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Interior Design

ARE SMART HOMES STUPID?  How to make sure your home is truly the smartest  

“‘Smart’ homes are like people - sometimes the ones that seem most flashy and impressive, turn out to be actually quite dumb if you live with them every day.”



Our ethos at Studio Dean is always to plan every last detail around making your life beautiful, every day. This includes only adding in smart solutions where they will genuinely make your life easier. We will never ‘go smart’ for the sake of it. An ill-thought out smart solution will probably not be used to its full advantage, making it a shiny waste of money.  


In fact, in some situations, ‘stupid’ or ‘dumb’ homes are the best option. Where a simple lighting, heating and sound system will do perfectly well, adding in a smart solution for the sake of it will be more hassle than it’s worth and not cost-effective. If you try to run your home like a commercial building with smart solutions, you will end up needing a commercial manager who understands the system on hand at all times.   

On the other hand, sometimes it is annoying and messy to have different switches for different things all over the house and after decades of rewiring, often in impractical places. This is where a smart solution can help.  


In our opinion, the smartest solution of all is to create a bespoke hybrid solution for your unique space and personal lifestyle, and keep it as simple as possible. When done well, smart solutions can work fantastically and improve your day to day life.  

CEO & Founder, Cathy Dean


To do this, we look at how you use your lighting, sound, blinds etc 24/7/365 through all scenarios, from cooking dinner, to hosting a dinner party, to curling up in bed with a book. For example, while cooking, you might like lots of light , and your music playing in the kitchen. When your guests start arriving, you might want ambient lighting and different music playing quietly throughout the house. We figure out what combinations you need for which situations, and then install wall pads to control them, often with simple pictures depicting combinations for different situations. The good thing about wall pads is that they don’t require rewiring like light switches, so if you find you need one next to your bed, we can simply add one in.  


The days of going too far with smart homes are coming to an end, and people are rejecting the concept and making a return to ‘dumb homes’ for simplicity. We believe there is a sweet spot between the two, which suits each home perfectly.  


Often, we recommend being relatively ‘smart downstairs’ and ‘stupid upstairs’ (and yes, this setup is also often found in people). Often your downstairs life is far more complex than upstairs. Downstairs is where life happens in all its splendid variations of cooking, eating, playing, entertaining, partying, lounging, working, etc. Upstairs, we tend to either wash, dress or sleep. This means that smart solutions will save time and faff downstairs, but upstairs a few simple, old fashioned light switching may do just fine.  


One smart thing that can work really well downstairs is your sound system. Again, the level of investment will be different depending on your lifestyle, such as, are you a professional musician, or do you like singing along to Adele at the top of your lungs while you chop the veg? This will all be worked out in our planning stage, where we discuss your lifestyle and habits. The wireless age we live in has enabled us to hide speakers away in all sorts of clever spaces. Once we know where you will usually sit while watching TV or listening to music, we can place the speakers within bespoke furniture or paneling so there will be no big ugly speakers on show. 


There are a few functions where it pays to be smart upstairs however, and one is blinds. Note, I say blinds not curtains. For us, blinds are functional, they shut out the light. Curtains are aesthetic to add layers of texture and softness and deaden sound, so we often install both blinds and curtains. If you wish to manage light levels automatically, smart blinds upstairs are ideal. Also, we always provide the most cost effective solutions, and the cost difference to add in smart curtains instead of blinds is between £2,000 to £6,000 so unless it is going to change your life, we won’t recommend it. Your upstairs can remain super stupid and you can still just add in smart blinds only – it's totally possible to pick and choose.  


Lastly, installing a smart touchpad by your bed is a great idea, so you can hit one simple button to make sure everything is switched off before you sleep.  

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