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No Place Like (a Smart) Home

Winter/Spring 20-21

We’ve all done it. We leave the house and wonder, minutes or hours later, if we actually turned off all the lights. Did we set the alarm? Did we forget to adjust the thermostat? For Houston and Charlotte Kauffman, those questions are no longer an issue since they renovated their Dalton Ranch home in the fall of 2020 with a smart automation system.

The Kauffmans underwent their electronic remodel with Louisa’s Electronics, a completely Durango-based business. Smart-home automation means that homeowners are able to integrate all their technology systems into a single app and can control everything—from lighting to entertainment systems—to suit their lifestyle.

“The first and biggest thing we did with the Kauffmans was to go through the house and replace most of the light switches with Lutron smart light switches,” explains Ericka Curlee, owner of Louisa’s Electronics. “Then we also replaced all the window treatments with motorized shades. They’re battery-operated, so the house didn’t need any rewiring to do that.”

The Kauffmans love how quiet the motors are in their new window coverings. This is the second home they have automated, so they knew precisely what they wanted this time around—and Houston kept telling Louisa’s team how he wished they’d gone with the Lutron options years ago.

Their experience also means they asked for advanced programming in their integrated lighting-control system. This is one of the key benefits of smart automation: homeowners, with help from Louisa’s, preprogram multiple “lighting scenes.” Say one button is set to “dining.” Press that one and the kitchen lights dim, the dining room lights shift to a warm glow, and the shades on the picture window open. Or press the one that says “welcome” when you come home, and the house initiates a path of light to your most-frequented areas.

“Having an ‘all-off’ button for your lights at the front door or the master bedroom is magical,” Curlee laughs.

The motorized window shades are an integral feature of the Kauffmans’ lighting scheme, helping with energy conservation as well as setting different moods. Louisa’s set their coverings according to the astronomical clock, so that the Kauffmans can program certain blinds to close at sundown, a time of day that shifts through the year, for example, or open at an hour past sunrise—whatever they please. This automated timing can let in heat or keep it out, depending on the time of year, and can protect their furnishings from unnecessary UV deterioration.

“I love their lighting control system,” Curlee says. “When you have bad lighting in an environment, people know it. They recognize it. It’s like bad acting. When you have good lighting, sometimes people don’t even notice it because it’s so good.”

The Kauffmans’ remodel didn’t stop at lighting. It extends from their home aesthetic to the actual safety of their home. Louisa’s installed a security system utilizing wireless sensors to avoid the cost and damage of installing new wiring. They added a surveillance system with cameras (which have night vision, too). And they installed water sensors in the various areas of the home where pipes could potentially burst. Those sensors also contain temperature sensors, which recognize if the ambient temperature of the home drops below safe levels.

“If something like that happened, the Kauffmans would actually get a notification saying there’s a water issue going on,” Curlee says. “That could prevent quite a bit of damage.”

The cherry on top is that Louisa’s integrated all of these systems—lights, window treatments, thermostat, security and surveillance, and water and temperature sensors—into a single user-friendly Elan Home Systems app. This streamlined system enables all those systems to work in concert.

“When they arm the system,” Curlee says, “they’re also saying they want the thermostat to go to this level, they want the lights to go on this schedule, they want the shades to do this. And when they come home, they disarm the system, and the house knows what they need, because it knows the difference between daytime and dark.”

Louisa’s has done all the handiwork, and they continue to work with the Kauffmans on their advanced programming needs. Ultimately, these homeowners will get to enjoy the ease, the simplicity, and the reliability of the finalized system.

For Curlee and her Louisa’s Electronics team, the real joy in designing and installing these automated home systems comes entirely from that single word: home.


After all, home sweet home is a state of life more than a standard of living. Home is where we feel safe and welcome, where we can let down our guard and enjoy being with the people we love. Home sweet home isn’t made of bricks and mortar, and it doesn’t get installed by professionals. That relationship goes the other way around—our houses, and the amenities within them, offer us the comfort and peace of mind we need to relax into our truest selves.

“When people walk into a space and it feels like home, then I know that I’ve helped them create a place for themselves,” Curlee says. “That’s what I like the most.”

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