Here are some smart home features that homeowners are embracing now:
KITCHEN GADGETS: Whether you like to show off your cooking skills or your entertaining style, indoors or out, luxury kitchen products and gadgets abound. Consider getting a fancy ice maker that makes bar or pellet ice to kick your cocktail parties up a notch. Uline makes them, as well as a refrigerator that can switch between fridge and freezer modes if your needs change throughout the year. Scotsman has great ice- machine models, too, if you like your ice in cube, flake or nugget form.
SMART IRRIGATION: Precipitation sensors and moisture sensors for soil exist but aren’t wildly used. A new Houzz survey of landscaping trends found that 24 percent of homeowners doing an outdoor remodeling project were installing motion-sensitive lighting, but only 8 percent of respondents were adding precipitation-sensitive irrigation systems, which shut off the sprinkler system when it rains, and only 2 percent were adding smartphone connected plant sensors.
COLOR: It’s a given that a company like Google thinks outside the box for its products, but it begins, apparently, with its California headquarters. Almost a playground experience, the colorful Googolplex space has set a trend for how companies – at least those interested in hiring creative millennial – should look and function.
LIGHTING CONTROLS: Being able to control all the lights in the house with one device, to operate dimmers or to turn off the lights after you are already in bed are all functions homeowners value and can add at minimal cost.
ALARM SYSTEMS: Today’s home security systems include controls for thermostats and lighting and have features that allow you to arm and disarm them remotely, using a computer or a phone. Security cameras also have fallen in price and grown in popularity among homeowners.
FIREPLACES: Regardless of how much cold weather we may have, there’s something inherently homey about a fireplace. If you want a fireplace but also want to reduce your carbon footprint, try something new.Modern Flames has a Fusion Fire Steam Fireplace that uses new technology to make steam look like smoke coming off of those sultry flames. Make it even more realistic: You can program it to sound just like a crackling fire. All that, and it works off of a 120-volt household circuit.
MIXED METALS: If you’re used to seeing plumbing fixtures in nickel, chrome or brass, get ready for more options – and don’t be afraid to mix it up a little. Delta Faucet, among others, has new products for kitchen and bath in black matte, black stainless and Champagne bronze. Rose gold, riding the copper trend, makes an appearance in several lines, too.Leggett said he saw models of rainfall showerheads mounted flush with the ceiling, and in-shower controls are getting smarter and better, letting users set exact water temperatures and
SPA-LIKE BATHROOMS: The bathroom remains a splurge-worthy area, and there are plenty of products that help make it your favorite room in the house. Whether you want it Z en-like, cozy, glamorous or high-tech, vendors offer options. Plumbing fixtures – such as those by Koehler, Moen, Delta, MGS or Newport Brass – add style to your sink, shower and tub. Quartz is still fierce competition for granite and marble slabs and tile.
TEXTURE: Everyone’s been talking about wall coverings for a while, but the newest stuff is far from what anyone would call wallpaper. Tile and concrete applications put three-dimensional relief images on your walls for a finish your guests will want to fawn over like a new puppy. Walker Zanger’s new Kaza Collection includes geometric patterns, including its Edgy Relief, Vortex, Seed or Saturn.
SMART THERMOSTATS: Thermostats have grown beyond a mechanism that you can program to raise and lower the temperature. Today’s smart thermostats can be controlled via your computer or smart phone and will even learn habits such as when you’re usually at home and if you raise or lower the temp when you get up or at certain times of day, like when you go to bed.
KEYLESS ENTRY SYSTEMS: With these replacements for standard locks, homeowner doesn’t have to worry about carrying keys. They can also give instructions to others on how to get into the home when they’re not there.
SHADE CONTROL: Homeowners are embracing technology that allows them to raise and lower window shades at the touch of a button, plus set the shades to raise and lower when they are not there, to save energy or make the home look inhabited. “Shade control is taking off,” Galante says.
HIDDEN OR UNOBTRUSIVE BUILT-IN SPEAKERS: Wired speaker systems are still popular, but the speakers are smaller and there may be more than two to a room, Galante says. That makes it easier for homeowners to customize sound for, say, a party.
SMART REFRIGERATORS AND OTHER APPLIANCES: Few people are buying refrigerators that include an app to tell them when they’re out of milk. “I don’t think we’re quite there yet on the value proposition,” Galante says. But Hertzberg says he is starting to see some smart kitchen appliances in high-end homes. “Those things will go from wow factor to expect in the future,” he says. Controlling the stove and oven remotely is likely to catch on first.
SMART VENTILIATION SYSTEMS: Look for heating and air conditioning systems that will not only adjust the temperature, but will also detect and compensate for humidity and air purity.
SMART BUILDING MATERIALS: Shingles will be able to notify you of leaks, drywall will detect moisture and wood framing will report termite infestations. “That’s the stuff that’s coming seven to 10 years down the line,” Galante says.