A “Smart” Home for a Smart Man

Contributing Writer

Howard Klemperer is a cook and interior designer. He’s a music buff and gun enthusiast, too. He loves to entertain, and claims to “drink” politics.

To pursue so many pastimes under one roof seems impossible. But Klemperer put his intelligence to work and designed a “smart” home so he could do just that.

Located in the Norton Commons neighborhood, this red brick house, built by Stonecroft Homes in 2009, embodies classic suburban style on the outside and modern European style on the inside.

“It’s very utilitarian and doesn’t lend itself to clutter,” said Klemperer about the home’s interior, which flaunts clean lines and effective use of space. “It’s very easy to maintain.”

The home’s Control4 system, installed by Visual Concepts, makes Klemperer’s life significantly easier. With it, he can control lighting, audio-visual components, security and temperature from virtually any room in the house.

“If I’m in Europe, I could open the doors, turn on the heat and check security with my cell phone,” boasted Klemperer, who can also use his computer to manage these settings.

Unlike most lighting, which only functions at full capacity when turned on, Klemperer’s lighting can function at the percentage of power he desires. So if he chooses to operate his lights at 85-percent power, he could save up to 15 percent on his energy bill.

The home’s spray foam insulation made by Icynene provides similar savings on top of other benefits. It seals air leaks while reducing noise and improving air quality.

His home is the epitome of efficiency, not just in terms of energy but space, too. Though it’s only about 3,400 square feet, its many windows, open floor plan, central staircase and tall cabinets make it feel much larger.

“They give the home an illusion of space,” Klemperer said. “I like the use of space. There are a lot of places to put stuff.”

Red, geometrically shaped speakers in the basement disguise themselves as artwork on the walls. And under-cabinet lighting in the kitchen provides perfect illumination without being obtrusive.

The kitchen was a room Klemperer meticulously designed, since he adores cooking. In the ‘90s, he owned a business cleverly named “Thyme to Eat Personal Chef Service and Catering,” where he visited clients’ homes, interviewed them about their dietary preferences and accordingly cooked their meals. Although Klemperer no longer prepares meals for a profit, he continues to prepare them for fun, hosting up to two dinner parties a month.

Klemperer’s get-togethers sometimes revolve around the screening of a sporting event, television program or movie. For this purpose, he has a state-of-the-art home theater in his basement. It flaunts crimson leather recliners, Martin Logan speakers and recesses in the ceiling with dim red lights similar to those in movie theaters.

Unlike cinemas, however, Klemperer’s home entertainment system is multi-purpose. Hiding behind a black porous wall known as a “whisper wall,” on which the projection screen is mounted, is a highly specialized sound system. It provides surround sound for television and two-speaker sound for music.

The word “smart” has come to be correlated with technology. But in the case of Klemperer’s home, it should be correlated with sensibility also. His guests have the ability to simultaneously enjoy his cooking and entertainment because of the fully functional kitchen he has strategically placed in his basement.

“I don’t have to schlep food up and down the stairs,” said Klemperer. “Hot foods stay hot.”

Walking into Klemperer’s hi-tech basement is like walking into the future. But walking into his living room is like walking backwards in time.

Its niche shelves display miniature, scrap metal figurines – everything from a hot air balloon to a dinosaur. Klemperer had these sculptures made from excess metal he collected while owning a metal trading company in the late ‘80s.

And as a subtle acknowledgement of his penchant for guns, Klemperer has hung on his wall unique artwork by Rachel Zegart featuring glass castings of bullets. With a red and black backdrop, this piece of art provides an otherwise neutrally toned room with just the right amount of color.

Though Klemperer abided by the form-follows-function maxim when designing his home, he didn’t allow its minimalist implications to preclude personal touches.

Rendering external lighting unnecessary, a chromatherapy bathtub by BainUltra in his master bathroom flashes a series of colored lights from underwater, facilitating a more therapeutic bathing experience. And while his seemingly over-simplistic Hansgrohe plumbing fixtures don’t appear anything like traditional washbasins, they actually deliver water quite effectually. Sleek, long-necked, silver faucets spill water into elevated ceramic bowls, which then overflow into invisible drains.

If Klemperer’s home were a student, it would without a doubt have an above-average IQ. But placing it in the category of genius is its location

Norton Commons is a neighborhood development that’s no different from a small town. It has everything from a grocery store and pharmacy to restaurants and salons.

“Norton Commons is one of the reasons I moved here,” said Klemperer. “I don’t have to wander too far from home. And it forces you to become more social. People help each other.”

Klemperer was previously residing in Sarasota, Fla., to be closer to his father. But after his passing, Klemperer moved back to Louisville. He liked that homes in Norton Commons were modestly sized.

“The concept of downsizing is going on across the country, but people don’t want to lose amenities,” said Klemperer. “I’ve put the amenities of a million-dollar house into a smaller home.”

Klemperer has downsized considerably from his other homes, but he wishes to cut back even more. That’s why he has put his house up for sale. Parting with it, however, won’t be so easy.

“I care about who buys my home because I put so much into it,” he said. “But if I had to do it all over again, I’d love to do it.”

Photos by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune