a Loxone Gold Partner based in Thame, Oxfordshire.

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