Smart technology has always been known to run throughout a house, but now, the kitchen, and in this case the smart kitchen, is taking more of a main stage in building the connected home. That was where the Deans had a focus in designing their new home. They wanted everything from door locks to lightings systems to be voice activated, but it all stemmed from the kitchen and the need for a multigenerational, connected space for family and pets that could also regularly host guests as the central meeting point.
Crafting the Connected Kitchen
For the design of the kitchen, clients Leslie and her partner Michael wanted a functional space with a clean modern, dark look that still offered brightness to the room. Jeremy Jones of Atlanta-based Jones Design Associates (JDA) who had worked with the family on home design projects for years, was once again brought in for the task, alongside Eric Rawlings of Rawlings Design
The design team covered the modern part by integrating most of the appliances while the darker vibe was achieved with black granite composite sinks and faucets with knurled detail, darker countertop and backsplash selections and JennAir’s Noir Collection of appliances.
“We didn’t want the space to feel cold and wanted to contrast the wide-plank white oak flooring, so we used walnut and darker wood cabinets to break up the monolithic look of this kitchen,” added Jones.
Interweaving Different Layers of Innovation
While the clients wanted to integrate smart home capability wherever possible, there are many elements that innovated without being connected. For example, plug mold strips installed under the wall cabinets avoid marring the backsplash.
“Instead of placing small cabinets above large ones – we reversed them and put flip-up doors at the smaller wall cabinets located closest to the floor,” said Jones. “This allows the children to easily reach commonly used items, and the 42-in. high wall cabinets above display their contents from the floor without the use of a ladder.”
To accommodate lots of pets in high-traffic areas, the design team chose a commercial-rated, water-based wood flooring urethane, which Jones says is a Greenguard Gold certified, virtually VOC-free, fully cures in days and creates a durable, scratch resistant finish. A small alcove even offers space for puppies to sleep without risk of being stepped on in more crowded situations.
The home also uses a carbon auto back-washing system, as water filtration plays a part in the whole home to better maintain the wetter spaces, like the kitchen.
Syncing up the Entire Home
Where possible, every appliance is voice activated via Amazon Alexa, including the door locks, lighting, and HVAC system. At the same time, a cutting-edge smart system measures and maintains air quality throughout the home.
“Sensors monitor air quality and relay their information back to the ‘brain,’ which controls the bathroom fans, the range hood and the energy recovery ventilators that in turn control heat and moisture and pull fresh air into the home in multiple locations,” said Jones. “This works with the variable-speed HVAC system, which means while the system may run more, it does so more efficiently – saving on heating and cooking costs and helping control humidity.”
The LED lighting throughout the kitchen is controllable and dimmable, allowing the homeowners to save up to 80% on lighting costs while extending the lives of their bulbs. Smart speakers in the ceiling then round out the clients’ desire for all the connected elements in the kitchen.
Usually, Jones says he and his team work with a specialist on specific projects, but installing smart technology, he feels, has been becoming less complicated over the years. “It is becoming easier to integrate these systems, and just about anyone these days can have a smart home cost effectively,” he added.
Another version of this article previously appeared in KBB Magazine.