When designers draw up a fully-furnished design plan, it typically reflects the client's taste and style. But what happens when the client is unknown—just a name among many in the HGTV Smart Home 2020 entry box, say? Chicago designer Tiffany Brooks has been at the helm of the HGTV's Smart Home sweepstakes for the last couple years, surprising families across the country with unimaginable, avant-garde homes. This year, the sweepstakes brought her to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to design a home that's compliant with the technology of tomorrow for a mystery family. Local builder Infinity Custom Homes built the house, Brooks dazzled its interiors, and the sweepstakes sponsors pitched in their finest "smart" technology to make this home valued at $1.5 million a real gem.
"You’re going to see a lot of references in that house to industrialism," Tiffany Brooks tells House Beautiful of this year's build, a 4,500 square foot, four-bedroom, three-bathroom home nestled in the Wexford neighborhood of the Steel City. Brooks set out to design a home that not only paid homage to Pittsburgh's rich industrial history, but its current sports culture (go Steelers and Pirates!), and its future.
One of the first things you'll notice upon walking in is an eccentric light fixture hanging in the foyer — a piece that truly speaks to the home’s character. Inspired by a collage she had seen years ago fashioned from old bobbins, the designer longed to make her own version. “I always wanted to do something old that had a really cool fluid geometry,” she says, noting that she knew this home would be the perfect place for it. "With Pittsburgh being the steel city that it was, I wanted to use gears, she says, but notes "it’s becoming more and more of a city where you see everyone on a bicycle, so I also picked up on that." The result: an incredibly standout sculpture composed of dated gears and bicycle wheels that also was worked into a light fixture.
Other odes to the city can be found in the house's game room. Considering Pittsburgh's large sports following, Brooks figured "it would be smart to incorporate a lounge downstairs and make the theme sports." However, she didn’t want to beat the homeowners over the head with an overzealous sports-filled space, so she found a happy medium. The game room is equipped with skee-ball machines, a giant Connect Four-styled game, retro arcade video games, and a bar area. Photographs of iconic moments in the city's sports history line the walls.
While curating an industrial style throughout the home was a major theme— peep all the sleek steel fixtures— Brooks put a contemporary twist on the home. She opted for playful, bold paint colors to energize the interiors, but selected more neutral-toned furnishings to make the home feel inviting. One of her favorite spots she designed in this home (and now, in her entire portfolio) is the study. The eggplant-shaded walls, industrial-styled chandelier, and geometric rug darken the room. But the large window and luxe blush pink chaise lounge chairs tone soften it, making this room not only industrial, but glamorous as well.
Besides the decor, this home is called a smart home for a reason. When Brooks started designing it last June, she had to be mindful of all the cutting-edge technology that would be implemented. "[Technology] definitely has to play a character in your entire design scheme,” she says. When laying out the plans, she looked for unique ways "to either conceal or accent [the technology]" into the home's aesthetic. "You just don’t want [an appliance] sitting out looking like a piece of technology,” she says, but for the "products to flow almost effortlessly in a design plan that is forward-thinking, functional, and beautiful.” Fortunately, the home’s many sponsors—such as SimpliSafe Home Security, Keurig, and Sleep Number—offer products with styles that Brooks was able to easily weave into the design.
When comparing the 2020 Smart Home to homes she worked on in prior years, Brooks explains how the technology gets cooler each year."Each house pays a little more attention to how people are living in their homes now versus the last house," she says. One of her favorite smart features in this year’s home is the indoor garden system, which happened to be a super timely add-on, as the pandemic continues to shift the way we live in our homes.
Each year, the project continues to thrill Brooks. Her favorite part is all the creative flexibility. "I literally get to dream up a client each time and install that in the design. Designers don’t get the opportunity to do that," she says. Who knows what next year’s project will entail—how design and technology will differ in 2021— but as for this year’s contemporary craftsman digs "It is one of my favorite houses that I’ve done" Brooks says.
To enter to win the HGTV 2020 Smart Home, you can head here and enter twice daily until June 12, 2020. Check out the home's exterior below.
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