Making your home smart should not mean sacrificing style. Most of the time, the best connected kit for indoors also happens to look great too.
Fortunately, the nexus where geek meets chic is so advanced that there are home furnishings to match even the most refined of tastes. These smart home goodies that will enhance the look and feel of your abode rather than force you to compromise on design.
Philips Hue lightstrip plus
The Philips Hue lighting system comes in all shapes and size and the flexible lightstrips are just superb for adding highlights to your home. Under kitchen units or in alcoves, you can use them to accent your furniture or the architectural features of your house in whatever colour you choose from the subtle and sedate to disco fever.
Like all the Hue bulbs, these two-metre-long strips, which can be daisy-chained up to 10m, are app-controllable to the nth degree for intensity, saturation and wavelength. You can also sync them up to change with music and whatever you’re watching on your telly too.
Poppy Pour-Over coffee machine
The Poppy Pour-Over could do nothing but sit there and look good, as far as we’re concerned, and we’d still beg, borrow and steal to get one into our home. It’s simply the most heart-breaking piece of kitchen equipment you’ll ever covet. Looking like a piece of copper-plated luxury lab kit, it’s what the company behind it refers to as an ‘artisanal’ filter coffee maker of the bean-to-cup variety.
The techie part is that you can control the strength and timing of your brew from your mobile phone, and even share your favourite blends with the community. Tasty stuff.
Winner of a Red Dot design award, Plantui is an indoor smart herb garden for those without the luxury of any outdoor space. There are devices offering similar botanical solutions but few with this kind of industrial-meets-organic style – an upgrade on any plant pot you might own even before one considers the app-connected advantages that Plantui brings.
There’s no soil involved whatsoever, which is great for those averse to mess, plus the Plantui is extendable meaning that it can stretch to meet the needs of your growing plants. All you need to do is buy the capsules of kale, basil, lettuce etc, and then add water and nutrients depending on what the coloured lights tell you.
There is the danger that kitting out your backyard with The Rock looks a bit like turning your garden into the egg chamber from Aliens. If you can get over that association, then it’s a really interesting way of bringing glow-in-the-dark smart home style to your outdoor space.
If you can’t, then the good news is that Glow Design has a few different colour changing, weather-proofed shapes and sizes to choose from. Of particular note is the fully-illuminated and, hopefully, fully stocked bar the company can custom build with enough bulbs to make it look like a Simon.
The Aether Cone once was a glorious idea of smart home style. Sadly, all the clever connected-self technology behind it, which once learned what music you liked based on tastes and time of day, has now been pulled. What’s left, then, is just the good looks of an object that does credit to any surface it sits upon.
Before the music streaming service Rdio was killed off back at the end of 2015, the Cone was fully functional and complete with voice control as well as its smart specification and, doubtless, there’s a community out there that still offers a way to keep most of those features working. For customers who just need the design aesthetics, though, you’ll be pleased to hear that it is Spotify-compatible and will, at least, function as a great-looking Bluetooth speaker.
Sony 4K Ultra Short Throw Projector
It’s very hard to make a TV look good when it’s off. You wouldn’t catch anyone hanging large black rectangles on their wall if they weren’t so damn entertaining in operation. Using a projector instead gets around that problem plus it gives you the opportunity to watch in enormous scale too. From Sony, there’s also an offer of enormous resolution and in a harmonious design that actually complements your furniture.
It’s a very clever – and, of course, very expensive – modular short-throw system which houses both the audio speakers and all the cabling, as well as the source material and projector beam itself. It also happens to be as attractive as any low-slung, modern-look sideboard you might choose to place in your lounge.
Ikea Varv Riggad
Typically tasteful, Ikea’s first foray into the world of the flat-pack smart home also happens to be a tour de force of design. You can break your wireless charging needs down into modular units but by far and away the most attractive choices are the Varv and Riggad lamp ranges which have the magnetic resonance technology built in as standard. Whether you want to go desktop or floorstanding, they’re stylish, smart and very, very reasonably priced.
No fixtures, no switches and no limits on your own creativity; Nanoleaf Aura is a modular lighting system that you can stick to your walls and windows to make beautiful designs. It comes as a set of triangles which will glow and/or flash whatever colours you wish and, just to top it all off, it’s entirely voice controlled. The idea is to put your smart home style into your hands. We look forward to it arriving some time this year.