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How to convert your studio apartment into a Smart Home

Living in a BIG CITY, usually means you live in a small apartment, and for some a studio apartment. And more often you are living in a rental! So how can you balance your desire to have a smart home, one that is plug and play, so that when you move you can take your ‘smarts’ with you so that your next home doesn’t have to be a cave-dwelling.

The first thing to do is pick an assistant. I started out with Siri on my iPhone back when I shared an apartment with a roommate. Apple was much slower to the smart home game than Amazon and Google. So, when it came time to smarten up my home, I knew I had to find a better option, preferably one that existed as a smart speaker.

First thing, start with a voice assistant like the Amazon Echo Show (i like the Echo Show 8)or a Google Nest Hub Max. I’ve had the opportunity to test both the Amazon Echo and Google Home, and after some time, Alexa won me over and became the head of my household.

That doesn’t mean you’re restricted to just one ecosystem though. You can actually have both Amazon and Google products and use them almost equally. Once you’ve set up a smart speaker, you immediately have the ability to do things like set timers and alarms, ask for the weather or your upcoming appointments. And, of course, play music from a connected service.

But a connected speaker alone does not a smart home make. Your home becomes truly smart when you start connecting your appliances so you can control them from anywhere or, even better, without even getting up from the couch. This is where it gets a little tricky since it depends on what your building management will allow.

You can get started with the lowest-risk, minimal investment options: light bulbs. There are a bunch of connected bulbs available, with Philips Hue being the most popular and established. If you enjoy colorful mood lighting, a Philips Hue light strip is a good option, while single-color bulbs are better for those who just need illumination. Lights are also a great mood elevator, so shine them bright.

Smaart House

Once you connect the lights to your home network, life became significantly more convenient. Try walling into an apartment in the dark with your arms filled with groceries, and you’ll understand the virtues of good lighting right away. Plus, you can turn them off from bed just by telling my Echo, “Good night.” You can also set up routines so that one of your lamps turn on when the sunset, and you can customize whatever works best for you.

After you have your speaker and lights sorted, the next step generally depends on your preferences. In an ideal world (i.e. living in a house you own), you’d move on to temperature control. Alas, because most apartments have central air and a thermostat you can’t mess with this. You can invest in a WiFi heater but you don’t have a lot of options here.

Similarly, being a renter, you will also have to forego the idea of have smart locks!

Google Nest Hub display is a valuable addition to the kitchen countertop, it can play you hand-free recipes, and soon you can start eating healthy.

Smaart House

For entertainment, a smart TV with a Chromecast or Fire TV Stick makes Netflixing even more relaxing. If you don’t already have one, invest in a smart TV, which has convenient built-in apps and voice-control remotes. Those that work with smart speakers let you turn them on or off with a simple command or remotely, so you can save energy or have your favorite show already queued up when you get home from work.

If you cook every day, consider the Instant Pot WiFi or a connected slow-cooker so you can monitor your stews. Those with deep pockets can consider the Thermomix TM6, which is basically a kettle, sous-vide, mixer, slow cooker and rice cooker in one. It can do pretty much anything other than bake, and for those short on space but need a ton of cooking gadgets, it’s truly helpful.

How to convert your studio apartment into a Smart Home

Here’s a favorite smart home hack: You can make pretty much any appliance “smart” by hooking it up to a connected plug. You can get any floor lamp that still runs on regular bulbs hooked to a Belkin Wemo smart plug to get voice controls and routine-setting. If you have a standing fan, a space heater or a coffee maker that you want to have running before you get home or wake up, a smart plug is a great way to set that up. Your dumb slow cooker can also benefit from this so you can set a timer to start dinner while you’re at work or shut off after however many hours your recipe calls for. You’ll just have to be comfortable with the idea of leaving the device’s switch on all the time and relying on the connected plug to turn it on or off, and only do this with appliances like lamps or heaters that won’t be damaged by abruptly being turned off.


How to convert your studio apartment into a Smart Home

You can have a couple of security cameras constantly keeping an eye on your precious apartment. Though, with recent news about cameras being hacked and Ring giving law enforcement access to your feeds, it is important to have your security cameras send their video feed to a home-based DVR/NVR which only you can access so that you own the video feed and enjoy the privacy of your lifestyle.

You could also make your bedroom smarter with Sleep Number or Eight mattresses and have them set to the perfect temperature before you go to bed. With some patience and imagination, you could also get motion sensors to trigger a soft low light when you get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom (though, this is probably a terrible idea if you have pets). Motion sensors are also helpful for triggering your heater when you walk into your frigid bathroom, for example.

And, of course, there are robot vacuums that respond to Alexa or Assistant’s commands, so if your kitchen needs a quick cleaning you can tell your bot to get to work without leaving your couch. Or if you can never figure out how long it takes to heat things up the AmazonBasics Microwave has Alexa do the math for you.

We’ve come a long way since the first smart light bulbs and speakers. Thankfully, us apartment-dwellers have far more options to choose from than before. Sure, we might still not be able to get, say, a smart oven or a talking fridge, but the choices we do have are plenty, and remember: When in need, a smart plug can probably do the trick.