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Ready for a fresh start in 2017? Your home is, too. You want home upgrades that are not only eye-catching, but are also long-term investments that can make you more connected, organized, efficient and safe. This may seem like a tall order, but it doesn’t have to be. These eight home upgrades top the list of must-haves for their simplicity, innovation and utility.

Home Automation Upgrades

Voice-Controlled Smart Hub

Our lives are revolving more around our gadgets, and our homes are beginning to as well. When you bring a smart hub into your home, you’ll wonder how you functioned without it. Such an artificial intelligence gadget can be the central feature to your home, allowing you to digitally control all of your smart home devices from one hub. Their features go beyond home automation skills — smart hubs like Google Home can share local weather, narrate books, read daily headlines, set alarms and play music, all hands-free.

Some of these hubs are even voice-activated, like Amazon Echo, making them among the most popular devices of the year.

Smart Thermostat

Thanks to regular software upgrades, smart thermostats are solid smart home investments. They are regularly updated, so you don’t have to worry about them falling behind your other devices. Besides allowing you to remotely control them from an app, smart thermostats have auto-scheduling features that you set based on the times of day you like your home cool or warm.

Smart thermostats also have humidity sensors that can help make your living space more comfortable. One of the coolest features of smart thermostats like Nest is their ability to detect when you leave the premises and when you return home, adjusting the temperature accordingly.

Security and Safety Upgrades

Home Security Camera

Home security has never been more flexible or simple, thanks to the development of so many high-tech home security cameras. From indoor cameras with two-way audio that connects you with loved ones or pets while you’re away — like the Nest Cam — to outdoor cameras with motion-sensing night vision that help protect your home from criminals — like the Amcrest Qcam — today’s security cameras offer a plethora of cool features.

This may seem like an expensive upgrade, but many indoor and outdoor security cameras can cost less than $200. And, while you can always call a professional, you can also save money by installing a DIY security camera on your own.

Motion-Sensing Lights

Arguably one of the easiest home security upgrades, motion-sensing lights are a major crime deterrent. They not only help you save on your energy bill, but they also light the places where a stranger could lurk around your home.

If you’re concerned about being robbed, this upgrade is the way to go. Motion-detecting lights are a security feature that burglars hate. Install one over your porch, driveway or other entrance point.

Green Living Upgrades

Natural Features

Organic inspiration will continue to influence designs this year, so you can expect to see more furniture built with natural materials, like stone coffee tables and wooden chairs.

One of the easiest ways to bring the outdoors inside is to decorate with some potted plants. Whether your lack of a green thumb scares you or you want a plant with a long shelf life, check out some of the most durable houseplants, like a ficus, a snake plant or an asparagus fern.

Smart Sprinklers

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average U.S. family uses 320 gallons of water per day, and 30% of that is outdoors. In warmer climates like the Southwest, that number jumps to 60%. Outdated automated sprinkler systems are a big part of the problem because they can turn on during rainstorms and tend to drench sidewalks and driveways.

Smart sprinklers are good for your wallet and Mother Earth. They are Wi-Fi connected so you can control them remotely from an app no matter where you are. These sprinklers are also extremely efficient because they activate based on satellite weather data, not just how you program them.

Design Upgrades

Wallpaper Accents

Accent walls add drama and flair to boring spaces, and patterned wallpaper is making a comeback. Trulia says that oversized florals, paisley, and abstract prints in darker hues are especially popular.

These wallpaper prints make a big impact, especially in small spaces like bathrooms. And if you’re nervous about the long-term commitment or the difficulty of placing wallpaper, temporary wallpaper is incredibly easy to install and remove.

Jewel Tones

Decorate with some richly colored flair this year; jewel tones are in. Colors we see in nature, like emerald, amethyst, turquoise, and pastel pinks and greens, are the ones to use. They pop and “transform a room into a sumptuous refuge or a light-filled bijou box,” says Architectural Digest.

You don’t have to completely redecorate, either. You can easily add jewel colors to your decor with throw pillows, curtains, blankets, bookshelves and accent walls.

There’s a lot to look forward to with home design in the new year. These functional and stylish upgrades are home improvements you want to move to the top of your 2017 to-do list.

What are some ways you plan on incorporating new technology or design in your home this year? Let us know in the comments below!

Sage Singleton is a home and community safety expert for SafeWise. She has written for a variety of audiences ranging from government sites to lifestyle magazines. In her free time, she enjoys wedding planning, traveling and learning French.     

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. All of those expensive “smart home” upgrades are a dumb investment because those technologies will be obsolete in five years. Wall paper = 1980’s. If you want to sell your house take that tacky wallpaper down! Jewel tones? Please invest your time and money into something with long term appeal, not a fashion trend that will be frowned upon by next year. Here are some worthwhile investments in your home that will pay for themselves: skylights, LED light fixtures, solar panels, low flow toilets and faucets, energy efficient appliances, and fresh paint and caulk for the exterior to protect against mold, mildew, and rot.

    1. Hi Matt:

      I agree with you about all the improvements you’ve mentioned. I would just say that there are all kinds of these new smart outlets that have come out that will let you turn any existing appliance on and off with your phone. I use them myself and you can set them up as part of an energy efficiency plan because they have timers and all sorts of cool settings.

      Kevin Graham

    2. I agree with the problem of upgrading technologies (other than remote and/or timely temperature control. In my opinion as someone who has done this sort of work for almost four decades, the greatest asset to a sharp, well maintained house is good landscaping and, if you live in an area where it is acceptable, a high quality woodstove. The security this provides for winter emergencies is very important in my part of the country. For those who preserve their own food or grow their own, a cold room in the basement (small insulated room against an exterior, underground wall) is also a great feature. I have a 6x6x10′ room in the coldest corner of my basement where i not only store month’s of food, but ferment wine and beer under controlled temp and humidity.

    3. Matt, I agree with you. I am in the house-buying mode and nothing turns me off more than flowery wallpaper. Yuck. Rooms painted hot pink, purple, and most shades of blue are also downers. I suppose beauty is in the eye of the beholder; obviously someone found those design choices quite desirable. They’re just not for me!

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