Transforming a Brooklyn Townhouse into the Home of the Future

Smart home technology has gone from fantasy to reality as more companies are realizing the fastest way to a consumer’s heart is through their smartphone. Even Apple is getting into the game with the release of iOS10 and its new Home application, which connects an array of compatible devices.

While you might expect these high-end systems to look like something out of The Jetsons, they’re actually barely perceptible, meaning that even historic of homes can have all the conveniences of a contemporary space without sacrificing traditional style. For this Brooklyn Heights townhouse, architect Jose Ramirez teamed up with Massachusetts-based Savant and Andrew Russotti of Old Cove Integrators to create a customized system that would enhance — and seamlessly blend with — the pre-war space. Edit: This home has sold since releasing this article.

Technology seamlessly blended into a historic home designed by Wheelhouse

Ramirez set out to transform the five-story building, which had started as private residence and most recently served as student housing for Brooklyn Law School, into a luxurious single family home. According to Ramirez, smart home technology is now considered standard for residences of this caliber. “We’re not doing a project right now that does not have it,” Ramirez says. “It’s a forgone conclusion that we’re doing a smart home.”

A modern kitchen designed by architect Jose Ramirez, Savant and Andrew Russotti of Old Cove Integrators

Since the 7,000 square-foot Brooklyn townhouse was a development project, Ramirez and Russotti worked to create a system that would appeal to a range of potential owners. “We focused on implementing a system that was easy ­to ­use and could be tailored to any personal lifestyle,” Russotti says.

That meant integrating the expected smart home components like audio-visual controls, while adding a few high-end surprises. The property boasts 23 interior and exterior audio-visual zones equipped with a variety of speakers, and 72 Lutron window shades that are controlled wirelessly. Each floor is equipped with a wall-mounted iPad to control audio, video, lighting, security and other features through the Savant app. “From the most casual user to the absolute control freak, this system meets the needs of every family member,” Russotti says.

Audio-visual zones with integrated lighting

By design, the system seems to disappear within this classic Brooklyn townhouse’s walls. Like a virtual assistant, the keypads, speakers and other components are there when needed — hidden when not. “Every feature inside a high­-end residential property needs specific attention to detail,” Russotti says.

Brooklyn townhouse with modern technology by Wheelhouse Designs

While Ramirez notes that he designed 27 Monroe to have a transitional-style, he has incorporated smart home technology into everything from contemporary penthouses to traditional country retreats. “It’s our job to make sure it’s not in your way,” he says. Which means you can have a home of the future that’s still grounded in the beauty of the past.