Now Trending in Luxury Homes? Shades, Audio, Outdoor A/V
A study of luxury homes shows increasing popularity in amenities with natural ties to certain home tech.
November 13, 2013 by Arlen Schweiger

We try to get you ahead of the game when it comes to today’s home technology. We can’t tell you every amenity to put in your home, but we can recommend some technology systems that might perfectly complement what you’re thinking.

Recently, Forbes published its list of “What’s In, What’s Out” for “America’s Most Expensive Homes”—which might not be for everyone, but we profile plenty of those types of luxury homes here on Electronic House and in many ways even if you don’t have an uber-expensive home you probably can still relate to, and hope for, many of these trends in your own abode. Well, maybe not the marble bath, which saw the biggest trend upward on the list ... but an outdoor kitchen, which came in at No. 15 on the increasing trend side (Forbes called out the 20 biggest upward trends and 20 biggest downward trends), is becoming commonplace in warm climates.

(And hat tip to foodie and tech PR guru @newscaster for the article mention, pointing out No. 9 upward trend, the wine room.)

Here’s how the top 20 increasing trends looked, with the percentage change noted from the previous year’s study in Forbes’ Real Estate Lab. As the magazine notes, you can see some clear desires expressed for the likes of greater use of outdoor spaces and better views from inside the home looking out.

The former of those happens to correspond perfectly—and perhaps not so coincidentally—to one of the five hottest tech trends identified during the recent conference of custom electronics pros who are members of the Home Technology Specialists of America. That would be the push for outdoor entertainment spaces. From the Forbes list, you could conceivably consider Nos. 2 (roof deck), 5 (terrace), 15 (outdoor kitchen), 16 (summer kitchen) and even 17 (pond) fitting into the mix of areas where you might want to add some music and possibly TV viewing.

Speaking of music, another sizzling hot specialty currently in high regard by those home technology specialists is streaming audio. Whether you go the hard-wired or wireless route, there’s never been an easier time to get music routed throughout your home—both indoors and outdoors—and there’s never been an easier way to access a seemingly infinite amount of albums and songs thanks to streaming music services (plus things like Bluetooth and AirPlay that make getting them from mobile devices a breeze as well). About half of the areas identified on the increasing trends list could benefit from a sprinkling of audio, whether it’s that roof deck, the outdoor kitchen, the tennis court area and, especially, the marble bath—you can’t soak in luxury without some in-ceiling speakers or a Bluetooth speaker there to keep you company (and check out these many tech-related possibilities you may not have considered for your master suite on the whole). And, of course, “large elevator” music is a must.

Then there’s automation. It’s another of those five areas noted by HTSA installers, and for good reason. You can use automation for just about anything, depending on the robustness of the system that’s installed. So for that highly desirable wine room, for instance, we’ve often seen in the big homes we’ve profiled over the years how automation systems and sensors are used to make sure that wine rooms do not exceed certain temperatures or humidity levels that could ruin your collections.

Within the automation category, the big winner for luxury homeowners who could use some high-tech assistance is certainly motorized window treatments. The trends list is littered with different ways the homeowners expressed interest in bigger windows and better views (the list derived from words and phrases that appear in luxury home sale listings)—oversized windows, floor-to-ceiling windows, ceiling windows, large windows, panoramic views, and ocean views. That’s six out of 20 trends that would benefit from the ability to have all kinds of shades raise and lower at the press of a button on your touchpanel or tap of an icon on your iPad. Just look how many different ways windows with a wow factor scream for automated shading solutions that are just as wow-inducing, like creating privacy, maintaining those views and blocking glare for TV viewing.

Also Check Out:
Planning Your Outdoor Audio and Video System
Top 10 Technologies for Your Home
Contact Sensors Are the Secret Sauce in Home Control Applications

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Arlen Schweiger - Contributor, Electronic House Magazine
Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com and Electronic House magazine.

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