Looking Back (and Forward!) at the Evolution of Home Technology
Reliable Home Improvement has completed high-end and luxury home remodeling projects for more than 50 years, with evolved home technologies in mind. As homes become more high-tech and connected, we adapt our designs to incorporate the latest technology trends, save space, and design for the modern lifestyle.
To celebrate new and exciting “smart” home technologies, let’s rewind the clock and take a look at the tech that has changed our homes the most throughout the past 6 decades.
The 1960s: Appliances to Shout About and New Kitchen Trends
Homeowners in the 1960s were excited about the advancements in their appliances – so much so, that they became a bigger part of their overall home aesthetic. Additionally, kitchens were high on the priority list for homemakers, and many technology innovations focused on upgrading this space.
- Home Appliances on Display: During the 1960s, home appliances gained popularity for more than just assisting homemakers with domestic tasks. Many consumers would display their home appliances in lounge areas rather than keeping them out of sight in the kitchen or laundry room.
- The Self-Cleaning Oven: General Electric introduced the first self-cleaning oven in 1963.
- The Through-The-Door Refrigerator: At the end of the decade, refrigerators started to emerge with a new feature: through-the-door water and ice dispensers.
The 1960s showed product designers how excited consumers were about new technology trends that make household chores simple and efficient. Convenient, time-saving appliances remain a huge success today!
The 1970s: Space-Saving Designs and Home Automation
Moving into the 1970s, homeowners were drawn to technology that could fit creatively into the space they had available and found value in tech that could help them control their homes. Homeowners now had more options available around appliances and technology.
- The Over-the-Range Microwave: Saving space became a priority for consumers, and the first over-the-range microwave ovens landed on the market.
- The VCR Debut: Before there was DVR, the VCR improved home entertainment by leaps and bounds, by enabling viewers to schedule TV around their lives and not vice versa. Our television sets are often the focal points of living room design, and the VCR only led to increased consumption.
- Appliance Communication: The advent of appliance communication was in the 1970s when the X10 protocol was invented by Pico Electronics. It was now possible to control lamps, appliances, and even record players wirelessly from a single command console, over radio frequencies.
Home automation had begun, and an influx of new technology solutions were on their way in the coming decades.
The 1980s: Saving Energy and Computers at Home
Home technology became increasingly popular in the 1980s. Homeowners embraced as many “smart” solutions as they could afford, in order to keep up with their neighbors.
- Energy & Time Efficiency: Major appliances now came with energy and time-saving features. Refrigerators would “beep” if the door was left open, dishwashers knew when to start on their own, and microwaves would report voice messages, for example.
- Home Computers: Computers became more commonplace, and some residents even had them in their homes. Some families created home office spaces like those we have today.
- The “Smart Home”: The National Association of Homebuilders coined the term “Smart Home”. Popular culture made new smart home technology soar, and the drive for improved convenience continued.
Home renovators started to consider which home tech trends to include in their remodels, to appeal to new buyers. The 1980s sparked a desire to keep up to date with the latest and greatest in home technology trends.
The 1990s: Wi-Fi and Independent Living Technology
In the 1990s, homeowners began to rely more on technology in the home to complete their daily activities. Homeowners were keen to invest in technology that would improve their lifestyles.
- Wi-Fi: Throughout the 1990s, wireless Internet became faster and more commonplace in family homes. The ability to connect computers and other devices throughout the home opened up new possibilities in design, as they were no longer tethered to home wiring.
- Gerontechnology: In-home assistive technology for elderly residents became more popular and enabled independent living. Devices that could alert family members of an emergency at home were outfitted with assistive mechanisms for mobility. Independence with the assistance of technology was a concept that blossomed throughout the 90s.
- Environmentally Friendly Washers: In the late 1990s “front-loaders” became popular among new homeowners, who saved an estimated 40% in energy and 60% in water with their new machines.
21st Century: Smart Home Technology Keeps Us Connected
Moving into the 21st century, homeowners started personalizing their homes with smart home technologies, for everything from entertainment to security. Having a fully connected home is not only on-trend, it’s essential for many modern lifestyles.
- Connected Appliances: Today, homeowners are connected to appliances in their homes via their smartphones or tablets. Thermostats, washers and dryers, refrigerators, pet feeders, and so many more home appliances are controlled wirelessly.
- Security Systems: Residents have far more control over their home security while they’re away, with smart security systems. Smartphone apps can allow you to lock your doors from anywhere and monitor activity, whether to check on a sleeping baby or find out what lights were left on and when.
- Voice Assistants: Today, people can simply talk to their voice assistants to turn on music, start the dishwasher, flip the lights or even communicate the weather for the day. Having your home connected to a central voice assistant makes managing your home easy. Voice assistance can also make a home more accessible and enable aging in place.
Here at Reliable Home Improvement, we have seen a lot of exciting technology influence our designs for homeowners and homebuyers over the last 50 years. Technological development isn’t slowing down and we are excited to see what the future holds.
We design home remodels and additions with home technology trends in mind, and communicate with you about your current and goal lifestyle to inform our designs. With an understanding of home tech trends, we can make better use of space and come up with innovative solutions to improve your home for your unique needs.
Contact the professionals at Reliable Home Improvement to see how we can design your home to make it the best space for you.