Top Smart Home Technology Trends in the Kitchen & Bath
Technology in the kitchen and bath goes beyond appliances to integrated smart home technology like voice control, lighting, audio-video, and home networking.
The word “technology” when used in the context of the home can mean many, many things. From a green building perspective, it can mean systems or building materials used to make a home more energy efficient. In the kitchen and bath, a designer might reference a range hood that has special charcoal filters to remove food odors as technology or refer to the technology used in a refrigerator or oven. But there is another type of technology—we call it home technology or smart home technology—that is becoming more and more relevant in the kitchen and bath spaces. This technology is integrated into the home in a structural way to make your—or your client’s—life more comfortable, efficient, convenient, and enjoyable. Read on to learn how it works, and why working with a home technology integrator early in the design process is absolutely crucial to make systems like lighting, voice control, music, and video work seamlessly and effortlessly in luxury kitchen and bath spaces.
The National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) recently released a Design Trends 2022 Report, which forecasts styles, colors, materials, popular product categories, and technology in the kitchen and bath over the next three years. The report was conducted with 700 industry professionals, the majority (92%) based in the U.S. One key takeaway from the report is that in the Kitchen, only 10% of designers use home technology integrators; in the bathroom, only 24%. Yet the study also finds that homeowners want the type of integrated technology that only home technology integrators can provide. So, homeowners and designers, when you’re designing your next new project or remodeling a kitchen or bath, consider the following systems and how they might play into your space.
According to the NKBA’s Design Trends 2022 report, the desire for Voice Control is a top trend in both the kitchen and bath. However, luxury residences need and expect more than an Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Above all, many homeowners have a need for greater security and privacy. Professionally-installed home control systems go beyond your typical DIY smart home device to provide a more sophisticated level of operation, privacy, and integration with your other smart home systems. This type of elevated smart home voice control needs to be professionally integrated, but offers incredible results that make a huge difference in the daily life of the luxury homeowner.
The Connected Hub
Another top desire for the smart kitchen and bath? Homeowners are looking for their homes to be Connected Hubs that tie together disparate products to communicate with one another in a seamless interface. That’s a very tall order for a homeowner to DIY. An integrator is absolutely crucial to design a home automation system that can pull together lighting, music, movies, climate control, and home networking into one seamless interface (see some top home control / smart home brands here). Otherwise, it’s just a bunch of apps on a phone, each of which have to be individually opened to operate, and that gets annoying fast. Get your home technology integrator involved early and consistently to avoid this scenario. You deserve to have a seamless experience.
Lighting & Motorized Shading
Lighting design is a given when it comes to the kitchen and bath. However, what many homeowners and designers don’t know is how lighting can be tied in with a smart home system to make it all work seamlessly together. That includes not just standard lighting but natural light manipulation via motorized shades (see some great motorized shading brands here). For example, there is a huge need for privacy in the bathroom, so motorized shades are popular in this space.
The kitchen requires different kinds of lighting such as overhead lighting at the right color temperature so you can see what you are cooking properly, not to mention under-cabinet or toe-kick lighting for ambience, accent lighting, and more (see some top lighting brands here). A great integrator will be able to give you all the options you need for cooking, entertaining, or doing your morning routine in the bathroom. There’s also a trend toward nature and wellness in the home, so you may want to ask your integrator for wellness options such as circadian lighting that mimics the natural color temperature of the sun over the course of your day. Don’t forget the fit and finish, with companies like Basalte, Black Nova, and Trufig, Wall-Smart elevating keypad integration to a thing of art.
Homeowners don’t just want audio and video in the home theater or media room. They want it in the kitchen and bath too, according to NKBA’s Design Trends. Aside from heated floors, humidity control, voice control, connected mirrors, and other tech you might expect in the bathroom, many want TVs or touchscreens for entertainment and integrated speakers and audio! Again, to make all these systems work together and for proper installation, an HTA Certified integrator is a must.
Networking in the Kitchen
Kitchens are growing, with 85% of designers polled in the Design Trends study predicting bigger kitchens, an estimated 25 to 49% bigger in the next three years! As kitchens become bigger and equipped with more connected technology like all of the above, the need for a failsafe home network is crucial. It needs to be robust enough to handle your everyday needs and then some. Larger houses or homes that use difficult materials like concrete might need Wi-Fi wireless access points throughout the home. Your home technology integrator will suggest the appropriate pro-grade network that will create a great Wi-Fi signal in the Kitchen (and everywhere else!). Thanks to the innovation of design-minded manufacturers, there are solutions to hide Wi-Fi access points in the ceiling behind flush-mount covers, yet offer easy access for maintenance. Again, this is the bailiwick of the HTA Certified integrator, who will have a lot of experience with home networking and can steer you toward a safe, secure, and high-performance home network.
Before you embark on your kitchen or bath project, check our new “Project Technology Assessment” checklist. This form can help you and your designers wrap your heads around all of the different technology options available and make sure you are thinking appropriately and early enough about each. HTA developed them in conjunction with other trade professionals like builders and interior designers, so they will be helpful! Finally, find an HTA Certified integrator here.