How to design a smart home the easy way

Woman holding a smartphone showing the Hive app on screen with Hive smart devices sitting on a kitchen counter in the background

A quick internet search on smart home ideas will pull up everything from businesses offering smart home design to complicated guides on doing it yourself. But a new smart home doesn’t have to involve expensive gadgetry or mind-boggling manuals. Just replacing things you’ve already got in your home with smart versions will make a big difference.

So in this article, we’re going to run through some straightforward smart home solutions that require little or no DIY – and that’ll get your smart home started without spending a fortune.

Getting started

One of the most important things to remember when you’re planning how to design a smart home system is that you don’t have to buy lots of things straight away.

In fact, there’s only three things you’ll need to get going:

  • A strong WiFi connection: first up, make sure you’ve got a fast, reliable internet connection. You can use a signal checker like Speed Test to test the strength in different parts of your home.

  • A smart home hub: most smart home tech requires a hub to work. This allows you to control your devices on your phone. It also connects all your smart home products together, so you can get them working seamlessly around you. More on that later.

  • A smart home app: the easiest way to control all your smart tech is by using an app like our Hive app. Which one you need will depend on which brand of smart tech you buy, although some work across brands (for example, you can control Phillips Hue lights with our Hive app). You can download these apps onto your smartphone, tablet or Apple watch, giving you quick access to all your smart home products with one tap.

First stop, smart lights

If you’re thinking about how to make your home a smart home, smart lights are a great place to start. They’re simple to install - you just screw them into your existing light fittings and pair them with your smart home hub. Then you’re ready to start controlling your lights straight from your phone, using the smart home app.

From there, the possibilities are endless. You can turn your lights on and off individually or as a group, set daily schedules, and adjust the levels, wherever you are.

And when you’re away on holiday you can programme them to come on in a random pattern each evening to make it look like someone’s home.

Give your heating a boost with a smart thermostat

Whether you’re planning a small smart home design project or looking to update every room in your home, a smart thermostat is another good investment.

Unlike a conventional thermostat, a smart thermostat can be controlled from your smartphone, tablet or even with your voice. It gives you lots more options for managing your heating, from controlling the heat in different parts of your home to receiving reminders if you’ve left it on.

Switch to smart plugs

Smart plugs may not seem like the sexiest bit of smart tech. But they are incredibly useful, allowing you to control your existing appliances straight from your smartphone.

You can use them to control stuff remotely like lamps. Or to set schedules so things will turn on automatically, like your kettle or coffee machine in the morning.

Get your home working seamlessly around you with smart motion sensors

Moving a little bit beyond the basics, smart motion sensors are a great way to make your smart tech even smarter. They’re the same as the sensors you get in your alarm system, except instead of setting off a siren, they can trigger actions in your other smart devices around your home.

For instance, you could position a motion sensor by your front door and link it to your smart lights upstairs. Schedule it to only come on when you’re out. Then if anyone gets into your house it will automatically turn the lights on, disturbing an intruder and making them think someone’s home.

With Hive, this is all done through Hive Actions. It doesn’t cost anything and it’s easy to set up with a few taps on the Hive app.

Hands-free control with smart speakers

Finally on this whistle stop tour through smart home interior design, more and more smart technology can be controlled with your voice via smart speakers like Amazon Echo and Google Home.

This really does take it up a notch: you can ask Alexa to turn on the lights as you walk in with the shopping. Or boost the heating when you’re curled up on the sofa. What’s more, anyone can do it, even without a smart home app.

Keen to get started?

Check out our Starter Pack. It comes with all the kit you need to get your lighting and appliances just right from wherever you are.

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