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Transformation: Wired Up

By Tobi Fairley

Fabrics, paint colors, new appliances, furniture—designing a new home is so much fun! But the not-so-fun parts of remodeling aren't the ones that most people talk about, and they're probably more important than what color you paint your walls. The more mundane stuff like plumbing and wiring may not be "fun," but I can promise you that they can make or break how you feel about your home once you're really living in it.

As you start to talk about the electrical plan with your builder/contractor, you really need to think about how you use your home. Where will you need task lighting? How much light do you really need in each room? Do you need a fan or a chandelier? Where should the switches be placed, or more important, where should they not be placed?

Electrical Floorplan

As you can see in the electrical plan for my house, I also think about where dimmers will help, and we are very specific on where the switches will be located as you enter the room or if we want three-way switches because there is more than one entrance to a space. We even think about whether you need air vents in a room, which can really help how each space will function for you!

I also have a huge amount of AV planned throughout the house. In addition to TVs, we will have surround sound wired through the house, including a master controller that will allow us to play music in the whole home at one time, or in individual rooms. But with all those cool tools comes a problem: How do you hide all the wires and controllers so the room still looks chic and styled?

AV Cabinets

That’s where the built-in cabinets with antique mirrored fronts in my living room come in! Not only are these good-looking and well-crafted, they are also really going to function for our home and the AV needs we have. This will be the tech headquarter for the entire home, all neatly hidden in these great cabinets that keep the clutter and wiring out of sight. So my husband will be happy with the technology and I will think it looks gorgeous.

Those are the types of things you need to discuss ahead of time with your family and your contractor—will your budget cover a custom cabinet like this one? Do you want to have sound capability through your home?

That’s why AV and electrical discussions are so important at the beginning of your project—they impact the design, the layout, AND the budget! And they are hard to add once you’ve already applied sheetrock in the home.

You really need to do a virtual walk-through of your home before all the work starts, imagining where you want the lighting to be, where an electrical outlet is critical, and where a fan would really help. Think about charging stations and about hiding the outlets in the kitchen under the upper cabinets so they don’t interrupt your gorgeous decorative backsplash. And are there any special details you desire like outlets inside the cabinetry in your bathroom so hair dryers can stay plugged in and easily tuck away? Or do you have special hobbies or crafts that need electricity or lighting? After the initial meeting on the AV, you’ll need several more walk-throughs over the course of the construction in case you forgot anything.

Those details will make you love your home even more when you move in.

And don’t let me fool you that the men in the home are the only ones who love a great AV and electrical system. I listen to our new stereo in every room in the house every day and it makes me so happy. So plan ahead and you can be happy in your new or newly renovated home, too!