How one family turned their new home into a smart home
The Bristows wanted their home to be easier to manage, and fun for their family of six.

When the Bristow family bought their first home in Provo, Utah, they painted, added new carpet, and renovated the kitchen...

But the thing that Brett Bristow was most excited about? Adding the Nest Thermostat.

For years, Bristow had wanted to embrace home automation, but as a renter, his family was stuck with an old thermostat that was difficult to program. The Nest Thermostat came first, and Bristow was thrilled to avoid the hassle of messing with the levers on ancient thermostats in his previous homes. “I was so excited because I could finally install technology in my own home and I could now change the thermostat from the comfort of my couch,” he says.

Bristow went on to outfit the entire 2,500-square-foot house with smart home devices that let him automate everything from lights and locks to lawn mowing and laundry.  

“I love it, because I can get rid of a lot of the nuisances in life and free up time to play with my kids. Plus it’s just cool,” he says.

Starting out

Bristow had always been an early adopter of technology and was familiar with the smart home devices available. But the process of outfitting his own house was gradual and organic: He would note his family’s habits and try to automate what made sense. One of his earliest observations was that his family used timers and sought out information regularly – a Nest Mini was a natural fit to handle these tasks. Today, he has a Nest speaker in every room of the house.

Smart lights were also foundational, as family members were often forgetting to turn them off. He created a routine to have the porch lights turn on at sunset every evening and stay on until 10:30 p.m. Over the next couple of years, he would notice areas that could be improved with automation and acquired a whole array of smart products – from smart locks to appliances – plus a Nest Hub Max to control it all.1

Making chores and bedtime more fun

When the family cleans together on Saturday mornings, three of his children, ages 4, 7, and 10, always want to listen to music. This added a task for Bristow, who had to play DJ. Now, they ask Google for the songs they want to listen to. “It turns chores into a fun time,” he says. The kids also talk to speakers in their bedrooms each morning, asking about the weather so they dress appropriately. “They know more about the weather than I do,” he says.

As at many households, bedtime is a delicate balancing act, easily thrown off by the smallest variation. To keep things on track, Bristow used the Gentle Sleep and Wake feature in his Google Home app to dim the lights in the evening and eventually turn them off at bedtime. That’s when the nightlights turn on and white noise plays through the various speakers. It has made bedtime smoother. “I don’t have to stop reading to them, it just does it all automatically,” he says. 

Nest Hub Max
Help for your home. All in one display.
Removing worry 

At the Bristows’, smart locks are set up to lock automatically each night, giving them a sense of security. And the Nest Doorbell notifies the family if someone is at the door via smart speakers.2 One Nest Cam lets him check on their sleeping newborn and another one is set up in the backyard to keep an eye on the kids jumping on the trampoline. A Nest Aware subscription would give their Nest Cam the ability to recognize familiar faces and important sounds like a smoke alarm, and notify them if something’s wrong.3

For further peace of mind, Bristow installed a Nest Protect smoke detector in part because it can differentiate between smoke and steam – which was a problem in the past when old smoke alarms blared after long showers.

Automating almost everything

Many homeowners will tell you that once they see the way automation makes some things at home easier, more secure, and more fun, they keep going. The Bristows are well along that journey. In the living room, Chromecast with Google TV lets kids ask for the shows they want, and Phillips Hue lighting will adjust the lights based on what they’re watching. When it’s time to turn off phones and get homework done, Bristow and his wife turn off the Wi-Fi on their Nest Wifi mesh network. Their phones also control the power and lights on the smart oven and alert them if their laundry cycle is complete in the smart washer or dryer. They even have a smart lawn mower that bumps around the yard every few nights.

Among Bristow’s favorite gadgets are the smart blinds and shades. They automatically open in the morning and close at night, or through one of his speakers or displays, he can ask Google to close them if the family is watching a movie and the sun is glaring on the TV. “I can continue to snuggle with my kids without having to get up,” he says. “It makes life a little more comfortable.”

  1. Compatible smart devices required.

  2. Some features, including mobile notifications, remote control, video streaming, and video recording, require working internet and Wi-Fi.

  3. Familiar face alerts are not available on Nest cameras and doorbells used in Illinois.

Takeaways
Free up time, feel safe, and be more comfortable at home through automationDo it gradually or all at once – start by paying attention to your household’s needs and habitsCombining devices unlocks further benefits to round out family experiences like movie night, or dinner time
Nest Hub Max
Help for your home. All in one display.
Related products
Nest Doorbell (Battery)
Nest Learning Thermostat
Nest Mini
Nest Protect smoke and CO alarm
Related stories
Bye-bye, spotty Wi-Fi. How a mesh network can help. Tips to save even more with your Nest thermostat A day in the life of a smart home
Share this article
Read on
Bye-bye, spotty Wi-Fi. How a mesh network can help.
A day in the life of a smart home