Kiernan here, I thought I would take you through the ways I automate my life, and why starting with your bedroom might make more sense than you think. The following article will go over system options you should consider, and a plan for a perfect starting point to build your bedroom into an easily automated space.
Having recently moved to a new apartment, and tackling all the life challenges that come with a big change such as moving, I have had a first-hand account of how tedious, frustrating, and....rewarding (trust me on this one) starting from scratch in a new home can be. It really allows for a new look at how to improve your living experience and provides the perfect opportunity to make your setup what you want it to be. So having done the heavy lifting already here's the most important takeaways I've had for making my bedroom work for me.
Why Automate Your Bedroom?
Whether you're awake and working from home, or attempting to get a good night of sleep, the bedroom is where we spend the most time in our home, so it makes sense to spend that extra effort to make it perfect. Mornings can become easier and evenings can be even more enjoyable with some smart tech by your side.
Choose Your Assistant
While this is an extensive topic itself, here's a brief rundown: Assistants act as an entry-level "hub" for all of your smart devices and have some other nifty features to support you throughout your day. From something as simple as asking the weather to complex tasks like opening the blinds and making you coffee in the morning (yes it's possible), assistants have a wealth of capabilities.
Alexa: Running off the Amazon ecosystem, this is our clear winner, especially for beginners. The automation and routines are compatible with more devices than any other assistant and the user-friendly nature of this assistant makes it a no-brainer
Google Assistant: While this is a slight step-down from amazon (in my opinion), it can still handle the majority of automations and is compatible with most devices. It can be limited in some capacities, and my own extensive experience with Google's Nest devices has shown its user-friendliness to be its Achilles heel.
Apple Homepod: We generally only recommend this for the cult fans of apple. It's 3x the price of the other assistants and is the most limited when it comes to compatibility and feature diversity.
Lighting is our favorite starting place for automation. There are hundreds of amazing options that can fit any budget and is tremendously fun to play around with. Lighting heavily affects your mood, warmer tones for relaxation or evenings, and cooler tones to increase productivity. They can be voice-controlled and integrated into routines along with changing to any color you can think of. I have found the latter useful for eliminating blue light before bedtime.
Yeelight: As my expensive apartment doesn't have built-in overhead lights, I am running off of a multi-lamp setup with some added LEDs to light up my bedroom. for this scenario, picking up a few smart lightbulbs made the most sense. Yeelight offers extremely inexpensive options that are compatible with Alexa and even have a line specifically made for Google. They have built-in dimming capability and can become whatever color you can think of. There are many other brands that make smart lighting, but personally, I think these are the best bang for your buck.
The Holy Grail:
Philips Hue: Widely regarded as the best smart lighting option on the market, Philips hue offers quality and versatility like none other. Their bulbs are less expensive than you would think but some of the more intricate lighting is not as budget-friendly and requires a Phillips Hue hub to use. Our favorite of theirs is the custom surround lighting for your TV that adapts to every scene. Yes, it's as cool as it sounds.
Curtains and Blinds
There's nothing like some natural sunlight in the morning and this can be enjoyed without having to get up on those lazy days in bed. Curtains or blinds, there are automation options for you.
Switchbot: This fun device clips onto your curtain rod and pulls your curtains in any direction. It even has built-in smart features to allow for complex routines. One of these is its light-sensing technology that allows for automatic opening or closing at given sunlight intensities.
Blinds and Rods
The Sunsa Wand: For retrofitting blind heavy homes, this is a godsend. These are simple motorized rods that do the turning for you. While they're not as feature-rich as the Switchbot they get the job done and save you time every day.
Bonus Round: Smart Plugs, Clocks, and Frames
This is the fun part and why we love home automation so much. Whatever your unique needs are, there's almost always a "smart" solution. Here are a couple of options that may or may not work for you, but will hopefully kickstart some ideas for how you may incorporate more smart tech in the bedroom.
Wemo: Smart plugs allow you to control whatever is being plugged into it. It's a simple on and off control, but it's tremendously useful. In my case, during cold nights when I don't want to get up, I have my space heater on one of these smart plugs. I can turn it on and off without having to leave my warm bed.
Aura Frame: The aura frame is less about automation and more about fun smart tech. This frame is digital and allows for any added users to upload photos remotely. It plays as a slide show and makes for a great gift.
Atmoph Window: The least necessary, yet coolest item on this list has to be the Atmoph Window. It is a digital frame that has a variety of capabilities such as a live feed from over 1200 of the most beautiful destinations around the world.
Making Pre-Set Routines
Now that you've incorporated all this smart tech into your life, why not go ahead and combine all of them to make pre-set routines and scenes. For example, I can program certain devices to react when given a command. When I come home and walk into my room, I'll say "hey google, I'm home". This enables my google home to tell my lights to turn on, open my shades, and can even read off the schedule that I have for the day.
Other routines can be programmed without needing to call out to your device such as my morning alarm. I'm a big believer in waking up naturally and not being jolted awake by an alarm on your phone. If you wake up naturally, you're more likely to be more productive as well as not have that groggy feeling in the morning. One of my favorite scenes I created is my "start the day" routine. Over the course of an hour my lights slowly get brighter, eventually turning on completely, giving the illusion of a sunrise causing my body to wake up. I also have my curtains linked to this as well so they open once my lights have reached full brightness. I know you're probably thinking that this sounds excessive, but It's become my new norm, and can’t see myself without it.