TV and film could easily lead one to believe that the modern home is
loaded with enough high-tech, glossy amenities to make the Jetsons
envious. Yet for all the world’s technological advancements, home
designers say Milwaukee’s high-end property owners are striving to
preserve a more traditional aesthetic.
Make no mistake
— integrating new technologies into the home has become a critical
facet of homebuilding and remodeling. In our ever-connected lives, it’s
inevitable that technology is being incorporated into all spaces of the
home. It’s simply a sign of the times, says Lissa Rolenc, a principal
interior designer and president of ASID Wisconsin.
ceramic and wood floors, and antediluvian features such as stone
fireplaces are blended with the sleek gadgets and smart systems that are
now in our homes. It’s a clashing of the centuries that has resulted
in houses that are lower maintenance, more efficient and increasingly
technology is changing how we study, plan family time and activities,
and interact as a family," Rolenc says. "From where our
devices will be recharged, connected or have the best access to wireless
routers, to everything from lighting, music, family calendars and
entertainment — it’s all attached to a smart TV, tablet or phone.
Having everything at your fingertips no matter where you are in the home
systems — like the popular NEST system — haven’t quite caught fire
in the Milwaukee marketplace, that is expected to change when the
millennial set fully enter the housing market and demand the convenience
of programs like thermostat settings powered by smartphones.
has gone beyond entertainment. Today’s families may include children
who need Wi-Fi to complete their homework, or a parent who works from
home and uses technology to monitor the family schedule and bills.
Even before the
drywall is put up in a new home, the prevalence of technology is already
present, with more sophisticated and structured electrical wiring to
support modern families’ Internet, cable, satellite, sound and other
systems, says David Pekel, NARI chairman of the board and president of
Pekel Construction & Remodeling in Milwaukee.
on the first floor of your home, and you go to your kitchen or to your
den you can listen to the same music," says Pekel. "With
structured wiring, we’re trying to centralize all of this ‘componentry.’
People don’t want technology spread out all over the place."
says family and comfort rule the roost.
In the bathroom,
amenities such as heated floors, towel and toilet seat warmers are
taking hold, along with music systems and flatscreen televisions. While
double showerheads seem to be on their way out ("You practically
need a scuba suit for the water coming at you from all the
directions," Pekel jokes), double sinks remain standard — if not
for the luxury of having two sinks, for the countertop real estate they
A similar dilemma
in the kitchen is being solved by removing gadgets entirely and placing
them in an expanded pantry, says Joe Orendorf, president of MBA and
owner of Orendorf Custom Homes in Hartland. The move not only keeps
clutter out of sight, but also provides extra cooking prep space.
With so many more
options available, large appliances have moved beyond the standard
eggshell white, black or stainless steel varieties. Bold colors and
brushed finishes are new choices, though Orendorf says Milwaukeeans are
more apt to choose appliances that mirror existing kitchen colors or
conceal the appliances under cabinetry. "In the old days you saw
the buffet, the range and the refrigerator," explains Orendorf.
"Now, it’s both technology and a lot of visual changes. A lot of
stainless steel, a lot of 48-inch freestanding ranges, steamer ovens,
multiple refrigerators and there’s more brands to choose from. You
could choose an Italian range, French door ovens or turbo conduction.
All kinds of different things, even in a more modest type of home."
Ovens with extra
warming drawers and drawer-style dishwashers are also popular appliances
seeing appliances and layouts that cater to diverse schedules within the
house," Pekel explains. "I have a lot of clients that are
eating dinner at 4:30 in the afternoon because of all the activities
after that. But Mom or Dad, or an older child may not be coming home
until 6:30, and they can still come home to a hot meal."
For those rare
moments when a family can come together for a meal, Pekel says they turn
to the dining room, which is experiencing a revival of sorts after long
being converted to home offices and playrooms.
"A lot of
people want to sit down and disconnect and reconnect on a more human
level," Pekel adds.