3 Bright Ideas to Start a Smart Home From Scratch

Create your own smart home by automating your current lifestyle, investing in efficiency, and designing for the future.

Automate Your Home

Google, original photo on Houzz

We're surrounded by high-tech devices these days. While it's not really feasible to declutter your devices, connecting your technology to one device is a fairly manageable task. Virtual assistants can help with this.

Internet-connected assistants such as Amazon Echo and Google Home can connect and control your home's lighting, ceiling fans, TVs, thermostat, sprinkler system, and garage door. They can also play music, make calls, and manage your schedule with simple voice commands. Research which components are compatible with each assistant and invest in the one your home can best sync with. Then, find a local handyman who can set up the system for seamless integration throughout your home.

Design for Efficiency

BarlisWedlick Architects, original photo on Houzz

A home doesn't have to be high-tech to be smart. Designing a hardworking house can save you money, help the environment, and promote a healthy lifestyle. A little research on Passive House principles, solar energy systems, and LEED materials will open a lot of doors to a low-tech smart home.

If you're building a new home, consider a simple box shape oriented toward the sun's path. The compact core will naturally generate and sustain heat from the low angle of the winter sun.

If you're renovating your current home, invest in high-quality windows for insulation, shading devices to block the harsh summer sun, and solar-powered lighting.

Even if you're simply redecorating a room, you could think about the type of materials and placement of furniture for an overall healthier home. For example, choose a standing desk for your office to burn more calories, or ditch the TV in the bedroom for better sleep.

Design for Accessibility

Prentiss Balance Wickline Architects, original photo on Houzz

A smart home could also mean your forever home. Prepare to age in place by focusing on three areas of your home: the entry, doorways, and a main-floor bathroom.

An accessible entrance is one without steps that's accessible from a paved driveway or sidewalk. If you don't like the look of a ramp, try designing your landscape with a slight slope.

Wider is better when it comes to doorways. Aim for at least a 32-inch-wide opening. Doors with swing-away hinges and pocket doors are also helpful to those in walkers and wheelchairs.

Lastly, consider the size, light switch placement, and vanity type when designing a bathroom where a wheelchair might one day be used. The room should be easy to navigate with light switches low enough for everyone to reach, and a wall-mounted sink to free up floor space.

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