The meaning of home has changed drastically over the last year. What might have once been a comforting respite from everyday life has suddenly become the center of, well, everything. Our homes have transformed into offices, classrooms, and so much more. So, when it came time to design this year's HGTV Smart Home, designer Tiffany Brooks knew she had to meet the demand of the times.
For the seventh year in a row, the Chicago-based designer is at the helm of HGTV's Smart Home sweepstakes, a giveaway that surprises winning participants with luxury homes across the country. This year, that sweepstakes took Brooks to sunny Naples, Florida to design a home that not only embodies our new normal, but that effortlessly combines both smart technology and comfortable design.
"This year, I was totally inspired by how the world was changing," Brooks tells House Beeautiful. In a time where outdoor space is coveted, the location of the home was of particular significance for her: "It's the perfect home at the perfect time," she says. Located only twenty-five minutes from Marco Island and surrounded by nature, the home shows the importance—and possibilities— of outdoor living. The property features a large lanai with multiple seating areas. On one end, a dining area and outdoor kitchen is ideal for dinners under the stars, while a gazebo adjacent to the home's lap pool is the perfect spot to hang with friends during warmer months. In other words, "You can work outside, play outside, and learn from outside just as easily as you could inside," says Brooks.
This multifunctionality continues indoors, too, and for good reason: Brooks explains that she often surveys people before she starts her designs to get a better feel for what a winner might like: "If you were going to win this, what would you want in the house?" The resounding answer this year? Multi-purpose spaces that reflect the times. "This person is going to need to able to learn from work, work from home, cook from home, and enjoy the outdoors," she explains. "Right when you walk in, you're greeted by a multi-purpose room that allows you to study, homeschool, take calls, or read," she says of the brightly colored, nature-inspired office nestled in the front of the three bedroom, three bathroom ranch-style home.
Brooks also leaned into creating very specific spaces for the world's changing needs. With the increasing prevalence of online shopping, for example, she wanted to create a designated space for mail carriers to leave packages, dubbed the package drop room. She also made sure to include a private space—what she's calling the SheShed—meant for meditation, journaling, and escaping the chaos of the day, inspired in part by her own lockdown rituals. "I got really into those things during my quarantine," she explains. "It's meant to be a place to be totally alone with your thoughts."
The influence of the last year spans far beyond the decor. While the majority of the home's smart technology would be welcome in any space (think: kitchen counters that charge your phone and ultra-luxe showers with programmable water settings), other technology was added as a direct response to the pandemic. "How do we design a home that's approachable, but that's also ready for a pandemic?" asks Brooks. "This year, we had to consider how we could live smarter and cleaner." Additions of touch-free doors and faucets as well as sanitation devices accomplish this.
The theme of this year's Smart Home was to make staying at home not only easier, but more convenient. As Brooks posits, "How are we able to make our homes a one-stop shop for shopping, learning, working, entertaining, and, somewhere to be clean?" Though no one could have anticipated just how time we'd spend at home this last year, 2021's Smart Home is a true reflection of our shifting needs. If this sounds like somewhere you would like to live, enter to win on HGTV.com beginning on April 21st until June 11th.
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