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Consider remote control when rewiring

If a space can be wired, lighted, mirrored and glamorized, some will do it. And put it all on remote control.

Bob Heil, a St. Louis electronics and sound wizard, usually applies his talent to home theater and the like. But when a bathtub in Sarah Benton's home in Belleville, Mo., needed reglazing, Heil took it as a cue to update the entire room, a tired 1950s-era space.Now neon, glass block, marble and mirrored walls surround a whirlpool tub raised on a platform of light. Not just any light, but red or blue light, depending on your mood, all filtered through diamond-textured glass blocks.

Then there's the sound system. A small television hanging from the ceiling brings satellite TV and music channels into the room. Speakers here and there, including one at ear level for when you're relaxing in the tub, bring the music in.

But say you've just settled into that warm bath and the whirlpool pump comes on. Doesn't it drown out your favorite tune? Not in a bathroom wired by Heil.

"The speakers are wired with a relay across the pump, so when the pump comes on, the sound goes up," Heil says. "Then when the motor turns off, the sound level drops back down again.

"It's sounds kind of silly, but when you're all wet and naked, you don't want to have to get out and turn knobs," Heil adds with a slight giggle.

Lights are on a Soft On switch, which means they don't just blink harshly on or off, but gently fade from bright to dark or reverse. The wall switches are four-button controls by Leviton that transmit a digital code into the house wiring.

And, of course, all of the electronics, CDs, TV and lights are on remote controls.

"These things only cost about $20," Heil says, waving a hand-held control. "I don't know why everybody doesn't do it." For safety, he also suggests using a 15-minute timer outlet switch (the kind you see for heat lamps in hotels) for curling irons.

He put the room together for less than one might expect. He found the self-cleaning whirlpool tub at a discount store and shopped for matching accessories, finishing touches like brass towel racks and brass Moen faucets that match the tub.