Smart Homes

The latest technology can update your space
By Kamala Kirk
The Sycamore Collective/Submitted

Smart homes are a growing trend in homebuilding and design; according to a survey conducted by Statista, a company that specializes in market and consumer data, there are an estimated 175 million smart homes in the world, and that number is expected to pass the 350 million mark by 2023. 

The United States has 41.3 million smart homes, the greatest number of smart homes compared to other countries, and 69% of households in the United States have at least one smart device.

There are many benefits to updating a home with smart technology, including customization, improved safety and wellness, greater control of energy use, as well as convenience. From automated temperature settings and lighting control to motorized window treatments and universal remote controls, technology plays a big role in elevating one’s home life.

“People are constantly striving to make their lives easier,” says Christopher Wierer, managing partner and principal at The Sycamore Collective, a Los Angeles-based group of designers, architects, artists and craftspeople that promotes great design and the art of living well. 

“With our busy, complicated professional and personal lives, having a smart home can help to create that serene sanctuary you need to recharge and relax. In the not-too-distant past, technology used to frustrate us, but with the quick advances many things are making life easier. With a lot of things now connected to the internet, such as your lighting systems, locks, climate and security systems, you can also be sure your home is safe both when you are and aren’t there, giving you less to worry about.”

Nicole Torossian, owner of Nicole Michael Designs in Pasadena, adds that smart homes are especially practical for vacation homes and contribute to easier maintenance.

“You can set the temperature in your home before you arrive,” Torossian says. 

“It allows you to see if you left any lights on or water running. It will also alert you if your smoke alarm is going off. Enhanced security is another benefit, as you can lock your entire house with the push of a button. It controls indoor and outdoor security cameras, the sensors on your windows and doors, and can close your garage door. This is all very important in a home that you may not go back to for several months.”

Voice control

One of the current trends in smart home features is Josh, a voice-controlled automation system created by, an American artificial intelligence company. Aside from residential homes, it is also being used in assisted living facilities, as well as commercial and hospitality spaces.

“Voice control is taking the world by storm because being controlled by voice makes it usable by the elderly, children, the visually impaired and people who are mobility impaired,” Torossian points out. 

“It allows you to set up scenes using your voice. For example, you say, ‘Good morning,’ and Josh automatically turns on the lights, opens your window treatments and turns your TV on to your favorite news station. The system will also send you alerts letting you know if you have left lights or the air conditioner running for an extended period of time in a room, and it will turn them off if you instruct it to do so. It will also have multilingual capabilities soon.”

Elevated bathrooms

Wierer shares that many people have been very focused on upgrading their bathrooms at home, incorporating a variety of smart technology features into everything from showers to toilets.

“In the past few years with people not traveling for obvious reasons, a lot of clients have tried to bring that spa-like experience to their private space,” Wierer says. 

“Technology can play a big part in taking that previously utilitarian room to a whole new level. Smart showers have become the go-to feature of high-end personal bathrooms. Products such as Thermasol steam showers now integrate everything you could ever need. From the touch-screen panel built into the wall you can use technology to set the mood, whether you need to relax or to wake up and be invigorated.”

According to Wierer, people can control everything from the lighting and music to the scent of their shower experience, and they can also watch Netflix or listen to their favorite podcast. Smart toilets are another feature that take the bathroom experience to the next level by integrating temperature control and hygienic touchless flushing.


Another quirk of our new normal, according to Wierer, is proper lighting scenarios built into the way we now live.

“While we always used to include lighting presets to set the mood for relaxing, or getting ready in front of the mirror, now we include settings for the all-too-present Zoom meeting, ensuring your smart home is helping to put your best face forward to the world — and your best Zoom background,” Wierer says.

Additional tips

For those interested in transitioning to a smart home or incorporating more innovating technology into their daily lives, Wierer recommends starting with something one would use every day.

“For example, upgrading to that smart shower is easier than upgrading to a refrigerator with a built-in screen,” he says. “While many things now have screens and internet built in, who wants to sit in front of the fridge watching a movie when your larger TV is probably within eyesight? Watching Netflix in the bathroom while relaxing, however, or catching up on the latest news program while you get ready in the morning is a clear way in which smart home technology can save you time.

Torossian also shares her five favorite smart home must-haves:

• Smart doorbell (Ring).

• Smart plugs (Eve Brand).

• Smart light bulbs (LIFX Brand).

• Smart thermostat (Eve Brand).

• Security cameras (Eve Brand).

At the end of the day, Wierer reminds people that while there are an abundance of smart home offerings on the market, one should only choose the features that will actually improve and make a difference in their lives.

“Remember, it really is supposed to make life easier, not harder,” he says. “We don’t include technology for technology’s sake, but technology that can help us find more serenity in an increasingly hectic world.”

Nicole Michael Designs

The Sycamore Collective

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