Smart Style: The Intersection of Technology and Design in Home Fixtures
Nowhere is the date of a home more evident than its fixtures, those built-in structural accents in the home that are left behind when you sell it. If you’ve ever gone house-hunting, you know that these built-in features can make a home look timeless, on-trend, retro, or outmoded. That’s part of the reason why fixtures can make such a difference when it comes to the perceived value of your home. (We’re talking to you, shiny brass door knobs from the 90s.)
The same goes for fixtures that enable technology. Smart home manufacturers are doing their part by pushing the boundaries of what’s possible and in so doing, elevating home interiors. Sophisticated wall keypads, exquisite-looking thermostats and voice-command modules, and built-in tech masked as home décor all bring high design to the high-performance home.
"Fixtures are one of the most, if not the most important part of any interior design. They are what makes the design shine and are usually the first thing I think about when I enter a space for redesign,” says Interior Designer Samantha VanSteenburg, NCIDQ, ASID. “We're seeing warmer tones replace the greys that have dominated interior design the last decade. With that, nickel, champagne, and gold finishes are having their moment, and mixing metals (done right) is perfectly acceptable.”
VanSteenburg recommends working with a technology designer as early as possible. “Bringing in the tech designer early in the process is essential. As a designer, I know a fair amount about a broad range of disciplines. A tech designer is an expert in a centrally focused field. They are apprised on the latest technology in this rapidly changing industry. Trusting them in the design process teaches me the latest and allows them the freedom to do what they do best. Collaborating and including them on the design elements and desired mood of the space is beneficial for both of us,” she says.
So what are the latest and greatest smart home fixtures that designers have their eye on? Here are some of the HTA’s favorites that homeowners and designers need to know about now.
Crestron Horizon: Outfitting Walls With Style
The Crestron Horizon line of keypads, dimmers, and accessories have a sophisticated contemporary design and a satisfying tactile response when pressed. They also have a slim profile that is almost flush with the wall. Customizable color backlighting illuminates the engraved button text for better visibility. You can make it even easier to see by setting pressed buttons to glow up to three times brighter than inactive buttons. Horizon is available in black, white, or almond finishes…for now. Crestron says new options are coming soon. See more from Crestron.
Lutron Alisse Keypads: Upscale On-Wall Customization
A blend of timeless design and human-centered technology, Lutron Alisse keypads enable customization and finish options that tie your design together across the entire home.
Custom-engraved text or icons allow you to personalize your or your client’s keypads, ensuring that Alisse feels intuitive for homeowners and guests alike.
“I love Lutron. They've perfected automated human-centric technology, from lighting to security to shades. And it's no longer this complicated exclusive luxury technology. There's so much that goes into creating an atmosphere that is, in large part, completely unnoticed. One that naturally (and automatically) enhances the daily rhythms of the people! Lutron’s partnership with Ketra lighting and how it enhances mood and highlights art is impressive,” says VanSteenburg.
Milled from solid brass and finished by hand, these keypads have a sublime presence. Understated halos of light highlight keypad buttons to improve visibility. Alisse is available in 11 polished, brushed, and painted finishes so you can choose the option that best fits the environment. Learn more about Lutron’s offerings.
TRUFIG: The Ultimate Techno Camo
Technology devices can be bulky and visually obtrusive, distracting from the designer’s or homeowner’s overall design vision. The TRUFIG flush-mounting process puts an end to all that by delivering a trimless, minimalist aesthetic across a wide range of finishes and devices. Seamlessly integrate wiring, lighting control, HVAC, speakers, and voice control into your space without visual intrusion. An interior designer’s smart home dream product! Learn more about TRUFIG here.
Savant Metropolitan: The New Keypad Classic
Savant’s Metropolitan line of keypads offers a classic look with a minimal profile and quick-glance brightness indicators plus bright, backlight engraving. You can order Metropolitan keypads with an easy-to-use dial for quick dimming or volume control in any room. Choose from five different button configurations with backlit engraving that can be set to one of nine different colors. Curious about Savant’s other products? Click here.
Media Décor Eclipse: The Artful TV Dodger
TVs aren’t often considered home fixtures, though TV mounts and lifts are. Another less common smart home fixture is the art screen or lift. These devices mask the TV with art. Media Décor’s Eclipse Art Lift is a perfect example of this concept executed to perfection. It lets you turn your TV into an artistic focal point with artwork from your personal collection. Media Décor makes other innovative products that conceal TVs, as well. Find them here.
Séura Vanishing TV Wall: Your Gym’s (or Closet’s or Bathroom’s) New Best Friend
Is living a more active lifestyle one of your goals this year? Séura’s Vanishing TV Mirror Wall is a perfect fit for fitness. Turn on your favorite show during your workout or stream your favorite yoga videos. This is a great addition to any home gym or wellness space. Don’t want a complete floor-to-ceiling option, no problem. Séura makes other mirrors designed for various rooms in the home (plus a really nice line of outdoor TVs). Find Séura here.
Where are all the in-wall and in-ceiling indoor and outdoor speakers on our list of favorite fixtures, you ask? We concur that architectural speakers are indeed considered home fixtures, but they are in an audio category all their own. Stay tuned for more on that.
“Technology can be intimidating. I've heard other designers talk about the fears of the ease of use for specifying home automation for their clients. Education, a good partnership with a tech expert, and familiarity with making it an integral part of every design can help ease those fears and make designers more comfortable with specifying” says VanSteenburg.
If you need help finding or specifying any of these design-forward smart home fixtures, the best place to start is with an HTA Certified home technology integrator. They are able to help architects, interior designers, builders, and homeowners with various technology solutions to hide and blend technology into the home. Find one by zip code here and get started on the path to a more entertaining, comfortable, and gorgeous smart home.