Creating a Smart Home: Good, Better, and Best Options

Creating a Smart Home: Good, Better, and Best Options

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On Friday, I had the opportunity to be part of a small group of interior designers who came together to learn more about smart home technology. A huge thank you to Debra Blake Designs for setting it up.

Smart Home Technology

When it comes to a smart home, many people don’t really know what that means. While there are easy integrations, such as Google Home and Alexa, there are fully integrated options that can include a home theatre, lighting, and music. So what options could you be looking at to start creating a smart home?

smart home

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Good (Easy) Smart Home Options

Probably the most popular, easy, smart home automations would include something like Google Home or Amazon Alexa. Really, you plug in a small unit, you set it up, and bam – you have some automation!

When I was first gifted a Google Mini I thought, “What the hell am I going to do with that?” My 21-year-old daughter has taught the Mr and me a thing or two with what we can really do!

Hands Free

At first, I had the Google Mini in my kitchen. Honestly, I used it to play music while I made dinner or worked in the kitchen. Little did I know you could say things like,

Hey Google. What is the temperature going to be today?

Hey Google. How many ounces is 1/2 cup?

Hey Google. Play the best of the 80’s.

Let me just say, my mind was blown by how easy and simple it was to ask for help. If you know me and know me well, I don’t do well with asking for help. While it did take some ‘training’ to ask her for help, it can come in very handy!

Since getting the Google mini, I’ve upgraded the kitchen to a Google Home and moved our Google Mini into the bedroom (keep it clean people)! My daughter has taught me to do the following each day.

Your Personal Assistant

All I have to say is, “Hey Google, good morning.” (This following routine is set up in the Google Home App). By only saying, “Good morning”, the following things happen:

  • Google turns on my table lamp (because of the plugin we are using)
  • It tells me the weather for the day.
  • I am told what is on my calendar for the day.
  • I then get to hear the playlist that I have chosen (set to a Spotify playlist).

When it’s bedtime, all I have to say is, “Hey Google. Good night.” Magically, the following happens:

  • Tells me what’s on my calendar for tomorrow.
  • Google tells me the weather for tomorrow.
  • It sets the wake-up alarm for the next day (my daughter has 8 set for herself)
  • Google will turn off the table lamp if I have had it on to read.
  • It plays the music at a lower level and plays calming ocean sounds.
  • If the TV is on (and yes – we have a damn TV in our room), it will turn off the TV.

Seriously, it is kind-of magically and scary all wrapped into one.

Easy Add Ons

At Christmas time, my mind was blown away again with things our Google Home could do. Once again, my daughter taught me (and convinced me) to purchase some Google plug in devices. All we had to say was,

Hey Google. Turn on the Christmas tree.

Hey Google. Turn off the Christmas tree.

I know, I know. Some of you are most likely thinking, “Really Sheri. Really? While I could easily get up, bend down, search for the power bar and turn on and off the Christmas tree. I know! But starting to head upstairs to bed, all I had to do was turn around and say, “Hey Google. Turn off the Christmas tree.” Poof – the tree was turned off!

While there are many easy smart home devices out there, I’ve rounded up a few for you.

smart home

  1. Google Mini 2. Google Home 3. Alexa Dot 4. Alexa Echo Plus 5. Single Smart Bulb 6. Eight package Smart Bulb 7. Wi-Fi Smart Plug, Mini Outlets 8. Smart Plug WiFi Outlet

Better Smart Home Options

In addition to easy things you can plug in, there are better smart options that require a little bit more of a handy touch. These ‘better smart home options’ also tend to be a little bit more money and may require a professional electrician to install the devices.

For our basement development, I used Legrand’s adorne® line. In our Love At First Sight Project, we are using Legrands radiant® line of smart switches for the main floor.

If you are doing a renovation and wish to have smart switches and outlets, all that is needed is to have the old switches and plugins changed out with Legrand’s radiant® switch and plug-ins.

While I won’t get into it here as I will be writing a dedicated blog about these magnificent switches next week, the short story version is the following:

  • Replace the current switch with Legrand’s radiant® smart switch.
  • Download the app for Legrand.
  • Scan the QR code on each switch.
  • Each switch is then controllable with the app and/or voice controlled (with Google Home or Alexa devices).

If Legrand is not available to you, here are a few smart home options for switches and integrated plugins.

smart home

  1. Leviton Decora Smart Switch 2. Smart Switch 3. Leviton Outlet      4. Topgreener Smart Wi-Fi Outlet.

Best Smart Home Options

So far, I’ve covered the good and better options. Here is where I get to the best!

To have a fully, decked-out smart home, it really means that everything is fully integrated. Of course, this happens to also be the most expensive way to get a smart home.

Our good friends at Adera Technologies provided a great learning opportunity to learn about fully integrating and having a smart home.

Adera Technologies is a company that consolidates all of the apps and technology into one unit! This means there are no more multiple apps that work a variety of things in your home, there is no guessing or frustration.

By having a fully automated home, Adera Technologies can set up automation by having the following.

Home Automation

This is the central home command centre! This is the one place that controls everything. From one spot, you could easily control media, temperature, lighting, automated window coverings, and security systems. Say good-bye to multiple apps!

smart home
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Multi room audio

  • This allows music to be streamlined to different rooms in the home using a wide range of sources such as digital files, CD’s, etc.

Video Distribution

For you video buffs, this is for you! This is a great option if you want to easily stream video from different sources without having a multitude of boxes and cords everywhere.

Home Theatre

I always thought that screens and projectors were a lesser quality than the new TVs that are out in the market. I’m here to tell you, “NO THEY ARE NOT!”

The screens can be hidden, or they can be a real feature. The screen below, combined with the amazing sound system, This is in adera’s showroom and something that should not be missed. Can you imagine watching Game of Thrones on this?

smart home
Image Source

Customized Lighting Control

Lighting is playing a more important role than ever before. With a one touch screen, clients are able to set the scene with a variety of settings and options – of course they are all customized!

Powered Window Coverings

While all window coverings don’t need to be motorized, there may be high windows where this come in handy. When you have a fully integrated home, the need to search for the remote to work the window coverings is no more!

Creating a Smart Home

As technology advances, it is becoming easier and easier to create a smart home. Whether you plug something into an already existing outlet, change out your outlets and switches (and use an app), or have your home fully automated and integrated, there really is something for everyone at every price point.

Here’s another great article title: How to Set Up a Smart Home Hub in 100 Days (An Ultimate Guide for Marrying Technology with Comfort) that may interest you as well.

I’m curious: what is your take on creating a smart home. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Sheri Bruneau Get It Together


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