Homes are almost thinking for themselves when it comes to appliances, furnishings, and security. There are also a lot of clever design ideas out there, especially for kitchen storage and making plans to age in place.
When Ana Vieyra, a busy CFO and mother of an energetic toddler, finally gets to call it a day and head upstairs for the night at her Bloomfield Hills home, she likely has many things on her mind. But Vieyra never has to worry about remembering to turn off the lights downstairs. Or in the lower-level entertainment area. Or in the garage. Or even in any of the home’s closets. With the touch of a bedside button, the whole home’s lighting — not to mention energy savings — are within her reach, thanks to Lutron lighting and a programmable Radiora system. Vieyra is one of hundreds of area residents who are opting for various smart elements, such as those described below, when designing their homes.
iRobot, Bedford, Mass.
Roomba, Anyone? “Do you know what a great feeling it is to get into bed and know that there are no dust bunnies anywhere underneath?” asks iRobot‘s James Baussman. iRobot’s latest robotic floor vacuum — the Roomba 880, below, — is even smarter than the 13 million Roombas previously sold by this No. 1-worldwide robot company. “The 880 model has innovative rubber extractors instead of bristles,” Baussman explains. “They not only allow a greater force of air, but they agitate the carpet for release and removal of 50 percent more dirt, debris, hair, and allergens. And their responsive navigation allows fantastic maneuvering around furniture and under beds.”
I Hear Dirt: The Roomba 880’s Dirt Detect technologies include innovative acoustic sensors. “Say you’ve come from the beach and there’s sand on your kitchen floor. The Roomba 880 ‘hears’ the extra dirt and will go over the area five or six times, for a thorough cleaning,” Baussman says.
Information: 781-430-3000, irobot.com
Advance Plumbing and Heating Supply Co., Walled Lake
And Toto, Too: The Neorest 700 Dual Flush Toilet by Toto is a "sleek, all-in-one bidet and toilet, operated by a wall-mounted remote control,” says Joshua Moss, operations manager at Advance Plumbing and Heating.
Luxury and Ecology: It's electrolyzed and becomes a "bacteria-killing compound. With its efficient, cyclone flush, lots of water is saved."
Information: 248-669-7474, advanceplumbing.com
Reverie, Bloomfield Hills
Sweet Dreams: Reverie’s Dream Supreme customized mattress and 8Q adjustable power base is custom-built to the consumer’s firmness preferences and contains a remote-controlled, four-speaker surround sound system with Bluetooth technology and a docking station, explains Martin Rawls-Meehan, Reverie’s president and CEO.
Information: 800-456-7383, reverie.com
Euroamerica Design, Troy
A-Plus Organization: “Beautiful and efficient, with high intelligence and the ability to hide and organize your things — and they can even display and wind your watches!” That’s how EuroAmerica Design owner Rob Nusbaum describes some of his favorite Hulsta closets.
A Designer's Dream: “Hulsta’s smart, European design offers simplicity, beauty, efficiency, luxury, and the mechanisms to display — or enclose — clothing, shoes, jewelry, artwork, and more,” Nusbaum says.
Clean and Simple: “Although it’s the norm in Europe, the trend here is toward simplicity and clean, square lines; not a lot of moulding; soft and contemporary woods.”
Information: 248-649-8950, euroamericadesign.com
The Sound Vision, Birmingham
Hang Out: “Over the last three to five years, our customers have moved away from wanting dark and closed-off home theaters,” says Jonathon Anderson, owner of The Sound Vision. “We install the at-home experience of music, video games, on-screen sports, and more, and integrate the systems to be remotely accessed and controlled."
Information: 248-804-8011, thesoundvision.com
Russell Hardware, Bloomfield Hills
Open Sesame: “You can unlock your front door from anywhere!” exclaims Bill Ratcliff, showroom manager of Russell Hardware. He explains that the Control 4 System lock taps into a homeowner’s wireless router, allowing the deadbolt to be operated from a smartphone. “Keys may become a thing of the past.”
Information: 248-644-0100, russellhardware.com
Ligne Roset, Birmingham
On Track: “Tarmac is a modular storage system built on a roadway (where the name comes from) in an airy, unstructured fashion,” explains Andrew Karpowicz, owner of Birmingham’s Ligne Roset. The modules — which include shelves, hanging rails, chests of drawers, and more — can be adjusted easily after purchase and original assembly. “It’s tested and built (in France) to last,” he adds.
Adaptability: “Smart trends in the furniture industry aren’t just about technology,” Karpowicz says. “More and more, people are preparing to age in place. Tarmac — and other well-designed modular furniture — makes it easy, allowing homeowners to add and take away storage units as their needs change.”
Information: 248-723-2500, ligne-roset.com
Grows With You: The multi-functioning Scandinavian-inspired modularly designed Stokke furnishing line is smart, smart, smart, thanks to designs that grow with the child.
Transformers: Parents wanted a product that lasts forever, and the designers at Stokke delivered, with timeless Scandinavian design and longevity. The nursery pieces grow with the child — the crib turns into a child's bed. The company’s canopies and tents are amazing, too.
The Goods: Crib, portable cradle, changer, and dresser. They can be used individually or can be attached to function together, as the cradle can fasten onto the crib and the changer can attach to the dresser, crib, and cradle stand.
Pfister, Lake Forest, Calif.
Beautiful Marriage: In a partnership with GE appliances, Pfister has recently introduced the Pfister Clarify Filter Faucet, making it easy for families to have fast access to high-quality drinking water. This smart faucet can toggle between tap and filtered water with a simple touch, filling a large pan in record speed.
Make It Easy: “People are looking for products to streamline cooking and kitchen chores,” says Pfister kitchen products manager Ian Schaadt.
Information: 949-672-4000, pfisterfaucets.com
Bright Ideas Furniture, Royal Oak
Norwegian Wood: The electric-powered double recliner by Norwegian furniture expert Fjords isn’t only ergonomically designed from the finest full-leather hide and hardwoods — it’s almost smart enough to uncork and aerate your favorite cabernet. “The middle, mini-console has USB ports, but this chair is so smart because it totally adjusts to your body as you read, watch television, use your laptop, or just relax,” says sales specialist Julie Currier.
In The Details: “Companies like Fjords are designing and creating furniture for consumers to fully relax and enjoy their time at home,” Currier says.
Information: 248-541-9940, brightideasfurniture.com
Liebherr Refrigeration, The Americas, Burlington, Ont.
It's All About The Food: Picture a seamless, cabinet-depth Liebherr refrigerator with custom panels that match your décor. Now, as you open the SoftSystem door (it will close automatically), you notice the quart of strawberries you bought three weeks ago. Thanks to Liebherr’s BioFresh option, the strawberries are as fresh and luscious as the day you brought them home. With innovative features, air circulation is routed optimally, sealing in vitamins and preserving foods’ flavors and textures.
Wine Not? Liebherr’s Vinidor-equipped models feature solid, untreated beechwood shelves on telescopic rails that are ideal for storing wine safely.
Keeping Current: “The kitchen (is still) the hub of the home and a treasured space,” says Josef Steigmiller, vice president of Liebherr Refrigeration, The Americas. “With that in mind, kitchens are being designed for the whole family to enjoy, and homeowners want a look that reflects their lifestyle.”
Information: 905-319-8835, liebherr-appliances.com
KSI Kitchen and Bath, metro Detroit-area locations
Supremely Organized: Dura Supreme’s kitchen command station can include a customized charging home for all of your family’s cell phones, notepads, and electronic gadgets, keeping them hidden from view.
Stop Looking: Jill Johnson, designer and sales manager for KSI Kitchen and Bath Design’s Ann Arbor location, says charging stations are popular. “A charging station hidden in a cabinet helps keep the home organized by having one location to charge and to store your electronics."
Out Of Sight: The baker of the house needs ready access to their large, stand-type mixer, but keeping the mixer on the countertop consumes prime space and can create a look of clutter. Merillat offers a smart and sturdy cupboard option that keeps the mixer ready for use, hidden from view, and enables the user to extend and raise it without lifting the mixer from its storage spot.
Storage Trends: “Clients will continue to want great storage solutions — like a mixer shelf,” says KSI Kitchens designer Nicole Pilon.
Information: 248-647-9567, ksikitchens.com
Diederich Electric, Washington
Perfect Temp: “Installing a smart thermostat is a secure and economical way to automate your home’s temperature environment,” says Diederich Electric president and co-owner Chad Diederich. This system “learns” the temperatures a family likes and automatically turns itself down when no one’s home. It can be controlled from a phone, tablet, or laptop.
Simple Savings: “We're about energy-efficiency,” Diederich says. "We often suggest simple motion technology for lighting."
Information: 586-623-3844, dccelectrical.com
GE Appliances, Louisville, Ky.
80-Gallon Savings: The new GeoSpring 80-Gallon Hybrid Electric Water Heater exceeds this April’s changes to the U.S. Department of Energy standards — and saves the average household $376 every year. This smart unit can be used with the ConnectPlus module.
The Future: John Ouseph (GE’s technology manager of software and connected appliances) anticipates that “appliance-to-appliance communication and self-learning appliances will become the new frontier.”
Information: 800-626-2005, geappliances.com
Crypton, Bloomfield Hills
Protection-Plus: For years, consumers have been using spray-ons to protect furniture, and "that's not effective,” says Randy Rubin, of fabric company Crypton.
Smarter: "Our fabric is stain- and odor-resistant."
Information: 248-855-6000, crypton.com