Seven Space Saving Ideas – Smart Home Tour 2023

May 18, 2023

Last I checked, the housing market is still crazy. So, let me take you on a tour of my house and show you how I packed a mansions worth of features into 2000 square feet using automation, motorization, and some creative use of space.

Starting with my favorite place, the garage. Most of the time we park 2 cars in our 2-car garage, but the other huge benefit of keeping your garage organized enough to park cars inside is that when you pull them out it leaves so much room for activities. 

I do a lot of DIY projects and have accumulated quite a few tools over the years, so I needed an efficient way to store my most used tools and maximize my building space without permanently taking up room in the garage.  Using kits designed for standing desks, I built these two motorized adjustable height workbenches which not only lets me store them out of the way when not in use, but also lets me easily, quickly, and reliably set them up for a long outfeed table saw, a perfectly level miter saw station, and a base for my CNC machine that I have lifted to the ceiling using a manual garage storage hoist from Amazon.  When the garage is in workshop mode, I have an extra bank of Barrina LED shop lights connected to a smart plug that makes the space super bright and evenly lit.

The garage isn’t just for working though. The newest addition to the garage is my full-size DIY golf simulator.   Three motorized hoists raise and lower the impact screen, netting, and hitting mat letting me transition from a 2-car garage to playing my favorite golf course in less than 5 minutes without any heavy lifting, ladders, or tools.  Along with this project I added LED strip lighting and air conditioning to make the space feel less like a garage and more like a fun place to hang out and I built a fold down murphy bar safely outside the hitting area for when friends come over to play.  I only use the simulator a few nights a week, so it’s great to be able to fold it all back into the ceiling and not waste that space when I’m not using it.

As for the smart features in the garage, this is a really common trick I use in a bunch of places in my house.  I replaced a single light switch with a three unit from Zemismart. But like I said, the garage was only wired for a single light circuit, so these other two buttons are just virtually tied to smart plugs using simple automations.  When I press the bottom button, it turns on the smart plug connected to the extra shop lights in the back, and when I press the middle button, it runs an automation to turn on the golf simulator lights which are a set of 24V addressable COB LEDs in aluminum channels along my workbench and murphy bar, 12V non-addressable COB LEDs above the impact screen, and 4 Shelly Duo RGBW bulbs above the hitting area.  The middle button is also tied to a smart plug that turns off the power to the garage door opener when the golf simulator lights are on, because if someone accidentally opened the garage door with the simulator screen down it would end very poorly for everything involved.

Heading inside we’ve got another multipurpose room that acts as my wife’s office, storage for my daughter’s toys and projects, and, when needed, a guest room.  According to the floor plan for my house, this was designated as a guest bedroom and was completely sectioned off from the rest of the first floor.  But I thought it was crazy to waste 20% of my main floor on a room that would only be used a few days a year, so I cut out a large section of this non-load-bearing wall and installed double doors to open up the floor plan.  Then using a kit from Create-A-Bed, I built a queen size murphy bed for the few weeks a year that we actually do have guests. 

Since this is a guest room, sometimes there are less automated things than other rooms, but I do have this simple blinds motor that opens and closes the blinds at sunrise and sunset.  I opted for this solution instead of my DIY blinds motors because it’s easier for guests to understand how to use it since it has clearly labeled buttons on the motor.  There’s also a contact sensor on the murphy bed that automatically activates “guest mode” in Home Assistant that disables the scheduled opening and closing of the blinds and turns off the robotic vacuums which normally run downstairs every night while we are asleep.

The built-in also has my wife’s computer and is complete with an extendable desk section for doing paperwork, or it can be stowed away when we have guests.  There was also no reason that a guest room needed a closet so I built some custom shelves designed to fit these specific storage containers for things like random wires, power related wires, and of course, more LED strips than anyone could ever use. 

Moving into the living room, which is where we spend most of our time, we’ve got my daughter’s desk, my desk, and the main sitting area and TV.  90% of the time we watch TV on the 65” OLED, but when it’s time for a movie or a big game, an Amazon Echo command automatically dims the 12V RGBW addressable LEDs behind the screen and TV, turns off the lamps, raises the 100” projector screen, and pulls out the motorized shelf for the ultra-short throw projector.  Since the projector and screen are usually stowed away but extend to the same location every time, the projector is always perfectly lined up to the screen without needing to worry about additional setup or keystone which makes it super convenient to use, even if it’s just for an hour or two on a weeknight.

We’ve got a Sonos ARC soundbar, Sonos sub and two Sonos One SL’s that provide great surround sound for their size and ease of installation, giving us an awesome home theater experience when we want it without having to dedicate an entire separate room to it, and with Sonos there’s the added benefit of whole home audio.

At my desk I’ve got a custom set of buttons that control things like my foot warmer, desk LEDs, and the automatic lock for the patio door, and behind my monitor I’ve got another 3 button Zemismart switch, and this one controls two physical circuits for the spotlight and ambient light, and one virtual circuit for the lamps and TV LED lighting.  Holding down the bottom button on the Zemismart switch also activates my favorite automation, a bedtime routine that turns off the TV and all the downstairs lights, locks the patio door, checks to make sure the garage door is closed, and the mini split AC is off, closes the blinds and curtains in the master bedroom, and activates the house alarm.

Moving into the kitchen, which doesn’t have many smart products except for a Google Home Hub which we mostly use as a voice activated kitchen timer and digital picture frame which we love.  Google Photos can automatically sync with your phone’s camera roll which not only provides an easy always-on backup, but you can also use Google’s facial recognition to only display pictures that have certain friends or family in them, and the Google Home Hub also tries to pull up pictures from a similar time of year, so they correspond with memories from whatever the current holiday is.

In the pantry I made this built-in set of shelves with white LEDs controlled by a Shelly RGBW2.  Not only do the four different channels on the RGBW2 let me adjust the brightness of different parts of the shelves individually, but it also made it simple to tie it to an automation using this Ring motion sensor so when you walk into the pantry the lights get brighter, and then after a minute of no movement, they dim back down to 10% brightness.

We’ve also got a cocktail machine in here which I guess is kind of like a smart home product. This one is the BEV by Black and Decker.  We had the Bartesian for a couple years and upgraded to the BEV because I liked the design with the actual liquor bottles and of course the LEDs, and it’s nice that it uses the same mixer pods as the original Bartesian which now lives in the golf simulator murphy bar.  Cocktail machines are marginally nice to have around normally but are perfect for company because it gives them the freedom to make their favorite drink without needing to stock a full bar of mixers and specialty liqueurs.

Outside on the patio we’ve got a 15ft concrete and epoxy bar with seating for 8 under the existing lanai, and then outdoor lounge furniture under the motorized pergola.  I ordered this pergola straight from a Chinese factory called Alunotec 2 years ago and I’ve been really impressed with its build quality and performance, and it does a great job keeping the area under the pergola completely dry when closed while allowing the sunlight and breeze through when we want it. 

Both the pergola and ceiling fan came with RF433 remote controls, so I used a Sonoff RF Bridge to control them with Amazon Echo commands through home assistant.

On the bar and grill side of the patio I’ve still got my existing motorized shades that I built almost 6 years ago and amazingly they’re still going strong despite the Florida rain and humidity.  On the pergola I went for a multipurpose shade that could also act as a projector screen, and I made a video about making a DIY screen out of Flex Seal.  That project unfortunately didn’t last, and the Flex Seal ended up peeling away from the window screen material.  The ridiculous thing is that I was able replace it with actual outdoor screen material from a site called Carl’s Place in the exact size that I needed for less money than I spent on Flex Seal for the original project.

I use the Dangbei Mars Pro projector on the patio which has plenty of brightness for watching TV and playing Xbox under the pergola for the vast majority of the day, except for the 3 hours between 11am and 2pm when the sun creeps through the space between the pergola and the top of the screen.

Another home automation project that has stood the test of time is my pool automation, which was my second project after automating my garage door opener.  6 years later the NodeMCU is still going strong and lets me control and monitor my pool and hot tub via Home Assistant and Amazon Echo commands.

Heading upstairs you’ll find the other spare bedroom and multipurpose space, sometimes we call it the studio, sometimes we call it the exercise room, but it’s even more than that. 

Starting with studio stuff, this is where I record the talking head portion of my videos, and I’ve got a pull-down green screen and a camera and lighting rig on rails.  This setup is actually designed for people who live in high rise condos to be able to hang clothes on their balconies, but it works perfectly for mounting my studio lights and camera and lets me set up for recording in less than a minute, and stores mostly out of the way when not in use.

This is also where I keep all my testing gear for security cameras, LED strips and projectors, where my Home Assistant server and Synology NAS live, and I’ve got a little maker area with a vinyl cutter, 3D printer, and just a normal laser printer.

When I’m not recording this room gets daily use as a home gym, with a large yoga mat type flooring, a fold away walking treadmill, and the Tonal home gym, which is probably one of the coolest inventions in the last 5 years, but the company is trying to set some record for anti-consumer behaviors by giving it a huge initial purchase price, tying all of its functionality to a monthly subscription, randomly raising subscription costs, not selling replacement parts, and perhaps the most ridiculous thing: full cloud reliance to the point where you can’t even turn on the weights if there’s an internet outage.

In a pinch this room also functions as another guest bedroom, since most of our guests also have their kids with them these days.  In here I used the Create-A-Bed horizontal twin size kits but I stacked them on top of each other to make murphy bunk beds, which like all bunk beds are a pain to get the sheets onto, but are always a hit with the kids.

In the master bedroom there were zero lights installed when we moved in, and a single switched outlet for bedside lamps.  Using a Shelly 2.5, I virtually connected that single switch to the RGBW LED strips above the curtain valence, and to these Govee RGBW lamps so that one flip of the switch turns on all the lights.

Behind the valence I’ve got a Zemismart motorized curtain track and three of my DIY blinds motors, so that with a single Amazon Echo command we can open or close the curtains and three window blinds simultaneously.

I originally had the whole Govee immersion system installed on our bedroom TV, but a year ago we replaced that 50” TV with a 100” projector screen and I recently upgraded the ceiling mounted projector from the XGIMI Horizon Pro to the Formovie X5.

We also have the Eight Sleep smart mattress which is another absolutely incredible invention with terrible implementation.  The Eight Sleep uses water channels and sensors to adjust bed temperature based on your sleep stage and honestly changed me from a terrible sleeper who would wake up and get out of bed 3-4 times a night, to someone who lays down and falls asleep almost instantly and doesn’t wake up until the morning. 

Unfortunately, for some reason Eight Sleep decided to make this relatively simple product 100% cloud based, so if the internet goes down, the heating and cooling unit won’t even turn on, which just doesn’t make any sense and makes it hard for me to give a full recommendation.

But there are quite a few things in my house that I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone, and almost everything you’ve seen in this video has a corresponding video on my channel, so if you’re interested in a more in depth look at a project or product, I’ve linked those videos below organized by room.  I’ve also got Amazon links to some of my favorite things from this video and I do appreciate it when you use those links since as an Amazon affiliate, I do earn a small commission on those sales at no cost to you.

I’d also like to thank all of my awesome patrons over at Patreon for their continued support of my channel, and if you’re interested in supporting my channel, please check out the links below.  If you enjoyed this video don’t forget to hit that thumbs up button and consider subscribing to my YouTube channel and as always thanks for watching The Hook Up.

🚘Garage 🚘

Motorized Work Benches Video:

Golf Simulator Video:

Barrina Shop Lights

3 Button Switch:

🖥️ Office 🖥️

Best Blinds Motors Video:

Murphy Bed Kit

Blinds Motor:

Ring ZWave Contact Sensor

🎬 Living Room 🎬

Convertible Home Theater Video:

AWOL LTV-3500:

Motorized Floor Rising Screen

Sonos ARC Soundbar

🍇 Kitchen/Pantry 🍇

Shelly RGBW2

White Pantry and Cabinet LEDs

BEV Cocktail Machine

☀️ Patio/Pergola ☀️

Patio Remodel Video:

Carl’s Place Outdoor Screen Material:

Dangbei Mars Pro

🎥 Studio/Gym 🎥

Folding Treadmill:

Motorized Clothes Rack

Murphy Bed Kit

🛌 Master Bedroom 🛌

DIY Blinds Motor Video:

Shelly 2.5 Smart Relay:

Zemismart Curtain Rail:

Formovie Fresnel Screen:

Formovie X5 Projector:

Eight Sleep Mattress:

**As an Amazon Affiliate I earn a commission on qualifying purchases at no cost to you**

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