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SmartHouse shows you how to revitalise your dining room with a few key electronic additions.

There are many exciting options for smartening up your home: plasma TVs, “invisible” speakers, security cameras that plug into the Internet and touchscreens that operate everything including the kitchen sink are just a few of the cool products that can easily capture a homeowner’s fancy. But the key is to select items that will suit your lifestyle and fit into your family’s routines. Remember, as long as the electronics you choose enhance the comfort, convenience and enjoyment of your home, you can’t go wrong.

THE DINING ROOM

Revitalise your dining room with a few electronic additions.

Not too long ago, most homeowners would have dubbed the dining room the least popular room of their house. In fact, the room had become so underused that builders had started omitting the space from their house plans, using it instead for a larger kitchen or living room. This design that still makes a lot of sense for on-the-go families who would rather sit down for a quick bite in their eat-in kitchen than partake in a drawn-out meal in a formal dining room. But it seems as though the dining room is making a comeback, due largely to the growing popularity of home entertaining.

Today’s dining rooms are much different from those formal, standoffish spaces of years past, however. They have become casual, comfortable and inviting spots where you can share a glass of wine with a couple of friends or host a formalised dinner. The materials and furnishings are important elements to consider, certainly. But don’t forget about music and lighting system technologies. These can make your dining room one of the friendliest, most engaging areas of your house.

Catching Up with Friends
You don’t have to prepare a fancy meal to get a lot of use out of your dining room. Sometimes all it takes is a good bottle of wine, a nice cheese plate and a little music to draw people into the room. A music distribution system can feed tunes from a stereo system located anywhere in your house to speakers planted in the walls of the dining room. If you’re particular about the types of songs you like to hear, be sure to ask your installer to mount a control keypad somewhere in the room. This device allows you to select a certain CD, radio station or other music source. The volume of the music can be controlled from the keypad as well, so a quiet conversation will never turn into a shouting match.

Hosting a Dinner Party
When you’re hosting a dinner party, it’s time to pull out all the stops, and that means music, beautiful lighting and tasty food. Again, a music distribution system lets you control your stereo without ever leaving your guests. As the volume of the conversation increases, you can simply bring up the music a notch or two by pressing a button on a wall-mounted keypad. The task takes no more than a couple of seconds, so your guests may not even realise what you’ve done. For even more subtlety, you can ask your home systems installer to paint the grilles of the dining room’s built-in speakers to match the wall surface.

Being able to brighten, dim or accent the lights from a keypad is also helpful during a dinner party.
To ensure that the controls won’t overpower the dining room decor, ask your home systems installer to combine the buttons for operating your music, lighting and other systems in a single keypad. From one place, you could set the lights, choose a CD, turn down the heat and close the drapes, for example.

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