If you live in the Bay Area, you’re no stranger to technology. Whether you understand its intricate workings or not... well, that’s a different question. And frankly not important. Simply knowing how to use these gadgets is good enough for me! (Pretty sure that’s where Easy Street and Joy Street intersect.)
With Silicon Valley being the epicenter of smart home technology, it is impossible to ignore all the ways the latest and greatest devices and ideas are saving our precious time and making life at home easier. Are we living the life of the Jetsons? Not yet (or at least not until Tesla releases a flying car). But when you see this list of 29 smart home devices — well, you’ll feel like we’re halfway there, my friends.
Here’s what I have for you today:
- Pros and cons of smart home technology
- 29 smart home devices that might be your next game-changers
- Some advice on which/how many of these to incorporate into your home
Pros of Smart Home Technology
- Ability to put mundane tasks on autopilot, freeing up some much-needed real estate in our brains
- Streamline daily routine and workflows for time and money saved
- Increased control over your home from a distance (for security, efficiency, etc.)
Cons of Smart Home Technology
- With any smart technology comes data and privacy concerns
- Potential learning curves
29 Best Smart Home Devices for Easy, Fun Living
The tech landscape changes in the blink of an eye, and it can be tough to keep track of all the smart, new gadgets our local geniuses are pushing out. Here’s a list of what we’re seeing and loving:
Smart Video Doorbells: Get a head-to-toe view of your visitors, sneak a peek at your daily Amazon delivery, or receive notice of any movement sensed around your doorstep. Here are a few examples of ones we’ve used in our projects: Arlo, Eufy, Google Nest Hello, and Ring.
Smart Security Systems: Controlled with an app (even areas of your home like a safe!) and monitored by real people, these security options are easily replacing the alarm systems of old. Check out Simplisafe, Xfinity Home, and AT&T Digital Life.
Smart Thermostats: You need to have good climate control in the house. These go the extra mile with remote control, energy efficiency, and in the case of Google Nest, adapting to your preferences automatically (with machine-learning algorithms, for those of you who are curious). We’ve used Google Nest Thermostat, Ecobee, and Honeywell Wifi Thermostat in some of our projects.
Smart Window Treatments: Raise and lower shades from afar or program them to be up or down during certain times of the day. It improves functionality for you, saves energy, improves privacy, and keeps the sun from bleaching your flooring or furnishings if you’re away during peak daylight hours. We like Hunter Douglas and Somfy.
Wireless Kitchen Appliances: Preheat your oven from afar, adjust temperature settings in your oven and fridge, get notified if your fridge loses power (so you can rush to save any meat and dairy products!), and more. We’ve used Monogram and Thermador appliances in some of our clients’ kitchens.
Smart Washing Machines & Dryers: I think you see where this is going… you can schedule loads remotely, set pre-programmed cycles, receive updates when you run out of detergent, and get notifications when loads are done. (Has anyone else ever forgotten their laundry in the dryer for a day or two? Or five? Asking for a friend...) Our clients love Samsung for smart washers and dryers.
Smart Home Cleaning: The smart vacuum, Roomba, isn’t exactly new, but its many improvements over the years have made it a great companion to have around the house. With the app, you can schedule it to clean while you’re out or set programmed times to clean certain rooms. It even returns to its own charging station when the battery is low! It’s almost like having a pet that cleans up after itself… (looking at you, Coco).
Wireless Programmed Irrigation Systems: If you don’t have a green thumb (and even if you do) this one is a plant-saver. These helpful systems let you pre-program waterings, control the sprinklers from afar, and apparently they tell you when to water for maximum effectiveness. I have a black thumb (literally and figuratively) so I can’t wait to use these later. Our clients have used smart irrigation systems like Rachio, Rain Bird, and Orbit.
Indoor & Outdoor Lighting: Are you in the leave-the-lights-on-when-you’re-not-home-to-fool-the-burglars camp or the save-energy-and-keep-them-off camp? Either way, these systems have you covered. Control them remotely, schedule the lights to go on or off on timers, and monitor the use of energy in your home. Try out Alexa or Google Home.
Smart Garage Doors: This is a great one for privacy — no one likes the mystery of “did I close the garage door before I left?” Especially if you just left for vacation. A two-week long, blissful vacation in our post-pandemic world… Our clients like MyQ - Chamberlain Smart Garage Hub.
Smart Entertainment: I think we all have that friend with a Sonos system wired through their home. They are easily the cool kid on the block with the home theater everyone wants to visit. Or maybe that’s you? (When can I come over? I’ll bring wine.) These are fun, functional, and always up for a party.
Smart Plumbing and Fixtures: Who knew your faucet could be smart? Oh, it can, my friends. Smart faucets turn on and off with a touch or can be controlled by with your voice (really). These do take some getting used to, but once you’re in the habit, it’s a hard one to kick. You’ll start tapping or (talking to) your other faucets, your fridge door, and maybe even your kids to get them to do what you want. We’ve used Delta, Kohler, and Brizio in client projects.
Smart Small Cooking Appliances: These smart cooking appliances blew my mind a little bit. They know how to cook everything. Not sure what temp to nuke your kid’s chicken nuggets. No sweat. Need to steam vegetables to the perfect mush-free tenderness? They’ve got it under control. (Thank goodness somebody does.) Check out the Tovala Smart Oven or my personal favorite, Instapot.
Smart Wine Dispenser: My current favorite smart home accessory is the Plum Wine Dispenser. Plum uses technology to perfectly store wine for up to 90 days (though I can’t imagine a bottle lasting that long!). The unit also has a virtual sommelier that shares details about the wine based on the label, including the perfect temperature for preserving and serving it. It’s a great way to enjoy a more expensive bottle of wine during the week and not worry about wasting it later… not that it would ever go to waste in my house. ;)
How to add smart home technology to your space
There are a few different ways to think about upgrading or investing in smart technology. Some of our clients like to start small and look at single solutions as they need them – so more of a DIY approach. Totally fine. Baby steps are still steps, and I think you’ll see some improvements to the way you live.
Other clients of ours like to approach it in a more integrated fashion. Some items, like motorized window treatments or a security system, can require professional installation across multiple components. It’s a bigger investment in time and money, but I’ve found that it leads to better long-term results, efficiency (there’s your money made back) and a more seamless integration.
So, what do I suggest? Look at your lifestyle. Or better yet, talk to a professional. Incorporating smart home technology into our designs is something we discuss with our clients right away.
We can look at your current lifestyle and the one you want, and use design to bridge the gap. If you are a die-hard takeout fan and will rarely use your oven, there’s no need for smart features. We can pick and choose based on what will genuinely make your life easier and more enjoyable.
After all, that’s what smart technology — and design — is all about.
If you’re ready to get this conversation started, you know where to find us. ;)