The Challenges of the Retrofit

Guest Blogger: Ed Wenck

The Art of Media Installation in Existing Structures

It’s about planning – and creativity.


While running cable in a new building is often a fairly straightforward process, technology “retrofits” in existing structures require special talents. Integrators run into a variety of challenges, from fishing speaker wire behind existing drywall to installing subwoofers around beloved millwork without damaging an existing aesthetic.

There are other considerations at work here, too: During a tour of an existing home undergoing a technology upgrade, Mark Ontiveros of California’s Audio Images showed us a clever solution to overcome a vaulted ceiling in a family room that would’ve made any audio source — from TVs to streaming components — completely unlistenable. IMG_8028_RD_webOntiveros and his team stretched a purpose-made, sound-absorptive fabric over the soaring ceiling panels, and finished the room so that the treatment was indistinguishable from the other rooms in the home.


Calibration Makes a Difference

Audio and video calibration are two more arrows in an integrator’s quiver — knowing how to place speakers and subs and adjust the settings on that new 4K TV (usually set at the factory to be screamingly bright in a big-box store) goes a long way toward improving the results of home technology. Moreover, it’s important that systems from video doorbells to smart thermostats work as good as they look, and it often takes a pro to ensure that user interfaces and control systems are easy to use — and secure, too.


While it’s true that more and more components are entering the market to help home technology professionals integrate devices seamlessly into a home’s look, sometimes the designer/installer hits a wall — literally. And it’s usually made of concrete.

The Look & Listen team of Queensland, Australia, ran into just such an issue with a recent project, pictured here:


“Planning and designing were both key to this project’s success. Since this retrofit included integrating technology into the building’s concrete slabs and walls, all access and routes had to be planned to the utmost accuracy. All infrastructure had to be run around the exterior of the building, concealing cables cleverly and aesthetically around existing building materials.”


Ed Wenck is the Content Marketing Manager for CEDIA, the industry association representing those professionals who manufacture, design, and integrate goods and services for the connected home. Find a CEDIA pro near you here.

| 7/12/2018 11:14:40 AM | 47 comments