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If there was one smart home trend I’d imagined flatlining after the initial novelty wore off, it would be colored light. When I was little, I was obsessed with anything that could change color, yet as an adult, whenever I've installed smart bulbs in my home, I've played with the color-changing elements for about 10 minutes, before never using them again.
While colorful automated lighting obviously isn’t for everyone, it’s not only still got a seat at the table, but new innovations across the home are embracing it in new and exciting designs, meaning there are more ways than ever to bring this undoubtedly joyful idea into your home.
Some of these new products bring such a sense of fun and whimsy to areas of the home that can otherwise feel quite pedestrian, that we're almost converted to colourful smart lighting. Take a look at some of the new and exciting innovations we've spotted, for every room in the house.
Hugh is an experienced homes and property journalist, with a passion for cutting edge homes and the latest innovations in design. Inspired by some of the latest smart home releases from IFA 2022, he's found some of the best ways to use color lighting in smart tech for modern homes.
1. Daily schedules
As well as something fun to play around with, color light can be used to shift your mood. Smart color lighting like Philips Hue has an ever-growing number of features that make them practical, as well as just a clever design detail. You can set schedules, for example, so that your light tracks with your activities throughout the day. A warm amber is perfect for winding down at the end of the day, while something fresher and more uplifting is perfect for your daily yoga session. It's part of the idea of human-centric lighting, and while these systems tend to be much more complex, there's definitely a wellness element to explore through color-changing lights.
2. The color changing refrigerator
Of course, color isn’t limited to just smart lighting. Unveiled this year, LG’s MoodUP fridge is one of the most scene-stealing kitchen appliances we’ve ever seen. While sometimes it can be hard to get too excited about modern refrigerators, the MoodUP has illuminated doors that can be color adjusted using the LG ThinQ app - 22 colors for the top doors, and 19 for the bottom. You can also apply pre-selected themes, if you’re trying to evoke a certain mood with your kitchen lighting ideas - for a dinner party in an open-plan kitchen, for example.
Like many color-enhanced smart lighting systems, the MoodUP fridge can be synced with music to change color in rhythm to whatever you’re listening to, making for the ultimate kitchen disco appliance. Lighting set-ups can do this, too, such as the Philips Hue.
3. Customizable neon signs
It’s also good for setting a party atmosphere. If you’re into more maximalist interiors, a neon light can set the mood for an entertaining space, and now, there are smart light versions, such as Twinkly, which can be adjusted by app to create a custom light color combination.
The Twinkly Flex, which is available from Amazon, can be sculpted into any shape, whether you want to design a heart, a Picasso-esque line drawing, as pictured in this bedroom lighting idea, or just an abstract squiggle is more your vibe. The Flex can be controlled by app, introducing a custom color layout, anything from making a color block contrast to a subtle gradient.
4. Chromotherapy showerheads
One of the most interesting uses of smart color lighting is actually taking place in the bathroom. Brands such as Dornbracht and Graff are offering ‘chromotherapy’ showerheads, designed with color-changing lights that aim to make the showering experience more therapeutic.
Controllable through compatible apps, by voice command or with your Alexa skills, it’s a way to make use of color psychology to bring an extra level of restfulness when showering.
5. Extend your screen
Another inventive application of colorful smart lighting is for backlighting the likes of your TV or PC to extend the visuals by mimicking the colors on screen. This type of smart tech isn’t exactly new, but used to be only built into a TV.
New products like Philips Hue Play Gradient Light Strip or Philips Hue Play Gradient Light Tube, both available from Amazon, can be retrofitted to existing TVs and sync up to echo the colors of whatever you’re watching. The difference is that the Light Strip is mounted around the edge of your screen, while the Light Tube sits underneath or on top of your screen, casting a colored light up onto the wall for a fun living room TV idea.
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Hugh is the Deputy Editor of Livingetc.com. From working on a number of home, design and property publications and websites, including Grand Designs, ICON and specialist kitchen and bathroom magazines, Hugh has developed a passion for modern architecture, impactful interiors and green homes. Whether moonlighting as an interior decorator for private clients or renovating the Victorian terrace in Essex where he lives (DIYing as much of the work as possible), you’ll find that Hugh has an overarching fondness for luxurious minimalism, abstract shapes and all things beige. He’s just finished a kitchen and garden renovation, and has eyes set on a bathroom makeover for 2023.
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