We’ve gazed into our crystal ball and have come to the conclusion that home lives will get even less laborious with the latest in smart gadgets and services. At the forefront of smart gadgets is new technology that also allows us to talk directly. From smart speakers, to on-demand command hubs, to video, eye to eye chats with family and friends will be easier than ever. Here is a look at what’s ahead in 2019…
Video Kills the Telephone Call?
The proliferation of smart speakers has continued unabated nearly since their inception, but recently we’ve seen a new feature taking center stage on these do-it-all devices—video.
Amazon kicked off the trend, as it often does, with its Echo Show, a variant of the popular Amazon Echo series that featured a forward-facing camera and a tablet-like touchscreen attached to a smart speaker base. It followed up that effort with its reimagining of the alarm clock, the Echo Spot, a smaller orb-shaped smart speaker that includes a circular touchscreen face and similarly positioned camera.
Google soon followed suit, adding the Google Home Hub, an upgrade of its Google Home smart speaker that, like the Show, featured a touchscreen tablet. Now Facebook has gotten in on the action with the release of Portal, a smart speaker/touchscreen, powered by Amazon’s A.I. assistant Alexa, with a strong focus on video-calling.
While the merits of video functionality are readily apparent for smart speakers—users can follow recipes with hands-free commands, check the weather or map routes, or simply catch up on shows while multi-tasking around the house—there seems to be a real push for these video-equipped hubs to replace the phone as the communication device of choice in homes.
For Facebook Portal, this is expressly the case, with all other smart speaker features coming almost as afterthoughts to its prime purpose of visual-based communications. So committed to the cause of video chatting is the Portal, that the Portal+ device can recognize users as they move and automatically rotate to follow them, allowing chat participants to remain on screen as they move from kitchen to couch.
Setting aside concerns about entrenching Facebook even deeper into your life, how likely is it that video chatting will become the preferred means of communication? Video calls have grown in prominence in professional lives as camera-based calls have allowed for more immersive meetings to take place across great distances, and the growing popularity of live streaming services like Instagram, Twitch and Facebook Live have certainly helped to further inculcate video communication into individuals’ lives. But will younger generations—the ones who need to embrace the medium to make it viable and the ones who have shown a stronger predilection to text-based communication over audio—immerse themselves in video calls?
That’s the bet tech is making—even for the devices not tied to our homes. While Apple has not announced plans for a video element for its HomePod, the company has recently upgraded the capabilities of its iOS-based video chatting app, FaceTime, allowing users to communicate with up to 32 people on a call at one time.
It remains to be seen if a rise in video communication-capable devices leads to a growth in video-chatting—consumers often don’t use products in the ways manufacturers intended. But even if an explosion of video-equipped smart speakers doesn’t lead to a golden age of people looking each other in the eye while communicating, at least everyone will be able to watch “The Great British Bake-Off” while making breakfast.
Smart Services Are the New Smart Devices
Throughout their history, smart homes have been defined by the intelligent devices they house. Voice-controlled lighting, thermostats that automatically adjust with the weather, coffee pots that begin brewing when they recognize you’re awake—products that save labor, money or time via automation and connectivity.
But what about those tasks for which no single device will suffice? The chores—laundry, grocery shopping, home maintenance—that, short of a robotic butler, will require some manual labor on the part of the homeowner?
Brace for the rise of smart services—automated fulfillment of the daily tasks that make an uninterrupted life possible.
“Replenishment” is one area where these smart services are already established and we should expect to see further growth. Beyond services built for the express purpose, like Peapod, you may have noticed that nearly every grocery chain of substantial size is offering some manner of automated ordering—and reordering—and delivery, either via an app or website. This process allows customers with a good grasp of their consumption habits to ensure that their homes are never out of their favorite foods, with specific items in specific quantities being automatically delivered at regular intervals.
But expect producers to take thinking even further out of the process. Leveraging technologies like Amazon Dash, developers will start programming the household devices to recognize when they are running low on supply and automatically reorder the goods. Like WePlenish, a smart coffee pod container that keeps track of inventory levels and automatically orders more java when needed, so you never have to experience a caffeine-less existence. Will we see the refrigerator that automatically orders tomatoes? Or the soap dispenser that refills itself? The possibilities are endless—and likely, as automated reordering is an activity manufacturers can firmly get behind.
But what about the tasks that keep your house running that require some measure of manual labor, like cleaning and maintenance? Here, too, we should expect to see app- and device-based solutions that call in reinforcements with some measure of regular automation when the chores need to get done. Like Cleanly, an app that allows users to schedule pickup and drop-off of their laundry, fresh and folded, within a 24-hour period. The latest version of certain home standards, like washers and dryers, are able to run their own diagnostic programs, identifying errors when they arise—how long before these machines are able to request their own maintenance when need? How long before a pool probe can send out a call when it needs a cleaning? Or gutters can identify when they need to cleared?
In addition to the rise of these automated services, we should expect to see growth of the technologies that help facilitate them. Technologies like Ring video doorbells or August smart locks, which can allow homeowners to identify who is at their door—like the Cleanly delivery person—and grant them temporary access to your abode.
That is, if a human even delivers your goods anymore.
Walmart recently announced a pilot program with Ford and Postmates to examine the automated delivery of groceries via autonomous self-driving vehicles. Likewise, grocery chain Kroger announced a partnership with Nuro to tackle the most difficult task of ordering online, “last-mile delivery”—that is, getting the requested goods from the store to the customer’s home, a feat they also hope to accomplish with robotic drivers.
The end result of the endless automation of anything approaching “difficult” should enable individuals to lead lives unhampered in pursuit of their goals—be it extra productivity in matters personal or professional, or the much more noble pursuit of binge-watching Netflix while moving as little as possible.
Kitchen trends 2019 – the stunning and surprising new looks you need to see
If 2018 was all about inky blue cabinetry with copper and brass accents, what does 2019 have in store?
Here’s a look from leading retailers on the biggest kitchen trends for 2019.
1. Green is the new blue
Last year was all about navy, but expect to see more green in kitchens going forward. It could be in the form of accents, like this wallpaper – palm fronds and botanicals are to 2019 what florals were to the mid-Noughties.
However, it’s increasingly likely to take the form of tiles and cabinetry, in tones of emerald and forest green.
The trend for bold dark hues was prominent throughout 2018, and as we move in to 2019, green kitchen cabinetry is set to be a new, key style. Deep forest greens can be balanced out with latte shades, smoky glass and soft metallics to bring opulence to the kitchen. The addition of white marble and brass through design aspects like lighting and worktops, or even accessories, help to bounce the light around the space and offset the heavier hues.
2. Dining islands
We all know that islands and breakfast bars can provide a spot for casual dining, as well as workspace and storage.
3. 1970s revival
This is a look you’ll see in tiles as much as anything, and reflects a wider return to 70s trends within the home. Color wise we will see a strong focus on rich, earthy tones like Mustard yellow, ochre, olive green, chocolate and camels.
If this floats your retro boat, a mix of The Winchester Tile Company’s Olive Green, Honey and Amber field tiles could work for you. Pair with retro-patterned wallpaper and fabrics with bold motifs for a real throwback!
4. Hide-and-seek storage
For smaller spaces and a real European look hidden storage is a real trend for the open-living plans. Pocket doors that slide seamlessly out of sight when the kitchen is in use, but cover up its contents when guests come calling. The kitchen can be transformed from an efficient work space to a clutter-free living environment in moments.
5. Broken-plan kitchens
Open-plan kitchens have revolutionized the way we cook and entertain, but where do you hide all the dirty pots and pans from dinner guests? So if you’re after a little more privacy, broken plan might be for you. The concept is simple – take an open-plan design but add in a freestanding shelf unit or raised breakfast bar to create separation without the need for a full-on wall.
6. Taking the rough with the smooth
The raw beauty of flawed finishes and natural materials was one of THE interiors themes of 2018. But for 2019 it’s being smartened up with luxe additions for a more grown-up look. Nail the trend by pairing immaculate matt units with chunky wooden worktops, or by introducing shabby chic accent furniture to a glossy kitchen. If you don’t want to go for a full-on makeover, even artisan pottery or fabrics influenced by nature will do the trick.
National home prices have increased by 5.4% since this time last year. Over that same time period, interest rates have remained near historic lows which has allowed many buyers to enter the market and lock in low rates.
As a seller, you will likely be most concerned about ‘short-term price’ – where home values are headed over the next six months. As a buyer, however, you must not be concerned about price but instead about the ‘long-term cost’ of the home.
The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae all project that mortgage interest rates will increase by this time next year. According to CoreLogic’s most recent Home Price Insights Report, home prices will appreciate by 4.8% over the next 12 months.
What Does This Mean as a Buyer?
If home prices appreciate by 4.8% over the next twelve months as predicted by CoreLogic, here is a simple demonstration of the impact that an increase in interest rate would have on the mortgage payment of a home selling for approximately $250,000 today:
If buying a home is in your plan for this year, doing it sooner rather than later could save you thousands of dollars over the terms of your loan.
Modern kitchens are getting more and more inclusive. People have realized that kitchen design plays a huge part in how and to what extent kitchens will be used. They are being used for get-togethers, socializing, entertaining, parties, and of course family meals. Most importantly, the environment of your kitchen plays a vital role in your family’s health and happiness. Did you know that children who eat home-cooked food together with their families on a regular basis fair better in their academics? It’s true and it also helps them in their social circles as well. An aesthetically pleasing kitchen give positive vibes to the entire house. Now, to make your space functional, healthy and beautiful, you need to bring in some changes or makeovers.
Here are 7 décor trends that will make your kitchen last for a lifetime:
1. Smart will only get smarter
Technology is dictating terms everywhere, so why keep it out of the kitchen? After all, it is making things much easier and simpler. Smart kitchens are a reality today. From cutting-edge appliances to intelligent sensors to well-equipped faucets, the overhauling of the kitchen is happening for a better good.
Smart technology is paving the way for a future where personalization of recipes and meals will be a norm. There is a substantial role of Artificial Intelligence and Internet in future kitchens. That is why remodeling is incorporating connected home features. According to the forecasts by technology research firm, Gartner Inc., 8.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide this year and that the number will reach 20.4 billion by 2020. A good number of these devices will be used in smart kitchens….
2. Innovative LED lighting
There is no doubt about the fact that lighting spruces up the décor. When innovation combines with versatility, you get energy-saving credentials and pulsating brilliance. As opposed to its chilly, unfriendly look, LED lighting is being applied in innovative ways. Also, LEDs do not emit heat which means that you can keep them on day and night. This new-age light is more efficient and longer-lasting than halogen and fluorescent bulbs.
3. Integrated appliances
A functional kitchen with integrated appliances is a lasting trend. Your kitchenette should not look like a place where appliances are jumbled and cluttered. Instead, the long-lasting design demands to integrate the appliances into your kitchen with clever paneling and built-ins. Today, refrigerators, dishwashers, microwaves, and stovetops have become a seamless part of your space that gives it an ultra-modern look. Furthermore, as we discussed, today’s modern kitchens are increasingly used for connecting, partying, and hanging out, it needs to be made extremely comfortable. For that, appliances, layouts, and furniture should also contribute to differing priorities for a great environment.
Personalization is the key when it comes to setting a new trend that can last for years. From adding exciting colors to updating hardware and even bringing mix and match styles, personalization can take your kitchen to the next level. So, far from being over anytime soon, this trend will keep updating itself. Among all these elements, an extra character of color can add an interesting contrast to your kitchen environment. You can refurbish your shelves by putting custom canning labels on containers in which different cooking items are stored. You can also dress-up your faucets into many shapes, sizes, and colors. For that, you can find anything from simple to decorative options. Also, open shelving is the new personalization trend that shows no signs of slowing down, at least soon.
5. Quartz is timeless
Quartz is hard and highly durable so much so that it is nearly indestructible. It keeps your countertops safe and bacteria-free. That is why, for modern kitchens, quartz still reigns supreme and it’s not going to be outdated. The closest competitor of quartz is granite, which requires slightly more maintenance. Initially, quartz used to lack colors and finishes, but with time, a range of colors and patterns are available on the market. Its unique designs have become highly popular today. Today’s trend is indicating toward softer and more neutral colors; most homeowners are opting for grey, taupe, creamy or white finishes. It is also adaptable to fit any kitchen design that you and your kitchen designer can come up with.
6. Single level islands
Kitchen islands are becoming more and more popular for kitchen remodeling. You can hardly find a new kitchen without an island. Their utility stems from the fact that they are a multi-functional workhorse that can provide a cooking area, an eating zone, a prep space, or an entertaining hub. Since your kitchen island is separate from the rest of your counters, you can be creative about the color, finishes, and countertop you choose. In other words, it allows you to make a unique design statement. You can modernize and add customized detail to give the island a timeless look. Any option can be a wonderful addition to your kitchen.
7. Effective storage cabinetry
Kitchen cabinets are one of the most essential kitchen elements for practicality and aesthetics. The future trends require your cabinets to be spacious that make cooking and storage effortless. The fact is waste of space is one of the biggest challenges with kitchen cabinetry. So far drawers and shelves were being structured in such a way that leaves a lot of wasted space. Inadequate space will leave you with endless frustrations and annoyances.
So, a functional kitchen is one that can utilize every bit of storage’ while modern cabinetry is providing better storage solutions to the homeowners. This is the trend that can surely stand the test of the time.