Smart Home Style Tips With Mark van den Broek from SmartHouse Integration

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Revamping your home into a connected smart house can seem like an intimidating task. You might wonder if the place will end up looking like an eyesore, with wires and gadgets everywhere you look. But as technological advances have been made and device designs have gotten sleeker, this is no longer a huge worry. In fact, adding some smart tech doesn’t have to take away from your home’s style - rather, it can enhance it. 

We recently talked to Mark van den Broek, the Founder and President of Sarasota-based design firm SmartHouse Integration about how you don’t have to sacrifice smarts over style. Mark and his team outfit some of the finest homes across the US with innovative designs and stellar smart home device installations. Here’s what we learned on how to meld cutting-edge technology and aesthetic excellence.

 
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Place devices with intention 

There’s a smart device for everything these days - speakers, lights, remotes - but where are the optimal spots to put these devices? 

“Integrating your systems is really a bunch of black boxes that are in a room somewhere in the home. Our approach to integration is based on the aesthetics of it,” says van den Broek. “We ask ourselves questions like ‘What speakers should we use to fit a design? How do we best introduce a TV to a space? Is it in a cabinet, behind a piece of art, or does it pop up out of a countertop?’” 

For an attractive design layout from the get-go, he advises working with an interior designer early to properly place electronics.

 
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Keep it simple

van den Broek stresses the importance of keeping it simple. “Today’s automation systems work so they can be designed to be very user-friendly. A good system design combined with the manufacturer’s updated product designs gives you a clean look,” he says. You’ll find that everyday smart home items have been up upgraded with new capabilities, and also with fresh looks. That means buying fewer products packed with more functions.


If you’re looking to splurge, van den Broek advises that you spend more money on the products you will interact with the most. These essential items include lighting keypads, touch screens, and remotes. From that list, he specifically recommends the beautiful Lutron Palladiom lighting keypads, the ELAN 8” touchscreen with facial recognition, and the easy-to-use ELAN remote.

 
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Get a professional involved

When you’re creating a smart home, there are two distinct paths to take - DIY and custom integration. If you’re looking for a small DIY transformation, van den Broek suggests starting with a Google Home or Alexa and connecting them with any devices you add from there on. 

If you want to “go big” and really deck your home out in smart gear, van den Broek advises getting a professional involved and going the custom integration route. “If smart integration is done incorrectly, your home will turn into into a source of frustration, which is the last thing you want. Hiring an expert will reduce your frustration-level substantially and you will end up with a system you dreamed about,” he says.

 

No matter what stage you are in your smart home transformation, it’s worth knowing that you don’t have to compromise on keeping your home stylish while integrating new devices. Have you implemented custom integrations in your home, or are you happier going the DIY route? Let us know in the comments.