Gorgeous & Smart
Yes, We’re Talking Houses
2016 was the year of vintage, retro and other polite words for old. It was also the year of the celebrity death plague, so let’s leave behind 2016’s trends because we don’t want to relive that mess.
What’s 2017 got in store for our homes?
On the surface, trend predictions include two-tone woody interiors, more mirrors and a continuation of the industrial-chic look. But surfaces are pointless: look at banana peels. A huge incoming theme is going to be more than looks – your house needs to have more than a pretty face; it needs a brain, too!
Space is a commodity, so the focus of aesthetics is shifting to include good old fashioned functionality. Th at has no place in 2017 homes, so you want to keep your eye on items and systems that give your home that extra IQ point so that they truly earn their respective places in your home.
I sense that you’re intrigued… whether it’s sight, sound, touch or some kinky sixth sense, there’s something out there that will make your home hit all of this year’s fashion buzzwords.
“The Den” is a key aspect of any gentleman’s home. It’s the room in which you relax, unwind, and most likely kill many, many animated enemies. Let’s step it up a notch though and give your den the look and sound of a cinema.
Getting yourself a home cinema is more affordable than ever, and the rate at which technology is sprinting along means your home cinema can be so cutting edge you’ll actually hurt yourself on it. Ditch that Ikea print from your statement wall and go for a giant 4K TV instead. Smarta Homes does a coolly impressive selection of Loewe screens that are a deep cut above high street fare. It suits whatever décor you have in place already and it’ll save you from having to actually leave the house to go to the cinema. If you’re not watching telly, don’t forget you can use the screen to pretend you’re a collector and display a Picasso or two to up the class factor.
What sets apart a proper home cinema from a dusty old projector? Th e sound, for starters. Get yourself in touch with Smarta Homes and hook up a heavy duty system with Dolby Atmos surround sound. Go wireless with your set up to keep your den looking clean and minimalist.
Don’t forget to top off the cinema look – you’ve got the screen and the speakers, now you need the comfort. Get yourself some decent cinema seating installed; go for a timeless material like dark leather and you’re set not just for 2017, but for life.
FrontRow is killing it with cinema seating designs, each year adding new features to optimise their range. We like the FrontRow Serenity best; put your head back, your feet up and plug whichever gadget is normally glued to your hand into its USB port.
Nobody likes the sound of their own voice, but you’ll grow to love it when you realise it can give you Sith powers.
Take the Amazon Echo, for example. It fits into any house, small, sleek and unassuming. It looks good nestled amongst your nik-naks or as a standalone, but more than its look is its power. Echo connects to your new best friend, the Alexa Voice Service. Tell your new mate to play your music, check the news or test the limits of Google with your questions.
Smarta Homes has taken it a step further and sells a bundle of Amazon Echo with Control4, so your voice just became more powerful than the Dragonborn. Not at home? It’s okay, tell Alexa to turns the lights off and lock the doors – she’ll sort you right out with a ping to Control4. Control light levels to set the scene (whatever that scene may be!) and put on some smooth jazz – or death metal – all with a few choice words from you. Nik-naks meet technology to make your home scarily smart. We’re not the only ones who like the look of voice automation. Mark Wray of Smarta Homes has his predictions for this year based on activity he’s been seeing. Here’s his take: “This year I think the popular thing is all about voice automation. When you can say Alexa, turn the lights off , or Alexa, turn on BBC Radio 2, it’s going to be big because it’s so easy. Google is bringing out their version at some point which we’ll test out.”
Ah, the sofa. Essentially a large fabric brick taking up the majority of space in your living room. When it comes to saving space, modular sofas are the way forward. Not only do they fit the profile of 2017 trends, boasting a clean, sharp-edged look, but they can be chucked in the corner to accomplish a feat of Escher in which you get more floor room but also more seating space. Th e aptly named SofaSofa has a range of modular sofas that’ll have you asking why you ever bothered with your two-seater. If you’re doubling up your living room and your cinema space, the FrontRow Prima can amalgamate a corner sofa and cinema seating into one beautiful leather bastion of laziness.
While we’re at it, get yourself toasty while you recline on your new sofa with your feet up. Automate your heating so that your house is at an optimum temperature at all times, even when you’re out and about. Smarta Homes designs heating systems that can do pretty much whatever you want. You can control the heat from mobile or tablet to save getting up from the sofa. Even better (especially for your wallet), you can tell your system which rooms to heat so that you don’t end up with accidental saunas.
If you’re a few seasons into adult life, chances are you can cook by now, so you’re at a point where you can really appreciate a good kitchen. You’ll also know that the clutter problem extends to kitchens in a major way. A standard work unit never seems to quite fit all of your pots and there’s always a few stray items that are a bit too strangely shaped to get into the horror that is everyone’s “large and random utensils” drawer. Why try to fit your kitchenware round a few cupboards when you can have those cupboards fit around you? Custom-built kitchens are timeless if you play your cards right. Suppliers like Space Fitting Furniture specialise in materials designed to last centuries, both practically and fashionably. Stainless steel, granite, glass, corian – if it looks good, they can build with it.
It’s not all about surfaces though. Space Fitting has some tech that’ll scratch your gadget itch too.
Surprisingly essential, once you’re used to it, is Quookers’ boiling water tap. With its own tank you’ll have boiling water on demand – perfect for cooking and it’ll be the quickest cuppa you’ve ever made. Or how about a Miele induction hob with a built-in wok? Their current fave kit though is a Miele combination steam and conventional oven that cooks mainly using steam to preserve nutrients and keep food tender and moist but browns to a lovely finish.
If you like tech, get this. LG has a fridge coming to the UK soon that’s so smart you’ll feel a bit threatened by it. The InstaView Door-in-Door™ Refrigerator is a bit of a mouthful – but mouthfuls you’ll be saving because it can warn you when your food is near expiry and keep an inventory of everything in it. The fridge comes with an app that allows you to control everything from temperature to the filter no matter where you are.
Knock twice on a dark panel on the fridge and it turns into a window so that you don’t have to let the cold air out – unless you want to open the door, in which case you just step in front of a light sensor and it opens hands free. Not an inch is wasted in this fridge, as there is a second door within the main compartment that folds out. The LG engineers have done everything to utilise space and it looks to be a promising purchase when it’s launched in the UK. One more thing – remember your nan’s pantry and the goodies it contained? This refrigerator has a fridge freezer and pantry section. Get ready to store fairy cakes and marzipan.
No matter which room you spend the most time in, you don’t have to sacrifice breathing space for style and vice versa. 2017 is the year of putting things away and upping your technology game. Engaging in either of those trends will bring your home to the forefront of scarily current fashion, and adding both together will catapult you even further. If you don’t like catapults, you have been warned!
www.spacefittingfurniture.co.uk The Design Quarter, 4 Colchester Ave, Cardiff CF23 9XE
t. 029 2045 5778
www.thinksmarta.co.uk Unit K7, Capital Business Park, Parkway, Cardiff CF3 2PU t. 029 2000 6588