Upon arrival at Tommy’s Place in Falmouth, Massachusetts, a decades-long dream for one family was finally realized. Designed as a retreat for local families dealing with childhood cancer diagnoses, the Control4-automated smart home located in scenic Cape Cod offers a truly unique vacation for entire extended families where every turn reveals colorful splashes of whimsy and kid-friendly amusement.
“The goal of Tommy’s Place is to provide a year-round retreat where families of any means can enjoy a truly care-free week with non-stop entertainment for kids,” says Tim O’Connell, founder of the Tommy’s Place charitable organization.
“It’s so important to let these kids be kids, and so valuable to help emotionally-stretched families make joyful memories, that I couldn’t even wait for it to be fully finished before opening for our first visitors. The amount of donated labor, materials, technologies and community involvement required to bring Tommy’s Place to life reflects our belief that families dealing with childhood cancer deserve a destination vacation even if they can’t take the whole family to Florida or California.”
The once-neglected building now stands as a resort-level accommodation that rivals the fun and imagination of leading theme parks. From the backyard’s restored 1951 fire engine, life-sized chess board, Sunbrite outdoor TV and Episode surround sound to the game room and the “stargazer” room complete with space suits and a telescope and a constellation-themed ceiling, O’Connell has created a space that invites excitement and discovery for children and their family members during some of the most trying times.
Bringing the Experience Together With Advanced AV Technology
According to local smart home technology expert Adam Zell of Boston Automations, what began as a service call to troubleshoot a TV turned into a six-week-long charitable project to outfit the entire home with donated smart home equipment from Snap One.
“When a family comes to Tommy’s Place, they shouldn’t have to worry about maintaining the property, and everything that can be a fun experience, should be,” says Zell. “Since managing an 11-bedroom house with up to 30 people isn’t on most visitors’ list of fun activities, I applied my knowledge and leveraged all my professional relationships to make every activity in the home as care-free and simple as possible.”
Zell then spent the next six weeks sourcing product donations from manufacturers and volunteer labor from friends. After hearing of the project, Snap One even became a proud donor. Using the Control4 smart home system and a variety of accompanying technologies, Zell was able to give the home remote control of lighting, TVs, audio, electronic door locks, plus a enterprise-grade network from Access Networks so everyone could be connected no matter where they were.
“The technologies Adam installed eliminated a lot of potential difficulties, including the reality of staying in a home with nearly 100 lighting loads,” says O’Connell. “Nobody wants to walk around for 10 minutes each night to make sure the lights are off and the doors are locked, especially on vacation. With the Control4 remotes and touch panels placed throughout the home, they don’t have to. A single button for ‘nighttime’ is all it takes.”
Enabling Exploration Through Smart Home Control
With exploration at the forefront of the design, and the potential for families to be split up during that exploration, O’Connell wanted the electronic experience to be seamless and intuitive. This made the Control4 system the ideal solution, because it is one of the easiest and most reliable smart home systems available, with a user interface so intuitive that even kids who’ve grown up with technology all around them can operate it.
Each television remote allows for total video control as well as lighting control, features that extend to the backyard as well. A 75-inch 4K SunBrite TV and Sunbrite soundbar creates an immersive outdoor theater experience. The space also has its own zone in the home’s multi-room audio system, featuring eight Episode landscape speakers and an in-ground burial subwoofer that can deliver maximum party vibes or relaxing soundscapes as needed.
Adding Uniqueness and Comfort Through Art and Technology
It’s hard to overstate the detail and creativity apparent in every inch of the property, which features the work of multiple artists and designers who donated their talents and time. With so much hard work involved and such high expectations for the long-term value of the property as an escape for families, Zell and O’Connell saw fit to add several Luma surveillance cameras to the security system.
Similarly, Zell installed a number of WattBox power protection devices that ensure all the expensive electronic equipment is secure from power surges and provide OvrC remote maintenance capabilities that allow him to troubleshoot minor issues from other locations, such as a router that requires a reset.
“Summer is Cape Cod’s prime tourism season, but we’ve created such an inviting property that our first few guests told us they ended up not even doing most of their planned local adventures, and instead spent almost all their time at the home,” adds O’Connell. “That’s partly due to all the technology and toys the kids can play with, and it’s a truly wonderful development, because it means Tommy’s Place can be a year-round retreat even when the local community slows down for the winter.”
Another version of this article originally appeared on our sister site CE Pro.