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Today’s modern home renovations use the latest and greatest technologies to make life easy, accessible, and luxurious. While clean lines are often the hallmark of modern renovations, smart, integrated, and green are a big part of the new picture. According to respondents at the 2014 International Builder’s Show, the top components homeowners want in a modern home are, in order:

  • walk-in closets
  • “low-e” heat-reflecting windows
  • laundry rooms
  • great rooms
  • Energy-Star rated appliances
  • programmable thermostats

Other priorities include indoor/outdoor living spaces, open floor plans, multi-use rooms, and accommodations for multi-generational living. While a lot of these renovation “must-haves” sound familiar, new products and materials are transforming homes in ways never seen before. Here, we’ll look at just some of the most exciting developments in modern home remodeling. As many of the coolest innovations are for the kitchen, we’ll save those for a separate, dedicated post.

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High-tech Home Automation and Integrated Solutions

Technology is everywhere in the modern home. Just as our cell phones have become portable computers, appliances are using smart technology to save time, energy, and money. And those smart phones are playing a key role, as many new appliances, heating/cooling systems, and home security options have apps that allow you to access and program your home from anywhere.

These apps let you record your favorite program, turn up the thermostat, and even get dinner or the laundry started. Many new appliances come with energy monitors—“smart meters”—that help you understand and control your gas, electric, and water consumption, as well as associated costs. Even some light bulbs now come equipped with computer chips.

Technology is playing a bigger role in home safety, too. You can lock or unlock your doors via computer, tablet or phone app; video doorbells turn on security cameras automatically; and there’s a faucet with a digital temperature readout that can provide protection against scalds.

There are new ways to keep your technology powered: charging drawers and stations are giving way to electrical outlets with built-in USB ports. Coming soon: a countertop with embedded wireless phone chargers. Energy-efficient LED lighting is being embedded in everything from mirrors to appliances to closet rods. LEDs even let you choose the color and brightness of the light.

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Going Green

Green ideas are prominent in modern home renovations. Earth-friendly materials avoid formaldehyde and other toxic glues and finishes. Reclaimed wood and surfaces that feature recycled materials are showing up in all kinds of decorative and building products.

A qualified design professional can help you plan your renovation to maximize energy efficiency and sustainable design. When going green, bigger isn’t necessarily better, and great design is essential for making space work efficiently and effectively.

Greening your home means updating the mechanics with energy-efficient models. The latest HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) systems save both energy and money. Tankless water heaters use 50 percent less energy and provide an endless supply of hot water only when you need it. New “smart glass” windows measure the amount of heat and light throughout the day and adjust automatically. You can even replace traditional shingles with solar (photovoltaic) ones that collect energy from the sun to supplement electricity.

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Comfort and Convenience

Good modern renovations should make our busy lives more comfortable and convenient. New products are being developed constantly, like mirrors that read your blood pressure or convert to an LCD TV at the touch of a button. Innovative design, like curbless, doorless showers mean you never have to clean that glass door again. Washers and dryers with steam cycles cut down or eliminate wrinkles, so no more ironing. Vacuum baseboards let you sweep crumbs away for good in one stroke.

You can bring the outdoors in with new accordion glass doors that expand your useable living space. Two-sided fireplaces allow you to enjoy a cozy fire from two rooms at the same time. Spacious rec rooms can be outfitted with the latest in gaming and home theater equipment to make family time fun for everyone. In short, with a little imagination, a modern home renovation will make your home the very best it can be.

Stay tuned for more on modern kitchen renovations.