The ultimate in home luxury combines the best modern conveniences and old-school comforts in a way that works with our personal interior style preferences. With tech behemoths and home appliance manufacturers alike dedicating more of their money and invention space to developing products and services that help us achieve a life of luxurious domestic bliss, stuff that was previously only imagined in science fiction is now smart home fact.
In our busy connected lives, the ability to claim time for our self is perhaps the biggest luxury. With a multitude of in-home assistants and appliances now dedicated to helping us to do more on the move or enabling us to multi-task, smart home living could allow you to switch on or off, as you please. But which smart tech improvements would you most like to add to your home? And how do you make these gadgets and gizmos fit with your interior design goals. Let’s take a look…
From colour changing light bulbs and smart plugs you can control from your smartphone through to intuitive central heating controls, when it comes to incorporating smart tech in the home, you can decide how small or prevalent you’d like it to be. According to research, one in six Americans has a smart speaker in their homes, so will we Brits follow suit?
These speakers acts as assistants, responding to your voice to put your appliances into action, providing you with information about the day ahead such as the weather forecast, your expected commute time or even helping you to plan by letting you know what you have in your calendar. Some can also play music and crack jokes. As the controllers, doers and planners, designing a smart home starts with your choice of assistant and their corresponding home hubs.
A home hub is the captain at the helm of your smart tech appliances and services. It needs only your voice command to put your wishes into action. It’s important to note therefore that not all hubs are created equal or work across all appliances or apps. Before you start a smart shopping spree, you’ll want to make sure the additions you’d like to make are all compatible.
Amazon’s Alexa, operated with the Echo or Echo Dot probably boasts the widest compatibility. If you happen to have another Alexa living in your home, you can give your assistant a new name to respond to. Use Alexa via your speaker to set alarms, tell you whether to pack your umbrella, play music, order a taxi or takeaway and link to smart appliances and gadgets to turn on your kettle, coffee machine or turn up the heating. She can even answer general knowledge questions for you. This is just a taster of what a home hub could do for you.
Another market leader is Google Home, a speaker that uses Google Assistant to perform similar tasks to Alexa, albeit working with different products and apps in some cases. Google has a handy list of what it can do, which regularly updates with new features. Apple HomeKit is another popular option, though at the moment it can only be controlled using Siri through your smartphone or smartwatch. Apple’s much anticipated hub – the HomePod, has not yet reached market. You can find out which accessories HomeKit is compatible with here.
While it’s nice to have a speaker to converse with, to get the most out of your smart home set up and to access a truly first-class level of luxury, you’ll want to take your pick from a wealth of home accessories and appliances designed to make your life that little bit easier.
On the very first rung of the smart home luxury ladder are products like smart plugs, light bulbs and speakers. As you’d expect, these can be activated with the touch of a smartphone button or your voice command. This enables you to turn plugs off and on, turn on music and adjust volume levels or set the perfect light level for reading a book, all from the comfort of your favourite wingback chair.
Next up are the small and simple gadgets. Wouldn’t it be smashing if the kettle was boiled and waiting for your morning brew when you walked into the kitchen or better yet, you found a fresh filter coffee ready to drink? Smart kettles, coffee makers and toasters are just some of the smaller household gadgets that are available with smart home connectivity. If you’d like to use technology to improve rather than take over your domestic capabilities, something like a smart sous vide could prove a smart purchase. Use yours to cook steak or crème brulee to perfection and become the best dinner party host in town.
In fact, the glorious range of smart home kitchen appliances now available could really help you to elevate your hosting skills and create a luxury dinner and drinks experience. After all, it’s much easier to chat with guests when you don’t need to keep rushing back to the kitchen to check on something in the oven. And when it comes to getting the background music or lighting at just the right volume, you won’t need to move a muscle.
Move up a rung on the appliance ladder and you enter a world where domestic drudgery takes care of itself almost completely. Some smart dishwashers and washing machines you can control out of home can even recommend the right programme based on how dirty the load is that lies within.
At the top end of the market are refrigerators with touch screens that can display and manage the family calendar, meal plan and shopping list, along with keeping an inventory and photographing their contents. If your pet peeve is coming home to discover you’ve got nothing left in the fridge, this could be a lusted after item for you. Unfortunately, the moment the Samsung Family Hub refrigerator is only available in the US, so you may need to order a takeaway via your home hub speaker for now.
A more affordable and UK available product is the robot vacuum cleaner. If you hate dragging your vacuum round your home and resent the time it takes, this could be the one for you. The Dyson 360 Eye can be controlled from your phone. Too much effort? Try the Neato Botvac; it can be controlled using Alexa or Google assistant instead.
Two areas of home organisation that have seen a strong focus for smart tech developers are home heating and security. Security and warmth are something we perhaps take for granted in the home and are perhaps better described as essentials rather than luxury. However, with some smart tech savvy applied, you could seek out improved energy efficiency or gain invaluable extra peace of mind.
Two of the biggest names developing products for smart heating and security systems are Hive – owned by British Gas and Nest, by Google. Products include thermostats and motion sensors that automatically adjust the temperature in your home or allows you to alter settings remotely. Both names also offer smart cameras with live streaming and person detection features in case of break in. In addition, Nest offers doorbells that let you check who is at the door. There are also smoke and carbon dioxide alarms that self test and communicate with your appliances to turn off the heating in the case of emergencies.
Which interior design styles say luxury to you? The truth is, luxury means different things to different people. For you, it could be about incorporating luxury finishes like real wooden flooring and unique eye-catching coverings on your fabric tub chairs. Or it might be about considering all the little details for you and your guests. A nest tables so drinks are always within reach, or a well-placed accent chair with a soft blanket thrown over it, ready for precious reading time. When time is at a premium, a luxury interior may be one that looks the part but is easy to manage and maintain. Think high-quality silk flowers that lift a room but don’t need watered or faux leather chairs that wipe minimal effort.
We rounded up some of the strongest interiors trends for 2018 recently on our blog. Within it, there’s a little something for everyone from industrial styling to mid-century modern, and all can be given a luxury edge based on your design priorities. There’s no reason to shelve smart technology simply because you’re not a fan of modern design either. If you prefer decadent décor that harks back to 1920s glamour over simplistic Scandi Cool, the good news is there’s a smart tech fix for everyone. The market leading hubs and speakers come in a range of finishes to blend with your décor. And if you’d prefer your smart appliances to do their thing but not be on display, that’s an option too.
When it comes to creating a home that’s aesthetically pleasing and perfectly designed to meet your needs, marrying the latest in smart home tech with your style preferences could be the perfect recipe for luxury in your home. Start small with a home hub and heating that’s always tuned at the correct temperature or take the hassle out of hosting with a smart oven and other kitchen gadgets, it’s easy to design the life that appeals to you. With so many smart home products and accessories now in development, if there’s not yet a tech that promises to take over your least liked domestic duty or improve your favourite at home activities, you can be sure it’s on its way.
Office and marketing manager for Sloane & Sons Stylish Chairs, who sell a range of high-quality tub chairs, accent chairs and more.