In every room, technology makes itself at home
Correction: This story has been updated to say Jaymar is the maker of seating with lighted cup holders.
Technology plays a major role in the home. From Smart TVs and wireless speakers to LED lighting and adjustable desks, these creations continue to evolve and expand over time. Here, local sources share some of the hottest products and trends that add comfort and convenience to your surroundings.
“People have been nesting, which has changed their mindset to wanting to make their home as comfortable as they can,” says Kris Paulson, VP of custom design and installation for Paulson’s Audio/Video & More in Farmington Hills. With domestic recreational pursuits on the rise, he’s seen strong sales for flat screen TVs that offer a diversion from the everyday world. OLED (organic light-emitting diode) TVs have been big sellers during the pandemic. “The price points have dropped dramatically and there is excitement about the new technology and what it brings to the quality of the picture,” he says.
When it comes to TVs, it’s not just quality, but quantity that counts. “People are moving past putting the TV in one main room like a great room,” says Paulson. “Now that they’ve been trapped at home with the entire family, they want a TV in the bedroom because the kids are taking over the one in the family room. There’s been more updating, and a focus on other rooms.”
The uncertainty behind recent closures also led to more demand for home theaters and outdoor entertainment areas. “Who knew if theaters would ever reopen?” says Paulson. “There has been a continued investment in outdoor spaces with a lot of outdoor TVs and sound systems.”
Additional features often require updates to existing networks with a modem or Wi-Fi router that may be fine for sporadic use for a family, but not for everyone to use at once. Network upgrades to more robust systems may be needed when you have simultaneous users.
With kitchens seeing heavier usage, too, the hub of the home has to accommodate technology on many levels, from smart appliances to electrical strips for peninsulas and islands that double as workstations. For instance, Niki Serras, owner of Scavolini Store Detroit at the Michigan Design Center in Troy, has seen an emphasis on technology due to more cooking during the pandemic.
More adventurous culinary creations might require specific appliances. So, she says instead of a toaster, people may want a Suvie, an appliance that both refrigerates and cooks your meals.
With additional equipment like bread makers and rice cookers, come electrical and logistical considerations for these items. “We plan around them and maybe put them behind pocket doors,” Serras says. “It helps to make remodels and new construction aesthetically pleasing by hiding small appliances.”
Major appliances that have gone high-tech combine with other features like under-cabinet lighting, icemakers, wine caps and music setups. “People have been working in the kitchen and eating every meal there, too” she says. “It’s become a hangout. It’s a great meeting place and work zone for kids and adults.”
Power strips that can accommodate multiple family members are replacing standard outlets. “If you have a kitchen with four stools where people sit and work, all four can have access to charging stations at a peninsula or an entrance area leading into the kitchen,” Serras says.
For laptops, phones, earbuds and more, many opt for a charging station in a drawer or a cabinet on the countertop. “People need their chargers nearby,” she adds.
Bathroom cabinets and drawers also have outlets for hairdryers and curling irons, while special makeup lights are another request Serras gets from clients. Even the shower has gone high-tech, she says, with special effects like steam or showerheads with music and lights.
All the right stuff
Innovative furniture and lighting often incorporates the latest technology. One popular option, says Dave Dilley, co-owner of Bright Ideas Furniture in Royal Oak and their clearance center in Southfield, is the X-HMT heat and massage therapy task chair that offers a relaxing treatment after a long day.
Since sitting is said to be the new smoking, it can also be good to move around a bit when working from home with height-adjustable desks that let you sit or stand. Multiple memory settings can be modified with the touch of a button. “You can make your own setting, just like your car seat,” says Dilley. Quality models are quiet and smooth with special features like USB ports and cord management.
Technology adds comfort and ease to power motion sofas, loveseats and sectionals from Jaymar with lighted cup holders and power headrests and legs. “You can recline on a sofa and plug in your phone or your laptop with the USB ports built into the arms,” he says.
Those who want a deluxe option for overnight guests can get a sleeper sofa from Luonto that elevates to become a bunkbed. While pieces like these can be costly, they save time and effort and space.
Small space furniture can adapt to various situations. “Some people turn a spare bedroom into a home office where they want to sit and watch TV, but still have a bed,” says Dilley. Sleeper sofas have come a long way since metal bars, such as sectional sleepers with mechanisms for a bed and a chaise that lifts for storage.
Energy-efficient LED lighting has progressed as well. “People are getting away from having the whole room lit up,” he says. “They’re more selective about the level of light and the location.”
Koncept lighting includes features like USB ports, articulating arms and touchstrip dimmers. “With task lighting, people don’t want bright overhead light when they’re working on a computer,” says Dilley. “They want something small for their work or their paperwork.”
The Mr. Go! LED lantern is meant to be mobile. “You can use it in your house, take it with you on a trip, or you can even hang it from a tree,” he says. Wall sconces with adjustable bars also offer flexibility. “In a bathroom or hallway, you can rotate them to shine on a wall to the right or the left,” adds Dilley. “They’re super versatile.”
People expect more from their furniture and lighting. “They want pieces to be clean, modern and functional, like a sofa with a remote control. You touch it and a bed comes out,” he says. “Customers say, ‘I want it to do stuff.’ There are so many options nowadays.”
Jeanine Matlow writes the Smart Solutions column in Homestyle. You can reach her at email@example.com.