Phillip Hine, design director at Cornflake, has written an exclusive series of posts for us on how to integrate home automation systems into your interior design. So far, he’s covered home cinemas and how to hide your TV so it looks great with your decor. Here, he shares some thoughts on integrating smart tech into the bathroom and kitchen, plus the low-down on the latest control panels…
Bathrooms have become spas. Recreating smart boutique hotels at home is a huge trend at the top-end of the market with bathrooms now doubling as amazing sanctuaries for pampering and relaxing. Clients want music, television, magic mirrors, heated floors, smart towel rails, privacy glass and dimmable lighting. And all of this smart tech should combine to relax the senses without any risk of a nasty electric shock!
Plaster-in ceiling speakers are great for bathrooms with all wiring safely tucked away from the humidity, while wall-mounted waterproof TVs, such as those by Aquavision (below), allow simultaneous wallowing and watching. [Photograph: Aquavision]
When planning a bathroom refurbishment my top tip is always to buy the best lights you can afford. At times you will want clear bright lights, for tasks such as make-up or shaving, whilst at others you will prefer low-level lights for a relaxing soak. Spend some time researching the new lighting options, especially floor lights and daylight bulbs for naturally beautiful lighting. If you regularly have to get up during the night to use the loo – and wake your partner in the process – consider low-level safety lights to mark the route. If your traditional builder suggests a single central light over the bath tub, push him in!
If you have limited wall space, make it work harder with a mirror that also doubles up as a TV. And if the doorbell always seems to ring as you step in the bath, by connecting your CCTV footage to your mirror you can quickly check if you need to run downstairs – or not.
When it comes to the kitchen, smart gadgets are being launched at a rate of knots: from wi-fi connected kettles and ovens that can perfectly cook a joint of meat unaided, to the much-hyped self-ordering fridge. Some of these are great and will undoubtedly become mainstream eventually but many are just app-controlled gadgets that will end up at the back of the cupboard, along with the pasta maker and spiralizer. So, purchase with care. The kitchen in the Cornflake APPartment showroom (below) features sleek cabinets from Intuo and flush-mounted TV from Aquavision teamed with Gaggenau appliances. [Photograph: David Hughes]
Choose smart tech that enhances your life rather than adding to your stress levels. A smart TV in the kitchen, or a screen set into the worktop, can be really useful for families who like to cook and work together. The kids can do homework on the screen while you prepare meals, and the ability to check emails and coordinate diaries centrally is a great time saver for many busy families.
Some technology is a real boon for busy cooks and can help to streamline activities or make them more pleasurable. My favourite piece of kitchen kit is the TopBrewer coffee machine from Scanomat (pictured below). The sleekly designed counter-top tap makes barrista quality coffee, remembers exactly how strong I like my beverages, adds fresh milk, and does it all in under 30 seconds. Oh and it serves fresh orange juice and self cleans too!
Finally, whether it’s for the kitchen, bathroom or any where in the house, people are worried that the switches or panels that control their smart tech will ruin the look of the room. The answer to this is that you can have nothing at all on the wall and control everything from your smart phone or iPad if you wish; although we don’t often recommend this in case the controls are misplaced or a wandering guest wants to flip a light on or off.
There are now very attractive face plates on the market, which can be matched to your other ironmongery or the style of your home. Flick switches (middle line below) are very on trend at the moment: the pared down switch suits restored period properties while the plate hides an array of modern wiring to suit 21st century lifestyles.
Many modern light switches incorporate extra buttons to allow all utilities – heating, music, curtains, CCTV – to be easily controlled from a single panel that eliminates irritating ‘wall acne’ in the process. Buttons can also be pre-programmed to remember favourite scenes and settings with the ability to set up the room with one touch, just as you like it for relaxing, dining, movie time or romance. Just remember which button does what (or ask for them to be labelled).