While 2020-2021 brought furniture market attendance to a near halt, it was a robust year for residential real estate and home updates. The leading Kitchen and Bath design show KBIS went entirely virtual this year, and the furniture/accessory markets are proceeding on a delayed schedules as business returns to normal. The trends that have emerged from 2020 are unsurprisingly:
- Heightened focus on health, well-being and low maintenance
- Collective consciousness is focused on products that enable more sanitary habits
- Homeowners are jumping on the Home Gym Trend
- Reduced travel has inspired homeowners to upgrade with splurges on home spa sanctuaries
- Homeowners are all-in on smart home safety features
There are some great new products offering timely innovations – and note which brands were already on point with what the world needed before we realized it ourselves:
The NordicTrack Vault
The NordicTrack Vault was a hit at CES 2021 – combining reflective mirror with smart HD touchscreen display- so you can see yourself AND receive feedback as you follow the form of a virtual trainer. Opt for a single training session or embark upon a series designed to build on previous workouts to help reach specific fitness goals. This free standing device does not need to be wall mounted and even stores your dumbbells, kettlebells and resistance bands.
Jason Wu for Brizo
About a decade ago, he brought us the matte black finish. This year, the Jason Wu for Brizo collection is releasing a gorgeous new matte white finish with stylish handle options of white, teak, nickel or brass. The collection is every bit as smart as it is fashionable, with SmartTouchPlus Technology, TempID, magnetic wand docking, and optional voice activation technology (Alexa or Google Home). In fact, Brizo is more than a decade ahead of the health and sanitary consciousness that trends as the world shifts out of covid- they pioneered these features years ago. Jason Wu is extremely hands on with his Brizo collaboration, which in every way levels up the kitchen and bath aesthetic. He is what anyone would describe as a passionate creative, artistically influencing every aspect of living from fashion to the details of food prep. Check out his instagram account sometime (@MrWuEats) and you’ll likely understand why he would transform a kitchen to a runway of sorts- because for him, fashion is a way of living. As it should be, now that he has pointed it out…
Kohler Infinity Experience Freestanding Bath
Another CES and KBIS introduction, this one can go as over the top as you like. Kohler’s $16,000 smart bath tub draws inspiration from Japanese forest bathing- using water, light, aromas and fog to create an immersive, full-sensory sanctuary experience. Water fills from the bottom up rather than via faucet. The tub temps and water level can be voice activated so you can relax without lifting a finger. Your choice of features create package options ranging from $6,198 – $15,998, products will be available in November 2021.
FLO Smart Water Security System by Moen
DID YOU KNOW…. that water leaks in the home are one of the leading causes of preventable insurance claims each year – with the average claim for non-weather-related water damage costing nearly $10,000? This year at KBIS Moen introduced a revolutionary suite of products to prevent catastrophic water damage.
Flo by Moen gives homeowners the ability to receive alerts when leaks are detected, turn off their water and even purge the water lines to prevent burst pipes- all via app. Their Flo Smart Water Security System breaks down into different components that can be purchased individually and sync to the ‘Flo by Moen’ APP (which has a $5/mo charge):
Smart Water Shutoff- this leak detection and water monitoring device (shown above) installs on the water line- It monitors water pressure, flow rate and ambient temperature within your home’s water system while using AI to differentiate normal water use from abnormal use. If it detects a leak or a risk, the app will alert the homeowner so they can take action through the app, or the app can be set to automatically close the water valve to prevent catastrophic damage.
Smart Water Detector- these standalone sensors can be placed anywhere in your home (basement, laundry room, attic) to get alerts for moisture outside of the pipes, preventing water damage. If the detectors sense the presence of water, high humidity, or freezing temperatures, alerts will be sent to homeowner through push notifications on the app.
Smart Sump Pump Monitor- these monitors are retrofittable to the home’s current sump pump, providing alerts via app when when potential failures or unusual conditions are detected.
It hardly took a pandemic to get Zephyr focused on indoor air quality- they have been pushing the boundaries of ventilation design innovation for over two decades. The heightened focus on well being and low maintenance reinforces what we have always loved about Zephyr: beautifully designed vent hoods with powerful silent motors that quietly clean the air at programmed intervals, insuring that the air in your home stays fresh. Now, a new Zephyr Connect APP seamlessly connects with Amazon Alexa and Google Home devices for voice activation to control hood functions (fan speed, lighting levels) while serving or dining. The app offers a convenient delay- off feature to keep the hood running for an additional ten minutes after cooking to remove excess smoke and prevent unwanted odors. It will also notify you when it is time to clean the grease filters or replace charcoal filters.
Sidenote…. Are hubs going away?
So far, you may have noticed that the products mentioned in this post all work through Amazon or Google devices. Years ago, I wrote about the Cree Connect bulbs, which I used with the Samsung SmartThings hub. I loved everything about both hub and bulbs, until January when something between them started malfunctioning, and nothing would sort out the problem. After endless trouble shooting with Samsung, I got an email out of the blue stating that my hub would be retiring effective June 30. As it turns out, Aeotec bought SmartThings. They kindly offered a discount replacement for their new hub, which supports many devices but not my Cree bulbs. Most smart bulbs now work with Amazon Alexa or Google Home via bluetooth or wifi. Furthermore, the full spectrum bulbs have come a long way in recent years. My favorite is the LIFX Full Spectrum Smart Bulb. Compared to the long reigning gold-standard Philips Hue, the LIFX colors are more customizable and vivid, the light is brighter, and the smart features are fun. And guess what? LIFX is on the health trend with their recent release:
LIFX Clean, the world’s first antibacterial, germicidal smart light bulb
Are you ready for this? A bulb that has the power to kill bacteria and disinfect surfaces in your home. By scheduling these bulbs to Clean Cycle in the hours that you are not using it, HEV lighting will switch on to help mitigate harmful bacteria on surfaces and objects (keys, phones, iPads, remotes, keyboards) in your home.
No hub is needed- these are Alexa and Google Assistant compatible. LIFX Clean’s HEV light can help eliminate ever multiplying bacteria like E, coli and S. aureus from everyday objects and surfaces in your home.
A quick primer on HEV light:
- High-energy visible (HEV) light is a frequency of light that has a wavelength of 405nm – 450nm and appears blue to the eyes. Because of its destructive effect on bacteria, HEV light can function as a disinfectant.
- HEV light is not UV light. It is safe for you, your pets, and your plants.
- How long you set your Clean Cycle to run for will depend on how close the bulb is to whatever you’d like disinfected. For example, a table lamp can disinfect objects such as a keyboard at close range in about 2 hours.
These smart bulbs can run on a schedule, be voice activated, and are full-spectrum LED, offering 550 billion colors and a gorgeous white spectrum. While the $69.99 price tag may seem steep, the bulbs come with a two year warranty.
We can expect these shifts in consciousness to endure. It’s about time we became more health aware, space aware, safety aware. Many thanks to the innovative brands who make our homes a smarter, safer, healthier place.