With the colder weather drawing in, it’s natural for us to retreat into our homes and spend less time outdoors. Our favourite time to embrace everything we love the most about our homes, it’s the most hygge time of year! However, spending more time indoors means we can lose some of the benefits of being outside. Less fresh air and less connection with nature and other humans, for example. So in the name of wellbeing at home, we’ve rounded up a few suggestions for home technology to help balance out some of what we lack during the Winter months.
Spoiler alert – it’s not all fancy digital gadgets that require instruction manuals and a rocket science degree! In the spirit of hygge, sometimes the simplest home technology can be the most effective.
There’s only one place to start, and that’s with nature. We’re big fans of biophilic design. House plants represent biophilia in it’s simplest form, literally bringing nature into the home.
However, as anyone who has dabbled with indoor plants may know, keeping house plants alive can be tricker than you might think. Plants can be sensitive to all sorts of environmental factors in the home, just as they are outside. Light, shade, temperature, watering needs. They’re all different, and keeping on top of their needs can be tricky to say the least.
A plant care app can be a useful tool for understanding how to best care for each of your plants, with handy reminders and guides for keeping your plant babies alive! There are a number on the market, such as Planta, which offers an ‘individual care schedule and reminders for your plants’ as well as features such as a light meter and ‘Dr Planta’ for curing sick plants. Planta is free to download with some in-app purchases and a monthly subscription model for premium features.
Flora Plant Care is another app which looks to offer a similar service but, while it may offer in-app purchases (as do most apps), there’s no mention of a subscription for upgraded features. This appeals to us as we don’t feel we’re missing out and we love the sound of their ‘winterizing guides’ for specific advice during the colder months.
Our next piece of tech is what we’d describe as novelty tech – definitely not a must-have, but a nice-to-have. Activating one of our five senses to create the overall sensory experience which makes our home unique and perfect for us.
The Zwitscherbox is a neat little electronic device which plays 2 minutes of birdsong when the motion sensors are activated. The German word ‘Zwitscher’ translates to ‘twittering’. This little twittering box keeps us in touch with nature by harnessing the relaxing power of birdsong and bringing it straight into our homes.
We know that nature has a positive effect on your mental wellbeing, with birdsong being particularly calming. And as we understand the importance of designing our home to activate all five senses, this Scandi-style minimalist piece of tech ticks the sense of sound box very nicely. Perfect for city or urban dwellers, or even in country homes where the sound of birdsong is missed once the windows are closed and the sun sets early during Winter.
Close your eyes and listen to the sounds of the Black Forest below, courtesy of Zwitscherbox, and see if this could be the tech for you.
Our sense of smell is something that we often overlook in our homes but which is essential in creating that sensory experience to makes us feel most at home. While we’ve talked in previous articles about how it can be as simple baking bread or lighting a good old candle, there are some more interesting ways of filling your home with scent.
The Neom Organics Pod Diffuser is now an iconic design. When used with the Neom Wellbeing Essential Oil blend, the recently upgraded Wellbeing pod is designed to aid relaxation and fill a room with fragrance for up to 7 hours.
It’s an attractive design of a white ceramic pod with a Heavea wooden base. The unit works at the touch of a button and includes a handy timer function. We also love the guided breathing feature. Lighting the pod for 7 seconds before dimming for 10 seconds, we can imagine taking a minute to consciously breathe in time with the pod, quietening the mind and allowing the Wellbeing Essential Oils to work their magic. Combining home fragrance with home technology to create something even more meaningful.
Smart bulbs are not exactly a new concept but as you’d expect, the technology is more advanced these days. Installed like a normal bulb, they link to your smartphone and often have the ability to link to a device such as the Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, allowing you to control your lighting at the touch of a button or voice command.
Ranging in price depending on the features included, we’ve found them from as little as £7.49 and available in various colours and shades. There’s a real appeal in being able to turn lights on and off at the touch of a button. Imagine being snuggled up with a book and not having to break your comfort to light up the space as darkness falls.
Most appealing to us is the thought of switching lights on at home whilst we’re not there. Is there a better or more hygge feeling than the lights being on and the cosy glow welcoming you home? No need for complicated timer systems when it’s available to control on your phone.
We found that Philips have a comprehensive suite of smart lighting, including the Bluetooth-enabled bulbs and the Hue Bridge. Read up on what this is all about in their handy article. In short – Bluetooth-enabled smart bulbs allow you to control a limited number of bulbs in a room using the smartphone app, but you have to be within the Bluetooth range (around 10 meters). The Philips Hue Bridge is a control hub which allows you to connect up to 50 lights throughout your home to the app, and control them from anywhere in the world, as long as you have Internet connection.
One thing to be aware of is that smart bulbs will use a minimal amount of power even when switched off (as in, they’re not emitting any light). It is minimal energy consumption but one to consider if this is a home technology that interests you.
We know that there are huge benefits to our health of slowing down, breathing, taking a moment for ourselves. Consciously taking the time to stop and enjoy our surroundings rather than constantly being on the go. With that in mind, we consider the thermal French Press to be an essential for any coffee lover.
How often do you rush your coffee while rushing around, without really stopping to taste it and enjoy the moment. The technology is in the insulation – double walled, thermal vacuums which keeps your coffee hot for hours. Giving you time to enjoy the taste. No rushing to finish the brew before it goes cold, with more coffee ready to drink when you need your next break.
The Heemburg Thermo Double Walled Insulated Vacuum French Press caught our eye thanks to the Scandi vibe. The Gator cafetiere has all the must-have technology and is a winner for anyone who loves a splash of colour in their kitchen.
The concept of hygge really comes alive at mealtimes, with family engaging in conversation and enjoying good food. For this, you really can’t beat a good hearty slow cooked meal. By no means a new technology, but a great one nonetheless. The slow cooker enables us to balance busy lives and the glory of home cooked food, with minimal effort and a full day of cooking, just in time for us to open the lid and serve up at teatime. We love the slow cooker recipes in Olive magazine.
There are lots of slow cookers on the market at various price points and sizes, so shop around for the one that suits you. For us a slow cooker is one piece of classic technology that will always be a must-have in our home, especially as the Winter draws in.
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