We took a dumb home and made it smart. Here’s where we started

Twenty years ago, new home builders saw an opportunity to add value to a property by installing in-wall and in-ceiling speakers, routing miles of speaker wires, and installing volume dials in every room. Before the days of Sonos and LCD TVs, it was a novelty to be able to listen to music everywhere, and getting a big screen meant a dedicated room with a projector. Today, if you’re buying a home under 30 years old, there’s a good chance the house will come with just such a system or room. It may seem pretty cool at first, but it won’t take long before you realize it’s disappointingly outdated — certainly nothing like the connected smart homes you read about online.

Such was the case with our gorgeous new test bed for smart home technology and smart appliances out in the country. The new home had speakers in every room, an aging home theater, and two closets loaded with what was high-end gear in its day. Unfortunately, all of the infrastructure was horribly outdated, and the gear in the closets was either showing its age, or entirely defective.

To take the home from FM radio and CDs to Spotify and Apple TVs would require much more than replacing a few black boxes, so Digital Trends partnered with the home automation and installation experts at Control4 and Technology Design Associates. The result of the collaboration was a home transformation that would arm the house with 21st century tech, and put Amazon’s digital assistant, Alexa, at the helm.

This four-part video series chronicles that process, which took about four months from inception to completion. You’ll see a monster-sized 200-disc CD changer make room for slim and sexy Control4 modules and Sonos components, a dinosaur of a 720p projector go extinct, making way for a gorgeous Sony 4K replacement, and an ultra high-end (but dated) McIntosh receiver replaced by a state-of-the-art Audio Control unit. Standard light switches are replaced by smart switches, and old analog push buttons are supplanted by the latest touchscreen control pads. A house that had barely any network infrastructure is gutted and outfitted with the latest high-speed network wizardry, powered by Pakedge.

When we’re done, you’ll see a state-of-the-art connected smart home, run by Control4 and Alexa voice commands so intuitive anyone can walk in and make the TVs and sound system work. The results are both a comfortable, functional home, and a sandbox for testing and reviewing smart home devices and appliances.

In this first video, we show you what the home looked like before we began, complete with aging electronics and control systems. Watch as we begin to gut the house of its old wares, and lay the groundwork for a technological transformation.

Some components of this installation were provided and installed courtesy of Control4, Sony, Audio Control, and Sunbrite TV.