never have to touch the handle. Your motion-sensor faucet runs water for you while your phone-integrated medicine cabinet mirror shows your calendar for the day and gives you the latest news. You call out to your shower to come on, and by the time you step in the water is perfectly programmed to your preferred temperature. That’s the smart bathroom setup envisioned by Katrina Rice, an interior designer with 84 Lumber’s 84 Design Studio. She works with a variety of residential bathroom designs, from single-family residential remodeling and renovation to new construction and multi-unit developments. Smart bath- rooms "change the way you use your basic bathroom fixtures," Rice said. "The sink isn’t just a sink. The vanity isn’t just a vanity.” GETTING DOWN TO DETAILS: ROI ON SMART BATHROOM INSTALLATIONS What kind of return can you expect from installing smart features in a bathroom on your investment property? As with much of the population of the “Internet of Things,” return on invest- ment (ROI) is difficult to project when it comes to smart bathroom upgrades. Consider your buying audience. Will the upgrades provide a substantial improvement to their quality of life? Are they generationally predisposed to rely on smart-home improvements or, on the other hand, to be suspicious of or timid around them? These consid- erations should shape your decision to install such upgrades in a flip or other home to be sold at retail. On the other hand, installing leak-de- tecting smart-pipes in a rental property could literally save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars in mainte- nance and repair costs over the life of

the bathroom or anywhere else in the house. “It’s just so nice and convenient. You can choose a voice activated light bulb for $40 or hardwire to your light switch for less than $200.” IF CLEANLINESS IS NEXT TO GODLINESS, THEN A SMART BATHROOM COULD BE HEAVEN Though you may think of smart home design in terms of environmental benefits or accessibility needs, Rice sees the primary benefits as convenience and cleanliness. Because you’re not touching the fixtures, everything stays cleaner than in a traditional bathroom, includ- ing the user. Of course, for an investor, these benefits translate to improved quality of life in the home and, when installed in the right properties, may re- sult in higher returns and better rental rates and resident retention. If you’re not ready to go all-in with a total smart bathroom makeover, you can retrofit existing fixtures at a min- imal cost, said Rice. “For the motion activated flushing system, you can get a retrofit for under $50. They’re pretty accessible. A basic, voice-activated showerhead costs less than $200.” PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE OPTIONS Smart bathroom design doesn’t stop with the things you can see in the room. Leak detectors for under the sink, smart


Smart Privacy Glass Rather than covering those windows with curtains or blinds, this film can be cut to fit, then programmed to your preferred level of opacity or transparency and operated with an app on your phone.

Are Smart-Bathroom Upgrades a Smart Investment Move?

Smart Towel Warming Whether it’s a rack or a warming drawer, this solution provides both storage and comfort, especially on a chilly winter morning.


by Christy Edgar


he Internet of Things and the advent of smart little helpers like


Smart Vanity Mirror Never miss a moment of your favorite show when you’re shaving or putting on your makeup. And with custom options, you can integrate your smart mirror with any decor.

Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, and Apple Home have brought the concept of smart design out of the pages of science fiction and into our daily lives. Yet for many of us, the idea of a smart home stops with a Nest thermostat or phone-ac- tivated floodlight over the garage. Instead, imagine this: You wake up in the morning, stretch, and walk into your bathroom. Instantly, the motion-activated lights come on at the level you prefer. At the same time, the seat warm- er on your motion-activated toilet ensures your comfort and the auto flush ensures you

KATRINA RICE , Design Expert, 84 Lumber's Kitchen & Bath Design Studio

Katrina Rice is a professional kitchen and bath designer with 84 Lumber’s Kitchen & Bath Design Studio in Eighty Four,

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the leak detector. However, like a smoke detector, a leak detector may only prove its worth intermittently, despite provid- ing you with ongoing peace of mind. When asked what one smart home feature offers the most bang for the buck, Rice chooses lighting, whether in

Pennsylvania. 84 Lumber’s Kitchen & Bath Design Studios exist in more than 30 of 84 Lumber’s 250 stores nationwide and are staffed by experienced professionals. She is an expert in the use of 20/20 Design Software and has a Bachelor of Science in Interior Design from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.

Christy Murdock Edgar is the Owner ofWriting Real Estate. She is a freelance writer and content marketing developer for real estate professionals

throughout NorthAmerica. She may be reached at or learnmore at

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