Is there fear of the Smart Home?

Is there fear of the Smart Home?

What is a Smart Home? By definition it is a home equipped with lighting, heating, and electronic devices that can be controlled remotely by phone or computer. At the recent Kitchen and Bath Industry show (KBIS), Kitchen and bath appliances for the home were featured showing connectivity to communication centers like Home Connect and Alexa. Designers like myself were very excited about these new steps in technology for the home and see the potential of not only making our clients lives easier but also saving time so family and friends can be the priority.

For example, Thermador’s Connected Experience is your gateway to “exceptional culinary experiences.” With the Home Connect app you can control your dishwasher, refrigerator, wine refrigerator or coffee machine, and access a world of culinary inspiration with recipes and product tutorials.  At the show, I asked Alexa to make me a cappuccino. Can you imagine doing that at home? This also would be great for aging hands. Samsung’s family hub incorporates cameras inside your refrigerator to capture images and transmit the images to your smartphone. You then know what to order if you are at the store. Or order directly from your refrigerator panel.  This saves you a trip to the market since your food will be shipped right to your home….Talk about saving time and helping people who are not feeling well. Signature Kitchen Suites True Sommelier App makes wine recommendations, including food and wine pairings based on the wines stored in your collections. Become a real wine expert!

Unlimited personalization possibilities heighten entertaining and cooking at home. But will our clients embrace this technology? There are always budget concerns since these appliances are more expensive than your typical appliances. However, I think budget concerns may be a cloaking devise for a true technology fear.  These systems rely on the Internet connection, Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Questions have come up like, “what if something will happen with the Internet or if your Bluetooth isn’t working?  What if the system fails in the middle of a dishwashing cycle? What if my grocery information gets lost in the hub? These are true fears that our clients, especially the baby boomers are thinking about and maybe they may feel more secure with the typical home versus the smart home.  

Unless there are clear answers to these fears, what is supposed to amplify our lives for the better may turn into a headache that needs constant user attention. We live in a connected world and I think each company should calm the nerves of homeowners with product assistance. I know Thermador offers remote diagnostics within their app when product assistance is needed. However, knowing that there will be a human being on the other end to help may calm the nerves of folks who are on the fence about buying smart home technology. As a designer who believes in innovation, I will not only be speaking to the kitchen and bath brands about human assistance but also educating my clients the benefits of technology in the home outweigh the fears.



I recently went to the KBIS  (Kitchen and Bath Industry Show) as an invited MODENUS #DesignhoundsKBIS Influencer. KBIS has gotten bigger and bigger each year….it featured 600 vendors at the Las Vegas Convention Center this past February.  KBIS is THE kitchen and Bath show in partnership with the NKBA  (National Kitchen and Bath Association). This year proved that kitchen and baths are ever evolving….. 

As a Design Influencer on the KBIS floor, I was in a pack of #Designhounds scouting out the latest cool finds, design trends and inspiration for my own design projects. I really appreciated the opportunity to learn more about our generous sponsors and happily endorse and share some of my fave finds/design trends from KBIS, Caesarstone, LampsPlus, Mr. Steam, Thermador, Thompson Traders, Wellborn Cabinet and more….

And the drumroll for the Design Trends of 2019:


Smart home technology is entering more and more areas of the home with an ease of integration. This ease is being seen in our appliances. Our fridges, ovens, coffee machines, wine columns are starting to connect to Alexa and to our tablets or phones. Ultimately making our busy lives easier and a great way for the aging boomer market to live better.

Thermador’s Home Connect is your gateway to “exceptional culinary experiences.” With the Home Connect app you can control your home appliances when you are out and about or from your own bed. Wouldn’t a cappuccino all ready for you in the morning sound appealing?

The Qanto lift from Wellborn Cabinets proved that smart technology for interior kitchen cabinetry is now here. The lift solves storage solutions for the modern home. The Qanto can store anything like appliances so they can be hidden when you are not using them and provides more space for cooking on your countertops.

Samsungs refrigerator Family hub is the new way to manage your groceries, entertain your family and connect like never before. Send notes to your kids, write notes on your calendar, post images from facebook all on the face of your refrigerator door!


Lighting is now more than ever being integrated into  fixtures, appliances, mirrors and steam showers all thru LED lighting technology.

Lamps Plus, a leader in the lighting industry showcased a variety of light and mirror  styles from traditional to contemporary but mainly highlighted their LED lighting for indoor and outdoor.

Experience Mr. Steams ChromaTherapy systems…it allows you to transform your steam shower environment with different colored lights.  Different colors like blue, red, green can affect your mood in different ways. Color can be healing and Mr. Steam has paved the way for the bathroom shower experience.

Thermador’s Star sapphire offers real dish care solutions with cool vibes of light for entertaining guests in your home!


Appliances are starting to be hidden and not be visible in our kitchens. Kitchen cabinetry is acting more like furniture. See how Thermador customizes their panels and the refrigerator is hidden behind.

Pelick refrigeration hides their refrigeration drawer in a makeup table and cloning their cabinetry in veneer leather.


From door hardware to lighting, the combination of black with chrome, nickel or brass was HOT.

Schuab INC  were showing  combo black and brass door hardware:

Thompson Traders showcased this stunning copper hood in their new matte black finish with brass accents.


Over the years, I have learned a lot about Steam and its benefits for our bodies and mind.  It helps with respiratory health, skin care, holistic health,  physical wellness and so much more. Believing in the power of steam, I have incorporated one of Mr. Steam showers in one of my own bathroom design projects.


Did you know that copper is self healing and has healing powers for the skin…. Copper plays a key role in the synthesis and stabilization of skin proteins. So how about taking a soak in Thompson Traders copper tub? Or wash you face in their new black matte copper sink, beautiful!


Is it concrete? Is it real stone? Is it real leather? Today’s technology has transformed the ability for natural materials to have look a-likes in more durable and maintenance free ways…ultimately to make our lives easier.

Caesar stone showed their new Metropolitan line which encapsulates the look and feel of fine concrete with the durability and ease of maintenance that Caesarstone quartz surfaces is known for. Composed of 93% of quartz, the counter looks like concrete and stone without the worries of real concrete and stone.


Formica was showing sustainable recycled leather veneer and Compact surfaces too has the look of stone but is laminate. I was amazed at the corners and how the technology of color core has removed the ugly laminate seams from countertop edges.


All in all….Fun was had!

 #designhounds #designhoundsKBIS #KBIS2019

Design, Appliances and a Food Network Star

Design, Appliances and a Food Network Star

Design, Appliances and Food, oh my! I attended a Monogram Appliance event at the AJ Madison appliance center in Brooklyn NY.  Food Network Star Christian Petroni was there cooking up all different kinds of pizzas in the Monogram Pizza oven! 

Growing up with an Italian grandmother from Naples, Italy, I remember she would always call her sauce, “gravy.” . I asked him if he called it sauce or gravy and he said sauce! 

We tasted many different kinds of pizzas: Margarita, kale, and mushroom pizza. The veggies were first prepared with simple ingredients – garlic, olive oil, and salt and then baked in the Monogram pizza oven for 5 minutes. Add sauce and fresh mozzarella..You too can do this in your home, the pizza oven is ductless.

Besides the awesome Monogram pizza oven, Monogram has a convertible refrigerator….with a push of a button you can switch the bottom freezer into a one touch convertible fresh food refrigerator or beverage center. See the video clip below:

I really loved the Dacor line which I am specifying for one of my projects now. I really love the sleek lines of the Modernist line and the refrigerator is smart. If you connect to the app, you will know what you need to shop for when you are in the super market! The cameras inside the fridge spies on your own food!

I learned about a new line called the Cafe Series, which is a boutique series for GE. Customization is there for the client who wants a designed look without digging too deep into your pocketbook, The face and handles come in several different finishes. Thumbs up!

Oh! There is a button for HOT water in the Cage refrigerator! I haven’t see that before!

DIFFA Picnic by Design 2018

DIFFA Picnic by Design 2018

It was my seventh season participating in one singular sensation….the DIFFA Picnic by Design fundraiser that celebrates design, food and fun to help further the fight against HIV/AIDS. This years soiree was hosted on the Lounge and Terrace at the Viacom building in Times Square inviting 20 top tier designers and brands to creatively re-imagine a staple in New York City culture… Broadway shows! Guests viewed and bid on more than 20 Broadway-themed baskets filled with over-the-top experiences and accoutrements. Donations raised an impressive $60k for organizations across the country working to support those affected by HIV and AIDS concluded Executive Director Dawn Roberson.

Inspired by the Broadway show Dear Evan Hansen, my basket design imitates the paradox of a world where we feel so interconnected yet so isolated. The show is about a socially anxious teenager who tells a big lie that spirals out of control. On social media, we are all looking and seeing how much fun everyone else is having. The basket plays off the main character’s striped shirt who is looking thru this virtual window.

I cant thank enough the following brands who donated the following items below: Robert Allen, Lee Jofa, Eileen Fisher,Horne, and Abalon!

Custom Made stage set basket made with Robert Allen Inc donated fabric Stellar Solid Indigo fabric.

Custom made blanket: Kravet/Lee Jofa donated fabric Periwinkle #400-50,

(2) Custom Made fabric setting: Kravet donated fabric #4005-5

(2) Custom made napkins: Eileen Fisher donated fabric Indigo scraps

Plates: CB2

Porcelain Cups: Abalon by Anna Bridgewater are actually porcelain candles! Aret they gorgeous with the indigo and gold. Thanks Anna!

Cutlery: Horne Goa Gold Plated and Resin Blue handles

Authentic Playbill: Dear Evan Hansen playbill signed by original cast

CD and Book: Dear Evan Hansen


Don’t you love the combination of Gold and Indigo? The Pollack porcelain pot handmade by Anna Bridgewater is a stunner.

Guests were going gaga over the Horne cutlery too featuring blue handles and gold.

Thank you to Doug Garfinkle, Vice President of Kravet showrooms for purchasing my Dear Evan Hansen basket!

Thank you to all Picnic by Design sponsors: KBIS, Kravet Inc/Lee Jofa, Robert Allen Duralee Group, Blanco, Catskill Provisions,Hunter Douglass, Interior Design, POZ Magzine, Studio TK/Teknion, and Tito’s Handmade Vodka.

2017, WHAT A YEAR!

2017, WHAT A YEAR!

2017 has been an incredible year for me professionally. First the honor of being chosen to design a room for the DXV / American Standard’s “Modern Collection!”.  I’m very grateful for DXV’s support of my creative vision and the opportunity to be the first to showcase their luxurious Modulus collection. The most exciting part has been seeing the design used in DXV’s national/international AD campaign shown as full page ads so far in Luxe Magazine, Elle Décor, Vanity Fair and Metropolitan Home, where Editor in Chief Newell Turner selected my space to put in their first issue back on the stands after a decade hiatus. The experience to work with the DXV brand has been a dream come true!

Another exciting surprise happened when Editor in Chief Cindy Allen purchased my DIFFA Picnic by Design basket design and featured it in the SNAPS section of Interior Designs October issue. Crazy! The design modelled elements from the DXV modern bathroom, using natural materials and moss. Even more crazy was to be invited to meet Cindy at Interior Design headquarters and get some chat time! I even and took a snap with her myself!!

In the next coming months, I invite you to SUBSCRIBE to my YouTube channel Michele Alfano Design TV: “Smart Design for your Home.”  I will be showing how you can use smart devices to improve your everyday living experience in your home!!