How I Turned My Old-School Apartment Into A High-Tech Smart Home

It's seriously life-changing.

How I Turned My Old-School Apartment Into A High-Tech Smart Home
Photographed by Ana Kamin.

I have written quite a bit about smart homes. As an editor at a shelter mag based in San Francisco, it's inevitable. We are surrounded by new developments in technology that make it easier to perform easy daily tasks without lifting a finger. Now while I never could be separated from my iPhone, I haven't made any effort to have a smart home for myself. It's not like I'm anti-tech, per se. I just didn't feel like I needed it in my life. Well, until I actually tried it.

About a month ago, I got a Google Home Mini. This first foray into smart tech was a little scary for me. I didn't necessarily like the idea that a computer was listening to me at all times (but then again, I sometimes have random ads pop up on my phone that relate to something I was talking about IRL so it's not like it wasn't happening already). I plugged in the little device, linked up my accounts, and said my first, "Hey Google."

I was surprised at how quickly and easily it would respond to my questions or commands. Playing music from the small, yet powerful speaker is as simple as telling the device to blast my favorite playlist. My face masks are always done properly because I ask Google to set a timer. It can even give me updates on how long my commute will be or answer questions about random facts I ponder while going about my day. I know these things can simply be done by popping onto my phone, but there really is something about the ease of each action that takes just a little bit of stress out of my day.

How I Turned My Old-School Apartment Into A High-Tech Smart Home
Photographed by Ana Kamin.

I decided to go the next step in my home tech journey and install a smart plug. One of the most minor (but seriously annoying) things I deal with is lighting in my bedroom. My fixture is really bright, so when I come back to my bedroom to watch Netflix, read, or just get into my bed at the end of the night, I have to walk to the other side of the room to turn on my table lamp, then walk back around my bed to turn off the overhead bulbs, and then walk to the other side again. It's not a huge inconvenience, but it does add an extra 15 seconds to my evening routine.

So I decided to put a tp-link Kasa Smart Plug in the outlet that I use for my table lamp and sync it up to my Google Home Mini. All I have to say is, "Hey Google, turn on the lamp," and the light automatically clicks on. I can't even begin to tell you how this has changed my life. It's so small, but it's so revolutionary. First, I no longer have to do a nightly parade around my bedroom. Second, when I'm already half-asleep under my covers, I can just tell Google to turn the light off. That simple action puts a smile on face practically every time I do it.

I know, I know. I look like the laziest millennial ever that's putting us on the path to a robot-controlled world. But... as much as technology can cause stress on our lives, these devices have made everything a little bit easier. The minutiae of tasks that build up your anxiety are gone with a simple voice command. Sure, I don't need to have a smart home and I can totally live without it. But if it adds a little self-care to my routine, I'm happy to break open my wallet for it.

I am Lonny's Senior Associate Editor. You can find me writing about interior tips, scouting out the coolest new spots, and rallying behind amazing female entrepreneurs. You can reach me at shelby.wax@livingly.com or on Instagram @shelbywax.
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