Home Is Where the Tech Is
The home has become a hub of so many forms of activity, including work, exercise, entertainment, cooking, and relaxation. Smart technology offers an opportunity to get the most out of the home from the moment you begin your day to the moment you hit the pillow. We tapped HGTV Extreme Makeover: Home Edition star, interior designer, and busy mom of two Breegan Jane to share her tips and tricks for giving the home a refresh by using innovative products to boost organization and productivity, improve home security, set the mood, and so much more.
Declutter Your Mind and Home
According to Breegan, “This spring, I'm decluttering by tapping Alexa to manage my chores and home. I didn’t realize how much time I was spending on tasks that I could have streamlined years ago with smart home technology.”
With the new Echo Show 10, you can create virtual lists for every aspect of life—like to-do and shopping lists—so you can avoid random scraps of paper all over the house.
Prioritize Home Security for Ultimate Peace of Mind
“As the warmer months approach and we all begin to spend more time outside or on vacation, setting up a Ring Video Doorbell will allow you to receive notifications when somebody is at the door so you can see, hear, and talk to visitors from anywhere,” Breegan said, “I also invested in Alexa Guard Plus, so now I have hands-free access to an emergency hotline and can even deter intruders away with different light and noise settings.”
In addition, the Ring Video Doorbell is ideal for keeping tabs on delivered packages.
Integrate Two-Way Communication
“Another way I like to make my house more secure and convenient is connecting my Ring Video Doorbell to my Fire TV Stick. That way, if I’m having a movie night with my kids and someone comes to the door, I don’t need to get up or check my phone,” Breegan said.
In order to monitor visitors, just say, “Alexa, connect me to my front door,” to see, hear, and talk to whoever is at the front door.
Find Easy Bathroom Updates
Bathroom aesthetics are easy to overlook in favor of other parts of the home, but the bathroom is its own haven that deserves recognition. “It’s a place for me to relax and recharge,” Breegan said.
To refresh this sanctuary's style, Breegan offered this simple suggestion: “An easy bathroom update anyone can make is swapping out old mismatching towels for new crisp white ones. I like to roll them up and put them in a woven basket to make my bathroom feel more luxurious.”
She added, “When I need some me-time, I like to take a long bath, and with an Echo Dot in the bathroom, I don’t need to worry about what my kids are doing. I can easily say, ‘Alexa, Drop In on the kids’ room,’ and I’m instantly connected with them via voice, so I can know what they’re up to. I also love to tell Alexa to play music. The Alexa-enabled Kohler Smart Showerhead makes it so convenient to change the music just by talking right to the shower head!”
Give Your Home Office a Makeover
With over a year of remote working under many of our belts, there’s no better time to refresh the home office. Music is one way to boost mood and optimize productivity.
“When it’s a stressful day, I simply say ‘Alexa, play my relaxation playlist,’ which I set up in my Alexa app, and I feel an instant sense of calm,” Breegan said, “I also recommend adding in luxe touches like a chandelier and artwork, as well as cozy elements like a rug and candle. If you don’t have a clear home office space, get creative with a spring DIY! I’ve seen people create home offices in their garage or even convert a little-used closet.”
Expand Your Wi-Fi
According to Breegan, “As my boys and I are spending more time at home, it’s important for me to make sure my Wi-Fi is the best it can be. Since installing an eero Mesh Wifi system in my house, I’ve said goodbye to dead spots and buffering. Now when I’m speaking with clients or while my kids are doing online schooling, we don’t have to worry about losing connection. I can also easily manage the Wi-Fi through any Echo device in my house. It makes it so much easier.”
Bring the Outdoors In
“The living room is the hub of my home. My kids and I are always watching movies and spending time together on the couch. This spring, we’re looking forward to spending more time outside, and I’m also bringing the spring vibe inside by adding a floral twist to the room with artwork and easily swappable textiles like pillows and throws. I love combining artificial and live plants with pops of color to create an at-home oasis,” Breegan explained.
She added, “Now, whenever we’re planning a movie night in our outdoor-indoor oasis, I simply say ‘Alexa, it’s movie night,’ and with the Routine I created, Alexa sets the mood and tells my boys to come to the living room. It’s an instant signal to unwind, and we benefit from building this reminder to ensure we’re having family time.”
Enhance the Sleeping Environment
“Creating a better sleeping environment is an important part of my self-care routine,” Breegan said.
One way to do this is by choosing calming neutral colors and bringing in natural elements and textures like wood, plants, and soft linens. Breegan also uses Alexa to play relaxing sleep sounds to help her fall asleep and noted, “Even my boys love sleep sounds!”
Designate a Workout Area
For keeping fit while working from home, Breegan offered this suggestion: “Having a designated workout area in your home is helpful to keep you on schedule—and it doesn’t have to look like a gym! I like to make sure I have an open space in my living room for workouts so I can turn on my Fire TV, set up my yoga mat, and find endless workouts from the apps Amazon has to offer.”
Refresh Your Kitchen
“The kitchen is the heart of the home, so having the right appliances is key,” Breegan said.
Keeping this in mind, if you cook often, choose a six burner range rather than four burners. If you spend a lot of time prepping, keep in mind durability. Breegan added,“Stainless Steel is always a great option that’s timeless, and quartz countertops are practically maintenance free.”
And to ensure an enjoyable experience, keep the kitchen clean and tidy. “I love to start the week with a clean kitchen. I set up Alexa reminders to clean out my fridge once a week. All I have to say to set it up is ‘Alexa, remind me to clean out the fridge,’ and now I never forget! I also love to use my Echo Show 10 in the kitchen to find new kid-friendly recipes through the Food Network Kitchen app,” Breegan said.
Ditch the Cords
Cords are unsightly and often unmanageable. Breegan offered this advice: “One easy improvement for any area with a TV is to ditch the cords and bulky cable boxes and get a Fire TV Stick instead for a cleaner look.”
She added, “Now the kids and I can watch our favorites from Netflix, YouTube, Prime Video, Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, Discovery+ and more without the eyesore of messy cables. Also, now I can easily pause the movie by saying, ‘Alexa, pause on Fire TV,’ so I can get up and make some popcorn for the kids!”
Regulate the Temperature
According to Breegan, “Installing an ecobee SmartThermostat is a great way to upgrade your home and keep it at the perfect temperature for your family. ecobee easily connects with Alexa and I can control the temperature with voice commands or include temperature in my Routines, so the temperature increases when I wake up and decreases when I go to sleep. I can also control the thermostat when I’m away through the Alexa app on my phone.”
Create Surround Sound
Whether for cooking, cleaning, entertaining or relaxing, music is a great way to create an ambiance in the home. Breegan said, “With an Echo Dot placed in every room, I’ve connected them through the Alexa app on my phone and created a group of devices. This way, I can simply say ‘Alexa, play music everywhere,’ for complete surround sound throughout my house.”
Upgrade the Kids’ Rooms
“As my kids are growing, I like to refresh their rooms to help them feel more independent and a bit more like big kids. This can be as easy as swapping out new decor or even painting a fun accent wall,” Breegan said, “I also recently put Echo Dot Kids Edition devices in both of my boys’ rooms, which come in fun tiger and panda designs. Now they can ask Alexa questions, play interactive games, play music, and more—and I can have peace of mind knowing that there are easy-to-use parental controls and a parent dashboard where I can review their activity.”
Related: 12 Fresh Ideas for Your Kids' Room
Redecorate from Within
“In the past year, we’ve all picked up new hobbies and explored new ways to keep ourselves busy. My kids and I did a lot of painting, so I’m giving my walls a much-needed spring refresh by framing their artwork,” Breegan said.
On how to create a delightful display, Breegan offered this: “I recommend my clients frame their children’s artwork of different sizes in a variety of frames to create a gallery wall that not only freshens up the look of your home, but also gives it a sentimental and personal touch that makes it feel like your home. Design doesn’t always have to be expensive or out of reach, and I recommend my clients look within the walls of their homes for elements that bring them joy.”
Money-saving, time-saving—and yes, sometimes even life-saving—the latest and greatest smart home technologies span from self-programming thermostats to voice-activated TV controls to video doorbells and beyond. Raise your home's IQ!