Call us retro, but every time we hear the phrase “smart home,” our minds spin straight to the sky-high dwelling of the Jetsons and their humanoid robot Rosie. And while we yearn for the next-level automation and connectivity the futuristic abode offers, all that chrome and glass is a little colder than the home sweet home of our dreams.
The reality is thankfully far from the ’60s fiction. As early adopters’ houses start to fill with gadgets and gizmos that make everything easier, a little know-how can ensure we don’t have to sacrifice cozy vibes for convenience.
Read on for all the pro tips you need to set up and style your smart home.
Cords are ugly. They’re also kind of dangerous if you have a child or a pet, or if you’re as clumsy as the author of this post. And although we are headed to a wireless world, we’re not quite there yet — so we need to find a way to deal with unsightly wires.
Thankfully the design world is awash with tips for cleverly hiding cords.
If you’re working with a desk or shelf, attach binder clips to the back with a washer and screw and then run the cords through the clip to keep them neat and tidy. For outlets and wires that hang on the ground, invest in a decorative basket or box and simply store the mess away. Longer cords can be secured to baseboards with clips — just try to buy cords that match the color of your baseboards to keep them as disguised as possible.
Orlando Soria, the West Coast creative director at Homepolish, a service that delivers personal and flexible interior design by the hour, adds that, “Sometimes hiding cords means hiring a contractor to wire things (like a TV) through the wall, and sometimes it means being tactful about what furniture to buy (a nice console does a great job concealing the cords of all your gadgets).”
Huge speakers and in-your-face televisions are a thing of the past.
Today’s tech is sleek and seamlessly integrated. Soria says, “Don’t be ostentatious with your smart tech. It might be a cool novelty, but what makes it even cooler is not seeing it. Do your best to hide modems and routers, and work items like portable speakers into the design of your space so they don’t stick out like a sore thumb.”
Soria suggests looking into creative solutions. “One idea I saw at a client’s house recently and loved was a television built into the base of the bed,” he says. “This allowed the room to be nice and open and free from the big, black box of a TV, but the client didn’t lose the benefit of watching TV in bed.”
You might not want to show off your routers, but connected tech is supposed to save you time, so it’s important to set it up to perform at peak capacity.
Janna Robinson, an interior designer and lifestyle technology expert known as “The Techorator,” says, “While not the sexiest piece of tech, buying a good Wi-Fi Router is going to be imperative to keeping your system running most efficiently. This will solve just about any problem that can come with wireless products, controlled and smart-home devices and systems. Many of the new routers are beautifully designed and can blend seamlessly into your décor.”
It’s impossible to avoid chrome and plastic in the smart home altogether, but items that cannot be hidden can be balanced.
“If you need a smart appliance in a room, think about what types of surfaces you’re putting it next to,” suggests Soria. “For example, you can counterbalance the coldness of a metal device by putting it on a warm surface like wood.”
“Since there isn’t a one-size-fits-all industry standard just yet, it’s important to do research on what gadgets will connect with one another before purchasing,” Robinson advises.
One way to do this simply is to purchase products that run on the same platform or are in the same brand family whenever possible, and especially when you’re looking at smart home entertainment and appliances. While it may be tempting to buy the tech that most closely matchers your décor, be sure to do yourself a favor and do your due diligence.
Smart home technology is moving fast, so as you’re investing in tech and interior design that will hide the less beautiful parts of your devices, consider what’s still to come — and what you can do to accommodate accordingly.
Robinson says that today’s connected home gadgets — smart thermostats, smart security systems, smart locks and other household devices that can be automated and remotely controlled — are just the basic “building blocks” of what will eventually be more of a full-scale home ecosystem.