Interiors
Sep 9, 2015

House tour: Victorian design meets cutting edge technology

By: Helen Racanelli

House tour: Victorian design meets cutting edge technology Author: Style At Home

Interiors
Sep 9, 2015

House tour: Victorian design meets cutting edge technology

By: Helen Racanelli


When you build a brand-new home, it’s relatively easy to make it “connected” from inception. You can install strategically placed USB ports instead of typical wall plug outlets, or hide wires behind walls from the start, or even add front doors that can be opened and locked with the tap of an app. But with today’s technology, old homes can be retrofitted and renovated to be just as “wireless”.  Take, for instance, Toronto couple Lucia Graca and Jeffrey Remedios. This creative pair has managed to create a truly connected home in their 130-year-old downtown Victorian house that incorporates smart renovations and some of the best home tech gadgets on the market.

In this dynamic duo’s household, Lucia, the owner and photographer of Analogue Gallery, a dedicated music photography gallery says that it’s actually Jeffrey who is the tech devotee. Jeffrey is the President and Chief Executive Officer of Universal Music Canada, but when he’s not at work, you might find him researching new gadgets and technology. “Every week he comes back with something new, I have to drag him out of the Apple store!” jokes Lucia.

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House tour: Victorian design meets cutting edge technology

Their old-but-new house

“We’ve been here a year-and-a-half, and moved in at Christmas,” says Lucia. Instead of gutting the house in one shot, they’re gradually improving it. “We’ve been slowly renovating things,” she says of the tall, narrow Victorian home common to Toronto. “There are high ceilings. Lots of history and character,” she says.

By: Helen Racanelli Source: Justin Harrington Credits: Style at Home

House tour: Victorian design meets cutting edge technology

The Nest

“The Nest was the first thing we got, and that was the start of the slippery slope,” Lucia says. “We’d rented a house that had a Nest,” which turned them on to the idea. “We got the Nest [thermostat], and the Nest smoke alarm and carbon monoxide monitor. If you’re cooking, it will talk to you. It sends you texts!” Lucia also loves the Nest thermostat. The great thing about having a smart thermostat is when is you go on holiday, you can use your iPhone to put the heat up so your house will warm by the time you get home, she says. “It’s nice in a tall house,” she says. “Our bedroom is the top floor, in the middle of the night, you can roll over and change the temperature from your phone.” The Nest also senses when you’re awake and when you’re sleeping, and adjusts the temperatures accordingly.

By: Helen Racanelli Source: Justin Harrington Credits: Style at Home

House tour: Victorian design meets cutting edge technology

Philips Hue light bulbs

Jeffrey and Lucia use also Philips Hue wireless light bulbs and lighting strips. “There are light strips, we put them above the closet or shelves and you can make them any colour,” she says. The couple has an outdoor light that’s also on the Hue system. “We can change the colour of it, it’s on a timer, and it knows to go on and off. We made it red for Canada Day, and green for St. Paddy’s Day,” she says. They control the Hue bulbs through their iPhones, and can dim them too.

By: Helen Racanelli Source: Justin Harrington Credits: Style at Home

House tour: Victorian design meets cutting edge technology

Apple + apps to help

“We use an app called SmartThings to control most of the technology. I can change the temperature, ceiling fan strength, and all the music in the house,” Lucia says of the do-it-all app. Other iPhone apps they use are the proprietary ones for the sound system, Sonos, the August door lock, the Philips lighting, and the Nest system, but mostly SmartThings has a dashboard type app that controls nearly everything. The couple are big Apple product users. Lucia uses an iPhone 6. And both have MacBooks and iPads, and Apple TVs. It’s not just because the technology is slick looking and highly functional, but for creative types, Apple products are a necessity, they say. For instance, Lucia does her photo editing on Mac.

By: Helen Racanelli Source: Justin Harrington Credits: Style at Home

House tour: Victorian design meets cutting edge technology

Sonos

Both Lucia and Jeffrey work in the music industry, so a natural necessity in their home is an amazing sound system. They love the Sonos, which they have in every room in the house, even the bathroom. “I love the Sonos because I have music playing on it, and you can play podcasts, Songza, and the radio,” Lucia says. If you have multiple Sonos speakers in the house, it knows which room you are in and will play the music on the device you’re nearest.

By: Helen Racanelli Source: Justin Harrington Credits: Style at Home

House tour: Victorian design meets cutting edge technology

August smart lock

A really handy addition to the house is the August Smart Lock on the front door. “From outside you can use the key, on the inside there’s a mechanism and you can open the door remotely. If I’m at work and I need to let in the dog walker or cleaning lady, I can unlock and lock it remotely using my iPhone. I can let myself in if I don’t have my keys. It’s great when you’re away,” Lucia says.

By: Helen Racanelli Source: Justin Harrington Credits: Style at Home

House tour: Victorian design meets cutting edge technology

Hiding wires

“With wires, almost everything is well hidden,” Lucia says. “Jeffrey has a cord hider, and it consolidates cords and we hide them behind furniture,” she adds. The couple has been tackling renovations slowly. “Where we could, we renovated,” for instance, the bathroom vanity holds a power source so the electric toothbrush is concealed out of sight. Elsewhere in the house, Jeffrey added USB outlets “so we don’t have those white blocks everywhere,” says Lucia of the block-style chargers that come with devices like iPads and iPhones.

By: Helen Racanelli Source: Justin Harrington Credits: Style at Home

House tour: Victorian design meets cutting edge technology

The smart house real-talk

“I’m not naturally a tech person, I was like, ‘I don’t want this at home’,” says Lucia. “Sometimes I think, is my house smarter than me? And yes, my house is smarter than me. I have had moments where I can’t figure it out and it’s like the house has a life of its own. But then there are moments where it’s so lovely, especially for security purposes. The Sonos and the Nest are my favourites. When you’re freezing cold and headed home, and you can make it toasty before you get there [remotely, with your iPhone app], that’s so nice.”  

By: Helen Racanelli Source: Justin Harrington Credits: Style at Home

 
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Interiors

House tour: Victorian design meets cutting edge technology