I speak from experience, and I’m not alone, in having been all too easily convinced of the merits of fitting innovative technology only to find, a couple of years down the line, said technology to be incapacitated, no professional willing or able to help and the now defunct technology being kicked repeatedly for being over-complicated.
Living this Luddite life is not without its merits, but approaching the build this time round it felt increasingly difficult to avoid the benefits offered by the range of innovations in building technology.
Lighting is one area in which I have seen significant improvements in both choice and performance. Lucky, really, considering that I think it is right up there with space and colour schemes in influencing the success of a home. I knew, too, that lighting would be the most important bridge between my desire for a modern design and my wife Sarah’s desire for an inviting, characterful, warm home.
Jason has used pendant lights in his remodel, with copper,
glass and brass models used in different rooms.
LED bulbs have now become standard and are being sold in ‘amber’ and as attractive filaments rather than the stark white/blue spotlights I recall previously — which helps enormously in creating a slight heritage feel. I’ve found the internet a brilliant source of light fittings and pendants, and released my inner eclectic into the bargain. Lots of glass, copper and brass for pendants and plenty of sconce wall lights.
I’ve used Pooky, Wayfair, Industville and My Furniture, and, I have to say, surprised myself with how pleased I am with all of them. I’m not too humble to say that the lighting design has turned out well; the highlight being our whiskey decanter pendants over the kitchen island. They were cheap and create a really nice feature for the space as well as a great atmosphere.
The bathroom isn’t somewhere that you would think you’re going to find innovative home technology, but let me tell you, it’s where all the action is. First up — our new shower. When we last self-built we installed an Aqualisa shower on the primary basis that it had a remote control function, allowing the shower to be turned on and come up to temperature without the need to get your hands wet. Well – they still do that – but much more.
We opted for one of the new Q Edition models, which have an LCD interface that allows you to personalise your shower ‘experience’ for each member of the family. At a practical level, it allows us to manage temperature, flow and most importantly timing, so that I know that the shower turns off after my usual three-minute morning rush.
Jason wanted to introduce smart technology into his bathroom, including this remote control shower from Aqualisa
And then there’s the toilet. If you’ve ever been to Japan, you know that there is a whole world of WC technology that us Brits are missing out on. Luckily for those of us who worry about these things, there is a move to introduce ‘smart’ toilets to the UK, and we opted for Geberit’s AquaClean Mera. It offers, in no particular order: rimless ceramic pan with ‘turboflush’ (it swirls and cleans); odour control; heated seat; orientation light (important for night-time visits); ‘shower’ facility for, erm, cleaner bottoms; warm air dryer for, erm, drier bottoms and ‘lady wash’ for, well, erm…
It’s early days, but the added benefits really take the whole bathroom experience to a new level. Our plumber and electrician were both wowed. What I like most is that it has all this additional functionality on a practical level but it also looks the part too. Smart toilets are officially a thing.
So, am I a convert to smart technology? Where it can genuinely improve my life, and makes living easier, simpler or quicker (or cleaner) then, why not? As we slowly move back into the house, we are finding that it’s the difference between looking at a house and living in a home. Both, as self-builders and renovators know, are equally important.
National Smart Home Month will run throughout October to raise awareness about the life-enhancing benefits of smart home technology. Find out all you need to know about adding smart tech into your home with product and project advice from Real Homes, Homebuilding & Renovating, T3 and TechRadar.