‘Wall Aesthetics’ is not a new Olympic Games sport in 2024! You know the term ‘athletically gifted’ tagged on rare individuals who can effortlessly glide through any sporting activity thrown at them. Let me tell you there is lessor known term for Smart Homes termed ‘aesthetically gifted’, yes, that is a home you walk into and you can effortlessly glide between form and function of wall controls, outlets and AV gear (that is seldom seen).
The most ‘aesthetically gifted’ smart homes have a subtlety about them. The smarts are usually the backstory to the beautiful light fixtures, elegant wall switches, an almost unseen HVAC solution or completely hidden away AV tech. To be clear though, technically, they also excel at their function and capability.
A smart home should be as simple in design as it is visually and to operate.
You may not find aesthetic options with the majority of smart home solutions. Most home automation solutions have very few size/shape/colour options and you may not always get the ‘visual appreciation’ you want for your wall sensors/controllers to blend into your room/wall/home.
Observation 1: limit the number of ‘wall warts’, the switch/sensor plates, if you want clean wall aesthetic.
As a home owner and renovator, you will be challenged to achieve ‘visual appreciation’ with your smart house devices. If you’re lucky, the technical ’stuff’ resides behind wall plates. Worst case you will need a lot of wall plates or sensors and end up with ‘wall warts’ in some rooms to sense and control everything.
Smart home manufacturers are competing for your business on all fronts – technology, ease of use and of course aesthetics. There is a wide and varied approach to visual and tactile devices that perform the same task. Some brands/solutions need multiple wall sensor/switch combinations whilst other brands/solutions incorporate greater functionality/capability into a single wall sensor/switch to perform the exact same tasks.
Observation 2: greater functionality and integration can come at a higher price tag, BUT, it may cost less than multiple wall plates/cables/wall finishing/sensors/switches – ALWAYS compare apples with apples!
If your home has internal studded timber walls you may laugh at the concern of having many or multiple wall plates to control your smart home. That is a usually in complete contrast to homes having internal solid brick or concrete walls, where I think you will weight higher, the smart home switch/sensor combination to minimise the number of new cabling routes and a high number of ‘wall warts’.
Observation 3: a new build incorporating a smart home solution shouldn’t really suffer from ‘wall wart’ syndrome.
My advice is simple. If you are really set on a particular aesthetic or visual style for your smart home, focus on the ‘visual appreciation’ and work backwards down-selecting the products/solutions that meet your aesthetic brief. Challenge the home automation solution suppliers to meet your needs – if you don’t ask you may never know all of your options!
Stay safe. Be Smart!
Images courtesy of Gira, Loxone, Clipsal, Control4 and Schneider Electric.