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Hiding the Ugly Hardware of Beautiful Automated Shades

This unique solution to hiding the hardware of motorized, automated window shades makes this smart home worthy of Lutron’s Excellence Award for Best Shading Installation.


Naturally, when you buy a motorized window shade, you can expect there to be an electrical motor attached somewhere to the shading assembly. Yes, this motor will require electricity to operate, and yes, it isn’t going to be very appealing to look at.

Manufacturers like Lutron have devised some clever ways to conceal the motors that lower, lift, and traverse window dressings by integrating them into the design of shading rollers and drapery tracks. Even if these rollers and tracks don’t quite mesh with your home’s aesthetic, decorative valances can be designed to hide the offending hardware.

Nip and Tuck Into a Vaulted Ceiling

But as the home systems integrators from Chesley Electric, of Park City, Utah, prove with this award-winning window shading project, there’s yet another effective way to work motorized window treatments into the design of home. Per the request of the project superintendent, the entire motorized assembly—the roller, fabric , and motor—was completely tucked up into the vaulted ceiling of the great room, where floor-to-ceiling windows span across an entire wall to provide a view of the nearby ski slope.

“Absolutely no part of the technology or shading hardware is visible,” says Chesley manager of controls Mark McGuiness, of the home that received the Lutron Excellence Award for Best Shading Installation, “until a button on a keypad is pressed and the shades descend in perfect unison over the windows.”

In homes with a traditional flat ceiling, this technique isn’t overly difficult to implement, but for this project, a vaulted ceiling offered no space above it for the hardware to reside. Chesley’s solution: raise the roof by about 10 inches in order to fit a pocket inside the angled portions of the roofline.

“This ended up taking more lumber, installation time, and cost, but the end result was well worth it,” McGuiness continues. “As you look at the shades going up, you can’t help but wonder ‘where did they go?’ and ‘how can they fit up there?’”

Wiring to Power Hidden Power Panels

Another part of the installation process was fishing four-conductor low-voltage wire from the motor of each roller to a Lutron 24-volt Sivoia QS Power Supply Panels that Chesley installed in a mechanical room.

Several Lutron seeTouch keypads were wired to the Power Panels as well, which would enable the homeowners to control the movement of every shade with a quick tap of a button on any keypad. Chesley programmed settings into the Lutron Sivoia Wireless QS and RadioRA 2 system so that the six shades in the vaulted great room and master suite respond to the same up or down command in each location move in perfect unison.

An astronomical timer built-into the RadioRA 2 processor was set up to also move the shades, but without any direction from the homeowners. Automatically every day at sunrise, the shades lower in the great room, as well as in the master suite.

“This blocks out the sun so that the house doesn’t get too warm, as well as prevents damage to any furnishings and floor coverings,” McGuiness explains.

The opposite happens an hour before sundown, as the shades ascend to reveal the magnificent sunset and views of the ski slope. Of course, the homeowners can always override these housewide sweeps of shading control by just tapping a button on a keypad or the Lutron Home Control+ App on their smartphones.

Battery-Powered Shading Options

The motorized shading may be slick and super convenient, but it wasn’t the only Lutron window treatment option integrated into this home. The extensive labor involved and the sophistication of the equipment required in the great room and kitchen had eaten up a big portion of the homeowner’s shading budget, so they needed to incorporate less expensive shading solutions in other, less frequented rooms.

Fortunately, Lutron offers a huge assortment of products—even manually operated shades—in a wide range of prices.  Sivoia QS Triathlon battery- operated roller shades were the choice for the master bathroom and master closet. Requested after the construction of the house was complete and the budget had been tapped, they were less expensive and simpler-to-install than the hardwired units.

Chesley was still able to integrate them into the Lutron RadioRA 2 control platform, however, which meant the owners can operate them easily from small Pico remote controls at each location.

For the guest bedroom and bathroom, Chesley elected to install manual shades. Although not as high tech as the motorized units, it was still important that they would mesh with the home design. In the bedroom, the roller was tucked into the ceiling—not vaulted, fortunately– and in the bathroom the roller sits behind a valance custom made by the contractor.

Linking in Lights

One of the biggest reasons homeowners add shades to windows is to manage the amount of sunlight that enters the home. It made sense then, for this shading-focused project—to also include a way for the homeowners to manage the interior lights. Chesley relied on Lutron products for this portion of the high-tech upgrade, too, but went with a wireless system, Lutron’sRadioRA 2.

By utilizing Lutron’s wireless dimming modules  and RF dimmers, they were able to design a more affordable lighting control solution than had they hardwired all the lights to an expensive lighting control panel, says McGuinness.

Plus, this approach would allow the homeowners to start out by automating the lighting in the common areas and master suite only, then integrate additional lights as their budget allowed.

The elegantly installed motorized shading combined with the conveniently controllable lighting has proven to be a big hit with the homeowner, who as a builder of spec homes had originally planned to sell the house after it had been completed.

After using the motorized shading and lighting control systems, though, he changed his mind and made it his own permanent residence.

Beautifully integrated and choreographed, the Lutron Sivoia QS shading and RadioRA 2 lighting control systems were able to enhance the convenience, comfort, and aesthetics of a home in ways its owner couldn’t imagine living without.

About the Author

Lisa Montgomery:

Lisa Montgomery has been a member of the CE Pro and Electronic House editorial teams for nearly 20 years; most of that time as the Editor of Electronic House. With a knack for explaining complex high-tech topics in terms that average consumers can understand, her style of writing resonates with people who are interested in adding electronic systems to their homes, but are unsure of the steps involved and the solutions available. From basic lighting control systems to full-blown automation systems, Lisa understands the home electronics market well, and is able to point consumers in the right direction on their quest for a smarter, more convenient, efficient and enjoyable home.

Over the years, she has developed close relationships with key manufacturers and seasoned custom electronics professionals, giving her a keen sense of what home technologies are hot now and what is on the horizon. She shares this wisdom regularly through feature stories, product roundups, case studies technology spotlights and comprehensive guides and books.


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