Designer Talk: 7 Ways to Make Yours a Smart Home

by | Designer Talk, Remodeling

Jake Spurgeon

Mosby Building Arts designer, Jake Spurgeon, knows that good design is also about solving problems. He is delighted when he can help his remodeling clients take care of daily chores and concerns with a new gadget. Jake enthusiastically researches and experiments with the newest technologies, and here he shares some of his favorite discoveries.

What once was referred to as the Homes of Tomorrow are within reach today, and now known as Smart Homes.  We may not (yet!) have The Jetsons Rosie the Robot, but we certainly do have many gadgets, appliances and programs available that make life a little easier.

Below is a list of my 7 favorite technology items that can be easily added to your home remodeling project:

01 sonos WiFi Music

1. Wi-Fi Music Systems
I am a big music fan and love to listen while working, designing, or cleaning in my home. If that also describes you, check out the Sonos Wireless Hi-Fi system (shown above) which unites your digital music collection into one app controllable from any device. The AirPlay feature on an Apple TV does much the same thing, and controls the song, station and volume level via a wireless remote or smart phone.

USB Outlet

2. USB Electrical Outlets
With tablets and smartphones, it seems there are never enough outlets to charge all of these gadgets. Replace existing electrical outlets with versions that have a USB port in combination with traditional 3-prong receptacles (above). There are many configurations available, so we will help you find the best one for your needs. For the safety of our remodeling clients, we recommend upgrading the outlet to an installed USB version rather than using the plug-in adapters.

02 Nest Thermostat

3. Integrated Home Automation
Operating the home from a smart phone or tablet is a concept I am exploring in my own home.  From light bulbs to garage doors to the HVAC system, the possibilities are endless and easy to employ. A great way to become comfortable with home automation is the Nest thermostat (shown above) which controls heating and cooling from wherever you are. Nest even “learns” your temperature and will automatically adjust the thermostat if it detects you’re not home, saving you energy dollars. How about chucking the garage door remote in favor of controlling it from your phone? Chamberlain has that product, and it even works in tandem with Nest! Once you have one automation device in place, it becomes easier to add even more.

03 Wifi Slow Cooker

4. Smart Cooking
Kitchen appliances now come loaded with lots of tech. Some wall ovens have a built-in tablet that sets cooking times and suggest new recipes. Wi-Fi slow cookers (like the one above) allow adjustment of the temperature when away from home.  And the venerable GE now has a line of Wi-Fi connected appliances, so that your oven, range, refrigerator, dishwasher and laundry can all be activated from a smart phone.


5. Bathroom Automation
Imagine having the ultimate shower every day by simply touching a screen – the shower turns on at the perfect temperature, certain lights activate, and your favorite music starts playing.  The DTV+ system from Kohler (shown above) makes this scenario possible.  We’ve installed these in some recent bathroom remodels, and our clients adore it.

04 Kwikset-Kevo-004

6. Keyless Door Locks
Smart locks turn your smart phone into the key, and this convenience and security is also a great accessibility feature. Smart locks (shown above) work similar to keyless cars that activate the ignition when it senses your key, or in this case, it senses your phone. Some locks can also be programmed to notify you when a user unlocks the door.  These smart locks make it possible, from a remote location,  to know that your kids arrived home from school, or to lock the door behind them if they forget. Not only is it convenient security, but invaluable peace of mind.

quirky refeul app

7. Outdoor Grilling
As I made this list, I received a text from my BBQ pit letting me know that the propane tank was below one quarter full. By adding this wi-fi propane scale to my existing grill, I get these helpful alerts or can check fuel levels at any time. We’re happy to never again have to make a last-minute dash to the store because we ran out of gas in the middle of grilling pork steaks!