Alexa, start my oven and set the temperature to 350 degrees. Show me a picture of the inside of my refrigerator so I can start grocery shopping from my phone. Turn on the air conditioning at 4 p.m., set the dishwasher for a normal wash cycle and give the robot vacuum a quick spin.

“Consumers will soon find Alexa and other Smart Home products in every corner their living space, all available with the touch of an app,” says Lisa Tobias, president of the Tobias Design Company in Hopewell, New Jersey. Experts in interior kitchen and bathroom design and cabinetry, Lisa and her team recently returned from the Kitchen and Bath International Show. Known for showcasing the hottest trends and technological advances, this year’s KBIS featured ground-breaking new products that can be seamlessly integrated to cover every appliance from state-of-the-art refrigerators to virtual doorbells. “We will soon be able to manage all aspects of our residences via a smart phone that links home computer systems with every appliance and device,” she notes.

“These advances are experiences that will change the way we approach home management, from sustainability and security to cooking and personal care,” Lisa Tobias maintains. Although many features such as alarms and lighting can now be controlled remotely, the new systems combine the most sophisticated technology with design features that raise the bar aesthetically while providing precise, effort-saving features that enhance any home-based activity.

Exciting new design trends combine beauty with efficiency. In the kitchen, beautifully crafted cabinets conceal refrigerators customized to meet the client’s needs with more freezer space, uniform temperature and pull-out drawers. Stoves feature convection ovens, built-in thermometers and induction stove tops that quickly change temperature so water comes to a boil in record time and burners cool down quickly. Faucets are designed to avoid accidents and the spread of bacteria, with temperature controls and voice activation. LED lights appear in refrigerators, ovens and even washing machines.

No need to reach for the top shelf of a cabinet. A new device lets family members easily pull down the shelves. And say goodbye to neutrals in the kitchen – today’s appliances and cabinets feature bold yellows, deep blues, rich reds and the top trending color, Evergreen.

The new technology will transform life for everyone but especially for seniors and those with disabilities, as an aging population demands safer, more attractive options. Utilitarian grab bars are being replaced by handsome rails of burnished metals and placed in tubs, showers and alongside toilets that also function as bidets. Shower benches of wood, stone or tile add to the aesthetic of a shower while enhancing safety and comfort. The Tobias team recently designed a bathroom that included a curbless and enlarged shower entry, to accommodate a wheelchair. Sinks and counters are at wheelchair level with ample knee space underneath.

“As more innovative Smart Home products are developed, the more important it will be to integrate those functions and control them from one device,” says Lisa Tobias. “Creative design will be key in realizing the full potential of this lifestyle revolution, and at Tobias Design, we embrace that challenge.”

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