2016 home tech trends that will change how you live
Forget boxy and boring designs, not to mention wires. The latest portable Bluetooth speakers are attractive in design, and let you listen to tunes from anywhere in the home, effortlessly streaming from a mobile device or computer. With the Bose SoundTouch 10, guests can easily connect and play back songs from their own device playlists as well. If you use Spotify, station control will soon be integrated into the Bose SoundTouch app providing instant connection between the music service to your home. The unit is minimalist in design, with playback and six preset buttons on the top for one-touch access to your favourite tunes, from soothing jazz to upbeat pop. Bose SoundTouch 10, Bose, $219.99.
While they’re personal devices by definition, tracking activity and delivering smartphone notifications, did you know that many smartwatches can control tech gear in the home as well? For example, you can use the sleek Samsung Gear S2 to control music playback on your smartphone. The company is even developing integrations that allow your watch to connect to other home gear and even cars. Through a partnership with BMW, you may soon be able to check your vehicle’s battery status and control its navigation system through the watch, and then some. Samsung Gear S2, Best Buy, $399.
Believe it or not, security cameras can be sexy. Well, their functionality is certainly appealing – being able to monitor your home while you’re away and alert you if anything is amiss. Looking at it, you’d never know the Canary wireless indoor HD IP camera is such a device. But it can stealthily keep watch of the home, and record motion detection. It can even learn to discern between an active pet and an actual intruder. Canary All-in-One Security Wireless Indoor DH IP Camera, Best Buy, $270.79.
When it comes to heating and cooling, there are arguably two main concerns: regulating the temperature (especially when you’re away) and saving money in your home. With the Nest Smart Thermostat, you can remotely control temperature, set an “away” temperature that kicks in when it senses you aren’t home, and have it learn your daily habits over time to adjust accordingly. Maybe you leave for work every morning at 9 a.m. and it will drop the heat a few degrees until about 4 p.m., when it kicks it up a degree or two in anticipation of your arrival back home. And is there anything better than being greeted by a warm and cozy home? Nest Smart Thermostat, Nest, $249.
Winter may have only just begun, but we’re already longingly anticipating the return of the warm weather months. And there’s a growing trend toward bringing your tech outdoors. Luckily, there are lots of neat ways to do it, like with Mipow’s Playbulb Garden, a solar and battery-powered light that hides surreptitiously in your garden, secured in the ground through the included stake. Control it from your smartphone, and customize it by choosing from 16.7 million colours to suit your mood or occasion. Since it’s water and weatherproof, there’s no need to wait for summer – you can create a winter wonderland of lights while you build a snowman, too! Playbulb Garden light, Mipow, $39.99.
Imagine a device that will make the coffee for you in the morning or slow cook a meal on your behalf. Yes, it actually exists. Among many items compatible with the Belkin WeMo smart device system is a selection of small appliances, like the Mr. Coffee 10-cup Smart Optimal Brew Coffeemaker. Plug it in, download the app, then set a schedule and monitor your brew status right from a smartphone. WeMo Home Automation small appliances, Belkin, prices vary.
Who watches a TV show when it’s actually on anymore? Binge-watching is all the rage and made possible thanks to streaming services like Netflix, Shomi and CraveTV. Plus, devices like the Apple TV or Google Chromecast make it easy to push the content to the big screen if you don’t have a smart TV. With the latest version of the Apple TV, you can even use Siri voice commands to call up programs. Ask it to “find The Mindy Project,” or to search for any movie with actor Chris Hemsworth – all without lifting a finger! Apple TV, Apple Store, starting at $149.
TVs are now welcome focal points in the living room rather than an eyesore. We can thank the latest in sleek flat-screen TVs for their gorgeously detailed display, from television shows to sports, along with photo slideshows, or even works of art. In 2016, we’re going to see more televisions with amped up design characteristics, including sexy, curved bezels. Plus, technologies like 4K and OLED, which promise brighter, bolder, more detailed pictures with higher resolution, like LG’s 65” 65EG9600 OLED TV. LG 65” OLED TV, Best Buy, $4,999.98.
Facilitating the devices and technologies noted on this list requires a super-fast router. Google aims not only to provide lightning speed service with its OnHub router, but also make it ultra-easy for technophobes to set up. Settings and status can be managed from an Android or iOS app. But the best part? You can grant someone remote access (maybe your tech-savvy son or friend) to help troubleshoot connectivity issues. OnHub, OnHub, $199.99 - $219.99.
Not only can you control home lighting from your smartphone, but you can also set the mood through a number of shades and colours: a subtle red for a romantic dinner, or soft blue for late-night quiet reading time. With Philips Hue wireless LED bulbs, you can even take a photo of a piece of furniture in your home, like your couch or kitchen table, and match the bulb’s colour to it. Up to 50 bulbs can be connected to a single bridge and grouped together (build-your-own chandelier, anyone?), or place single bulbs throughout the home. Philips Hue White Starter Kit, Philips Hue, $199.
Transform an old chair with a simple coat of paint!
Rustic or sleek? Get the best of both worlds by painting part of an old chair in a bold new hue.
Who says a split personality has to be a bad thing? For this issue's project, managing editor and resident crafter Catherine Therrien blends weathered vintage charm with smooth sophistication by colour-blocking this chair.
1 Before you start, make sure the chair is free of any dirt or flaking paint.
2 Find the chair's quarter or halfway mark and tape it off with painter's tape.
3 Give the taped-off section a good coat of primer; let it fully dry.
4 Apply two coats of paint to the primed area, letting it dry between coats.
How to: Paint outdoor furniture
When undertaking a DIY project, there are usually a few things to consider. Add tempermental weather to the list and suddenly that little list has multiplied. How do you prepare your furniture for painting? What type of paint do you use? How does it differ for different types of material?
Though the process of painting outdoor furniture may seem daunting now, the best way to go about a DIY job is to be prepared. We talked to an expert at Canadian Tire to do just that. Michael Bache, Category Business Manager at Canadian Tire, shares his prepping and painting how tos to help put your DIY nerves at ease.
1 What supplies will you need for prepping and painting?
Depending on the state of the furniture (e.g. new wood, old plastic, painted metal, painted wood) and the type of paint chosen, a variety of items should be considered.
If using brush-on paint, consider using a primer before applying a new fresh coat of colour. When priming your furniture, make sure to use a good quality paintbrush and rags or drop cloths for clean-up. However, if you're using Krylon® Fusion™ no primer is required.
If repainting a metal or wood surface that has loose peeling paint, it must be removed for best adhesion. You can use sandpaper, steel wool, wire brush, scraper, or a stripper. You may require a tack cloth to clean up dust residue when sanding. If sanding a latex paint, a simple damp rag will work just fine.
2 Do these steps differ when prepping different materials, such as metal, plastic, wicker or wood?
Yes. Some products don't require primer, saving you a prep step. Using an aerosol is a benefit, too, as you also save a step in the prep. It generally dries faster and doesn't require clean-up since no paint brushes are involved. Even better, aerosols tend to give a factory style, air brush finish when applied properly, as opposed to a brush-on paint.
Bare wood generally requires a primer to seal the wood prior to painting as the surface is porous. The primer is used to provide a nice, smooth finish. Krylon Dual saves a step on both bare wood and metal since it primes and paints in one easy step. This saves time and allows people to have more time enjoying their furniture and less time prepping it!
3 What type of paint should you use for outdoor furniture?
Always follow the directions on the label for specific product use. This will ensure proper adhesion to your surface.
Plastic patio furniture should only have a paint specifically designed to adhere to plastic and hard-to-bond surfaces. Many general purpose paints can adhere to most surfaces except plastic.
For wicker or rattan, spray paints tend to make a nicer finish and easily gets into the grooves. Muskoka chairs are also easier to paint when using an aerosol as opposed to a paint brush. Now there's even an aerosol wood stain by Krylon. Spray stains make fast work of Muskoka chairs and planters - no brushes to clean up either.
5 What about rust prevention?
Paint designed especially for metal surfaces tends to add rust protection into the paint - make sure the paint says "rust proofing" or "rust inhibiting".
As our climate changes, U.V. rays are also a consideration - they're hard on our skin and our exterior patio furniture! Some paints actually have U.V. protection in their paint. This will help protect your finish to resist harsh weather conditions. We suggest storing patio furniture during the fall and winter months when not in use. If space is a problem, a variety of covers and tarps are available to help protect your investment.
6 What are the best painting methods to use?
Much of this is personal preference. However, some surfaces, like wicker and rattan, have a nicer finish when sprayed versus brushing.
7 What kind of finish, if any, should you use?
Most paint companies offer a variety of finishes to choose from - satin, gloss, textured, metallic, hammered, and more. As long as you use an appropriate paint for your exterior surface and follow the instructions, you should achieve the finish you want. The really nice thing about the variety of paints and finishes available is that people can turn "garage sale finds" into treasures. Mixing and matching old and new creates a different and personalized patio set.
8 How many coats should you use
Follow the instructions on the can, however many paints suggest two coats. When painting remember this rule of thumb: Thinner coats are better than thicker coats. Thinner coats dry faster and produce a harder finish.
9 What should you look for in a brush?
Is it the right paint brush for your paint? Oil-based paints generally have different bristles than latex paints. The brush label will specify this.
Is the paint brush the right size to do your project? If you are painting furniture, smaller brushes may be better. Ensure it fits into your paint container.
A roller can be great for large flat surfaces, like a tabletop. This can help reduce brush marks, too!
10 How does climate affect the painting process?
Weather is a big factor. For the most part, if you're getting a sunburn and sweating, it's probably too hot to paint. This will cause the paint to dry too fast. If it's too windy and you're using an aerosol paint, your paint may dissipate before it reaches the surface. Either wait for the wind to die down or use cardboard to build a spray tunnel. Humidity can affect the paint's dry time, which leaves more time for surface imperfections to take place on your finish. In general, 21ºC and about 50% humidity are ideal conditions for painting.
12 Any last tips?
Remember to protect other surfaces if working outside by using masking tape and drop cloths. Most importantly, regardless of your project, remember to always read product labels thoroughly and follow directions.
A wooden dresser transforms into an ultra-stylish statement piece.
Put your DIY skills to the test with these simple and stylish IKEA furniture transformations.
Style at Home's talented design team puts their own unique spin on IKEA's VITTSJÖ nesting-style coffee table with three personality-packed rooms to match.
Discover how all three looks came together and how you can create the same look in your home.
We created a customized office desk for this cozy home office nook.
Using IKEA's ALEX desktop you can create the same look at home.
A simple DIY project dramatically transforms a regular wooden dresser into a luxe piece of furniture on a budget.
Using IKEA's TARVA three-drawer chest get this look at home.
Glam up a plain pendant light with a coat of gold spray paint.
Using IKEA's HEKTAR pendant light get the step-by-step instructions here.
Add some stylish storage to your space with this gorgeous do-it-yourself cabinet featured in our high/low: chic dressing room.
Using IKEA's SEKTION wall cabinet get the step-by-step instructions here.
Create your own free-standing island like the one featured in our Parisian-style kitchen. This budget-friendly accessory can be customized to suit your style while adding an extra prep area to any size space.
Using IKEA's KARPALUND base get the step-by-step instructions here.