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Before we knew how connected homes would come together, the prototypes seemed far-fetched and way too complicated.

Fortunately, building a smart home today is not nearly as intimidating or overwhelming as it initially seemed. It’s easy, especially if you start small and build little by little.

Picking and choosing the features that best suit your needs — and only as you can afford them — means you don’t have to consider it an all-or-nothing ordeal. Still, that same DIY aspect can make it a daunting project to take on — but we’re here to help.

H ere’s a simple rundown to help you get started on the smart home of your dreams:

1. Start with a voice-controlled smart speaker: It'll serve as your smart home's command center.
From top left to right: Google Home, Amazon Echo Dot, Amazon Echo Plus, Apple HomePod

Every smart speaker is powered by a smart assistant, and usually, these speakers also come with an app that acts as a hub of sorts. You can use the app to register and access your other smart-home devices, so you can control them all with voice commands — via your speaker — instead of needing to visit individual apps.

That said, not all smart speakers are built equally, and some only work with certain services. Apple’s HomePod, for instance, only works with Siri (sorry, Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa fans), and you can only use your voice to control Apple Music (sorry, Spotify users.) Still, some of the most popular speakers offer a wide array of functions.

Amazon’s Echo speakers (powered by Alexa) paved the way, and Amazon sells Echo devices in all shapes and sizes, making it the most versatile family of the bunch. Google also sells its Home products (powered by Google Assistant) in small, medium, and large form factors. Apple’s HomePod launched in February 2017 and is almost exclusively compatible with iOS smart products right now.

2. Smart lighting is easy to set up and it's relatively inexpensive — and it's one of the best applications for voice control in the home.
Hue Philips hub and smart bulbs Philips

Smart bulbs can be used to save energy, help secure your home, turn your basic light switch into a dimmer, or prevent you from being tied down to an inconveniently-located switch. All you have to do is replace the bulbs you already have with smart bulbs.

There is a one-time purchase of a small hub that has to be plugged into the wall and then connected to your router via ethernet, but it takes five minutes to install and can accommodate up to 50 bulbs, meaning you won’t have to worry about it again.

You can buy smart bulbs in most locations that sell standard light bulbs. Many smart light bulbs can connect directly to your smart speaker via a separate app, but some smart bulbs require a separate hub, so make sure you’re checking the details of each…