technology profile – automated window treatments
A Florida automation specialist’s step-by-step process for integrating motorized shades into a residential unit.
By Peter Shipp
MOTORIZED WINDOW TREATMENTS are an investment that enhances a home’s aesthetic value, comfort, privacy and livability. With a wide variety of technologies impacting engineered window coverings on the market, the demand for smart and connected living spaces has increased the level of excitement about motorized treatments.
After all, the benefits are obvious. The ability to control your shades, blinds or drapes with a voice command or touch of a button. Creating home automation scenes where the shades work in unison with your lighting have become quite common. Freedom from unsightly cords and the sheer elegance of automating your window coverings has become a common interior design goal.
Attached to a motorized roller, track or rod, today’s automated window coverings lift, lower, and traverse left and right without anyone having to do any heavy lifting. It’s almost a symphony, with window treatments synchronized to start and stop in unison and line up perfectly across the window.
Which makes today’s windows and accompanying window treatments an exciting architectural feature of the modern performance home. Windows come in all shapes and sizes, from rectangles and squares to trapezoids and circles, interesting angles and arches, along with an incredible array of textiles and fabrics to choose from that add such an elegant touch to any room’s décor.
But first? You’ll want to know how much installing motorized blinds costs. In truth, the answer varies greatly depending on a variety of factors, including the type of system you select, whether or not your existing window treatments are compatible with motorization, and the size and number of windows you seek to add motorized treatments to. Better yet, do you want the most modern window treatments? The ones that disappear when open and make the most stunning visual effect when in operation.
Just remember that whatever option(s) you choose, it is critical to pre-design the integration of automated window treatments into your spaces to reduce your overall expense and to achieve the proper aesthetics you envision going into the project. When wanting to accomplish hidden motorized shading – again, the most aesthetically pleasing window treatment – it is important to begin discussing and designing the integration of the shades BEFORE construction even begins.
The following step-by-step process is what we use at ZIO for integrating these types of shades into a residential unit:
1. IDENTIFY THE NEED WITH THE CLIENT.
We have numerous pre-design discussions with the interior designer and the client before even picking up the pen for a project. The client will express to us that they really want motorized shading that looks clean and modern. Shading that is invisible until it magically descends from the ceiling. As we explore the client’s vision, we will introduce the types of motorized shades that recede into the framework of the space to give them a conceptual understanding of what the finished product will look like.
This opening discovery process typically has a few back-and-forth discussions as we explain fabric options, motorization options and exactly what the parameters and associated costs are for this type of stealthy design.
2. CONFIRM WITH THE CLIENT THAT THE SOLUTION IS SOMETHING THEY WANT.
After discussing our plans to hide the shades with the client, we want to get complete buy-in from them so there are no hidden surprises down the road. And, we also have to have buy-in from the interior designer, the builder, the architect – anyone who is impacted by this specific design feature. And so once we get buy-in, we now have to discover if the technology and design can be implemented into the overall design concept of the structure.
3. CONFIRM WITH THE CONTRACTOR THAT IT IS SOMETHING WE CAN ACCOMPLISH.
ZIO always approaches the contractor to explain what it is we’re trying to accomplish for the client. Can this be done? Since this is a newer concept to many contractors and often requires close coordination with other trades, we want to ensure that this is feasible on their end. Their typical response is, “Yes, it can be done, BUT you need to show us how!”
SHADES DRAWING, 3D VIEW.
PHOTO OF FINISHED ROOM.
4. ONCE IT IS FEASIBLE, WE BEGIN TO DESIGN THE ENGINEERING.
Once the client approves the design and associated costs, we design the engineering, as you can see on the accompanying graphical drawings. In this example, these drawings show the detail of a shade pocket and how it has to be installed in the framing and millwork.
At every step of the process, our engineering team and project manager are available to answer any questions the builder and sub-contractor(s) might have. That is part of our overall responsibilities as the technology designer on the project.
5. COORDINATE DESIGNS WITH THE SUB-CONTRACTOR(S) SO THEY CAN BUILD IT BASED ON HOW WE DESIGNED IT.
Our goal with stealthy window coverings is to successfully hide the hardware in the frame where the shades will be retracting and extending. Additionally, power and control cabling are integrated as well. So the coordination we have with the sub-contractor(s) responsible for the framing is critical. And that takes continuous coordination. It really is nothing more than being responsible and good communicators, something our firm excels in. But I have to stress that this coordinated team effort should not be lost on anyone.
6. INSTALL THE PREP DURING CONSTRUCTION.
I can’t speak for any other integration firm, but our team not only designs advanced technology solutions, we also integrate them. From high to low voltage, from conceptualization to fulfilment, our team is on site and working with the other trades to get the house rounded out and ready to perform for the homeowner. And so there is a lot of prep work we do before and during the entire construction process.
7. COORDINATE WITH THE MILLWORK CONTRACTOR TO FINISH ALL OF THE DETAILS.
When we integrate stealthy, hidden shading hardware into the frames of the house, a millwork contractor works with our team to ensure that all of the details are taken care of. Again, this is simply our people coordinating with the millwork specialist to ensure everyone is on the same page. These days it can be more difficult to find craftsmen that treat millwork like building furniture, so if you’re lucky enough to work with these craftsmen it makes this process a delight.
8. INSTALL THE SHADES.
We successfully install the shades, run thorough tests to ensure everything is working 110 percent, and leave the home with a beautiful balanced shading treatment and seamlessly integrate it into the client’s automation and control system. With the touch of a button, the client can now control and/or schedule the shades to their liking.
We feel it is critical to discuss all of the variables of automated window coverings in the discovery phase of the project. The client has to make decisions based on costs and deliverables, as well as the inherent functionality and longterm benefits of automated shades. Once the decision is made to move forward, coordination between the trades is imperative to achieve the desired results.
660 Clay Street
Winter Park, FL 32789