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By Mariya Greeley
| September 26, 2018
It may seem far-fetched, but not too far in the future the average American homeowner is likely to have a dog dryer in the laundry room and an RF cooking device in the kitchen.
History has shown that gadgets once considered out of reach—think: TV set, microwave, CD player—often transition seamlessly into the modern standard of living.
When the first models were introduced, a TV remote cost $2,356, a CD player was $1,757, and you could expect to pay a whopping $11,912 for a microwave (all prices adjusted for inflation), according to an analysis by Quartz. Such hefty price tags meant most homes went without these conveniences early on. But curious consumers set demand high, spurring improvements in manufacturing efficiencies and eventual price drops.
Modern conveniences and creature comforts are high on the list of desirable home qualities for buyers. So much so that, today, “there’s a larger number of people investing more in the dollar-per-square-foot for their homes,” says Christopher Rapczynski, president and owner of Sleeping Dog Properties, Inc., a company that designs, builds, and renovates high-end homes and commercial spaces in New England. This means that many homebuyers prefer a more modest-size house decked out with modern style, convenience, and comfort to a larger house without.
Just as TVs in homes have become ubiquitous, today’s out-of-reach, high-tech luxuries could become the modern standard tomorrow. Read on to discover what industry experts say is trending.
“Smart home technology is becoming much more commonplace in homes,” says Rachel Rothman, chief technologist and engineering director at Good Housekeeping Institute. The latest innovations let homeowners automate or remotely control functions like lighting and temperature. If you forget to turn the lights off before a vacation or need to turn up the temperature so your pipes don’t freeze during a cold spell, no problem. “Did I leave my oven on?” is an anxiety the next generation of homeowners is likely never to face.
This kind of smart home tech “is something that has been available in very expensive systems for a while [and] pretty likely to start becoming more generally available,” Kyle Hoepner, editor-in-chief of New England Home Magazine, says. One example is a thermostat that learns what your ideal temperature is throughout the day and night—perhaps cool when you go to sleep, warm when you wake up—and adapts to your preferences.
“One area in particular we are seeing a lot of growth in is intelligent security,” Rothman says. Through security devices’ apps, you can do things like check in on video streams, lock and unlock doors, get notified about alarms, and more.
“We live in an on-demand society where people are used to getting what they want, when they want it,” Rothman says. “Smart, often multi-use products can help meet this demand by making things easier and quicker, with better results.” To this end, she’s seeing a trend among homeowners of appliances that combine steam and microwave capabilities, replacing standard microwave ovens. “RF cooking is another game-changer in the kitchen,” Rothman says. These devices are able to sense the molecular makeup of the food inside it and automatically help cook it optimally.
If millennials are buying homes so their dogs can have a better space, it seems likely that those homes will evolve to include more pet-focused features, too.
“One of the things that we’re going to see a whole lot more of in the future is dog dryers,” Rapczynski says. Soon, your pup will be able to sit comfortably in a built-in crate with warm fans lightly blowing his fur dry after a bath. Sleeping Dog Properties already has received several requests for these. “Historically when people ask us for something somebody else asks us for it, and all of a sudden everyone’s asking for it,” Rapczynski says. “I feel like this is one of those moments.”
“Another area we’re seeing a lot of focus on is in the health and wellness arena,” Rothman says.
While some high-end homes include saunas, steam rooms, saltwater pools, and in-home gyms or yoga studios, more and more average homes are incorporating spa-like features that make home feel a little more like a getaway. “Something that’s not particularly grandiose, but actually can be an amazing thing are towel warmers,” Hoepner says, “They can do an amazing job of making you feel pampered and luxurious.”
As many studies have shown, quality sleep is key to good health. Sleeping Dog Properties often constructs sound-dampened (the auditory equivalent of “splash resistant”) bedrooms and places lights strategically to optimize sleep conditions. “We put lights in toe kicks of bathroom vanities,” Rapczynski says, for illuminating the pathway to the bathroom with a light dim enough that it won’t disturb a night riser’s sleep when he or she returns to bed.
Getting a little more vitamin D might become standard soon too as more and more homeowners start to turn their backyards into an entertainment feature. “A lot of outdoor spaces are being kitted out more as if they were indoors,” Hoepner says. A back patio, for example, might include a fire pit, an outdoor TV, a built-in sound system, or an outdoor kitchen. “I imagine lower cost versions of those will start to pop up,” he says.
With help from some new tech and appliances, homeowners are doing more to be socially conscious. “In the kitchen, you are seeing tools for food inventory management to help with the food waste issue,” Rothman says. For example, some refrigerators have built-in cameras so you can see whether you have a certain item while you’re at the grocery store and avoid buying more than you need.
To offset the waste that can be a byproduct of all of these enhancements and renovations, Sleeping Dog Properties makes an effort to “dismantle and donate,” Rapczynski says, “versus destroy and throw away.”
The company brings used items to donations sites around the Greater Boston area, including Build Health International, which uses the materials to help build and maintain healthcare facilities overseas. “We try to leave the smallest footprint we can,” Rapczynski says.
In every corner of our lives, “our ability to produce products with less effort as a whole is having a dramatic effect on the quality of how we live,” Rapczynski says, “and the epicenter of that is where we live.”
Sponsored by Sleeping Dog Properties, Inc.
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